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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 100: Hastings 164
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The next morning Doctor Conway arrived before the breakfast tray. He did not bring his chair, but stood somewhat uncomfortably.
“Lauren,” he said. “I wanted you to know that I argued for you. I told them that your belief in the supernatural and life after death was part of a complex but harmless delusion, that you believed you were born in another universe and had died and come back several times. They still have decided against you. There’s nothing more I can do.”
She smiled. “That’s all right, Doctor Conway. After all, I’d rather die for the truth than live by a lie. Christians have been killed for our faith since the beginning, dying confidently in the knowledge that death is not the end--and I know better than most.”
“Well,” he said, “I can only hope you’re right. You have been the most interesting patient I have ever treated.”
He left the room before she could answer that.
Her breakfast was delivered. While she was eating it two men entered the room in uniforms that looked quite military, although Lauren knew that in many countries the police were a branch of the army.
“I have a warrant,” he said, “for the woman calling herself,” and he paused to check it, “Lauren, Elizabeth, Meyers, Hastings. I am reliably informed that this is you.”
“I don’t deny it.”
“You are to consider yourself under arrest, charged with promoting unlawful theories regarding the supernatural and immortality.”
“Why would there be unlawful beliefs about immortality?”
“Only the nation is immortal,” he stated. She laughed.
“Nations are not immortal. Compared to people, nations last no time at all.”
Ignoring her, he turned to his companion. “Officer,” he ordered, “secure the prisoner.”
The other man saluted, just about marched over to the bed, produced a pair of handcuffs, and secured her left arm to the bedrail.
“You know, I’m going to have to go to the bathroom from time to time; this is going to make that difficult.”
“The officer will see that you are provided with such opportunities.”
Lauren shrugged. The commanding officer turned and left the room, while his subordinate marched to the door and stood next to it, back to the wall, facing her without really looking at her.
“So,” she ventured, “what do I call you?”
He did not answer.
“Is it against the law for me to know your name?”
He remained silent.
“Well, if you’re not going to talk, I will.” She remembered that it had been reported by the Church Fathers that when Paul was in prison in Rome, he was manacled between two Roman soldiers who were with him constantly, and that he preached the gospel to them with the result that many were converted. One of his own letters mentioned that the result of his imprisonment was a large number of the Praetorian Guard being saved. She was only handcuffed to the bed, but she again had a captive audience. She began to preach the gospel to him.
He remained silent all day. Her caregivers came and went, but did not speak more than necessary; she wondered to what degree it was because they did not want to be associated with her, versus not wanting to be noticed by him. They still took her to the bathroom, but she was handcuffed to the guard from her bedside to the bathroom door. When dinner came, her guard was replaced with another, equally reticent, and she began the message again before she went to sleep. There was yet another guard in her room when she awoke, and she preached to him until he left and the first guard returned to replace him.
She knew she could probably kill a single guard and escape, but she kept recalling the statement made in Peter’s letter, that she should never suffer as a murderer, but should be willing to suffer for being a Christian. If she killed the guard and escaped, she would indeed be a dangerous criminal. They might accuse her of being a dangerous criminal and execute her for it, but at least her only crime would have been her faith in God, and at least some people would know that.
It was on the third morning that the commanding officer returned. “Bring her,” he said, and the guard who had come with him transferred the handcuff to his own wrist. He said nothing, but made it clear that he expected her to come; she rose from the bed and walked alongside him.
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 #310: Versers Mobilize. 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: