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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 12: Beam 59
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Takano 16
Perhaps an hour after the registration was complete, a soft chiming filled the apartment. Dawn immediately went on alert, Sophia looked frightened, Bob wary. The white-haired man calmly said in a loud voice, “Computer, what is that chiming sound?”
Sophia looked the more frightened as a voice answered, “It is the doorbell.”
Nodding to no one in particular, he said, “Who is it?”
“It is the welcome wagon, welcoming you to your new neighborhood.”
“Welcome wagon?” he said to himself. “How archaic. Well, I guess we’d better invite them in.” Walking to the door, he placed his palm on the pad and opened it.
In came a crawler not too unlike their own, but it proceeded to speak and open compartments. It reported that data on area conveniences was being updated on their computer, and that it was delivering samples from local distributors. The samples included a large pepperoni pizza from somewhere called Papa Pietro’s, a sealed platter of cold cuts and salads with rolls from the 27NA357 Deli, a six pack of beer, a bottle of wine, and a couple large bottles of soda from the 27NA357 Beverage Outlet, beef steaks and chicken quarters from the 27NA357 butcher shop, and a substantial sack of groceries from the 27NA357 Supermarket: milk, eggs, bread, butter, oil, flour, three kinds of cereal, bananas, oranges, ground coffee, cream, sugar, shortening, bread crumbs, orange juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, several varieties of frozen vegetables, fresh potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers, and mushrooms, canned beans, paper towels, bath tissue, facial tissue, napkins, disposable plates, cups (hot and cold), and tableware, pasta, jarred tomato products, and a number of other items including spices and ice cream.
It was followed a moment later by a second crawler containing dishes, pots and pans, linens, and the other accoutrements Beam had ordered.
“Well,” Beam said, “We’re not going to go hungry yet. Kitchen,” he commanded, and walked that direction, the robots following.
The first thing he did was put the pizza on the counter and take a slice. It was almost too hot to eat, but he managed the first bite, then called, “Sophie! Bron! We’ve got lunch.” Then he switched on the refrigerator and began offloading the cold foods into it, including the platter, wine, and beer. He hesitated on the fresh meat, not sure whether to freeze it, but decided not to decide. Other foods went onto the counter to be sorted after everything was unloaded.
His companions seemed a bit mystified by the pizza, but seeing how Beam picked it up, folded it, and bit it from the end, they copied him. Their expressions would best have been described as pleasant surprise. “What is this?” Bron asked, “and why have I never seen it?
“It’s pizza,” Beam answered. “Specifically pepperoni pizza, because those round sausage disks on it are sliced pepperoni. It comes with a lot of different toppings, but that one is popular. It’s from a place called Italy, or that’s what I’m led to believe--there are a lot of supposedly international foods that were actually invented in America by immigrants, and I can’t keep them all straight. But I think there are a couple of original Italian variations of pizza and then a lot of American variations on the theme. O.K., grab another slice and get out of my kitchen. Oh, wait--beer? We also have wine, milk, soda, and several kinds of fruit juice.”
“Soda?” Bron replied. “What’s that?”
“It’s a non-alcoholic sweet flavored fizzy drink, usually mostly water and sugar.”
“I’ll take beer.”
“Apple juice sounds good,” Sophia said. Beam pulled out two cans of beer and the apple juice, getting one of the disposable cold cups. The pull tabs on the cans were not much different from what he knew, and he handed Bron a can and showed him how to open it by opening his own. Then taking a slug, he opened the apple juice and poured a cup for Sophia.
“Now,” he said. “Out. I have to organize the kitchen here.”
He spent the next couple hours first figuring out where to put things, such as plates and tableware and cookware, and what he had in terms of pots and pans and other gear. Then he began running everything through the large dishwasher--after all, he had no idea how long it had been in some warehouse or what might have contaminated it. While that was running he decided what supplies went into which cabinets and got everything put away, including the linens in the closet in the hall.
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: