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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 144: Slade 134
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Previous chapter: Chapter 143: Brown 159
There wasn’t really any way to tell just how far Derek was. Shella could see him in her mirror; Slade realized he could probably do the same, with enough patience, but you couldn’t tell how far away you were looking, and there weren’t really many landmarks around to help. Joe’s gear could see someone on a straight line quite a few miles distant, but the ground was hilly and the sky was dark and it wasn’t a good bet on spotting someone so far away at night. It was going to be a wait, that’s all there was to it.
“Anyone for a game of poker?”
Zeke’s question pulled Slade from his thoughts, and he glanced over to see the soldier shuffling a deck of cards.
“Poker?” Shella asked. “Is that not a hearth tool?”
“It is love,” Slade said, “but it’s also a card game. Different combinations of cards are worth more or less than others, and you take turns betting as to who has the best hand.”
“Why not just read the other player’s mind, to see what cards he has?”
Zeke abruptly stopped shuffling. “You can do that?”
“I can’t,” Slade said. “I’ve never learned to read minds. I didn’t know she could, but it’s not surprising--she studied with Lauren’s people, and they all could.”
“Yes, and she taught me, too,” Kondor says, “although I wouldn’t read your mind for that on principle, because it would be cheating--but I really don’t play betting games, generally. I take enough gambles in real life. Risking money on cards just isn’t much of a thrill. Oh, and Derek learned when I did, so he knows, too.”
“I’m going to have to meet this Lauren person someday. She sounds fascinating.”
“That’s certainly one word for her,” Kondor said.
“I’m not much for card games,” Slade said. “Video games have interested me, particularly first person shooters.”
“What’s a video game?” Zeke asked as he slipped the cards back into their box and put them in his pocket.
“Hard to explain. Do you have television?”
“What about computers?”
“I think Joe mentioned them, but I don’t really know anything about them.”
“Right. Well, I don’t really know how it does it--you can ask Derek if you want better information--but somehow a computer takes over your television, and it shows backgrounds of places and puts images of people or things or whatever in them, and you push buttons or levers or dials on the computer and move things around on the television screen to do what you want to do.”
“And what’s the point?”
“Could be anything, really. In the games I like, there are monsters or enemy soldiers or something, and you have to see them and shoot them before they shoot you. But there are other kinds of games, games where two people fight each other, or where you walk around talking to people trying to find treasure, or just games where you move pieces trying to make something like a puzzle fit together, only it’s moving.”
“No, I don’t get it.”
“Well, it’s not that important, I guess. Probably one day you’ll see them, though, so now you know what they are.”
Everyone lapsed into silence, and the waiting continued.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #269: Versers Arrive. 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: