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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 112: Hastings 168
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Lauren had not quite realized how tired she had become. Between the stress of awaiting execution, the late nights preaching the gospel until she was exhausted, and the early awakening this morning, she apparently just shut down. She awoke slumped awkwardly on the wooden bed, wondering how long she had slept. She realized she was hungry, and even more thirsty, and that caused her to realize that the conditions of her confining divorced her from any connection to time other than the changing of the guards.
Her throat was dry and a bit sore; her lips were dry. The last meal, the last drink, she had was at the hospital, before the trial. Was that yesterday morning? Was it afternoon now, or another day?
She tried to call for a guard, but her sore dry throat rebelled. She looked for something she could use to make a noise, and wound up rattling the bars with her fists. She did this in short bursts, about ten seconds of rattling and a minute of waiting. Finally the guard walked down the hall and looked at her. “Water?” she croaked. He stared at her for a moment, then turned and walked back to his desk.
Apparently he wasn’t going to get her water. Food was probably completely out of the question. If these cells were used to house prisoners slated for transfer to immediate punishment elsewhere, there probably wasn’t even a kitchen or pantry to provide food.
She sat back on her bed in the perpetual dim light.
It was more than a few minutes, but probably less than an hour when she heard someone else enter.
“Evening,” the voice said. “I understand there was some trouble today?”
“Yes, but I’m not certain exactly what happened. I only know that they took her out to kill her and brought her back alive.”
“Well, the radio is saying that she attempted to escape, but people who were watching television around noon say that she performed miracles or something, unharmed by bullets, and healing a woman who was shot.”
“Nonsense, I’m sure. The radio says that the woman who was shot died of her wound on the way to the hospital.”
Yes, of course they would have to prevent the woman from talking about what happened to her. She should have anticipated that--but probably could not have prevented it anyway.
“She’s asking for water.”
“Is she?” A short laugh came from the new man. “I’ll tell her to drink the water from the commode. She’ll do that eventually anyway, I expect. Might as well get her turned that way sooner.”
“I see you brought a radio. Is command going to let you have that?”
“Hey, I listened to her nonsense for hours last night. I’m sure they’ll let me listen to this instead of her.”
“Well, I hope you have a good night. I’m going to get some sleep. See you tomorrow?”
There was a brief period of silence, and then the sound of a radio, the whistle of an old A.M. tuner trying to find a station, and then some kind of music. Lauren didn’t recognize it, but she didn’t expect to.
Water was going to be a problem, apparently, and she did not relish the idea of drinking from the commode. However, that was the best clue she had for a source. Rising, she walked over to it.
The room was darker in that corner, perhaps affording something like privacy. She called a bit of light to her fingers, the sort she used when reading at night, and began exploring what she could see of the plumbing. The seat was normal, but the tank was mounted high on the wall in a position that made it difficult to remove the lid. She wasn’t certain she would want water from the tank anyway; although it was undoubtedly cleaner than water from the bowl, anything might be growing in there.
As she expected, the tank was fed by a pipe in the bottom; the connection was recessed so that she couldn’t reach the nut with any torque. However, the copper pipe came down vertically to about chest height then turned and passed through the wall behind the tank. There was no valve. She would have liked to have had a valve. However, that was not her problem.
She stepped back from the wall, eyed the distance carefully, and then spun around and kicked the pipe just above the angle joint. As she hoped, the pipe broke, water poured out from the tank above and fountained up from the incoming pipe below.
She slaked her thirst in the incoming water, rinsed her face and hands as well as she could, then sloshed over to her bed, settled on it, removing her wet shoes. Eventually they would discover the break and deal with it, but again, that was not her problem.
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 #313: Verser Solutions. 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: