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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 63: Brown 21
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 62: Hastings 64
It was entirely unexpected. Derek had remembered that strange feeling he'd had, the one that seemed like his equipment sense but was different, and had then noticed that the source was moving. Because he was underground, it eventually started arcing upward, more above him. As it neared overhead, the security cameras brought him the image of a motley group approaching the entrance, and he realized that they must be the source of the sense, so he opened doors which would bring them to him as directly as possible. Still, they took quite a long time wandering around the building before they found their way to his room. As they entered, he spoke to the man near the front; but someone else answered, a strange woman hidden in a very fancy red bathrobe with a hood and carrying some kind of pole with a huge gem in one end. She said she was like him.
She threw the hood back, revealing some kind of medieval chain armor underneath, and continued talking. "I'm the one who dies and continues to live in other worlds, like you. I'm the one for whom the impossible seems ordinary." She walked toward him, and smiled. "I'm Lauren Hastings. And you are?"
"Derek," he said. "Derek Brown, ma'am. How do you know about that?"
"You're not alone, Derek. There are others like us, people who somehow find ourselves traveling from universe to universe. I've known quite a few over the years. How long has it been happening to you?"
Derek hadn't really thought about that. "About a week, I guess. Not even. A night and a morning in one place, then all day and part of the night in the next, then part of the night in another, a day and a night and maybe the next day in another, and a day and a night, and I got here several hours ago, although I'm not sure whether it was night or day."
"My, you've been busy. I've seen more than a century pass, and don't think I've been to quite so many worlds."
"Yeah, well–you wouldn't have wanted to stay in the worlds I've been to."
"You might be right," Lauren said. "But wherever I am, I try to learn something and do something. I killed a couple of vampires in my last world, and taught the people how to fight against them."
"You killed a vampire?" Derek was indeed impressed.
"Several, actually, in two different worlds–or I think it was the same world, but once a little bit in the future and then later far back in the past. They're tough to kill, and one of them killed me twice, I guess, but I got him the second time–at least, I think I got him, and it was the first time for me, but the second time for...you know, this is awfully confusing. Let me introduce everybody and get comfortable, and then we can trade war stories."
So saying, the woman began giving names to the collection of, well, creatures accompanying her. Two of them were, as far as he could tell, human, and two more looked like mutants from some strange low-budget sci-fi film. The last two were a raccoon and a bear; Derek wasn't really into nature, but these animals didn't look entirely normal. The coon was very large, and clearly had much better control of its forepaws, as it was able to handle a pencil. The bear looked about right, but he didn't think that he'd seen bears with such large paws or claws ever; these seemed to impede the beast's ability to handle things around him, although Derek thought it might be able to tear through most doors without too much difficulty. The names went by quickly, and he didn't catch them all. Truth be told, he couldn't really remember any of them, but he thought the guy was named Star-something. He had other concerns.
"I don't guess you have anything to eat," he sort of asked.
"Certainly we do," the Star-named guy said. "But we had hoped there would be food stores here somewhere."
"Oh–well, there might be; I really only just got here, and figured out how to work the doors. I was waiting for monsters, or insane robots, or mutant zombies or something." He hesitated, wondering for a moment whether it was politically incorrect to mention mutant zombies in the present company, but the others didn't react, so he continued. "But I figured out which way was out, and then decided maybe I should stay in for a while, and before I decided what to do next you guys showed up." He was sitting at the security control console, and punched up the floor plan. "But if there's food somewhere here, we should find it."
Dorelle immediately moved next to him. "How did you do that?" she asked.
"Do what?" said Derek.
"Get it to show you what you want to know?"
Derek stared for a moment; he wasn't quite certain what it was that Dorelle didn't understand. "Well," he said, "I bypassed the password file by reconfiguring the drives so that the master here was the slave on my computer." He paused, trying to remember exactly what he did and what actually worked. "Then I rewrote the security routines replacing the check files with my own, so that it would recognize me as primary user." A glance at Dorelle's face suggested that she wasn't really following all this. "Look, I'll show you how I did it later. Right now, let's get to the food. I see a kitchen, an adjacent freezer, and another storeroom in the same section; that would be the first place to look. It's up one floor, and," he pushed a few buttons, "the doors are open."
Hopping up from his chair, he walked into the hall, only vaguely aware that the others were several steps behind him as he led the way to the long disused kitchens.
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 #94: Novel Meetings. 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: