Val Hall: The Odd Years

Val Hall is here for all who have need of it

Val Hall: The Odd Years

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Release Date : January 7, 2020

ISBN Number : 978-1-61138-849-7

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Description

There are many kinds of superheroes – but Val Hall is a care and retirement home for Superheroes, Third Class – the superheroes who are not gods or individuals of unlimited income who can buy supergadgets, just ordinary people who are… sometimes… somehow… extraordinary.

THESE ARE THE STORIES OF VAL HALL.

Val Hall was a sanctuary, a haven raised by the vision and devotion of one man for others of his kind… in the wreckage of the world left behind in the ashes of the conflagration of what they called the Great War.

Men and women in whom an extraordinary moment released one singular extraordinary power, gathered under the definition of Superheroes (Third Class), could gather here in the twilight of their lives in search of security, contentment, care, and peace – they could come here to find, and take shelter with, others of their kind.

From those who could know the unknowable, release gifts trapped in other minds, free ancient memories with a single touch, lead their kin back to the Promised Land, or face down a volcano, their powers are banked – until the instant in which they are kindled into something unforgettable. These are ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They could be your grandmother, your brother, your neighbor, your friend. They could be you.

Val Hall is here for all who have need of it.

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The One About Her Voice (1919)

VAL HALL 2017

“She wants to do what?”

“The women’s march. In Seattle. She wants to go.”

“She is a hundred and eight years old, for the love of everything holy. How on earth does she think of these things?”

“She was ten years old in 1919.”

“So?”

“She was there. She was there when the 19th Amendment passed. She was only ten years old, but she was there, she was alive, she was a girl, she understood perfectly well what it all meant. And now there’s this–the Women’s March. And she knows exactly how old she is, but this may be the closing bracket of her life. She needs to be there.”

“There is no way we can guarantee… How does she even plan on doing this? With a walker? In a wheelchair? She cannot possibly think she can do this by herself…”

“There are probably other women here who might want to go. Safety in numbers, and all that. And send someone with them. Send Eddie. Eddie’s always been good friends with all the old ladies. He’ll take care of her.”

“She’s a hundred and eight years old.”

“I know. She knows. This may well be her last hurrah. You can’t refuse this.”

“Oh yes I can. On medical grounds. On the grounds of pure physical fragility. We’re supposed to be taking care of these people, not indulging their mad old-age dreams and fantasies.”

“We are not here to be their jailors–they’re still free human beings, free to do what they want to do, need to do, are called to do. It’s our job to make sure they are supported and to ensure the comfort and security they deserve–but we don’t…”

“Comfort and security. Exactly my point. But she’s an old lady–this excursion–she’s just…”

“No, she’s not. Not just an old lady. None of them are just anything. Every single one of them is a superhero, that’s why they’re here, remember?”

“Fine. On your head be it. You’re responsible for it–all of it. And if you send Eddie with her, with them, whatever, then he has to understand that he is also responsible for all of it. Anything happens to Beatrice, you and Eddie will answer to it.”

“I’ll take that bet. I’m prepared to stake my reputation on the simple fact that Eddie will not hesitate to do the same.”

oOo

Beatrice Bell, one hundred and eight years old, bird-boned and delicate as a blown-glass sparrow, had made her intentions to attend the Women’s March in January of 2017 very clear from the day that the event was first announced. For a woman physically that tiny, that fragile, she had an adamantium will, whose existence was reflected in the very fact that the outing she had expressed a wish to go on had been discussed seriously by the authorities of Val Hall at all. Eddie had known about it from the beginning, of course–Eddie knew everything. His information came from the residents of Val Hall themselves, he had a way with the people in the Hall, and they trusted him with things. Beatrice had informed him of her desire to attend the March as soon as the first whispers of it had begun to swirl in the media. It had been Eddie who had made sure that it percolated upwards to where it needed to be heard. And Eddie was not in the least surprised to be called up by the head nurse and informed that he was to be put in charge of Beatrice and two other resident ladies who had expressed a wish to go.

“I’m mostly trusting you with Beatrice,” the head nurse said. “She will have to do this in a wheelchair, there is no way she can walk it, I’m not having those old bones put into the crush of humanity of that march. The other two are self-mobile and they’ll be fine, they’re that much younger, but Beatrice… you’re completely in charge of making sure that she comes back here in one piece. Am I clear? And are you enough? Should I send more escort?”

“We will be fine,” Eddie said. “It will be absolutely fine.”

“And it’s Seattle. She wants Seattle. Nothing smaller will do. You’ll have to take the ferry and go down to the city the day before. We’ll make arrangements for a safe place for you all to stay overnight. And it’s straight back, afterwards, understand?”

“Yes Ma’am,” Eddie said. “Have you told Miss Bell yet?”

“No, I was going to…”

“May I?” Eddie asked, grinning.

There was no way to resist an Eddie smile, once he turned that to its full wattage. The head nurse found herself smiling back, suddenly swept by a wave of enthusiasm for the outing.

“Go on then,” she said. “Sometimes I think everyone in this Hall is a little touched.”

“Oh, we are,” Eddie said equably.

oOo

Beatrice was just casting off some knitting when Eddie found her, and her eyes were bright when she lifted them to his. Eddie smiled and gave her the thumbs-up sign; Beatrice’s face lit up with an answering grin and she nodded her head vigorously.

“Yes!” she said, pumping her small fist in a gesture of victory.

“We’re to go the night before, and stay overnight, and I’m to keep you safe from the worst of the crowds,” Eddie said. “And it’s got to be in a wheelchair, and I’m in charge of that. That’s the rules.” He paused, taking a closer look at her expression. “You look like I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.”

“I do know,” Beatrice said. “I know, because it’s already happened. I will have already been.”

“Of course,” Eddie muttered. “You twist my brain, Miss Bell. Sometimes I wish your special gifts were something as simple as X-ray vision, or leaping over tall buildings. It had to be folding time, with you.”

Beatrice’s smile, if anything, broadened. “It’ll be fine,” she said. “I’ll fit right in, And so will you.”

She beckoned him closer and he came to crouch by her chair. She reached to the knitting bag beside her and pulled out a finished incarnation of the knitting project she had just cast off the raw twin of from her knitting needles–what looked at first glance like a flat knitted square, but opening into a bubblegum-pink hat peaking into two cat-ear points. “Your very own pussy hat,” she said. “Just so that you can blend in.”

Eddie accepted the hat gravely. “Thank you.”

Beatrice gestured to her bag. “I have another in there already. And I’ve just finished knitting the third, I need to put it together. I can make at least one more before we go.”

“What do you intend to do with them all?” Eddie asked, amused.

“I’ll hand them out. Wherever there’s a need for one. I know what I am doing.”

“Well,” Eddie said, getting to his feet and turning away, the pink hat dangling from his fingertips, “I’ll make the arrangements. You be ready.”

“Oh, I will be,” Beatrice said, with a depth of feeling that caught Eddie by surprise. He turned to look back at her and caught an odd glint in her eye, something he couldn’t quite nail down, but which made his own gaze turn thoughtful.

Beatrice Bell was a superhero, after all. She was at Val Hall for good reason. Eddie suddenly wondered whether indulging Beatrice’s whim was in fact a good idea.

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