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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 86: Beam 85
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The ramp was not more than perhaps three quarters of a mile, and as Beam started ascending it quickly became an enclosed tunnel. It was a bit steeper than he might have hoped, and longer than any staircase he could remember. That made sense, though, given that the level he was leaving had what were in essence multi-story apartment buildings. However, the quinquagenarian smoker struggled with the climb. He muttered to himself that he had to quit smoking, as smokers often do, hoped his pounding heart would hold out for the remainder of the distance, and soon emerged on what he quickly identified from the signs as level twenty-six.
He had a long way to go.
He stood for a moment catching his breath, and Bron came over. “You all right, boss?” he said. Beam nodded and continued swallowing deep breaths before he spoke.
“Get the--get the people--arranged,” he said, “so that I can talk to them.” He was looking at the establishment directly across from the ramp, and formulating an idea.
Leaning his backpack and duffel against the doorway there, he sat on them and continued attempting to force himself into a slow, steady breathing and a more normal heart rate. Meanwhile, Bron had enlisted Sophia to assist in organizing people, and the three appointed leaders were helping with this. It was a few minutes of rest, but it was time to make his speech.
Without formality, he began, “This place is called a restaurant. I have never taken you to one before, but some of the food that we ate came from places like this. By now all of you know how to use a touch screen computer, and you will find these built into the tables. For those of you who can’t yet read well enough to make sense of the words, you’ll find a picture of a picture somewhere on the screen which if you touch it will change the menu to show you pictures of all the foods they have. There will be plenty of food for everyone,” I hope, he thought, “so I want you all to file inside and find seats at the tables, and begin ordering. If you have trouble, I’m sure someone can help you.”
After that, he thought, we’ll figure out something. He led the way inside and took the closest table to the door, seated in one of the chairs that faced into the hall. Bron and Sophia flanked him, but before Bob could take the fourth seat Varlax had landed in it.
“So, what’s the plan?” she asked as if she believed he had one and that she should be informed.
He attempted to give her a knowing smile, and said, “Shouldn’t you be sitting with your kids? You’re in Bob’s seat.”
With an air of embarrassment, she rose, called her three brats, and headed toward one of the side rooms where there appeared still to be open tables.
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 #385: Characters Ascend. 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: