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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 12: Hastings 140
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The new man who entered her room wore a jacket and tie, and carried himself with the assurance of a professional, and had a notepad and pen in his hands. From this Lauren concluded that he was a doctor, probably a psychiatrist. She waited for him to speak.
“I’m Doctor Conway. Can you tell me your name?”
She stared at him for a moment. Obviously he would have gotten her name from the assistant, so he knew her name. Was this a test, to see whether she remembered her own name, or whether she had invented the name? She decided that didn’t matter.
“Lauren Hastings,” she said.
“Thank you, Miss Hastings--or should I call you Lauren?”
“It’s Missus Hastings, but Lauren is fine.”
“Is that your whole name?”
She realized that this could be the beginning of trouble, if this world had accurate census rolls. She probably did not exist here. However, a false name would not stand a better chance of being found than her real one. She offered, “Lauren Elizabeth Meyers Hastings.”
He repeated the name quietly as he wrote, getting louder with, “Meyers. Em Wy?”
“Em Ee Wy.”
“Em Ee Wy Ee Ar Ess.” He completed Hastings without a problem. “And do you know where you are?”
“Not yet,” she said. “I already explained that, and no one has provided the information to me, and I’m not really in a position to do the research myself.”
“Right. So where are you from?”
“Born in Stratford, grew up in Somerdale, moved to Franklinville, have been traveling for quite a few years.”
“I’m afraid I don’t know those places. Can you tell me where they are?”
What was the old expression? In for a penny, in for a pound? Well, she was in it now. “They’re in New Jersey.”
He jotted down the name as if it were not familiar to him. “And do you know what day it is?”
“I was told earlier that today is Monday, June 7th, 1965, and have no reason to believe that information incorrect. Listen, am I going to be allowed out of these restraints?”
“You did attack and injure several orderlies last night.”
“Actually, although my recollection of the event is fuzzy, I believe I was asleep and they attacked me. My reflex was to defend myself, but they drugged me before I was quite fully awake.”
He gave a little half-cocked nod of his head with raised eyebrows, which she interpreted as acceptance of the plausibility of her statement. “However, you have demonstrated that you are potentially dangerous.”
You don’t know the half of it, Lauren thought, but decided it would be better not to say that. “Well, it’s your hospital (at least, I’m assuming it’s a hospital, I suppose it might be an asylum) but eventually I’m going to need to use a bathroom--and as a middle-aged mother of three, my bladder can only wait so long.
“Can I trust you to be cooperative?”
“You can trust me not to kill or injure anyone unnecessarily, if that’s what you mean. ‘Cooperative’ is too open a word. I’m not agreeing to potential experimental treatments or therapies.”
“Fair enough. I’ll have you escorted to the bathroom shortly. For the present you will be locked in the room, but lunch will be served shortly.”
He tapped the back of his pen twice on the pad, then clicked it closed and placed it in his pocket as he stood and said, “I think that’s everything for now. I’ll see you again later this afternoon.”
Lauren nodded. This was a very strange starting place for a world, and she wondered what she was supposed to do here, but for now this was where she was, and God must have a reason for it, so she should be looking for it.
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 #275: Versers Reorient. 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: