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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 143: Kondor 90
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Kondor awoke quite a bit more stiff and sore than he had done in a long time. You've been spoiled, he thought, by a succession of progressively better beds. It had been a long time since he slept in the nest with Lauren and Bob, and from there the hammocks of the ship were an improvement, and the modern beds in the last world better yet. But the bed in which he had slept the past few days was amazing. Taking advantage of the fact that everything would be weightless were it not for the artificial gravity, the gravity generators in the bed were set to a fraction of normal gravity–enough to draw you to the mattress, and yet leave you light as a feather, barely pressing it. Around and through the mattress were air vents, pumping temperature controlled atmosphere in the area, eliminating the need for blankets. Altogether it created the most comfortable sleep experience Kondor could remember.
He was stiff this morning because he did not sleep in that bed. He thought it proper to permit Lauren to do so. He took the sitting room. The one piece of furniture most like a sofa here was too short for his six foot height, and designed to respond to pressure by creating cupped seating–rather uncomfortable for stretching out. He had expected the floor to be better. It was, after all, coated with an impact absorbing layer which made it soft underfoot. It was not comfortable enough, judging from the soreness in his side and back.
Lauren seemed much more cheerful that morning than she had the night before, and thanked him for giving up his bed for her. He insisted that it was no problem, and indeed felt better that she appreciated his sacrifice. Besides, she prepared breakfast for them, a meal better than anything he or Derek had yet managed. It didn't make him less stiff or less sore, but it brightened his spirits immensely.
Having served them and sat down to her own meal, Lauren brought up another idea. "I find it interesting," she said, "that the three of us are here together. I know you don't think there's any meaning in that, Joe, but whether or not there is, it's an opportunity for us to learn from each other. I've noticed," and she stopped, apparently realizing that she had put a bite of food in her mouth and was talking with her mouth full. She swallowed, but before she could continue, Kondor interrupted.
"I've given a lot of thought to your observation that versers often appear together. I think it's because scriff attracts scriff–you're here because Derek and I are here, and your scriff is attuned to ours. If we stayed here long enough, I imagine Bob Slade would show up, too."
"That would be cool," Derek said. "He sounds like a really neat guy."
"He is," Lauren said, "even if he's a bit crazy at times. Anyway, I've noticed that my psionics seem to work well in this world, and it would be a good opportunity for me to teach you some of that–assuming neither of you have already learned those things and not told me?"
"Not I," Kondor said.
"I came here from that world we were in together," Derek added. "You have a pretty good idea of what I can do, although maybe I'm a bit better at it."
"So we could teach each other. I could show you how to use your minds to reach beyond yourselves."
"And what," Kondor asked, "could we teach you?"
"You know lots of things I could learn. I don't know near enough about medicine for my own good. I don't expect to become a doctor or anything, but it would help if I learned some of that. And Derek, I know about as much about computers as I know about time travel. I understand they turn up from time to time in these worlds we visit, so maybe I should know something about them."
"Sounds cool to me," Derek said. "Right now I've got to get to work, though. Thanks for the breakfast; it was good." With that, Derek was away from the table and out the door.
"He understates it," Kondor said. "Breakfast was the best meal either of us have eaten since we arrived, and probably for quite a while before that. If you weren't such a religious nut, I'd marry you for your cooking."
"Thanks, Joe." Lauren smiled, but it had a distant and sad look to it.
"Did I say something wrong?"
"Not really. Derek thinks his friend Raeph is interested in me, and after last night's dinner I suspect he may be right. It dredged up a lot of memories of home. You know I'm married; I don't guess I'll ever see my husband or my children again, but that doesn't change the fact."
"I never got married, Lauren, but I seem to recall that the vows said 'until death parts us'. You died, and you've been parted from your husband. No one is going to be upset if you find love from someone else."
"It's been more years than I can count, Joe, but I think what we promised was 'as long as you both shall live'. I'm still alive, and he was still alive when I left. It would be easy to say that Phil must have died by now, but it was just as easy to see when I was in Wandborough that he had not yet been born. He's still alive, and so am I. We may be forever parted, but there is part of him that is part of me, and I can't just toss that away so easily."
"I'm probably not the person to advise you on this. I've never been married, and for as long as I've been in the verse I've never had any sort of relationship that was more than a friendship. Perhaps the opportunity never presented itself; perhaps I didn't think of life that way in that time. But there is the possibility for happiness here, and I don't think you should toss it aside because you're grieving for a husband you lost several lifetimes ago.
"Well, I probably shouldn't have said so much about it as that. But I hope you'll give this some thought. If there's anything I find more irrational than superstitions, it's people who let their superstitions ruin their lives."
Lauren's eyes moved away for a moment, then returned. "Thanks, Joe," she said. "I'll think about it."
Suddenly feeling quite awkward, Kondor rose and cleared the table. "I," he started, "I guess I have to get to work myself. Your idea of teaching each other sounds good to me. Maybe we can start tonight. Take care of yourself, and if you need anything use the screen to find me." Almost as quickly as Derek, he got his things and left.
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 #134: Versers in Space. 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: