Re Verse All; Chapter 82, Beam 83

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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 82:  Beam 83
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Takano 39

Thinking as fast as he could, Beam told Varlax that he wanted the entire population to gather in the Empire of Beam common room before dinner.  She would have to dispatch messages to North and South, and then muster all her own people.  He was going to have to address everyone.

Then he retired to his apartment.

“What are we going to do?” he said to the room.

The others looked at each other, and then Bron asked, “What do you mean?”

Yeah, they wouldn’t have a clue at this point.  He was going to have to explain it to everyone, but first he was going to have to explain it to these people.

“I’ve said before that there is a computer that runs everything here--the lights, the food delivery, the airflow, the water, the power, the locks, everything.  I know you don’t fully understand what that is, but it’s a bit like the mind of a person without the personality.  Are you with me?”

Bron and Sophia stared a bit blankly, but there was nothing for it.

“Something has gone wrong with the computer,” he continued.  “It’s developed some bad code or something, and it’s starting to malfunction.  It shut off the vermin control in several of our apartments, and now it sent a mining mole to dig its way into our common area.  It’s probably going to get worse, and as it does it will start killing us.  That means we have to get out of here.”

“What,” Sophia said, “move to a new apartment?”

It hadn’t actually occurred to him that he hadn’t thought through where they should go.  But then, once he asked himself the question, there was only one answer.

“These people originally came from the surface of the planet.  We don’t know why, and we don’t know when.  But with the computer malfunctioning, we’re going to have to find our way to that planetary surface and hope that it’s survivable.  I’m inclined to think it is--I think the meat and vegetables and grains are all grown and processed up there, that the fresh water and air comes from there, and that we stand a much better chance of surviving up there than down here.  I might be wrong, but that seems to be the place to go right now.  We have to pack and get ready to travel.”

He thought for a moment.

“One thing we noticed about the crawlers,” he said, “is that they were able to carry more initially than they contain now, because when we versed out some of it was left behind.  Sophia, pack food that will travel, on top of our rations.  Dawn, I think we need to take blankets, because we don’t know what we’re going to find topside.  I’m also going to order bows and arrows, and spare bowstrings, to be distributed to our peasants once we have some clue what we’re doing up there, so plan to pack those.

“If anyone has any other suggestions, let me know, because we’re leaving tomorrow and we’d better be ready to go.”

He went over to the computer and found his way to the sporting goods store, then ordered the weapons he wanted.  He ordered fifty, roughly enough for all the adults, with a like number of quivers, five hundred strings, and five thousand arrows.  That was a lot, and he was not sure whether they would all be delivered, but he would take what he could get.  Then he made himself a roast beef sandwich on a roll, recognizing that the food available was going to deteriorate in quality rapidly, and made his way to his front door, sandwich in one hand, beer in the other.

He was going to miss this place.  Part of him thought he should just stay until they died here, but somehow he felt he had undertaken an obligation to keep a hundred people alive, and they weren’t going to survive here, particularly not the children, without getting to the surface and developing an entirely new skills set.

The common area was filled with people; his three leaders were waiting just below his door.

“Is everyone here?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” Varlax said, and the other two nodded in agreement.

“Good,” he said, and raised one hand to quiet the crowd, which gradually complied with his unspoken wish.

He was not sure what to call them, but began as well as he could.  “My people,” he said, “you have by now heard about the mining mole that attacked our common area here.  We stopped it, but it is not the problem.  For reasons you cannot understand, I believe that the systems that keep us alive here, that deliver our food and water and replace our stale air with fresh and give us light and heat, are about to start failing.  We need to leave this place for a safer one, and as quickly as possible.”

He paused, looking over the crowd.

“Your ancestors, who created this home for you, lived on what would be called the surface of the world, above the rooves, above the caves, in a place where there was sky, clouds, sun and rain, where grass grew on the ground and animals roamed.  We don’t know why they abandoned it to come down here.  We don’t know what hazards might await up there.  We don’t even know for certain how to get there, other than to find paths that lead up.  They must exist, because even now our food comes from the surface, and it must come down paths which we hope to follow up to the surface.

“We leave tomorrow morning.”

He ran his hand over his lips and chin, and looked down as if checking an invisible script before continuing.

“Tonight you must pack.  Everyone, including the youngest of children, will have to carry some things.  You will need clothes and bedding, and particularly bring warm clothes, because we don’t know what the world is like up there.  If you have tools or weapons, you will probably want to bring them.  Most importantly, you will need to bring food and drink that will stay fresh without refrigeration for as long as possible, and the means to eat it.  We do not know when or where we will find more to eat.  We will do our best along the way.

“Be ready to leave early tomorrow.”

He paused again, wondering whether he had overlooked anything.  Undoubtedly he had, but he wasn’t going to think of it quickly enough to matter here.  He turned and reentered his apartment.

He chided himself that a roast beef sandwich, as good as it was, was hardly the last meal he wanted to have in his apartment.  Well, he’d had it now.  Maybe later tonight he’d pull those steaks and grill them.  Pulling stakes seemed to be the order of the day, and it would be a shame to waste those, so if he didn’t do them tonight, well, it would be steak and eggs for breakfast.  And breakfast would be the last meal they had in this apartment which had become home for over a year now.

Next chapter:  Chapter 83:  Hastings 213
Table of Contents

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 #383:  Character Departures.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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