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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 7: Hastings 46
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Previous chapter: Chapter 6: Brown 2
Out came the sun the next morning, but it would be long before it dried up all the land. The lake had risen halfway up the slope of the meadow, and was still rising. The road still ran with water, and the mountains sparkled beautifully in the daylight–melt, Lauren thought, finding paths down the slopes.
But their knoll was drying out quickly, and they soon had their shelter pulled apart, airing their belongings in the spring breeze.
"Care to do a bit of fishing?" Bob asked.
"Have you any idea how cold that water is going to be?" Lauren said. "I don't know that I could stand it if I had waders."
"Oh, but the air is warm," he insisted. "It must be, what, sixty-five degrees? And anyway, we should be able to build a fire this afternoon, and you've got that pyromania thing you do with the rocks."
"Pyrogenesis," she corrected. "If I survive the shock."
"Hey, wouldn't fish be great? We haven't had fish in a long time. You catch 'em, I'll clean and cook 'em." Lauren scowled at him. "Oh, come on, I know I'm no master chef. But at least I've learned a little bit over the winter. And I studied with the best."
"Well, with that kind of flattery, it's difficult to object," she laughed. "All right, set up some kind of privacy screen so I can change into dry clothes when I come back, and I'll see what I can do. I needed a bath anyway."
The water was even colder than she had imagined, but she was determined now, and believed she could do this. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," she said, and focused her mind on her body, trying to fight off the cold in her legs. She wondered whether she could use the power of her mind to control the state of her body. Thinking it was worth a try, she directed blood flow to increase in her legs, but to withdraw from the surface tissues; with a bit of effort, she thickened the fat layers in her skin slightly, and provided warmth within them. She surprised herself with how much control she had. The water was still cold, but she could bear it.
She stood perfectly still for several minutes, peering into the murky shallows of the meadow. She had brought the remains of last night's pheasant, and tossed them into the water. In a moment, there were several fish swimming around her legs. One large one would be sufficient. Targeting the one she wanted, the arrow in her hand darted forward into the water.
It missed. The fish scattered. She had focused too much on keeping warm, and not enough on catching fish. Well, she could be patient. She closed her eyes a moment, helping her chilled legs with her thoughts, and then again peered into the water. The fish were returning. She didn't know or care whether they were the same fish, not smart enough to recognize a trap even after it had been sprung, or new fish, attracted by the same bait. She bided her time, focused her attention, and struck.
Bingo, she thought. There was enough meat on this fish to feed them well. She splashed back toward shore. The bath would wait a month or two for the water to warm; there was too much grit in it to really feel clean anyway. She again turned her mind to her legs, restoring the blood flow and returning all to its previous condition.
Bob had strung up something of a clothesline with their bedding over it, and built a fire opposite it. He took the fish, and she took her jeans and T-shirt and vanished behind the curtain. She'd done her part; they would have fried fish tonight.
She was dried, dressed, and warm before the fish was ready, so she thought to turn her attention to another problem. When she was fighting that flying reptile, she dropped her disintegrator staff, the one she had used to kill the vampire Jackson. The glass-like psionic material of which these strange mind focusing converters were made was extremely durable, but the fall from high above the valley floor was too much. It had snapped almost cleanly in half when it struck the ground. She had both pieces, and had been considering how to put it back together. Now might be a good time to take another look. Spring brought hope.
She got the two pieces, and found a dry spot to sit on the far side of the hill. No point in taking chances, she thought. The last time she tried to make a psionic device it exploded, sending her to another world. This wasn't the same thing; she was trying to fix one. Looking at the inner ends of the two pieces, she tried to see how they originally aligned. If she could line them up correctly, she might be able to fuse them telekinetically (she'd never tried it before, but didn't see any reason why it wouldn't work). Satisfied with a possible alignment, she pressed the ends together and tried to perceive the molecular structure in her mind.
There was a burst, like a flash of light; only she didn't see it with her eyes, but with her mind. A wave of psychic energy burst from the spot, moving through her body and causing every nerve to tingle and go numb until it reached her brain. The shock was crushing. It was immediately followed by another feeling, the feeling of her molecular structure dissolving into the scriff.
She had died again.
Now she was surrounded by giant dark birds, towering menacingly over her crippled form. Smoke wafted over her from the huge dinosaur-like flying lizard. She felt the cold, wet touch of death itself cover her. She would fight it. She had cheated death before, and she would rise up and challenge it once again.
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: