In Version; Chapter 14, Beam 163

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 14:  Beam 163
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Kondor 225

Beam figured that he should try to give time to both his wives; Sophia knew more about cooking so he could spend that time with her.  Hoping this would help calm her down, he walked into the kitchen with her following him.

The space was indeed ample, but the levels were more suited to the shorter Sophia, and less to him.  He noted electric plugs, and cables, and an electric light in the ceiling.  Whether it was incandescent, fluorescent, or other, he could not be sure behind the glazed glass.  But the room was dim, and the dial on the wall did nothing when he spun it.

Sophia spotted a half melted red candle, and with a bit of magic lit it.  Then she lit two other candles now more easily spotted in the dusky room.  Without electricity the room would grow dark quickly.

Moving to the sink, he turned on the right-hand knob.  There was a bit of banging in the pipes, and then some rusty water spurted out, followed by clean water with good pressure.  Apparently the house was connected to some pressurized water supply, perhaps conduits from mountain reservoirs or the like.  He waited a moment to see if there would be any change, but was satisfied that this was cold water.  Shutting it off, he tried the left-hand valve.  It responded more quickly, but remained rusty a bit longer.  Then as it began to clear it also began to get hot.  There must be a gas water heater somewhere, he thought.  That won’t last forever, but it’s good for now.

The stove was also gas, but it was clear that the pushbutton interface for the oven was all electronic.  He turned the knob for one of the burners, and heard the hiss of gas but no sparker.  Reaching over he brought one of Sophia’s candles near, and with a flash the burner ignited.  The witch startled; apparently this was not something she had anticipated.

“What magic is that?” she asked.

“Not magic.  It’s--it’s kind of like swamp gas that’s been caught and bottled, and we burn it as needed to create fire to cook.”

He didn’t know if that made sense to her, but she didn’t ask another question.

“O.K.,” he continued, “you learned to use the electric stoves back in the caves.  Here we’re cooking with gas.  The controls work much the same way, but that once you turn them on you have to light the gas.  If you don’t the room will fill with gas, which will choke everyone in here and then explode like--”  He realized that she had not been there when they blew up the house of the nobleman in the last world.  “Like one of Dawn’s grenades.”

Turning off the burner, he investigated the open shelves which held a layer of dust, and tracks of mice in the dust.  No food of any kind remained.  Opening a stone-like panel on a counter revealed a sideways refrigerator at chest height.  The stone was just a veneer he decided, and the refrigerator was also empty and turned off.  He  could see the virtue of a sideways fridge as he did not enjoy bending over to get stuff out of the bottom.  Perhaps the people, who seemed to have been human in this world, had felt as he did.

Looking about, he spotted a number of cooking appliances.  A heavy ceramic bowl with a cover he figured was some sort of crockpot.  Inside a cabinet he found a well-seasoned wrought iron skillet.  Neatly placed next to it lay a fondue maker, and a pure ceramic coffee press stood thin and proud.  Beam did not know if they had coffee, but the function of the possible coffee press suggested some sort of hot drink infused with flavor.

Going to the knife rack, he was startled to see twenty seven blades.  They ranged from a chopper suited to bisecting a cow’s thigh from its chest to a tiny santoku knife which was all of two and a half inches long from tip to pommel.  Looking at them, he found them well made, sharp, and with signs of wear.

Looking back at the gas stove, he noted that the symbols on the heating dials were Roman numerals, but not English nor anything close to it.  They were also nearly worn off.  Checking on the crockpot, the toaster, the straining bowl, the five different cutting boards, he began to feel a sort of melancholy come over him.  It was not his usual mood, and Sophie glanced up at him from her examination of a large book she had laid open on a counter.

“What is it?”  Her voice was a bit strained.  She had still not fully accepted the new situation, he noted.  He wondered if she ever would.

He flailed his hand about a bit, and then decided to speak.

“I think I would have liked these people.  Not only do they have abundant cooking gear, but it's not just for show.  It's well taken care of, but also well used.  None of this was bought and just stuffed in a corner.”

Sophie nodded.  “Come look at this,” she said.

He walked over, and slid an arm around her back as she closed the book to show him the spine.  While he was not a bookmaker, even he could see that the leatherbound book was well made.  And while the indecipherable symbols on the spine did nothing for him other than to suggest magic, the crossed knife, two tongued fork, and spoon did.

“A cookbook.” He surmised.  Sophia nodded her red hair which jiggled enticingly below him so he leaned over and kissed her forehead.

She opened it, and flipping the pages began to speak.

“It’s like a cookbook, but also a history at the same time.  We start with simple drawings, and fish and rabbits.  Cooking over a fire.  Then, now you see the sketches are better, and there are more words, but I’d have to use magic to read this.  Can you?”

He averred that he could not.  A “P” shape inside of an O, and a backslash with an uptick, almost like a reverse checkmark, were new to him.  The foods started to show baking, and roasting.  And as more pages were flipped the sketches got more detailed, and the cooking techniques got better, or at least more sophisticated.  If he was reading a set of pictures right, one suggestion was to flash-burn the outside of a beast, eat the burnt part, and then redo the process.  Happily there were only a few such recipes.

Then the pictures gained color, and pies and cakes and stuffed birds and fanciful soups appeared with dozens of different types of pasta, and varied cuts for vegetables.  After that, the pictures became almost paintings, lovely in and of themselves, and much of what he knew of modern cooking was expressed--including some occasional bits of bizarreness, with one that made him shudder.  It involved wrapping meat in a metal foil, and then placing it underground in a pile of manure which would slow cook it over days, he surmised, aghast at the notion.

Modern photography appeared, and he saw his first microwave.  And shortly after that, he saw his first chimera, that is, a creature somehow altered to combine features of several unrelated animals.  He had seen rabbit, and lamb, and cow, and a type of chicken with huge legs, and pig, but this was a square pig.  Then there was a cow with wool and floppy long ears.  Techniques were reiterated, and then the chimera took a turn to the gigantic in parts with legs that were obscenely overdeveloped on what he wanted to call a Hopping Wool Cow.

“Ewww.” Sophia emoted, and Beam felt like agreeing with her.  Seeing a cow that could not walk on its own seemed a travesty to him.  But it was not his problem.  Instead, he enjoyed standing there, looking through the huge but sturdy cookbook.  Some of the more normal pictures gave him some ideas.

Closing the book, he said, “Well, we don’t have any of these ingredients.  Let’s check the food cart and see what we can cobble together to feed everyone.  Most of us haven’t eaten a good meal in a while.”

Next chapter:  Chapter 15:  Brown 248
Table of Contents

There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #478:  Character Conflicts.  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:

Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel

Old Verses New

For Better or Verse

Spy Verses

Garden of Versers

Versers Versus Versers

Re Verse All

In Verse Proportion

Con Verse Lea
Stories from the Verse Main Page

The Original Introduction to Stories from the Verse

Read the Stories

The Online Games

Books by the Author

Go to Other Links

M. J. Young Net

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