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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 2: Kondor 42
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 1, Hastings 44
Now was a particularly nebulous concept in the multiverse. It was a mere few hours since Joseph Wade Kondor had seen his friend Lauren dive from a ledge to stop a monster, and even less time since he had told Bob to rescue the girl while he stopped the guards. He had emptied his M-16 and killed several with his mace before they got him. Now he was in the cargo hold of a sailing ship, the Mary Piper, somewhere at sea. And it could be moments or millennia away from them. If Lauren was right, it could even be earlier, in the past. Time in one world didn't really have anything to do with time in another, and when you passed through the scriff you stepped out of time and space altogether and back into it somewhere (and perhaps somewhen) else.
He had gotten to his feet, and by now had found his sea legs. The rise and fall of the ship was not unlike the familiar pulse of the gravity generator in another world, and although that was eight or nine years ago he adjusted quickly to walking on the shifting deck. He didn't know much about masts or rigging, but there was more to running a ship than running the ship. He should be able to fit in here, he thought, as long as black men were citizens somewhere on the cargo run and he wouldn't be taken for a runaway slave.
However, he was going to have to explain his presence. It was unlikely he could survive undetected in the cargo hold for long, and once found he would be taken for a stowaway unless he could find a better explanation before that. He'd had that experience on a cargo freighter in space, and thought perhaps there was a way to introduce himself here without being thrown overboard.
This world seemed to have eerie parallels to that one which he had visited perhaps a decade before. This was a sailing ship, and that a space ship; but they were both named Mary Piper, and registered from a port called Sardic. This Sardic would be a seaport; that had been a spaceport. The similarities didn't end there. The shipping labels revealed other ports with identical names: New Haven, Moon of Korg, Durnmist, and others. He wondered how far the parallels would go. For the moment he was going to bet they were stronger rather than weaker. That meant that New Haven was an agricultural community early in the run. With a bit of searching he found a large wooden crate from there containing dried apricots. He pried this open with his camp shovel, ate some, spilled more on the floor, and hid some elsewhere in the hold, until there was a large enough space in the crate that his story would be credible. He scratched and scraped the inside of the lid, and dropped it on the floor.
Taking one final look at the scene he had staged, he rethought it, and pushed the open crate over on its side, spilling apricots across the deck. Then he mussed himself as much as he could, stuffing a few apricots into his clothing and gear for props. Climbing the ladder, he stumbled out onto the next deck.
No one was in sight; it didn't matter. He knew nothing about the layout of wooden ships but that the pilot had to be fairly high, to see the waters ahead, so he was certain to encounter someone in his search for the captain. He picked a direction, and searched for the next ladder to reach the next deck. In a few minutes he had made his way outside, into fresh air and sunlight.
The top deck was bustling with activity. The deck hands, who on the space ship did most of their work in port, were actively manning sails and ropes. Behind them was the wheel; seeing a black man at it encouraged him. He climbed the ladder onto the aftcastle to reach him. "Pardon me," he said, hoping that English was the language here, "but I'm looking for the captain."
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #74: Another Novel. 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: