Here's another chunk of the book written on a rainy day in Bermuda. Essentially no editing. I realized reading over some of what came before this I'd written in a little contradiction, but it's easy to fix. I'm still figuring out the rules. I also haven't figured out the name of the monk that Dwen is talking to, so I've referred to him as Xxx. Easy to fix later.
'So how am I to know before popping out of a door and interrupting a tea party? Do they post signs or what? If they can see the door they must use it themselves, and know that anyone could walk out at any time.'
'Like the doors, there are signs for those with eyes to see. You would find it difficult to walk into a place with a strong privacy ward. Sometimes there is an actual sign, but don't count on it. You're much more likely to find an actual guard.'
'Thats got to be a dull job. If you can see this, why would you take such a job?'
'Some of them would ask about why you do shift work. Many such guards can't use the system as such. They are escorted into the system and they sit at the desk doing their thing. People have varying degrees of blindness. You don't see much yet, but you seem to have a strong feel for the system, which is why we are worried about you getting into trouble. Some people can see the doorways, and are terrified of them. They have nightmares about monsters coming out.'
'Are there monsters?'
'Of course. Didn't you say you met a talking octopus diving a little car? That easily qualifies as nightmare material. Look at all the mythological creatures and don't be surprised at what you meet.'
'The octopus guy was nice. I take it not everybody is?'
'The humans you meet almost certainly will be. Some of the near humans can be nasty by our standards, though they consider themselves honourable. The stranger creatures, well, you never know. The ones you saw were cautious of you and Les because they could tell you didn't really belong. The cafeterias are neutral ground, but they didn't know if you knew that. Truth be told, they were nervous about you.'
'That's kind of funny. Afraid of us, on our first visit. So if I wanted to bypass the cafeteria, and go directly to the plant, could I do that?'
He shrugged. 'I suppose you could if you wanted to badly enough, but why would you go bush whacking over a mountain when you could follow a tunnel under it?'
'I suppose. This might be a stupid question, but are there any maps?'
'Only the ones you create yourself. I could sketch a number of connections, like to get to London, but if you can't see the doorway, it won't do you much good. The best way to learn the system is to have someone take you. Once you've seen, or been through a doorway it's easier to find it again, and easier to find others.'
Dwen brightened up. 'I've always wanted to go shopping in London. Even though you're a monk, do you know how to show a girl a good time?'
He smiled. 'I wasn't always a monk, and yes, we will visit London. The cafeteria under London is one of the major system nodes, perhaps the center of it for earth.'
'Maybe not right now. There's still stuff to talk about. How's your hot chocolate?'
'Refill. I can hear those scones calling me, but my butt doesn't need it.'
They walked over for the refill.
'You know, this whole thing still blows my mind. That someone or something set up this network of tunnels, just to have a quick way to get from place to place. Don't people use it for smuggling? To avoid government regulation? That seems almost trivial in the great scheme of things.'
'You might be right. We don't really know. We do know that being able to see the system at all goes along with traits like honesty and integrity, at least as far as humans go. I've sometimes thought that the way we use the system is like sitting in an air conditioned car enjoying being cool, but not realizing what else we could do with it.'
'I'm still figuring out how to reliably cope with the door locks. You know I'm going to be going crazy sniffing around Calgary for system doors. Maybe Les can help, I think it was him the first time. Do all of them lead to the cafeteria?'