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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 49: Takano 8
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Previous chapter: Chapter 48: Kondor 162
Tomiko awoke--somewhere else. This was beginning to be frightening; what was happening to her? She was in that world with the grassy plain, then that fantasy forest, and now--where was she now?
It had to be a dream, but she really wished she could awaken.
Opening her eyes, she saw that she was on broken up cement paving, with weeds and grasses growing from the cracks, in a space between some tall buildings made mostly of wood. She sat, made sure she still had her things, and looked down the path to decide she was in an alley, and that there were streets at both ends--not busy streets, maybe, although from here it was difficult to make sense of what she saw. She stood, wearily, although she realized she was no longer sore from the riding or the walking. Picking a direction, she walked to what she took to be the closer of the two ends of what she was calling an alley.
It was a street, and clearly a city street with buildings, not skyscrapers but tall, several stories, maybe three here, five there. The traffic on the street was confusing, though. There were only a few cars, and they were old, but new--that is, cars from a long time ago, but in the sort of condition that suggested they were made fairly recently, but not all kept in immaculate condition as one sees at antique car shows. Complicating it, although there were few cars, there were many bicycles, and three-wheeled pedaled carts, and--this was what caused her confusion--rickshaws.
She felt as if she ought to be seeing this in black and white; it was something from some other century. She laughed quietly at the idea.
A woman was staring at her. She tried to pretend she didn’t notice, but she couldn’t help it--and then she realized that all the people were Japanese, and they were dressed in typical Japanese clothing. She was still wearing jeans and a tee.
She eased back into the alley to try to get out of sight. She owned clothes something like that, which her parents had given her to wear to visits to her grandparents’ house on special days. She did wear them for their birthdays and for Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving, reluctantly, but then, her grandfather liked to see her in Japanese clothes, and he was generally very good to her so she tried to please him in little things like that, at least sometimes. For most visits she just wore her regular clothes. It didn’t really surprise her that the traditional clothes didn’t come with her; she couldn’t think of any trip she would take for which she would have packed them, unless maybe they were going to Japan, which they never did and never even talked about doing.
Now somewhat concealed from view, she watched the world pass with a strange curiosity. Where was she? When was this? How was it possible for her to dream of such a place, never having seen it?
Something in the back of her mind said that she had to figure out where to go, how to find food, where to find shelter. For the moment, though, she was just stymied, unable to think of what to do. She just watched the strange world move around her, and her mind drifted until she was no longer really seeing anything, just staring.
She was startled by a stern voice, and turning toward it she saw a man in a uniform--an old military uniform, but again, not old, just old in its design. She looked at him, and he spoke again. She recognized that it was Japanese; she’d heard enough Japanese in her life to know the language when she heard it, but not enough to know more than a few words. She answered in English. “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Japanese. English?”
The man just stared at her, spoke again, and then reached out and grabbed her arm. He tugged, and with an effort she managed to keep her feet and scurried to go where he was pulling her. “It’s all right,” she said, “I’ll come with you. You could just have said so.” But then, she realized, he might indeed have said so, and she would not have known it. With his hand firmly clamped on her arm, she was obviously going with him, wherever he wanted her to go.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #338: Verser Missteps. 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: