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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 38: Brown 114
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 37: Slade 104
One floor up proved to be more of the mall; but stepping out of the stairwell, Derek moved to his left, exploring possibilities. There was a sound in that direction, a faint white noise which as he approached it he realized was the sound of a fountain; he would have to be more watchful, as he would be less likely to hear someone against that noise.
He stepped out between the stores onto a walkway that overlooked the fountain on the floor below. Water sprayed from tall prominences to this height, and splashed down over tiers to return to the bottom. The sound was relaxing; he looked over the edge at the lights dancing in the spray.
Then he froze and raised his hand to stop his companions. Half a dozen armed men sat relaxing around the fountain below, talking to each other, their voices blending into the water sounds. The design that allowed shoppers to see the fountain from here also allowed those below to see the shoppers above; anything that grabbed the attention of those below would mean the end of their secrecy, as well as intelligence pinpointing their position.
He glanced around. Back the way he came was the shortest route off the balcony, but it would also have them in view the entire time. Forward would put him around the corner and out of the direct line of sight quicker, but would keep them exposed longer. Not deciding, though, would keep them in maximum danger.
He waved a hand toward the far end; better to move quietly and quickly off the balcony than to risk being seen, and so deciding quickly was more important than deciding best. He watched as Jim moved ahead, followed by Pete, and he took up the rear.
In a moment they were clear, back among the corridors between the stores.
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 #226: Versers Adapt. 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: