In Version; Chapter 21, Beam 165

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Stories from the Verse
In Version
Chapter 21:  Beam 165
Table of Contents
Previous chapter:  Kondor 226

Beam was, as usual, the first awake.  He quietly extracted himself from the arms of the naked Sophia, donned his clothes, and slipped out into the hall.  He headed for the kitchen, hoping he could figure out how to make some coffee and what he could cobble together from their provisions for breakfast.  Sophie had left the food cart down there, and he wasn’t certain whether it would be better to have it upstairs with her, needing to negotiate the stairway, or down in the kitchen, needing to be recovered and activated, if they needed to make an emergency escape.

Dawn entered the kitchen shortly after he did.  “Report,” he said.

“Sir, all quiet, sir.”

Well, that was something, anyway.

He looked out the window over the kitchen sink.  Beyond what he took to be the back yard was open field--and something moving on it.

“What do you make of those?” he asked.  Dawn looked out through the bay window in the dinette.

“Herbivorous herd animals, possibly feral, no threat.”

No, not a threat, but an opportunity.  The question was, how to get closer to them.  Actually, the first question was whether they were safe.  After all, if they were infected Bob couldn’t eat the brains, and there might be danger to the rest of them.  Besides, that was probably too far to walk away from the house at least until they had a better idea of where else they might go or what else might be out there.

“Thank you,” he said.  “Carry on.”

“Sir, yes, sir.”  She left the room.

Most of their food was what they called MREs--meals ready to eat.  They had some beverages in single-serving pouches.  Nothing really commended itself to his palate.

First, though, he needed to look for coffee.

The shelves had been stripped.  He wondered what might have happened to the dishes and such, but didn’t expect he would ever find out.  He had assumed the previous occupants had gone on a supply run and never made it back, but now it looked more like they moved out, planning to go somewhere else.  He wondered at their choices of what to take and what to leave behind, but he didn’t know enough about the world to begin to guess.  In any case, everything edible was gone.

The basement.  He knew a lot of people who kept shelves in the basement on which they kept dry goods.  Some colonials were built on slabs, but this one had a basement, and usually when they did they had full basements, sometimes finished or at least part-finished basements.  He would have to go down and explore.

Of course, he would need his flashlight--and he should probably not go downstairs alone.  The odds of there being coffee down there did not rise high enough for the risk.  Realizing he was procaffeinating--procrastinating while hoping for coffee to appear--he examined the MREs.  The overly sugary candy-like lemon on the lemon pepper tuna might make it more suited to breakfast.  Or he could go for the maple pork sausage, and use the frying pan to give it a bit of a genuine sear.  He decided to do the latter, and got out the wrought iron skillet.  Heating it up, he opened another packet, and added some hash browns with bacon to the side of the pork patty.  Hopefully, the flavors would mix a bit, and something closer to appetizing would result.  Dubiously eyeing his mixture, he scooted it about a bit with a wooden spatula until Bron came in.

Not wanting to awaken Ashleigh for the camp cook kit dishes, he put the fried browns and patty back on the MRE bowls they came from.  This did not please him, especially as the previous world had had somewhat better food.  He fed his blacksmith, and then Ashleigh, and finally Sophia as they all trailed into the kitchen to eat leaning against the counters.  For a few seconds, he wondered how the subjects of the Empire of Beam were doing now that he was gone.  But this was the nature of the versing life.  The road went ever onwards, and you could never truly look back.

“I need to go check out the basement, see if there are any supplies in it.”

“I’d think all the food would be gone.” Bron said.

“Can’t know if we don’t look.” Beam replied.

“I have magic.” Sophia said which prompted Ashleigh to straighten up and respond

“I have stealth.  In a dark place, stealth is very useful.”

Tempted to take just Dawn, he decided to risk putting them together.

“You’ll both come.  Bring your pistols, Ashleigh.”  He turned off the stove, and quickly cleaned up.  The teenager bounced away, all perky and happy, and Sophia nodded sadly.

“Why do you need her?”

“She’s good with locks.  And she’ll watch our backs.”

“Best of luck.” Bron said in parting.  Beam was not sure if he was referring to the basement or the two women in his life.  It was aggravating, but then the upside was two beautiful and talented young women loved him.  So it was worth putting up with some extra management of the situation.

Coming to the doorway to the basement, he saw Ashleigh waiting for him.  She was prepared.

Grinning suddenly, she spoke.

“My lord emperor, I need you to jump up and down.”  He stared at her, and she nodded showing she was serious.  He did, and several items tinkled and shifted noisily in his clothes.  She began to track them down, and have them either set aside or secured so that they made no noise.  She turned to Sophia.  “Now you, lady witch.”

“In your dreams,” Sophia said.

Beam then smirked down at Ashleigh, and told her to do the same.  She gave him a cute, mischievous grin, vaulted up, and somersaulted in mid air, with nothing more than the rustling of her cloth garment to hear, landing lightly on her feet as she descended to nearly sitting to cushion the sound of her fall.

“Be vewy, vewy quiet. Weah hunting wabbits,” he murmured with a grin on the inside, and she nodded in calm agreement.  She then took from a nearby counter a lit candle, which surprised him.  She smeared some of the melting wax on her finger tip, with a wince as it was hot, and then smeared it on the hinges of the door.

“If you hunt rabbits, it is good to be very quiet.”

The door opened quietly, and she began to enter.

“Sophia, light.”  The witch raised her hand, mumbled some mumbo-jumbo, and produced a bright narrow beam pointed down the stairway.  This, the white-haired man thought, would save his batteries and give them more light than the candle while making them less of a target.  A candle does much more to help you be seen than to see.

It was a slow descent, but she checked each step for a squeak before venturing onto it.  Beam wanted to yell at her, but then he realized that she was showing off for him.  So he watched in growing fascination as she slowly stepped down the wooden staircase.  When two of the enclosed stairwell’s steps proved unreliable, she used the walls to hold her up on both sides and go down. Once past those two, she slowly lowered herself onto the next step.  Four more steps, and two more minutes, and she came to the closed door to the right at the base of the stairs. 

This she examined, and then made a gesture to Beam.  He scooped up a bit of the softened wax from the candle and tossed it smoothly to her. She flashed him a smile, and crouching before the new door did the hinges the same way.  Then she glared at Sophia.  Why now?

Oh. The light.  “She wants darkness,” he said.  Sophia ended the light.  Then Ashleigh gestured to him to close the door.  Understanding, he stood at the door, using his body to block the sliver of light, and looked down at her as she began slowly and soundlessly to open the lower door.

Next chapter:  Chapter 22:  Slade 219
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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