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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 23: Beam 6
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Previous chapter: Chapter 22: Slade 139
Birds were chirping somewhere, and the bright sun shone warmly on James's face. He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with the sweet smell of flowers. His ears felt no residual soreness, and he could clearly hear the monotonous buzzing of insects broken now and then by the shrill calls of birds. He opened his eyes and looked to his right, the bed of leaves he lay in crunching softly as he moved. He felt at peace as he lazily watched a bee dig in the precious nectar stores of a flower that had managed to break through the leaves, struggling to eke out some existence with the odds stacked against it.
His peace was interrupted by his memories of how he got here; his mind filled with confusion as it balked at its own recollections. What a crazy dream, he thought to himself dismissively as he pushed himself to his feet. He glanced to his left, then closed his eyes and rubbed the tiredness from them and looked again. Turbirb’durpa and Dawn were both also showing signs of waking. He struggled to come up with an alternative explanation for where he had met them, but he found himself more without one than he did on most mornings-after especially as far as the gray-skinned alien was concerned.
Dawn sprang to her feet in a single fluid motion. The sudden movement made James flinch uncomfortably, and he groaned. “Don’t do that before coffee,” he told Dawn, who rounded her blank look on him for only a moment before she continued to slowly look around the grove the three found themselves in. He moved his foot to shake Turbirb’durpa awake, then thought better of touching the smooth skin. “You awake?”
Turbirb’durpa turned his face to look at James.
“What’s the matter?”
The alien’s beady eyes stared at James silently.
“Spit it out,” James grumbled impatiently as he lit the cigarette he placed in the corner of his mouth.
“Baaaaaaahb,” Turbirb’durpa responded out loud.
“Great,” James muttered. “Just great.” He spoke up more loudly. “Can you stand?” Turbirb’durpa rose to his feet, albeit somewhat unsteadily. “At least you’re not totally useless,” James grumbled. “Do either of you know any better than I do where we are?”
“Blergh,” Turbirb’durpa answered.
“Thanks, that’s a huge help, Bob,” James responded sarcastically before he turned toward Dawn and asked her directly. “Where are we?”
“We appear to be standing in a temperate deciduous forest,” Dawn told him. “I’m having difficulty determining our precise geographical location, but there’s a high likelihood based on the altitude, distance, and size of the sun that we aren’t on Earth.”
James glanced up at the sun with a dumbfounded expression, but to his eye it had the same blinding light as ever. He looked back at Dawn. “You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Do you have any suggestion for how we should proceed?”
“I recommend that we gather further intelligence.”
Bob made a noise that was indistinguishable as a word; it was some kind of half hum, half whistle.
“Walking it is,” James answered, and he picked a direction and walked from the grove with his two new friends following behind him.
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 #277: Versers Resettle. 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: