Voyage From Yesteryear

“Perhaps not quite, but that was twenty years ago, remember. Times change, I guess.”

Marie, who had been exploring the house, emerged from the elevator. “The basement is huge!” she told them. “There are all kinds of rooms down there, and I don’t know what they’re for. I could have my own room to draw things in. And did you know there’s another door down there that leads out to a tunnel? I think it might go through to where the .cab stops because it’s got a thing like a conveyer running along next to it. Perhaps we needn’t have carried all those things over and in through the front door at all”

“I said you were in too much of a hurry,” Jean said to Bernard. “Just think, all that work for nothing. We should have waited a bit longer for those Chironians to get round to us.”

Bernard shrugged. “What the hell? It’s done now. We needed the exercise.”

Marie walked across the room end gazed at the large screen. “Does this work?” she asked.

“I don’t know. We haven’t tried it yet,” Bernard answered. He raised his voice a fraction. “Anybody home? What do we have to do to get a computer in this place?” No response.

“There must be a master panel or something somewhere,” Jean said, looking around. “How about that?” She tripped down the two shallow steps into the sunken section of the floor, sat down at one end of the sofa, end lifted a portable flat screen display/touchpanel from a side-pedestal. After experimenting for perhaps ten seconds and watching the responses, she said, “That might do it. Try again.”

“Is there a computer in the house?” Bernard called out. “At your service,” a voice replied from the direction of the screen. “I answer to Jeeves, unless you wont to {sake it something different.” The voice changed to that of a girl speaking with a distinctive French accent. “Une petite francaise, possiblement?” Then it switched to a guttural male–“Karl, ze Bavarian butler, maybe?”–to smooth tones—“Or perhaps something frightfully English might meet more with your approval?”–and finally back to its original American. “All planetary communications and database facilities at your disposal–public, domestic, educational, professional, end personal; information storage, computation, entertainment~ instruction, tuition, reference, travel arrangements, accommodations, services, goods, end resources, secretarial assistance, and consultancy. You name it, I can handle it or put you in touch with the right people.”

Bernard raised his eyebrows. “Well, hello, Jeeves. How about all that? I guess ,you’d better stay who you are for the time being. How about giving us a rundown on this place for a start? For instance, how do you…”

Jean looked away as she heard the front door open. A few seconds later Jay arrived. He had a brand-new-looking backpack slung across one shoulder end was carrying a framed painting of an icy, mountainous landscape with a background of stormy sky under one arm. His expression was vaguely perplexed.

“Jay!” Jean exclaimed. “Did you find anywhere nice? -What are those things?”

“Oh.” Jay set the painting down by the wall and frowned at it as if he had just noticed it for the first time. “I thought that might look nice in my room.” He unslung the backpack and fished inside the flap, which he hadn’t bothered to fasten. “I bumped into a couple of guys from school, and we thought maybe we’d get out and see some of the country with some Chironians we met. There’s a lot more of it around here than inside the GC module. So I got these.” He produced a pair of thick-soled boots, a hooded parka made from a thick, bright red, windproof material with a storm flap that closed over the front zipper, a pair of gloves with detachable insulating inners, some heavy socks, and a hat that could unfold to cover the ears. “We were thinking of going to the mountains across the sea,” he explained. “You can get there in a flyer from Franklin in about twenty minutes.”

. Jean took the boots and turned them over in her hands. Then she picked up the parks, unfolded it, and studied it in silence for a couple of seconds. “But . . . these are good, Jay,” she said. A concerned expression spread over her face. “Where . . . how did you get them? I mean… what’s all this going to cost?”

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Categories: Hogan, James