keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
For Better or Verse
Chapter 132: Brown 96
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 131: Slade 92
Derek looked up at the stars. It was good to see stars again. These were few, faint, and far compared to those he saw long ago, when he was adrift in a magic bubble in space; but here, in a world so long deprived of them, they seemed somehow far more magical, far more wondrous.
They also reminded him of other worlds. He had been to other worlds; he had every reason to expect to see more of them. For now, he could look at them from here, remember those he'd seen, consider those about which he'd heard in the tales of others, and look forward to those still in his future. Some people thought the stars told the future; to the ancient world, that was probably true. After all, they told you when Spring was coming, when the rainy season was due, when to plant, when to harvest, when it would be cold and when the world would warm again, when to move south, and even which way south was--all the important things to people living on the land were told by the stars. Perhaps in some worlds the stars did know what was going to happen; and perhaps in some worlds you could find out by asking them. Worlds, futures, fates--it all made him wonder what lay ahead for him.
Most of the domes had by now been opened or destroyed. In a sense, it was their doing; but they didn't do most of the work. They built a communications network, and told the world how to open domes, what sorts of resistance they might face, how to disarm explosives and then even to use them to their advantage. They still did the big ones--London, Paris, Beijing, Los Angeles, Caracas, Sidney, more places now than he could remember--but thousands of cities and towns had been opened to the sky by ordinary people, humans finally aware of the battle they faced, and willing to take the risk in order to drive the evil back underground.
Merlin had started classes. They were very different from any school Derek remembered, although when he thought about it there was something familiar in the style. They all taught each other; Merlin encouraged each of them to share whatever he had learned about anything, and to practice what they knew. Derek wasn't sure he'd learned any magic--not the sort of stuff that Lauren would have called magic, which Merlin called the outer powers--but he was learning much about how magic worked and why it worked, and he was getting in some practice with the mental tricks he'd learned as a sprite.
Thoughts of Lauren turned his mind back to the stars, to the worlds out there, those he could, in a sense, see, because they were up there, circling those dots of light, billions of creatures on uncounted planets reduced to pinpricks by the distance; those he could not see, because they were not in this universe, but in some other universe, in the vastness of the multiverse God--and indeed, it must have been God, mustn't it?--had created. Lauren was in one of those worlds; Joe was in one of them. For now, he could only wonder what it was like wherever they were, and what it would be like wherever he went next. It had been like this for a long time now; but one thing had changed. Once he dreaded death, dreaded the step to another world. Now he looked forward to whatever would come next, certain that it would be something exciting, somewhere where he was needed and could make a difference, something, in a word, good.
It was a remarkable thing, to be able to embrace the present as a place you love and the future as a place you seek, neither detracting from the other. The present was good; the future was good. God was good. That was enough to know for now.
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 #209: Versers Victorious. 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: