a vertical shaft that uses artificial gravity to move free-floating passengers or freight
The little column marched down the hall. In their path yawned the shaft—a vertical pit some twenty feet square extending from main floor to roof of the Hall; more than a thousand sheer feet of unobstructed air, cleared now of all traffic by flaring red lights. Five left heels clicked sharply, simultaneously upon the lip of the stupendous abyss. Five right legs swept out into emptiness. Five right hands snapped to belts and five bodies, rigidly erect, arrowed downward at such an appalling velocity that to unpracticed vision they simply vanished. Six tenths of a second later, precisely upon the beat of the stirring march, those ten heels struck the main floor of Wentworth Hall, but not with a click. Dropping with a velocity of almost two thousand feet per second though they were at the instant of impact, yet those five husky bodies came from full speed to an instantaneous, shockless, effortless halt at contact. The drop had been made under complete neutralization of inertia—‘free’, in space parlance. Inertia restored, the march was resumed.]
The corridor ahead and a turn to the left should bring him to the quick-drop shaft.]
We were herded down the long corridors and by way of wooden ladders (the drop-shafts and elevators weren’t working, it seemed) to the cells.
Funny thing—but that was the last and only memory that seemed to be present in his mind —the background of the college, the intensive training, the simulated free-fall flights in the drop-shaft, the tests and examinations.
The Pyrotic let the dropshaft lower him, and he found the lifescoot some time later.
He caught the dropshaft and spun downward to the ground level. There, he entered the lock and donned a breathingsuit.
An hour later he was riding the dropshaft down to ground level.
It was a race along confused networks of high-speed slideways, a plunge along the vertiginous corkscrews of spiral staircases, and finally a series of long dives through the black depths of vertical drop-shafts.
She looked up the DropShaft at the CM hatch twenty-five meters away, then down between her feet at the Stores Modules, slightly closer; the Carousels spun around her but in the core all was still and she stretched lazily, as if she was already on her bed.
Containing her mounting rage, Arianne Pillan stepped into a dropshaft and gently descended to the lobby of the Diplomatic Services headquarters.
The ship read her fingerprints and sent its signal down to the engine compartment. ‘Torch lit,’ she reported, just before a low rumble that echoed all the way up the drop shaft confirmed her call.
They were struggling to comprehend what was happening to their world. Its end, Yime Nsokyi thought as she’d careened down a drop shaft from the traveltube interchange she’d been in as the attack began.
Poul Anderson, in Planet Stories
Last modified 2022-02-24 13:02:29
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.