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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 32: Hastings 105
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 31: Slade 54
Lauren's first guess seemed to have been a good one. The day passed, and she suffered no ill effects, no indigestion, nothing that suggested any danger at all in the fruit she had selected. "Now," she said aloud, "it's time to try to think of practical ways to prepare this so it doesn't seem like the same thing all the time. Even so, we're going to have to try some other foods soon." She thought on this for a moment, before continuing. "Not today; and not tomorrow, I think. Let's work with one food at a time. We'll eat this for a few days, and then we'll pick something else." That said, she returned to the fallen clump, and examined it for any signs that it had spoiled.
"Not even bugs," she said. "Bugs. Why didn't I think of them before? There must be bugs, grubs, something that eats the fruit that falls. I wonder if I could eat them?"
The thought of eating such things did not sit well in her stomach, but her mind managed to keep the idea and the impression separate. She would need to vary the food in her diet; she would need some sort of protein. She had been considering whether to eat fish or bird; but there were other options to consider. It wasn't as bad as it sounded, really. She'd eaten chocolate covered ants once as a girl, and they tasted fine. People ate crickets or grasshoppers or something, she thought. This was a survival situation, and she should think in terms of survival foods. Besides, they would be different, unusual, and perhaps exotic. They might even taste good.
She also found it difficult to take seriously the notion that such creatures could be the sort of intelligent, self-aware, morally-oriented creatures she should not eat. That also played in their favor. She would certainly put them on the list of possible foods. Whether she would ever get the nerve to try them was a different question.
Now having something she could eat along with her water source, and having gathered her equipment so she had clean clothes, she decided it was time to address shelter. There was the cave, of course; that would suffice in an emergency, or at least it seemed likely to do so. She should otherwise try to stay out of the rain, get some protection from the sun, stay a bit warmer on cold nights, and certainly have a place to rest if she took ill. Shelter and fire were the only survival necessities she had not addressed, at least that she could recognize. There was the potential for mild poisons in the water building up in her body, or for the food to be nutritionally deficient. She couldn't do much about these possibilities. She could build a better shelter, and then a fireplace. She set herself to the task.
There were not a lot of tree branches lying around, as the trees were notable for a lack of branches; they seemed to rise rather straight to a significant height, and then spread leaves in a sort of umbrella arrangement at the top. She wondered whether they might have originally grown up from the bottom of the bay, like water lilies anchored to the bottom and blooming on top; but there was no evidence of similar plants in the water now. Perhaps the height was protection against flooding, particularly near the shore. Her musings about the function of the design were secondary to the problem they gave her. With no branches, she lacked an obvious source of building materials for her house. She did not wish to cut down live trees, as she was not yet convinced that her concepts of plant applied equally in all worlds. Perhaps she could bring down dead trees; but it was not clear which were actually dead.
What she did have was a good supply of heavy, stiff leaves that had fallen. Interlocked, these would make good walls; and the ribs could be stripped from some and used as stiff cord to secure them. These were good building materials, and she thanked God for letting her see their potential; but she still lacked anything with which to frame her building.
On the other hand, it was a big island, and there was a lot of it she had not yet explored. There was certain to be something here. God would provide for her needs. She just had to find it.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #170: Versers Explore. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: