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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 30: Beam 65
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Beam stepped out the doors into the hall, clipboard and pencil in hand. “We go left,” he said.
“Left?!” Sophia exclaimed. “But the restaurant is straight.”
“Yes, and we know how to get there. Right now, though, we don’t know what’s to our left, and we’re going to find out.”
“Well, I don’t care what’s there. I just want to go to the restaurant.”
“What can I tell you?” Beam said. “I’m going left. Dawn and Bob are coming with me; I’m betting Bron is coming with me. If you want, you can go to the restaurant by yourself and hope there isn’t anything you can’t handle out there, or you can go back inside and wait for us, or you can wander around on your own and see what you find, or you can come with us. I expect that if I’m right, I’ll be filling in a significant part of this map and winding up at the restaurant, unless I find a different restaurant before I get there. In any case, if we live I expect we’ll eat before we return home. You’re welcome to join us, or not, as you prefer.”
He proceeded up the hall, counting his steps. He smiled when he heard her huff, knowing that she was following.
He measured what he guessed was about the total width of their apartment complex, from the one end of his apartment through the common room to the opposite end of the apartment mirroring it on the other side, and then at about the width of another hall or two he came to two things, one a hallway to his right, the other a double door to his left.
“I am more sure that this is an apartment complex than I am that the others were, but as this is our next door neighbor, I think we should say hello. Be ready for trouble,” he said, and placed his palm on the sensor that opened the doors. They opened. He had not expected otherwise, as if there was a way to secure the common areas against outsiders he had not yet found it. He stepped through and heard the others, and particularly the crawler with the weapons, reassuringly follow him.
It appeared again to be the common area of an apartment complex, again with ramps up the sides to doors above. “Lights,” he said, “full,” and the dim illumination rose to near daylight levels. Scanning the area he decided that this was very much on the same pattern as theirs. The question, though, was whether anyone lived here. Had someone entered the common area of their compound there would be nothing to alert them that he lived in the one apartment. Someone was going to have to check. The simplest way would be to look at the pads; if the apartment was unoccupied it would say so by the door. He could send Bron--no, Bron can’t read and wouldn’t be able to tell him what it said. Sophia, well, in her current mood she’s not going to do it. Bob can’t tell him anything without using a penny to read his mind. It would be a waste of Dawn’s talents to send her. He was going to have to do it himself.
What was the use of having an adventuring party if you had to do all the grunt work?
Seeing no alternatives, he started up one ramp. “I’ll want Dawn with me,” he said. “The rest of you can rest your feet, have a seat, whatever, or follow if you prefer.”
The panel outside the first door said vacant. It occurred to him that it was possible something lived there that had not registered its presence, and maybe he should check--but then, if it was like his apartment there would be eight rooms to check (counting the bathrooms), and he could be checking rooms in this complex for quite a long time if he checked them all. If there were something in this apartment it either did not know how to register itself as the resident or it did not want anyone to know it was there. That was reason enough not to blunder in.
Continuing up the ramp he checked each of the other doors in turn, and returned to the ground floor to begin the other side. Everything showed vacant. Beam was not sure whether he was more relieved or more concerned, but at least if there was danger here they were going to get away without encountering it.
Exiting back to the hall he took the corridor straight ahead, which had been to his right before. As he anticipated, he passed more doors, first on his left, then on his right, then again his left and again his right. Although he wasn’t certain of the accuracy of his map, it appeared that these doors aligned with those in the first hall he had mapped, and he then came to the crossing corridor which they had crossed on their first foray. This, he realized, would be unlike its parallel, because it had halls where the other had doors. Thus he made the right and headed along until he came to the crossroad, which according to his map was the one that led from their front door.
“Good,” he said, and put away the pencil and tucked the clipboard under an arm. “Let’s go eat.” He turned left and walked up the hall until he reached the restaurant.
“How did you do that?” Sophia asked.
“It was simple, love,” he said. “I measured the distances and knew where I was. The more map we have, the easier it will be to get places. Didn’t you have maps in your world?”
Bron answered. “The kings apparently had them, used them to track their territory and manage their roads. I wouldn’t know what I was looking at if you handed me one.”
Yes, that made sense. Well, his companions had a lot to learn, but he probably had a lot to learn, too, and right now it was time to eat.
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 #361: Characters Explore. 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: