keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 84: Beam 84
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Hastings 213
The first problem facing the white-haired man was how to go up. There might be elevators, but even with the fact that his four companions had all operated one they werenít going to move a hundred people upstairs in a couple of lifts. He had considered trying to scale the inside of a ventilation shaft, but apart from the fact that not even he knew enough rock climbing to attempt such a feat he was certain that there would be powerful impellers with solid deadly blades at regular intervals. He could disable them, but how quickly would the repair robots appear to fix them? Air was, or at least ought to be, a priority for the computer. They were going to need stairs, or perhaps ramps.
On the positive side, he was rather certain that these must exist. Food was delivered to the distribution points, what he thought of as stores or retail outlets, and the sheer numbers of these, the sheer volume for which the system was designed, demanded a delivery system capable of delivering much more than it was currently running. Only robotic trucks navigating ramps or steps (most of the robotic transports they had seen had insectoid legs) could accomplish this. Thus there must be ramps.
Further, he was pretty sure that their apartments were on level twenty-seven. He didnít know whether that was counting from the bottom or the top, but it strongly suggested that there were also apartments on levels twenty-six, twenty-five, twenty-fouróand that the occupants ought to be able to travel between the levels. Maybe it was accomplished via those trains, but the one they had found appeared to run quite level, so he thought it more likely that there was another system somewhere.
He also thought that product delivery was the primary function of these hypothetical ramps, and that efficiency was part of the model, so the ramps were going to be somewhere in the retail distribution area. He thought it unlikely that there was a separate wholesale section. Many of the fresh foods would not keep long enough to make sense moving from the surface to a warehouse to a retailer to an end user, and the computer didnít need the middleman. Having thus considered it, he was leading his flock toward the retail section.
Coming to the first of the stores, he stopped and looked around. This was as far as his logic could take him. Unless he could think of something else he was going to have to do something like a grid search, and that would take time.
He thought of something else. These hypothetical ramps would have to be wide and well-supported. There would probably not be open spaces under them. That meant they would be in walls that were boundaries of the retail area, and so the search didnít have to go through the middle but around the perimeter.
So the question was, left or right?
He chose right, and began to scout for anything that might be the ramp.
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: