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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 146: Kondor 222
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 213
As Kondor walked toward the cafeteria, his thoughts turned, as they frequently did, to Leah. He wondered whether she would have liked this world, would have been able to adapt to it. Vashti seemed to be fine here, but she had the advantage that when she left their Persian homeland she went to a universe more advanced than this, a spaceship, robots and artificial intelligences. This for her was a step down. For Leah, the steam engines that had just been coming into use when Slade arrived would have been magical wonders of the future, and the parakeets themselves--would they have been monsters? Giant birds who communicated by chirps and whistles rather than speech?
Well, it would have been very different from what she knew, but she was--she had been--a very smart girl, and he had warned her about the strangeness of his life. She could have handled this.
She did not have to die.
It struck him that he was just one of uncounted bereaved husbands who had the same thought: my wife did not have to die. Yet that thought betrayed a hidden attitude about the universe, as if someone had made a decision that she should die.
He suspected that his verser companions thought something like that. Oh, they had never said it. Yet one way or another each of them believed in some divine being behind the scenes who made decisions like that, who ultimately was responsible for Leahís death.
He preferred to think that the one responsible for Leahís death was some Coptic marauder, and hopefully one of those he had managed to kill before his own departure from their world. If the others were right, well, he didnít really want to believe that the multiverse was ruled by an all-powerful deity who could have spared Leah for him and chose to take her from him. What did he do, that he deserved such punishment, such grief? Or for that matter, what did she do? Or was this god simply jealous of their happiness, and wanted to disrupt it, perhaps to have her for itself?
Lost in thought as he was as he neared the cafeteria, he was only dimly aware of the growing commotion among the birds around him. As the cacophony penetrated his dolor, he raised his head and looked around. They were looking up, some pointing into the sky. His eyes followed, seeking the cause of their excitement.
Unmistakably, moving relatively slowly at high altitude, there was a small metallic disc, what anyone would justly call a flying saucer, from this distance not unlike the one in which Derek arrived. They had an unidentified flying object.
He closed his eyes and relaxed. Derek, Vashti, Slade, Shella, Zeke--all the versers were on the ground, none above him. That almost certainly meant it was not Derekís ship. It was possible the boy had decided to test it by having the robot fly it, but probably that would have been mentioned at least as a possibility, and it only occurred to him now that he should suggest it. Of course, maybe the robot wasnít programmed to operate the ship. Overall, the evidence was this was not their flying saucer.
It might be that Slade was right.
Of course, it was premature. There were probably a host of possible explanations for such a sighting. It might be a weather balloon.
O.K., not a weather balloon. But they should discuss what to do about it.
He turned away from the cafeteria and headed back to their houses. He had not attempted telepathy in this world before, but now seemed the time to do it. Zeke, he sent to the companion whose mind he had learned fairly well in the last world, get everyone together. We might have a problem.
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 #456: Versers Prepare. 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: