In Verse Proportion; Chapter 11, Slade 171

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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 11:  Slade 171
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Kondor 175

In the morning someone arrived to escort the Slades to the cafeteria for breakfast.  Again Shella ordered for him.  There were no eggs on the menu, but he wasn’t sure whether that was because the bird people didn’t eat eggs or because this morning they weren’t being served.  He had a bowl of something like hot cereal made from something like sesame seeds, with some kind of fresh fruit and berries, and strips of fried meat reminiscent of turkey which Slade thought was probably very much like that same bird they hunted in the snows long ago.  The beverage was not coffee, but it seemed similar in some ways, and there was fruit juice.  He almost asked about milk, and then remembered that there were no mammals in this world, so there wouldn’t even be a word for it.

The professor arrived in a rush as they were sitting, grabbed something like a muffin or cupcake and a cup of the brewed beverage, asked if everything was all right, and rushed off apparently to teach a class, promising to check in on them in their apartment later in the morning.  This left them in the care of the hen who had brought them to the cafeteria, apparently some sort of teaching assistant who was a bit awed at their presence but managed to hold things together and get them through the meal and back to the dormitory.

As Slade sat on the bed, having banged his head twice getting to it, he decided it was time to discuss their situation with Shella.

“It seems to me that we have several things we’re going to have to do.  The first is, I’m going to have to learn a lot more of this language, so I can communicate with people other than you and the professor.”

“I can probably teach you Lauren’s language mind reading trick,” she replied.  “It doesn’t always work, but it will hold you while you try to pick up the language.”

“That’s a good idea.  I can use it to learn how to talk to them.”

“Well, not exactly,” she explained.  “The way Lauren explained it, it connects you to the speech center of one person’s brain so you can process your thoughts through their language, but you aren’t really thinking in their language so unless you pay close attention you don’t learn the words you’re saying, you just say them.”

“So I could tap into their thoughts, ask how to find the bathroom, but then when I drop the link I wouldn’t remember how to say that?”

“Unless you listened very carefully to yourself talking, maybe said it more than once to be sure you had it right.  I think it’s particularly difficult with this bird language, because it’s very unlike English, so it isn’t like learning another regular language.  When we were staying with the Caliph, I could make sense of the local languages because even though they were completely different languages they still used sounds the way we do.  The birds use sounds in an entirely different way.  Figuring out what it all means is tricky.”

“Right.  Well, I should learn the mind trick, and I should also try to learn the language.  The professor said he would find someone who could help with that.  But that’s really only the start.  We’re going to have to build a house of some sort,” he said again rubbing his sore head, “with higher ceilings and taller doors.  That means we’re going to need a place to build it, and building materials.  They’ve advanced beyond those wigwam-like nests they were living in last time I was here, so at least they’ve got something for that, but that’s going to mean we need money, and that means I’m going to have to find a way to get some.  We might initially have to cash some of our treasure.  On the other hand, from the look of things here, I can probably be the inventor of a lot of things that we have in our world that they don’t have.  They could probably use a simple gasoline engine, or maybe it should run on alcohol, but I’d bet I could get that working if I could work with some of this world’s engineers.  What else?  I might be able to design a record player, and maybe a light bulb.  I know the principles, it’s just the execution that’s the challenge.  I wonder what their patent law is like?  Of course, I’ll have to figure out what they already have.  Do they have electric generators and motors?  Electricity opens whole realms of new possibilities--heaters, fans, elevators, what else?  I might be able to introduce refrigeration; I understand the basics of it.  If I can get paid for creating these things, or even helping to create them, that would give us the money we need to support ourselves.”

Shella nodded.  “We’ll have to talk it over with the professor.  He should know at least some of the answers.”

“Right.  Well, he said he’d see us before lunch, so we’ll cover it then.”

“So,” Shella said, “should I try to teach you this trick?”

“I gather you’re going to put the pattern in my head the way Lauren did with the mind reading and blank minds things?”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“O.K.,” he said, closing his eyes and lying back on the bed.  “Go.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 12:  Brown 199
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #432:  Whole New Worlds.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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