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Stories from the Verse
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Chapter 33: Beam 66
Table of Contents
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The mapping excursion established a pattern for Beam. Every three to four days he took the crew out, picked paths they had not yet explored, and wrapped back to the restaurant. This kept Sophia happy enough that she was willing to make a few meals between outings, and it gave him an expanding map of the area. Eventually he got far enough that he started encountering what he dubbed retail establishments, although whether that name really fit in a world where you never spent any money he was not sure. Distribution outlets would probably be a better name, although he suspected that the indigs, if there were any indigenous people, probably just called them stores and didn’t worry about the fine points of economics.
The thing that bothered him, he mused, was that he hadn’t encountered any “wandering monsters”. Be careful what you wish, he thought. While it might be possible that they would meet a group who, like themselves, were merely exploring, trying to become familiar with the area, in a post-apocalyptic underground compound there were a lot of other possibilities--war parties trying to claim territory, mutants from whatever was unleashed on the surface, wild animals trapped inside looking for food, robots of some sort gone rogue. He tried to get his mind to stop thinking about it. After all, the people who built all this could have created something like Dawn.
They stumbled upon a sporting goods store, and he spent a lot of time exploring this. The first things that caught his attention were the bows and crossbows, some of which were obviously very powerful for long range shooting. However, all the missiles were target points, and while one of the heavier bows or crossbows could easily put a target point through a human body, there were a lot of things they couldn’t penetrate. He wondered whether there was hunting anywhere on this world, but set the thought aside. A good hunting knife or even a machete had significant appeal, but as he considered it, he realized that the store had much more that could be useful--cook kits, tents, sleeping bags, tarps and ground cloths, water purification tablets, fire starter kits, hatchets--wait, wait, what is all this? Where would people camp? How could they use any of this?
He could use it, certainly, whenever they versed out of here. Maybe they would find uses for it before then. For the moment, he marked the location on the map and headed to the restaurant.
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 #364: Characters Learn. 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: