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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 46: Slade 183
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 187
Slade let Shella sleep in the next morning; he went to breakfast early without her, knowing she would rather sleep than eat. He, he thought, would rather eat than sleep. But there was really nothing to do at this point. He returned to the room and realized that he didn’t have much to entertain himself. He went out into the grassy area outside and practiced his combat forms for a bit, and wondered whether there were any expert swordsbirds in this world. It struck him that there must be, and he just wasn’t in the right place to find them.
By the time he was back inside, Shella was awake--sort of.
“Morning!” he said.
“Mrng” she replied.
“I had breakfast, but I’ve just been outside working up an appetite, so if you’re hungry I could go for an early lunch.”
“Mm” was the uninformative response.
“Well, O.K., get dressed, but I’m not in any hurry. I figure today is as good a day as any to take a day off; I just have no idea what to do on our day off.”
Shella smiled briefly. “I’m sure I can think of something.”
Slade smiled back. “I’m sure you can. I look forward to it.”
She took her time getting dressed, and although he didn’t mind waiting he wished he had something to do--something to read, some game to play, something to occupy time. Soon enough they were headed for lunch.
Slade had not yet figured out time on this world, but they reached the cafeteria between meals. While the staff was cleaning up breakfast and setting up for lunch, there was a side table with drinks and snacks. Slade took what he understood to be their version of coffee and something he decided to call a seedcake; Shella took some kind of fruit juice and a pastry rich in honey. They ate these slowly, waiting for the more substantial food that would be available when lunch was served.
As it neared, students began filtering in. Some obviously were there for the snacks, grabbing something from the table and finding a secluded seat where they entertained themselves with a sheaf of papers. Others checked at the kitchen door and then sat, clearly waiting for serving to start. Good, Slade thought. We’ll know when there’s food because other people will see it first.
It was a chain reaction, very like that ping pong ball demonstration teachers liked to do: one student abruptly rose and rushed to the door, and in a rush it was several more, then everyone else but for one or two who obviously realized that they would be at the end of a somewhat long line. Slade realized that the line would be getting longer, as many students would be arriving in the first half hour after serving began. On the other hand, he’d had a decent breakfast and just finished this seedcake, so he wasn’t in a rush to stand in line to eat.
“Whenever you want,” he said to Shella, “we can go get in line.”
She stared at the line a moment, as if contemplating the same issues Slade had considered, then spoke as she slowly rose. “Not much point in waiting, I guess. The line doesn’t get shorter for quite a while, and the food doesn’t get fresher.”
She made good points. Slade joined her.
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 #440: Changing 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: