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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 6: Hastings 97
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 5: Brown 57
The coast was clear, Lauren joked, as she finished checking the trees around her beach. There were no signs of larger animals of any sort, that she could see (although she wished she had Joe's woodcraft skills to be more certain), and no signs of people. Perhaps she was on a deserted tropical island; perhaps she was in an uninhabited world. Either way, here she was, so she might as well make herself at home.
She started by getting out of her armor. It had been her constant dress every waking hour in Wandborough, and even in her sleep during the journey of recent weeks. Had it not been made of that wonderful futuristic plastic it would surely have decayed from wear by now. Getting changed into something more comfortable seemed the task of the moment. She hung the armor, clothes, and undergarments over branches of an oversized bush; few trees had low branches here. Then she dug out comfortable clean clothes, including her cut-off jeans and a T-shirt. Thus attired, she began to put together a bit more substantial a camp–primarily a makeshift shelter and a fireplace. This last was against the possibility that there might be a long chilly night; although it was not what she expected, it was best to be prepared for it in a new world.
This led her to consider how she might light a fire. She had nothing remotely like matches or a lighter. Her laser power packs were completely spent; and although the recharger could have them all done before nightfall, it required an electrical power source to convert in order to do anything at all. There were some chemicals in those old bottles and jars in the wagon, but nothing for starting fires–and besides, the wagon wasn't here. You might get sparks from shooting steel bullets at rocks; at least, that sometimes happened on cowboy movies when she was a little girl. That was silly, though, since in the time depicted by those movies bullets were always made of lead, and lead was too soft to create such sparks, probably. Starting a fire that way might be a little more likely than setting out the wood and waiting for lightning to strike it. She had created fire by magic, and by pyrogenesis. It would have to be one of those tricks that did it, she decided. She didn't know whether either would work, but if she needed fire, those were her best bets.
She gathered the wood, put together a soft bed with a warm cover, ate some of the food she had packed for the space rescue, and settled back to enjoy the rest of the day. She dozed in the warmth, enjoying the sea air.
Every once in a while she would put another rock at the tip of the shadow of her stick. She noted that the stones formed a very slight arc moving counter-clockwise around one side of the stick. That should probably tell her something, she thought, but she could not think what.
The sun slipped behind the land beside her, casting a long, mountainous shadow across the cove before allowing the world to vanish into darkness. Lauren drifted off to sleep; the night air was quite comfortable without any pyronic intervention.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #157: Versers Restart. 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: