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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 64: Slade 21
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Previous chapter: Chapter 63: Kondor 21
Slade heard sounds around him. Images were dancing, lights were flashing. It seemed he had landed in the midst of a battle. He tried to reach for his sword; instead, he found a book. The book contained instructions for running a castle. Where has this been all these years, he thought; but as he looked, the words faded. Then he realized that this was a dream, he had no book, and no sword.
But he did have a book. It was lying on top of him. And his mind began making sense of the sounds around him. There was an annoying buzzer, like an alarm clock, and a synthesized voice. "Intruder alert. Intruder alert. Intruder alert." He wanted it to be quiet. He also wanted the red and yellow lights to stop flashing.
Abruptly he was grabbed by the arms, and dragged to his feet. He shook his head, and managed to open his eyes. There was a man standing in front of him, staring at his face.
"Who are you, and what are you doing on my bridge?"
"I'm sorry, your lordship. I assure you it was a mistake; I'm sure I can pay the toll." He again shook his head, trying to wake up and get oriented to wherever he was.
"Throw him in the brig. Call me if he sobers up."
The men holding him shoved him toward a door. He stumbled forward, trying to regain his equilibrium and comprehend his surroundings. Through the door, and one of them grabbed his left arm, half dragging him along. His mind was clearing, and the tingle in his skin was fading, and his legs were discovering that there were still feet attached.
He stumbled forward, this time intentionally, and the man holding him let go so as not to fall. Catching himself, he whirled around and drew his sword in a single motion. One of the men pulled something from his belt and pointed it at him; although he didn't recognize it, he guessed it to be a weapon, and struck it solidly with a slash of his blade. It fell, damaged, to the floor.
Slade didn't wait to find out whether it still worked, or if they had any other tricks up their sleeves. He had surprise on his side now, and he used it to escape down the hallway. He took the first turn he found, and began looking for a way out. He was in a large building, apparently, with some kind of electric lights and not much in the way of windows. He tried to plot a path that would take him in a consistent direction, not doubling back on itself, while at the same time was not straight so as to prevent anyone from following him. Thus he zigzagged through many corridors, quickly but erratically.
And again the lights flashed and the buzzer sounded and the voice repeated.
Suddenly he stopped short. He had come to a window. As he looked through it, everything started to make sense. He had been on a bridge; he was bound for the brig; they had strange weapons; there were electric lights, metal and plastic fixtures. Add to that the strange buzzer and voice, and a look out the window into a starry darkness, and there was only one possible explanation.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #43: Novel Worlds. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: