Con Version; Chapter 9, Cooper 3

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Stories from the Verse
Con Version
Chapter 9:  Cooper 3
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Brown 284

Having watched Wilhelm and Hans head up the mountain road, Barrelmaster took the route downward.  That scriff sense which had been explained to him now told him that his things were there, other than the quarter he had just lent to Hans which he hoped he could track to their home before it got too late, too dark, too cold.

It was already cold enough.  It was always warm in Nagaworld, and he had gotten into the habit of keeping his flannel shirt with his other gear in the small plastic house he was borrowing from some other absent verser.  Indeed, that shirt was the warmest piece of clothing he had, and was unlikely to keep him warm here.  He didn’t even have a blanket, unless you counted that space blanket in the emergency first aid kit.  He had never opened it, partly because he was pretty sure it was one of those things that once you opened it you couldn’t repack it–Zymurgy’s Law of Evolving Systems Dynamics, if you open a can of worms the only way to recan it is to use a bigger can.  It’s for an emergency; save it for an emergency–and hope that this doesn’t become one.

He hadn’t walked that far from camp at Umak Tek in the previous world when that coral bush attacked him.  Unfortunately, the mountain terrain of this world was not conducive to traveling in straight lines, so he was following a switchback.  Then of course his possessions didn’t land on the road itself, but in the brush between two roads.  Fortunately, most of it was packed–he didn’t have bedding, so he had just used the lumpy pack as a pillow and slept on a collected mat of orange grass.  He picked his way up the slope a dozen yards and found his laptop case and his blue nylon backpack.  He thought maybe he should check whether everything was here, but then remembered that same trick.  Hoisting the packs onto himself, he again relaxed; the only sense of scriff now was up the mountain, the quarter he had given to Hans and Wilhelm.

He considered whether to push up another twenty yards to the upper switchback or go back down.  His experience hiking in the mountains told him that he shouldn’t be here between them, as cutting paths across the switchbacks increases erosion washing out the roads.  He wondered whether he was using this as an excuse to take the easier path, but it was enough to justify returning down to the road from which he had departed, and then climb the proper way.

He was not long reaching the fork where Wilhelm and Hans had separated from him, and he checked the scriff feeling unnecessarily, as their mule-drawn wagon was going to stay on the road at least until it had an alternative.  He picked up his pace, not sure whether he could catch the wagon but not wanting to be too long in the fading day; already the mountain shadows were coming up the slopes threatening the early darkness of the valleys.  He came to a couple of side paths, which he checked with his scriff sense, and finally found the place where the wagon had left the main road for its own side path.

The side path led to a somewhat sheltered hollow in the hillside, a house with a stable, the wagon sitting in the drive.  That description, though, did not do justice to what he saw.  It was a scene from a snowglobe, minus the snow, which he was sure appeared much of the year.  He had expected a peasant’s shack; he got what he wanted to call a Swiss chalet, beautiful in a picturesque way.  It had an exposed timber exterior between white wall sections, and a roof steep enough to launch a rocket off of.

For a moment he wondered whether he had the right address; but then, the scriff sense told him that his quarter was down there, inside that manifestation of a picturebook.  He moved down the drive, passing the wagon, and up to the door.

He hesitated to knock.  After all, he was imposing.  On the other hand, he was invited.  He raised a hand, hesitated again, and then knocked twice.

Beyond the door he heard movement and voices; someone was coming.  Then the door popped open and Wilhelm greeted him, “Sie haben uns gefunden!”

“Ja,” was all he could think to say, but the gesture suggested he was to enter, and he did so quickly enough to keep the cold outside.  To the open hand, he passed his walking stick, which his host set in a corner near the door.

“Diesen Weg,” his host said, and again the gesture made clear the intention.  He followed down the hall through a door and into a dining area.  A chair was indicated, and he smelled hot food coming from a doorway which undoubtedly led to a kitchen.

“Vielen Dank,” he said, sitting in the chair.  The bowl in front of him suggested there would be a large serving of soup or stew or something similar, and he was just realizing how hungry he was from his walk.

Next chapter:  Chapter 10:  Takano 87
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 #498:  Characters Restart.  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

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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