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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 128: Beam 39
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For what Beam guessed must have been several weeks they settled into something like domestic tranquility. He found industrial-sized laundry facilities, and taught Bron how use them in addition to washing his own. Sophia had discovered that she could use what little magic she had to clean her garments, and got her wedding dress spotless before packing it in her carpet bag and changing to comfortable peasant garb. Bob never wore any clothes, and Dawn never removed hers, washing them when she washed herself. Showers were available, of the corporate sort common at gyms and pools in Beam’s experience, but he found a private shower in the officer’s section which he and Sophia used, frequently together, and Bron sometimes used, although he didn’t understand Beam’s “obsession with washing”.
Sophia took over much of the cooking, although periodically Beam insisted on “keeping his hand in” by making dinner. She was actually a decent cook, although she had trouble at first figuring out the spices, never having seen such things as powdered onion or granulated garlic. Even the quantities of pepper and salt and sugar amazed her, and she more than once commented that the people who had been here must have been terribly wealthy just to have so much of so many precious spices, let alone to leave them behind when they left.
Beam started noticing the habits of his companions. Dawn had a tendency to stand guard outside, particularly on sunny days, and to stand in the sunlight as if this nourished her. Bob, by contrast, preferred to stay out of the direct sun, and spent his time not merely indoors but below the surface where there was only artificial light. Bron spent a fair amount of his time tinkering in the workshop, and occasionally would ask Beam what a particular tool or gadget did, or how it worked, or how to work it. He took a nap every afternoon, and stayed up and got up late.
They had plenty of food, and quite a variety. They even found a case of frozen cow brains, which Beam said they should defrost one at a time for Bob.
Sophia always wanted to be with him, to spend time with him, to talk with him. This bothered him in part because he didn’t really have anything to talk about, and in part because she often came up with ideas that involved him making something in the workshop which she thought would make their rooms more pleasant or more functional. This, at least, gave him an excuse, something to do that would mean not being constantly with her, so he indulged her in this several times. It also gave him opportunity to relax a bit.
They never found any alcohol in the base. This was a bit disappointing, and Beam wondered why when he owned the bar he didn’t grab a few bottles from the top shelf to put in his luggage; but then, he hadn’t really expected to leave, and in some unknown period of time before he left he wasn’t himself, almost quite literally. Still, he thought having a few beers around would have been nice, giving him a chance to sit and drink with Bron and talk about the kinds of things men discussed, whatever they were.
He checked with Bob and Dawn periodically to make sure there wasn’t anything happening about which he needed to be informed. For a long time there wasn’t.
He was outside having a cigarette in the late afternoon. He noticed that Dawn had the weapons crawler with her; she didn’t like to be without it. She had nothing to report, but he stayed outside for a while enjoying the fresh air.
“Sir,” she said, and when he looked she indicated a direction. As he followed her stare he saw what she described: “Large pentapod artillery units, sir.”
They were coming his direction.
“Incoming!” he shouted. “Dawn, man the artillery. Everyone, pack everything in case we have to run.” He raced to his bedroom and started packing the few things he didn’t keep in his pack and duffel. Sophia joined him.
“We have,” he began, “seriously dangerous attackers headed our direction. Pack everything and join us upstairs on the artillery deck. And bring the food crawler, in case we have to make a run for it. I’m going to see if I can help Dawn repel the invaders.”
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: