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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 77: Hastings 157
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 76: Brown 172
Doctor Conway started talking before he was in his seat. “Yesterday,” he said, "you were telling me about the world with the orange grass, where you said you learned many of your mental tricks. Then when we were wrapping up you spoke of someone called,” he looked at his notes, and then continued “Gavin, and you said you read his mind. I take it that is something you learned to do in the other world?”
Lauren cringed. “I probably shouldn’t have told you I could do that.”
“Why not? Have you ever read my mind?”
“Only once. It was when you were leaving the room yesterday, and I wondered what you were thinking.”
“And what was I thinking?”
“You were wondering whether my case would make a publishable article. I was thinking of suggesting you should go for a book.”
He stared at her, seemingly dumbstruck for the moment. Finally he found his voice.
“Why did you do that?”
“Not sure. Maybe it was to make sure I could do it in this world, but I’d already read the mind of one of the dietary people once. I think part of it was that you’d just had me talking about reading minds, so it was in my thoughts, and part of it probably was--well, this is difficult to explain, maybe, but everyone’s brain has something like its own frequency, like radio stations. If you’re standing where I can see you, I can find the frequency easily; once I’ve got the frequency, I can listen to your thoughts wherever you go. I use the same frequency to send thoughts to you, but I can’t do that in this world, apparently, or at least I tried and didn’t succeed, and I’m better at that than I am at reading minds. I should apologize. Psionics are not terribly safe in this world, and a botch on a telepathic skill can injure the target as easily as the user. It was really just an impulse. I’m sorry.”
The doctor nodded.
“So,” she said, “what do you want to know now?”
“I want to know about those two men at the end of the alley, and what happened to you in that world.”
Lauren began to tell him about that world, and got as far as her meeting with Father Matthew James. “He confirmed for me,” she said, “that Gavin and Jackson were vampires.”
“I’m sorry--were what?”
“Vampires?” She saw from his face that this meant nothing to him. “You don’t have vampire legends in this world?”
“I don’t know what they are.”
“Well, then, you probably don’t have them, or at least, they never became popular. A vampire is an undead person who survives by drinking the blood of living people.”
“Undead? I take it that this means someone who died but is still animated in some way?”
“That would be a way to put it. Most places I’ve been have stories of different types of such creatures, such as zombies, ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, each with its own characteristics. A few worlds apparently have the real things. Someone in the verse has said that there is no fiction, that given the vast number of universes out there, all stories are true in some universe. Gavin was a vampire.”
The doctor seemed to be absorbing it; he nodded. She continued, talking about working with Father James, and finding Raiden to teach her combat techniques, and fighting against Jackson and Gavin, and meeting Raal the werewolf taxi driver. She had to explain what a werewolf was, but since the werewolves she met were quite different from the ones in the stories she’d heard as a girl, it wasn’t surprising that the doctor needed an explanation. They did have stories of people who transformed into animals in their folk legends.
At some point she mentioned that she started learning magic.
“Wait,” he interrupted. “Didn’t you say you started learning magic in the other world?”
“No, I never learned any magic there; I learned mind powers, psionics. They’re completely different. Psionics involves using your own force of will, your own inner abilities. Magic involves tapping energy from beyond the universe in the supernatural realm.”
“What do you mean, supernatural realm?”
“The place where God lives, and the angels and demons and other spirits.”
“There’s no such place.”
“Well, people who don’t believe in such a place can’t perform magic. It’s as simple as that.”
“So, show me a trick.”
“I don’t do tricks. Most of my magic is designed to kill vampires. Anyway, I said that getting a psionic skill wrong could be very dangerous. How much more dangerous do you think it could be if I’m trying to draw power from a supernatural realm, and I get that wrong?”
She looked toward the window for a moment, and returned her attention to him, continuing her story. Eventually she reached the burning of The Pit, and the moment when she was fighting Horta. “I grabbed him with both hands,” she said, “and shouted the words I’d memorized from Revelation, ‘And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.’ He burst into flames, and the two of us were consumed by the extreme heat.
“Then I awoke lying on the ground in a forest. It was a very pleasant spring day, as I recall, and I lay there for several minutes just enjoying it.”
“Speaking of enjoying it,” the doctor said, “this has been a very exciting story; but we’re out time, and this seems like a good place to put a chapter break, so we’ll pick up here tomorrow.”
Again he left the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #300: Versers Challenged. 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: