keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Con Verse Lea
Chapter 31: Takano 67
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 132
Breakfast was more of the vegetables, and then they were preparing to continue the march. As Tommy opened the map on her phone, she noticed that it was still nearly fully charged; she wondered whether this was an effect of the recent upgrade, or whether it was more related to Lauren’s spell. She decided that was something she probably would never know, and didn’t really need to know.
“So,” Lauren said, “I’m guessing we continue to follow that road into the woods. Any idea how far?”
“The map program says that it should take us about five hours.”
“I’m guessing that doesn’t account for breaks.”
“Probably not. But it probably did measure our speed yesterday, and might be able to take into account the terrain ahead from a database of movement on the road in the past.”
“Then we’d better get people moving. Leaders!” she called. “Get your people ready to hike. We’re going into the woods.”
Tommy wondered whether being surrounded by the trees would feel as frightening for everyone else as she expected it would for her. After all, for her the woods represented a place for wild animals to hide. These people had little knowledge of anything like that, and had seemed a bit nervous at the openness of the fields, having lived all their lives in the caves. Would the woods seem more like the caves?
She walked up front with Lauren, checking the map periodically; the road had begun to wind a bit, as the ground had become hilly, and although it rose and fell Tommy had the general impression it was rising more than falling. They were headed up, perhaps into mountains, she speculated, but she couldn’t see this because of the late spring canopy, and her map was strictly two-dimensional.
“How much farther?” someone asked behind them. Lauren answered.
“Is there an answer I can give you that would make sense? Do you want miles, or hours, or something else?”
That seemed to silence the questioner. However, it prompted a question in Tommy’s mind.
“Are we stopping for lunch?” she asked.
“Don’t know,” Lauren answered. “It will depend almost entirely on whether I see something I recognize as food. It’s much too early in the year for fruit trees, I think. I gather figs have early fruit, but this doesn’t seem the right climate for figs. Berries might be out in places, but I don’t think we’ll find fields of them in these woods large enough to feed our multitude.”
“Manna from heaven?” Lauren said. “I’m trusting that the God or god who put us on this trek has taken into account that we’ll need to eat.”
They walked another dozen steps, Tommy contemplating.
“What is, manna, anyway?” she asked. She had of course heard of it in Sunday school, but couldn’t remember anyone ever telling her what it was. Lauren, though, laughed. “What’s funny?”
“If I understand it right,” she said, “the word ‘manna’ was Hebrew for ‘what is it’, because even though they gathered it six mornings a week and ate it for probably several decades, they were never quite sure what it was. God caused it to appear every day but the Sabbath in quantities sufficient to feed everyone. Anyway, I’m not expecting manna. In that time and place, it was important to God that those people recognize that He was taking care of them by performing incomprehensibly magical miracles. In this time and place, the spirit who cares for these people doesn’t want them trusting magic but learning and recovering technology, and that’s the direction we should be looking. I’ve got my bow on top in my wagon, but I’m hoping we can get to the campground before we need food, because anything I kill is going to have to be cleaned and cooked. So let’s focus on hiking for now, and trust that when we get where we’re going we’ll find something everyone can eat.”
Tommy nodded. There was no sense worrying about it. One way or another, they would find something to eat.
As she walked in something like silence, the crowd having quieted from the exertion of the trip, she began to notice the sounds of the woods, birds singing, small animals scurrying. There was life out here. Lauren would find them something.
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 #463: Characters Unsettled. 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: