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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 91: Hastings 215
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 87
It took a moment for the door to open. When it did, Lauren saw a young girl, Asian in descent but western in dress, about Derek’s age. She was reordering her thoughts toward asking whether the girl spoke English when the girl spoke.
Not a promising beginning, Lauren thought.
“Laura? Was that the name?”
It seems my reputation has preceded me.
“Lauren,” she responded. “Lauren Hastings. A lot of other names, but Lauren is sufficient. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. Have we met?”
“No--well, yes, sort of. You threw a little girl to me when she was about to be hit by a truck. Johnny Angel said it was probably you when I told him about it.”
“Oh!” Lauren exclaimed, remembering. “Was she all right?”
“She was fine, and I got a lot of undeserved credit for saving her.”
Lauren smiled. “Well, I’m glad it worked out. But you are?”
“Oh, sorry. Tommy. Tomiko Takano, no other names.” This last she added somewhat sheepishly.
“Don’t worry,” Lauren said. “They usually come. Titles, too. You just do what you can to help people, and names accrue.
“So, what is this place?” she added.
“What, beyond the obvious?” Tommy answered, but continued. “I only just got here--landed in the hall out there, opened the door, accessed the central computer, and set up my devices to update. But it seems to be some kind of vast underground shelter system, like for a nuclear war or something, to keep people safe for a long time. From what I see in the computer, it looks like it has food and water, air recycling, and pretty much everything from make-up to power tools. I haven’t tried ordering anything yet, but thought that when my upgrades finished I’d see about getting some food. Do you like sushi?”
This caught Lauren off guard. “I--I’ve never actually tried it. The idea of eating raw fish never really appealed to me. But I’ve been to some strange places and eaten some strange foods, so I’m willing to try it.”
Tommy laughed lightly. “That’s all right, I was kidding. I can’t stand the stuff. I was thinking more on the lines of a cheesesteak sandwich and some onion rings.”
Lauren smiled at the joke. “I could do a cheesesteak. Any idea how we pay?”
“Not yet,” Tommy answered. “I’m playing this by ear. Anyway, I don’t want to mess with the computer until it finishes my upgrades, just so I don’t mess anything up.”
“That’s fine. I don’t think it was quite lunchtime yet when I was killed.”
“By the truck? Well, it almost was in that world. Missus Billings--the little girl’s mother--took me back to her house and fed me and gave me a place to sleep and then a job watching Tammy during the days. It was very strange, like one of those black-and-white cable television channels with shows from the past, but that it was in color.”
“I’ve actually had a bit of an adventure since then, but you will have to tell me all about yours. May I come in?”
“Oh! Of course you can. I mean, there are plenty of seats. You seem to have a lot of stuff.”
“Yes, that’s also something you accumulate,” Lauren replied as she dragged the wagon into the room. “I’ve been a lot of places and lived a lot of decades, and I should probably toss some of this stuff as I’m probably never going to use it, but here it is and it never seems important when I have time.” She sat on one of the chairs in the nearest grouping. “So, Tommy, tell me about your adventures.”
“I’d rather hear about yours.”
“Fine. We’ll take turns, and I’ll go first.” So saying, Lauren began with the exploding microwave and the world with the orange grass, and they shared stories pausing only to order and enjoy a couple of meaty sandwiches and some onion rings with cans of soda.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #388: Versers Climb. 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: