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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 124: Beam 37
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The white-haired man awoke in dim light with the red-headed woman snuggled beside him. This time she was naked, and inadequately covered by their shared blanket; he had expected the former, and as he rose he shifted the blanket better to cover her. He was also naked, but from long habit he knew exactly where on the floor to find the heap that contained his white jockey shorts and trousers. He slipped these on, both garments but one leg at a time. He knew how to do both at once, but it wasn’t worth the risk of awakening the girl.
Yesterday, once Sophia had awakened from being stunned, he showed her how to use the taser; although it occurred to him that he might not really want her to know, he had committed to that when he gave it to her. Then, after a bit more exploration, they found a section of smaller sleeping quarters. He took what he judged to be the commander’s room, based on the fact that there was a single large bed and the door could be closed with a light on in the room. He told the others to choose beds in the immediate area if they required these. He believed Bron had done so, that Dawn was standing guard in the hall, and that Bob was floating in a dormant sleep-like state near her. However, he hadn’t waited to see how that settled, but after eating the rations Sophia had served he had shut the door behind them and turned his attention to being married.
He threw his shirt on loosely, mostly because his cigarettes and lighter were in the pocket, and stepped into the hall before lighting one. “All quiet?” he asked Dawn unnecessarily.
“Sir, yes, sir,” she answered crisply. He nodded, and took a long drag.
“All right,” he finally said. “I think as soon as everyone is awake and fed, we should have a meeting to decide what we’re going to do next. I’ll want your assessment on the relative merits of staying here versus heading out into the field exploring our surroundings.”
“Sir, yes, sir.”
He nodded again, and stared at Bob, floating nearby--simply because he did not wish to be staring at the wall, and Bob was the only decoration in the room. There was nothing wrong with staying here, he thought, except that there really wasn’t much of anything to do. In that sense it was boring. Perhaps his wife wouldn’t think so, but then, the intensity of being trapped in a house, even as big as this one, with a woman who wanted to monopolize his time and have a relationship was a bit unsettling. She was good to look at, and good in bed, but when it came to conversation--well, she knew nothing about movies or popular music or fantasy role playing games or any of the subjects on which he was knowledgeable, and he somehow doubted that he would be much interested in whatever it was she did want to discuss.
A small crawler entered the hall. Dawn whirled toward it, gun at the ready, and then relaxed and went back to her vigilance. Beam raised an eyebrow, but then realized it was a gesture completely wasted on Dawn.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Housekeeper,” she replied.
Automated maid service, he thought. Well, that reduces any demand that I help with the housework. He watched as the multi-legged machine scuttled about the room somehow picking up dirt from the floor and corners. It then moved to a door, which opened for it, and vanished into one of the rooms. It would probably be headed for his own room soon enough; that would undoubtedly terrify Sophia, so he’d better be there first. There was a chair by a desk in there, and what appeared to be a computer terminal of some sort. The security might not be formidable, but it would be challenging, at least. He could sit there and see what he could do about cracking it--but then, even a simple password access would be a nightmare of effort without something like a laptop to throw possibilities at it. He’d have more luck if the commander had been one of those people who wrote his password on the desk pad for reference, or better yet had the computer store it and enter it automatically when he turned it on. Well, it was worth a look.
He put out the cigarette, nodded to Dawn, and returned to the room.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #316: A Gather World. 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: