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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 82: Hastings 158
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Previous chapter: Chapter 81: Beam 21
The next day their session began with Lauren’s arrival in what she called the Parakeet Valley, which she described as “idyllic” and “primitive” and “pristine”. She explained how she began learning the language of the parakeets, first by using a psionic trick she devised to understand what they understood. She explained the wigwam-like nests that they built, and how she taught them to build fires and make clay pots and mark them with symbols representing themselves. The idea that they were midget-sized intelligent birds seemed to intrigue him.
The doctor found Joe’s arrival more intriguing yet. Lauren explained that Joe had come from what seemed the same world as she originally, and had spent a very brief time in the world with the orange grass before going to three worlds she had not visited. The doctor had heard of Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood. When she mentioned undead in another of his worlds, he commented that it seemed to be a recurring theme. She responded that this was what he told her, and he said that they only looked like undead monsters; he was an atheist, and refused to believe that such things could exist in any reality. There were similar questions when she introduced Bob to the story. Doctor Conway would ask questions that seemed to assume that Lauren was Joe and Bob. He would ask why Bob did something, or how much Joe got paid working on the space ship. She would simply say she didn’t know, she wasn’t there and it didn’t occur to her to ask.
He raised an eyebrow when she said she jumped off the cliff to tackle the pteranodon or whatever it was. From there her story involved defeating the bird and surviving the fall, then recovering her dropped gear and finding her way back to camp, where Bob was waiting.
“What happened to the hen?” the doctor asked.
“Oh, Bob has a wonderful story of how Joe stayed behind to hold the army at bay while he fought the priest and the giant snake to rescue Speckles. He told it to me when I got back.”
“Defeated the army, but died in the process. He told me about it later when we met in another world.”
“So Joe got back together with you in another world?”
“Bob did, too.”
“Isn’t this strange?”
“Everything about this is strange. I think it has something to do with the fact that we came from the same world around the same time, so our scriff is sort of related. Joe says it’s probably also got to do with the fact that scriff attracts scriff. I don’t know why some of us sometimes find each other, other than that if we’re near enough we can sense each other, but we do.”
She went on to describe surviving the winter into the spring, and then how she blew herself up trying to fix one of her psionic weapons. That took her to Camelot, and again the doctor ended the session.
He began with Camelot the next day, and she talked about being Merlin’s student, and facing vampires, and engineering the sword in the stone. He got a chuckle from this. Gradually Merlin spent less time with her as he turned his attention to Arthur, and then of course Nimue captured him. After that, she was on her own, but was a fairly powerful sorceress, and pursuing vampires she wound up in Wandborough, where she established herself in the woods outside the town and again befriended the werewolves. After she had been here quite a few years, the vampires attacked, and she led the defense of the town successfully, but again died in the process.
The next day covered meeting Derek and living in the futuristic post-apocalyptic world where she started a school. As she described Qualick, Spire, Grarg, and Chicker, the doctor was again fascinated. Lauren realized that he was attributing these to her imagination.
“I’m really not that imaginative,” she said.
“You’re reading my mind,” he countered.
“I’m not. Would you like me to? What you’re thinking is rather obvious.”
“You would rather believe that all of this is real than face what has really happened to you.”
“You would rather believe that all of this is my delusion than admit the possibility that the world is that much bigger than you imagine.”
He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. “Touché,” he said. “Continue.”
They got through the rest of her adventures in that world, until the lion man killed her. “Derek eventually told me more about what happened there, as he stayed another decade, but most of it was rather routine school stuff until he left to find another place to expand the school, and got killed.”
“How did he get killed?”
“Oh, he was very embarrassed about it, said it was very stupid of him; he’d probably rather I didn’t tell anyone.”
The doctor shrugged.
“He was excited about something he’d done on a computer, and stood up in the middle of a firefight, so he got shot.”
“Back to you, but let’s call it a day, and pick up tomorrow?”
“You’re the doctor,” she answered, and 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: