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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 146: Slade 135
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 145: Brown 160
As Derek came down the slope, his greeting was, “Boy, am I glad to see you guys. And yes, I would love some food, and something to drink, if you have it.”
“Oh, indeed,” Slade responded. “Shella has found that the magic here supports creating feasts for us, twice a day, so dig in.” Joe had washed his plate and handed it to the boy.
“You look older than the last time I saw you,” Joe said. “I was under the impression that versers never age.”
“What, he was younger than that?” Zeke interjected.
“I was about twelve when I versed out,” Derek explained. “And I stayed twelve for about twenty years or so, and then--well, people talk about being born again, but it literally happened to me. I can tell you all about what it’s like to be an unborn baby, and to be born and grow up in another culture, and as a different creature.”
“A different creature?” Zeke asked.
“Yeah, I’m a sprite--or I was a sprite, for seventeen plus years, which is why I look seventeen now, although I think I’m short for my age. But I can become a sprite if I think about it. Which reminds me, if the magic bias is high here, I should get into my size-changing clothes so that if I have to change I don’t have to worry about the clothes. Then I guess I’ll have a bit of packing to do, and I’ll be ready to go.”
“Go?” Joe said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“We’re not headed for that city I saw by the river?”
“Oh, yes, absolutely--but we’re not walking in the desert heat to get there. Sleep in the shelter by day, travel at night. We took the night off because we saw your gear and knew you would head for it, so we decided to wait for you for a day, hoping you were not too far.”
“Oh. Then I guess I should pitch my tent?”
“Naw,” Slade said. “Just get your bedroll or blanket or something. Shella has already created the shelter, and I think we can squeeze five.”
“I’m Zeke, by the way,” Zeke suddenly said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Joe said. “Lieutenant Ezekiel Smith, Derek Jacob Brown. Derek is our computer genius, and not bad with the laser rifle.”
“Or the bow, when he’s smaller,” Slade added.
“Zeke is new to the verse--his first world. He was a soldier in a mid twentieth century universe that seems to have paralleled ours somewhat closely, with a few peculiar differences.”
While Joe was explaining this, Derek was taking a sleeping bag off the bottom of his backpack frame. The sun was now shining brightly, and Slade realized that it would be hot outside the shelter.
Returning to the group, Derek said, “I love this magic shelter--can’t see it, but you know when you’re inside. Where should I sleep? Honestly, I’m beat--I was up all day before being shot, then landed here and walked all night.”
“You’ll have to tell us about it, maybe while we walk tonight,” Joe suggested.
“Yeah, I guess it’s time for all of us to sleep,” Slade said. “Who’s got the first watch?”
“I’ll take it,” Zeke said. “I’m not sleepy yet. Who should I awaken?”
“I’d like to be last,” Joe said, “because I want to see what time the sun sets.”
“Fine,” Slade said. “I’ll take second watch, and I’ll wake Shella if the shelter collapses before mid afternoon, and otherwise I’ll wake Joe.”
“Sounds good to me, my lord,” Shella said.
“What about me?” Derek asked.
“You?” Joe said. “You sleep. We all had an easy day today. Tomorrow we hope to push through to the city, and we don’t really know how far that is.”
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: