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Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 21: Hastings 102
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 20: Brown 62
Fish meant food. That was Lauren's first thought. She had done a fair amount of spear fishing once, a couple of centuries ago when she was living with the parakeet people, and her arrows were the perfect tool for this.
Then again, perhaps she could not eat these fish. Lauren remembered that piranha could kill a horse, and quite quickly. She could put on her plate and chain leggings, but there might be something worse than piranha in these waters. Besides, she had little that would protect her feet, apart from some boots she wore many years before when she did some construction work. She would have to prove it was safe to enter the water before she attempted spear fishing, and she was not at all certain how to do that.
Even apart from piranha, there might be creatures with stingers or other poisons, electrical generating creatures, or things she had not previously encountered. She was not native to the water; it was not so easy for her to be certain it was safe.
Besides, she had no certainty that she could eat the fish. There were fish in her own world which were poisonous, if not carefully prepared. She didn't know if there was anything at all in this world she could eat; but there was particular reason to be wary of fish.
She then wondered whether it might be wrong to eat the fish. They might be the intelligent creatures of this world. She wondered what test might answer that. She had landed on the beach; it may have been so she would be near the fish. But if so, was it so she could eat them, or talk to them?
She realized that she had not seen the birds eat the fish. For that, she had not seen the birds much at all. She had heard them when she first arrived. Could they be the intelligent creatures of this world, hiding from this strange monster on this island? Or were they just, as she had assumed, shore birds? Not having seen them eat the fish told her nothing; they could merely be avoiding her, intelligent or not. Had she seen them eat fish, she realized, that still would be little assurance. She remembered that birds could eat some things that were not safe for people.
Besides, she was not yet certain how she was going to start a fire. For all she knew, the trees might be the intelligent creatures of this world, watching her to see whether she was friendly or hostile.
Eventually she was going to have to make decisions about these things. Meanwhile, she should take her equipment back to her campsite and get settled in. There were psionic tricks and magic spells she could use, or at least attempt. First she wanted that feeling of a safe home base.
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: