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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 72: Brown 24
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 71: Hastings 67
Over the next few days a routine began to develop. It wasn't a perfect routine, as Derek often did things out of sequence. He would eat three meals, spend several hours working with Lauren including about one hour in the makeshift gymnasium she had set up and the rest working with the laser rifle and talking about the verse. He managed to crack the codes on the rest of the consoles, but for the most part they required antenna access, not available to them. He did find some stored images, revealing little but that this was indeed north America, disfigured just a bit by time and whatever forces destroyed the world he knew. But it would require more skill than he had to rebuild the systems and again discover whether the satellites were still there and running.
At dinner Lauren would tell Bible stories. She began at the beginning, with the creation of the world, and then the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel. Derek had heard all of this before, but when Lauren told it, it was less like a story and more like a history lesson. At some point he had, in the back of his mind, relegated all of this to the same file as so many of the childhood stories he had been told. Lauren believed that there was truth in these, maybe not literal historic truth, but important truth. And the others clearly had never heard any of this. They listened intently to what she taught, and asked questions as if they were accepting it all and trying to fill in the gaps. Lauren answered the questions intelligently, sometimes saying that the Bible doesn't provide an answer but this was what she thought, sometimes suggesting that there were things that weren't said but could be inferred, and sometimes talking about history and archaeology and other sources. There was a part of Derek that thought he had heard all of this before, yet there was another part of him that felt he was really hearing it for the first time.
The days stretched into weeks, and on to months. Derek realized that his practice was beginning to have results. He had lost weight, gained strength, and was more agile. He was taking the stairs two at a time as often as not, and feeling much better overall. Under Lauren's tutelage he had learned tumbling maneuvers including cartwheels and handsprings, and had developed some skill at blocking, dodging, and striking in hand to hand combat.
When he had the time, he got Dorelle to show him how other things worked. They had portable computerized medical kits, hand-held communication devices, and an assortment of weapons. Although he didn't have any of these himself, he thought that if he learned to use them and then saw them again later, he would know what to do with them.
One day he realized that he had forgotten about the nightmare. It seemed strange, really, because this was exactly the sort of world where you could have a dozen different kinds of nightmares, from evil mutants to berserk robots to invading aliens. All that they had found seemed rather benign. The stories the others told when they had time made it sound as if this world was exactly the sort of place where such nightmares were common experience, but somehow he had landed in a safe haven in the midst of it all.
So maybe Lauren was right. Maybe God did have a hand in all this, bringing him to places where he needed sometimes to learn, sometimes to do. Here he was finally learning how to defend himself, how to survive. Now, too, he was learning a new way to see the life in which he found himself. He was also being exposed to gadgets unlike anything he'd seen at home, laser guns and needle rifles and medical scanners and much more.
He did scrape together two universal power converters designed to identify the electrical characteristics of a power supply and use it to recharge the batteries which powered the guns (and just about every other portable gadget in this world). The portable model recharged only one at a time, and still took an hour to run, but it was better than nothing.
Overall everything was going well; life was settling into something which seemed normal. Then Lauren came to see him one day, lost in a world of thought, and said something which he knew was going to ruin everything.
She said, "What do you think about changing this place into a school?"
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 #100: Novel Settling. 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: