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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 151: Beam 116
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Beam opened the doors to the first apartment compound they reached. He looked inside and saw about thirty people camped or settled in the main area. They appeared to have simple beds on the floor and benches here, so either they were unaware of the beds in the apartments or this was the overflow.
He decided to be diplomatic.
“Pardon me,” he said in a loud but hopefully not threatening voice. “We are the Empire of Beam, on a pilgrimage to find the Outside. We have been traveling all day, and hope to be able to rest here for a night before continuing in the morning. I am Beam. Emperor James Beam”
The people seemed a bit confused, uncertain, as they looked around at each other. Then one of them, a rather large muscular man brandishing a piece of what appeared to be PVC pipe, answered.
“You are not welcome here, Beam, Emperor James Beam. I, Manner Algar, challenge you.” With those words, the man started lumbering toward him with the pipe raised.
“Oh, please,” Beam said in a low exasperated voice, and drawing his revolver put one bullet directly in the man’s belly. The startled man dropped his improvised weapon and grabbed his gut with both hands.
“Now,” Beam said, “you can be reasonable and we can call for a medbot and hope they’re still working right, or you can bleed out here on the floor and we can take over your space and dump you in the waste bin.”
By now the man had dropped to his knees. He was having trouble containing the bleeding.
“What do you want?”
“I only want to bring my people inside and settle them for a night of sleep. We’ll provide our own food; in fact, if you tell me how many mouths you have, we’ll feed you all dinner and breakfast. If you’re good with that, we can probably save your life.”
The man nodded before dropping forward.
“I guess I’d better hurry,” Beam said as he stepped over to the screen near the door. Fortunately he had called the medical system before, and although it had been a while he remembered how to do it.
“Bring everyone in,” he said to Sophia and Bron, who began to do so. “Dawn, check the bedrooms. Don’t kill anyone who doesn’t attack you, but if there’s anyone in there bring them out. Bob, let me know if anyone else intends to make trouble.”
As Lauren came through the door near the end of the line, she saw the man on the floor and stepped over to him promptly. She immediately said, in a loud voice, “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” The man stopped groaning, but at that instant the medbot arrived and took over, and Lauren stepped out of the way.
She looked directly at Beam, and both said at once, “He’ll live.”
It took Dawn several minutes to check the apartments, but as Beam suspected there were no residents up there.
“All right,” he said, “I don’t know what time it is for our hosts, but we’re about to have dinner and go to bed. Since these people are graciously letting us squeeze into their space, we’ll do something special--steak tonight.”
He proceeded to order one hundred fifty steak dinners to be delivered, medium rare with mushrooms and fried onions and brown gravy, mashed potatoes with gravy, buttered spinach, tossed salad, milk, soda, and apple juice about sixty of each, and plain cheesecake. “Varlax!” he called. “When the food arrives organize distribution. Conscript anyone you want. We’ll be in,” he pointed to one of the apartment doors, “that apartment, and should be told when there’s food. Lauren, Tommy, you’re with us.”
So saying, he squirmed through the crowd to reach the ramp and the designated apartment.
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 #411: Quest Concludes. 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: