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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 153: Takano 58
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Hastings 231
Tommy decided at breakfast that Mister Beam was flirting, sort of, but not particularly with her. Oh, he was flirting with her, but he was also flirting with Missus Hastings, who seemed to ignore it. He was not flirting with his wife, Sophia, who seemed a bit angered at it all but didn’t say anything. Whether this was how he was with all women and girls or whether the fact that they were versers made a difference she could only guess.
After breakfast Mister Beam went out to address the crowd. Tommy decided it would be worth hearing what he said, and followed onto the ramp. He said he wanted to talk to the hosts, the people who lived here before he arrived and who presumably would continue to live here after he left. He explained that the Beam people were heading for the outside, the surface above the living spaces, because something had gone wrong with the computer that kept everything working down here. He expected that within a few months there were going to be more serious problems, but he couldn’t prove it. They would be leaving soon, and the people would be welcome to join them if they wished. After all, he could be wrong, and the system might continue working for years and might even figure out its own problem and repair itself. It was up to them.
Of course, Tommy reasoned, the fact that he had seriously wounded their leader who was removed in a medical van and might never return, and that he had fed them steak dinners last night and ham and cheese omelets with bacon and fresh fruit this morning had a good chance of influencing their decisions--and unfairly so, since in two days they expected to be beyond the reach of the robotic delivery service and looking for food in ways they had not yet determined.
He saw her as he turned to return to the apartment, and smiled, inviting her to walk in the front if she wished. She declined, saying that the rear guard might not have been needed but was still necessary, and she would stay with Lauren. He shrugged and continued, shouting over his shoulder, “Everyone who is coming with us be ready in ten minutes.”
Coming into the apartment behind him, she started to trot toward the bedrooms.
“What’s your hurry?” he said.
“Ten minutes? I have to pack.”
“Relax. I’ll never have Sophie out of here in ten minutes; I’ll be lucky if I can manage half an hour.”
“But you just said--”
“Never mind that. Always give people short deadlines. If you give them longer ones, they’ll dally and take even longer. Now, go pack, but don’t rush.”
She smiled, and he smiled back, and as she turned to go pack her things she again wondered whether he might be flirting with her.
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: