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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 68: Brown 217
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 190
Derek would not have used any superlatives to describe the meal, but it was at least palatable, and it did fit his parameters. The meat was a bit salty, not unlike ham, and the sauce was sweet with a fruity flavor. There was some kind of bean, probably boiled, and a side that was something like oatmeal or grits but made from an unfamiliar grain with a distinctive flavor. The dessert was something between a pudding and a cake, although he vaguely recalled from his time in London that the Brits had something they called a pudding that was sometimes more like what Americans would call a cake.
“What is this?” Vashti asked when it was served.
“It’s food from another universe,” Derek answered. “It’s not any plant or animal you’ve ever seen, although probably some of the ingredients might be things we were playing with in the galley before. Anyway, it won’t have names in our languages, so you can pretty much call it whatever you want.”
Vashti called it something rather uncomplimentary, but she ate it.
After they had put their belongings back in order in their quarters, the couple had showered, which took them longer showering together than it perhaps would have taken them had they showered in turn, and dressed in fresh clothes. Derek made a mental note to catch up on the laundry; they had found the laundry systems and figured out how to use them, but the washers were rather small. They had sauntered down to the galley a bit later than he had said, but the robot was not impatient and the food was ready.
“When should we have breakfast?” Derek asked Vashti.
“I don’t know. We don’t work tomorrow, so there’s no rush.”
He nodded. Time was still confusing, because even though they had twenty-four hour days according to the clocks, the clocks ran fast such that it was only twenty-one hours, and they had six hour shifts, but again these were short, about a quarter hour longer than five. It didn’t change the fact that they wanted to sleep eight hours, and eight of their hours, which was almost nine hours by ship’s time. Still, they had to appear on the bridge on schedule, and it would be easy to get thrown off by the confusing time scheme. He was a bit tired from the adventure, but it might be a bit early to go to bed--but they had to go to bed early, because they could easily let their days slip into twenty-six or twenty-seven hour lengths, and they had to shorten them to accommodate ship’s time.
He checked the time on the ship’s clock, added ten hours, and gave that time to the robot. “At that time, we would like breakfast. Breakfast should be eggs, cooked, a small quantity of some kind of cooked meat, a bread product, a fruit juice.” He wondered whether they had milk, but realized that even on earth milk was too general--most people drank cow’s milk, but some drank goat’s milk, and he gathered that milk from other mammals was consumed in various parts of the world, including camel’s milk and donkey’s milk, but no one drank milk from dogs or cats, which didn’t mean no one could. He also knew he couldn’t order coffee, because it was too specific. He considered the problems, and decided that he’d done the best he could.
As they headed back to their rooms, he said, “We have about nine hours, our time, and I’m ready to sleep, unless you have something else in mind.”
She hesitated. “No, I suppose not. I should do a bit of studying, but I can put it off for tomorrow. I don’t suppose you’re planning another excursion?”
He hadn’t really considered it, but he gave it thought for a moment.
“N-no, I think not. At least, not until I’ve cracked the translator problem. If I can get the robot functioning as a translator, I can figure out whether just to use it for the purpose, or see if I can get the ship to issue us another robot, or just find those hand-helds and adapt the program for them.”
Vashti obviously was not yet up to speed on computers, but she shook her head and looked away. She would get it, he guessed. It would just take time.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #443: Versers Acclimate. 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: