Many Worlds Chapter 54
Upon discovering that the “walls” were full of books, Jules returned to where Robert and Douglas were. Though, it wasn’t like he was very far anyway. “I figured it out.” Jules held up one of the books. Then, he ruffled through the pages. It was strange. When not touched, it formed a solid, flat object. However, the whole thing could bend with a little bit of intention, and suddenly become flexible.
“Is that… a book? Where did you find it?”
Jules showed them the spine, where the text was. “They meld into the walls.” He moved down the hallways opposite them to show how they were removed. They seamlessly integrated into the walls, and the books looked like one solid object, until it was flexed, showing the individual pages.
“That’s weird.” Isaac noted.
Jules agreed. Certainly, the books he stocked were made out of flexible, durable materials, but they were nothing like these. They stayed in a state that was just flexible enough not to bend just due to gravity most of the time, but could still easily be bent and turned by hand. Which wasn’t really that impressive, since regular paper did that too, but it was also more durable. However, the alien books… well, Jules wasn’t sure. Certainly, they lasted for at least a few decades just fine. This building had to have been here before the last landshift. As for more than that, it was completely unknown. Herbert might know, but he had been stubbornly silent on the race of aliens that programmed him, at least in some ways.
“Well, we haven’t made much progress here.” Robert shook his head. “I think it wants a password. Probably. That’s just a guess, though.” He turned to the screen, hitting a few keys, which then had characters display on the screen. Then he pressed another key, and a larger amount of text appeared on the screen. “I think this one is something like the enter key. But I could be wrong. It could be the key causes that text to appear, except nothing happens if I haven’t input any text.”
Jules nodded. “Unfortunately, we have no basis to work from. It could take literally forever to figure it out.”
Robert nodded. “It’s not like we have a way to input large numbers of passwords rapidly. We don’t have any computers, nor would they interface with this properly in the first place. As a side note, the wristbands don’t do anything except get through the outer door, as far as I can tell.”
Upon looking over the keyboard, Jules saw quite a few different symbols. He recognized those that he now thought of as the alphabet, which made it easier by them being grouped together. However, there were many other things. There was a group of similar character that Jules thought might have been numerals, but he wasn’t sure. It wasn’t something that would be easy to figure out. Only the “alphabet” was easy to recognize because they had books to confirm what they were.
“It doesn’t seem like we will make much quick progress here…” Robert started, “However, I think there might be more floors down below.”
Robert’s intuition was correct, though it was not immediately apparent. He had pressed the furthest button toward the bottom. On a human elevator, that would have reached the bottom floor. First, the group confirmed that the top button brought them to the highest floor, and the exit. That was important, because nobody really wanted to die to be able to leave this place. Then, after more experimenting, Robert finally figured out that two buttons must be pushed simultaneously to reach lower floors. It turned out the next level below where the last floor of the library with the computer was a dormitory.
At least, it seemed to be a dormitory. It had a larger number of individual rooms around, and these had bed-like structures. The doors were actually just markings on the walls, indicating that they could be opened, unlike the door on the surface. The beds melded out of the walls similarly similar to everything else. It was possible that they were not beds, but Jules couldn’t think of what else the large, padded surfaces would be for. However, though they had a clothlike texture, there were no linens or pillows. The chance was small that they were something else entirely, and nobody could think of what that might be if they were not beds.
At the ends of the level, there were areas that seemed to be showers. At least, there were drains in the floor, one of the few permanent fixtures that appeared. Though, it was determined that the grates could be moved to the side, perhaps to allow access to the pipes below, in case something dropped in. The rooms also had ways to produce water, though it varied between freezing cold and scorchingly hot. Isaac was the one who discovered the hottest setting, but fortunately he still had his armor mostly equipped, so all he got was unpleasantly warm and wet, though the water seemed hot enough to cause some damage otherwise.
There were several floors of dormitories, and then a place that Jules thought might have been a cafeteria or some such. Here, there were things that were recognizable tables and chairs. There were also things something like refrigerators, as well as walk-in freezers. There were sinks of sorts that produced water and had drains. However, there were no utensils or tableware, nor any cooking implements that could be found.
After that, the expected combinations of buttons stopped leading down further. Nobody could tell whether this was because there were no more floors, or something special had to be done to access them. Everyone felt that, except for the library, everything else seemed somewhat unfinished. Either that or the race who produced everything that was here led surprisingly ascetic lifestyles. However, the facilities that were in place seemed rather luxurious, though it could have just been due to the level of technology that was available. In the end, there seemed to be a lot still to be discovered, or at least understood.