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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 9: Beam 58
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Takano 15
There was nothing difficult about the process of registering themselves as occupants of the apartment--which was apparently designated L027-NA-S0357-RU0063-A01--but it was still challenging for Beam in a way he had not anticipated. As soon as he had begun the process it required the full names of each of the occupants, and he realized that in occupying the apartment he would be registering their identities with The System. He debated for some time whether to do that, and then finally, hesitantly, he entered each of their names.
James Donald Beam.
Dawn Project Prototype Unit Number Ex Dash Zero Zero.
He was a bit surprised that it took Dawn’s full name, but apparently the system collected data and did not pass judgment on it.
Then he balked again, as the system requested that each resident provide a palm print reading for identification purposes. He was being fingerprinted. He seriously considered trying to skip this, but he realized that the touch screen at the door was almost certainly the locking mechanism, and that a palm print would be needed to get into the room once it was assigned to them.
He placed his left hand against the screen, and waited for the beep.
“Everybody,” he called, and noticed that Bob was already standing next to him. “We need to provide palm prints for identification.”
Bron plodded over. “What the heck are you talking about?” he asked.
Beam waited a moment for Sophia to arrive so he wouldn’t have to repeat himself. “Sometime in the late nineteenth century someone realized that those tiny ridges in the skin on your hands were unique--no two people have the same fingerprints, not even identical twins. They started collecting the fingerprints of criminals, and later of people in positions of trust like bank employees, so that if there were a crime they could find fingerprints left behind by the oils in your skin and match them to the collected prints to try to determine who did it. With the development of computers and electronic security, the same identifying features were read into the computers as palm prints. When you want to come into the apartment, the pad by the door will read your hand and match it to the one scanned here, and decide whether you live here or not. So you have to pick a hand and press it against the screen when your name appears here, and then you have to remember to use that hand whenever you want to enter the apartment. Sophia, you’re next.”
“I already did mine. I used my left hand, because I figured I would be more likely to be holding something in my right hand when I needed to open the door.”
She nodded and pressed her left hand against the glass. There was a beep, and Beam said, “That’s it, you’re registered. Bron?”
Bron looked at his two hands, and then also used his left hand against the glass.
Turbirb’durpa had trouble with his short arms, but Beam managed to move everything so he could reach; he used his right hand. Dawn was last, and used her left hand.
“Thank you, everyone. If I need anything else, I’ll let you know.”
There was a series of other screens, asking if he wanted to furbish the apartment. He selected an advanced cookware kit, standard tableware, high quality linens and blankets, hygienic paper products, and automated maid service.
The screen showed what Beam took to be the “wait while processing” screen for a few minutes, and then returned another screen. It read, “Would you like a convenience address for your residence?” and below that a line with a cursor that would permit editing, which read “James Donald Beam Residence”.
He thought for a moment, then backspaced the cursor across the words and typed in their place, “Empire of Beam”. He looked at it for another moment, then hit the return key. A screen came up confirming the convenience address and the names of the five residents.
“We’re in,” he said. “This is now our apartment.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #355: Versers Resettling. 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: