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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 18: Hastings 101
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 17: Brown 61
Lauren delayed the last leg of her quest. There was something insensible about taking all of this gear back to her starting point on the beach. The southern beach might have something to commend it as a base camp, but as yet she did not know what. Here, on the other hand, she had fresh water close at hand, a hot sauna and a cool bath, and a reasonably clear view of the ocean in several directions. Unless she discovered something down there that she needed, it made more sense to settle up here. The thought occurred to her that it would be difficult to get to the shore if she needed to signal a ship at sea; but from the cove she could see very little of the sea, and was probably well hidden from it. This spot commended itself as the best location she had yet seen. Moving her equipment from it made little sense.
Thus she spent the day building a less temporary house. She chose a spot that was sheltered, below the rock shoulder, but not in a hollow or trench. She was south and west of the cave, as well as slightly down the hill. The ground was soft, and the trees grew close enough around to afford a ceiling. She determined to attempt to lash a roof of sticks and large leaves which would shed rain, similar to that of the nest she had learned to build among the parakeet people, and put her bed under that. It was not finished when the day was, but that did not concern her. She had no need to hurry. It was the middle of the next day before the work was complete, and then she decided to spend the night in her new home. It proved as comfortable as anything she had tried since her arrival, and she was satisfied that it would provide as much shelter as she could hope with the available materials.
She wondered if there were severe storms at some time during the year. The cave, as wet as it was, would be her best protection in that event. Again, it seemed this was the best campsite available.
Her shelter, somewhat protected from the morning sun both by its place on the western slope and the shade of its trees, did not demand early rising. She got up rather lazily the next day, and before doing much else spent some time reading her Bible. She spread the rest of her clothes out to dry in the sun and, taking only a few things with her, began the trip to complete the circuit of the island around the southern side of the volcano.
This trip was more leisurely than the previous ones. Then there seemed some imperative to collect her equipment; now that she had located it all there was no reason to rush. The island itself seemed to demand she take her time and enjoy the world around her. She was an immortal creature. She had always known that she was immortal, that death was only a door to another world. This was not the world she had expected, but it did have some features in common with it. She was not aging; not for centuries had she aged. Time was not a stricture, save only that she needed to eat and sleep. If she needed to be somewhere, God would show her where that was. For now, there was nowhere to go and no reason to hurry.
Her eyes scanned the trees and shrubs as she traveled. She would have to start trying the local food soon; there was an assortment of odd fruits, many growing high in the leafy fronds above, but some within reach. It was still too soon to be testing foods. That would begin once she was settled. The last thing she needed was to get sick while traveling across the island. If you're going to be sick, she thought, you should at least have a place to eat, drink, and rest.
Again, she made a temporary camp in the woods for the night. She reached the beach by mid afternoon the next day.
She gave a lot of attention to the area around the beach. After all, this was where she arrived, and it was often the case that there were clues to why she was in a place near where she started. In Philadelphia, she was within half a block of the vampires Gavin and Jackson whom she destroyed. She had not walked far outside Camelot before finding Merlin waiting for her. On the earth that had lost its past, her arrival was observed by a couple of people--using the word loosely--who would be very much a part of the school she and Derek would create. She landed very close to Wandborough when she met and trained Bethany. It didn't always happen that way, but it happened often enough that it was worth examining.
For all that, there wasn't much to see. The trees here did not look particularly different from elsewhere on the island; the same fruits grew in the same quantities. The white sand was repeated in many places along the shore, and she had no use for white sand of which she was aware. Shore birds were heard and sometimes seen here, but that was not peculiar to this beach. It was not a bad spot; but there was nothing in particular to commend it.
She gathered her things, packing up the few loose items and getting ready at least to start the trek back.
A sound caught the back of her mind. Slowly its meaning penetrated to her consciousness. She raised her head, looking out over the cove. The sound had been a splash.
There were fish in the water.
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 #164: Versers Proceed. 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: