In Version; Chapter 93, Kondor 243

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 93:  Kondor 243
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 268

Lunchtime on the third day approached, as did their first coastal town, when Kondor heard the musical steam train whistle blow numerous times.  At the third sound, the train lurched as its brakes were forcefully applied.  Sticking his head cautiously out the low window, he saw up ahead the track was covered by a tangled mass of tree trunks and branches and telegraph wire.  The train slowed to a near stop a tenth of a mile away, and crept forward at a brisk walking pace until the train engineer gave one more bluesy blow, and halted the train.

Zeke and Kondor had made ready, and were the first off on their side of the train.  Walking forward on the slanted earth, they passed several undamaged saplings.  A dried curved line of mud showed the farthest the water had come after the wave had broken.  Reaching the front of the engine, they saw the train engineer bird and the firebird both standing there, squawking to each other about a mass of trunks and limbs higher than the train cars.

On both sides of the track were small, rounded hills, and Kondor sent Zeke to run up one for a better look.  He came back with shocked eyes.

“The good news is that the block of the track is only forty feet through.  The town beyond, it looks bad.  Still a few miles away, but I can see a ship inside the town.”

“Right.  OK, Zeke, lets get everyone to work.”  Kondor turned and began yelling singing instructions for saws, and for ropes with pulleys.  With the train engineer’s help they were able to hitch the engine’s drive to pulleys, and to begin to pull apart the mass.  Birds had climbed out of the cars, and began using axes and saws to break up logjams and interlocks.  Within an hour, the track was clear.  The engineer then looked it over, and declared himself satisfied that the track would hold.

Even as the train began to slowly roll forward, Kondor led Zeke back to food.  He encouraged others to eat as well as he sang to them in their language in his baritone.

“I know you are sick at heart, and worried, but you need a strong body to help those in need.  So eat.  Eat even if you don’t want to.  You’ll need the strength.”

Zeke and Kondor and many of the others could not have told you what they ate, but eat they did.  At times, the train halted, either to send running birds off to the side to check an isolated country nest, or to check the track.  They reached a mile and a half from town, and all the fields round about were slathered with mud.  The train blew its whistle, and stopped.  Then, to let those in the town know, it blew its whistle long and hard several times.

Everyone got off, and this time Kondor and Zeke could see the damage more clearly.  Some of the sturdier buildings farther from the water still stood, but everything within a quarter of a mile of the water was either gone or knocked down to its foundations.  Kondor shook his head.  This place was about the worst for a tsunami.  The land was flat and low, which probably meant rich farmland.  A small river ran up to his right, and toward the spot where the train had first been blocked.  The tsunami had hit the town without warning.  Everyone close to the shore or in buildings along the river had died.

He began to go from building to building with the other birds calling out for anyone to respond.  They found birds.  Some were trapped, delirious from heat and dehydration.  This was fixed with water cloths and slow drinks of sugared water.  Others had more serious issues.  He personally retrieved two together who had puncture wounds from tree branches.

In a spot of good news, those two birds who had been together had secretly been in love, but had not shared it.  Being speared together for several days had given them time to reveal their feelings.  They wanted Kondor, as a god, to wed them.  He passed the duty to Zeke as suited for an eltee.

To his deep regret he had to do his very first wingectomony.  He cut off one bird’s mangled and increasingly gangrenous arm.  The worse thing had been how cheerful the old fisherbird was, telling jokes to make his doctor laugh.  Kondor forbad himself from showing sadness in the face of such gallant courage.

By nightfall, they had four hundred ninety one surviving birds out of an original population of five thousand.  A threshing floor, inland and uphill, was repurposed to a new communal housing.  Food, blankets, and water were given, and the shell-cracked birds began to consider doing more than just trying to survive for another five minutes.  So it was with gladness that Kondor and Zeke left with the train to go back up the track with the rest of the rescue workers, and take another switch in the dark.  One town might survive now, if greatly damaged.  Many others needed help.

Next chapter:  Chapter 94:  Slade 237
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #491:  Verser Ventures.  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

Re Verse All

In Verse Proportion

Con Verse Lea
Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

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M. J. Young Net

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