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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 11: Beam 3
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 10: Slade 137
Finally reaching the top of the spiraling stairs to which Turbirb’durpa had led them, James found himself inside a massive enclosed dome looking out over a beautiful view of nothingness with stars twinkling brightly, dominated by what he assumed was Earth at a distance. “Are we in outer space, Turbirb’durpa?” The question was rhetorical, but his companion did not answer as he floated toward one of the buildings under the immense sprawl of the dome. They found the electronic door locked, but James quickly removed an access panel beside the doorway and hardwired the mechanism that controlled it. It opened, allowing the two to pass inside.
A plush beige carpet covered the floor in this room from wall to wall. The walls were dressed with a paisley wallpaper, and a ceiling fan swung lazily above the center of the room as it bathed the area in dingy yellow light. James wished the interior decorator were here because he would have gladly put a bullet in him.
The lone occupant of the room was not the object of his distaste. A little pale-skinned girl stood at stiff attention with the hood on her black jacket pulled over her head under the ceiling fan; James immediately pitied her. Her eyes did not glance from straight ahead as he slowly walked a circle around her in awe of her stoic presence. She looked to be a child, not yet a young teenager, but her frail-looking body made her age more difficult to gauge exactly. She had white hair, incredibly pale skin with no blemishes to speak of, and no pigment in her pinkish-looking irises. The bright red lipstick, pink blush, and dark eyeshadow which adorned her looked somewhat out of place on a child’s face in James’s opinion. He finally decided she was more probably a carefully crafted machine than a human, and not activated at the moment. He still asked aloud, mostly to himself, “Are you an albino?”
“No, sir,” she answered in a loud and clear voice.
James was surprised at receiving any response whatsoever, and more so by the subservience she displayed. He paused for a moment, looking over her dark colored clothing to search her face for signs of anxiety and finding none. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m awaiting orders, sir.”
“You realize that we’re in an emergency situation; something here is killing people.”
“Aren’t you scared?”
James continued to examine the girl as he took another slow rotation around her. She wore the aforementioned jacket with a zipper and a hood, and her legs were covered by black tights which she covered with a black miniskirt that was cut a few inches above her knee. He saw that she wore three guns openly, and assumed she had more weaponry he couldn’t see in a cursory inspection. “Do you know how to use those?”
“Yes, sir,” she responded with no sign of impatience or discomfort, but she also didn’t seem particularly excited or pleased.
“Good, you might be useful.” He stopped to her right, and he watched her face carefully for a reaction as he asked her, “Do you want to go with us?”
She still did not glance at him, and her only response was a flat, “Sir.”
He drew the pistol she wore on her right hip; it looked like a .44 caliber colt magnum revolver, and James replaced it with the .45 caliber handgun he had taken from the guard. It didn’t fit as well as the original weapon, and the girl immediately removed it from the holster and quickly examined its condition; James quickly turned the barrel of the .44 toward her in mistrust, but had the impression watching how she handled the .45 that he had moved far too late to defend himself if she had wanted to shoot him. “Turbirb’durpa and I are trying to find a way out of here. Do you want to go with us?”
“No, sir,” she responded to his repeated question.
Perplexed by her response, and feeling an irritated headache coming on, he drew another cigarette from his pack. He counted the remaining six subconsciously. He lit the cigarette as Turbirb’durpa waited anxiously near the door. As the light-headedness took the edge off his nerves, James decided that he had been approaching this situation from the wrong perspective to begin with. “When I ask you if you want to do something, I’m telling you what we’re going to do,” he explained to her. “You’re with me, now. If you stay here, you’re going to die. Do you want to die?”
“No, sir,” she responded with emphasis this time.
“Good,” he answered. “Follow me, and be careful you don’t get separated.”
With a blank look that suggested she was indifferent to the answer, she then asked him, “Sir, are we going to die?”
“Hopefully not,” he replied, “if we stay together.” He glanced around the small, unfurnished room, and, confident there was nothing else of interest, he turned to Turbirb’durpa. “Is there a place they keep weapons here?”
This way, this way, Turbirb’durpa responded as he floated gracefully back into the domed area.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #275: Versers Reorient. 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: