keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 36: Beam 67
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Takano 24
Thinking about the sporting goods store, Beam realized that if they sold bows and crossbows, there must be a place to use them. That would mean an archery range somewhere. Then, he thought, if there was an archery range, why would there not be other things, like a shooting range, paintball, martial arts dojos, boxing and wrestling gyms, medieval weapons lists. It was a big world; he was betting these things must be here somewhere.
He could try to find them on the computer--but he did not yet know who or what might be monitoring the computer, and thought it better they not know what he was seeking. He should widen his search area, continue mapping outward to see what he could find.
That posed a conundrum, though, because he had been thinking that he needed to search the area he had already mapped and fill in the detail--get into all those apartment complexes and map each apartment, not so much so he had the maps but so that he knew they were vacant. The maps were in that sense proof that the area had been carefully examined and explored. Not that he needed to prove it to anyone, but then, if he got drinking he might not remember what he had checked and what he had missed. The place was a veritable maze--no, it wasnít a maze, not even like a maze, it was just big. It was more like early suburbia, where the streets formed huge grids and you could easily be at the wrong house on the wrong street in the wrong neighborhood and not know it. It had struck him more than once that if he got lost out there he might never recognize the outside door to his own apartment block. He was not certain any of his companions were any better equipped for that than he was. The map mattered in more ways than one.
As they began exploring the apartment complexes he discovered that the common areas were each just a bit different. Mostly it was decorations, but it was also in the layout, the ramps sometimes starting clockwise, sometimes counter-clockwise, sometimes one each way and sometimes reversed.
They were all numbered, of course, and he was beginning to make sense of the numbering system. They were all L027-NA-S0357, and he had decided that NA probably stood for North America, which explained why the restaurant was so American. The letters RU were on all the apartment complexes, so Beam decided they must stand for something like rural unit or residence unit. Each had a different number after that, so that had to be the individual complex identification. His apartment was A1, and the other apartments were numbered A2 through A12, so that was easy. That left the L027 and the S0357 as unknowns, but whatever they meant everything he had found thus far had those numbers, including the retail addresses, which replaced the RU with DP but were otherwise very much on the same pattern.
It was still a disorderly life. Sometimes Beam would cook; frequently he drank when he cooked, and frequently he drank when Sophia cooked, and frequently when he drank he lost a couple days. On days when he decided to map no one cooked, but they ended their task at one of the now several restaurants they had found, differentiated by both style and menu to include a steak joint, a seafood bar, a hamburger place, a hot dog stand, and the pizza place and deli that had sent them food upon their arrival.
Sophia acquired quite a bit of clothing, filling not only their closet but closets in the other bedrooms. Bron also picked up a few items to wear, but was considerably less avaricious and more practical in his acquisitions. Beam pointed out to them that eventually they were probably going to be out of there and have to carry what they took, and that their experience suggested there was a limit to how much they could take with them, but Bron wasnít being extravagant and Sophia didnít care.
They found a fully automated clinic, and adjacent to it a drug store. The latter carried many products familiar to Beam as over the counter remedies, but it seemed that controlled substances were still controlled, that the systems at the clinic had to determine that you needed them and dispense them for you. He tried to fool it into giving him mood-altering drugs, but it was well designed and he wasnít certain he could get away with hacking the system without tripping some kind of alarm.
Gradually their world expanded, but still they were alone in it.
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: