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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 81: Beam 55
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Previous chapter: Chapter 80: Kondor 169
He saw the soldier charging toward him, and heard the report of the rifle firing three times in rapid succession. Beam feebly attempted to aim his own revolver in that direction, as everything seemed to move in slow motion. He pulled the trigger and fired once. The soldier kept coming, putting three more bullets into Beam’s head, but Beam could still see him and fired twice more. Again the charging enemy fired three times, and again Beam returned two shots. The pattern repeated, and repeated again.
About this time it occurred to Beam that he was going to have to reload soon. His gun only held six bullets, and he’d already fired at least nine of them. Also, by now that soldier should have reached him, and with all those shots at least enough of them should have connected to have killed him. The slow motion continued as he fired twice more, and took three more hits to the head.
The illogic of it finally penetrated. He was dreaming again. Open your eyes, he said to himself, and in a moment managed to do so. He vaguely recognized that Dawn was already standing guard. Rolling onto his back, he found his revolver where he had dropped it, not quite empty. From this position, he could see more. He could see above him a ceiling, very like the roof of a cave including some small spikey protrusions, whatever they were called. The ceiling curved into walls which descended to the somewhat uneven floor on which he was lying. He was in a cavern of some sort.
Again, something did not make sense.
“If we’re underground, why can I see?”
“Sir,” Dawn replied, “there appears to be artificial lighting installed in the cave, sir.”
“Why did someone do that?” he asked himself. She answered.
“Sir, I do not know, sir.”
“No, I don’t expect we’re going to know until we figure out where we are. Well done back there, by the way. You beat him.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
“I’m going to have to practice. I never should have let them shoot me. I’ve become too dependent on the rest of you.”
His fighter was appropriately silent.
“So, I guess we gather our gear, and as soon as our companions are awake, we start figuring out who would put electric lights, or whatever they are, in caves, and why. Situation report?”
“Sir, nothing threatening in the immediate area, sir, but limited visibility and many strange but distant sounds echoing through the caves.”
“Well, then, we’re probably safe for the moment. I’m hungry. I hope Sophia awakens soon.”
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 #347: Versers Scrambled. 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: