Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 19

Most everything was marble and metal. Even Kevin shook his head slowly, as if impressed. Anything with the potential of sharp edges was a turn on for him, obviously, but…the ‘Med-Lab’ was simply a bigger promissory note than just any implying advanced carving utensils. Con could clearly ‘feel’ him being moved to awe that had nothing to do with weaponry.

There were gardens, wings. Fountains. It was more like a science exhibition than a hospital environment. The smell wasn’t there; that smell of hospitals that was the stale plastic, the rage of human decay/wreckage. There was only…fresh, running water atop stone, plants, fresh earth. The scent made Con feel alive, despite his mind’s best efforts to convince him this was all an elaborate nightmare turned death fit. This was no dream, no illusion. Clearly, this was the future. And none of them knew what the hell to do with it presently. Something constructive? Destructive? Sure. Sure.

Art by Kitano Smith

“We take great pride,” Window began, walking the group through the great, high ceiling bearing lobby, “in delighting our guests upon their initial arrival.” Window still beamed, proudly. Con cocked his head at the man.

“I guess you would. God…damn. This can’t be a hospital. It just can’t be.”

“Oh, you’re correct there, son…it’s so much more than that.”

Window looked upward, to the dimly illuminated glass that revealed the dark night beyond its confines.

“It’s a place where medical miracles happen. Medical…and Metaphysical.”

“Oh, Christ,” Dan said, rubbing his eyes. “Did you make your fortune whipping up greeting cards while people still used paper, gramps?”

“Well, someone had to take over after Hallmark started specializing in hotels.”

Dan glared at the M.D..

“Oh, Dan. Really,” he scolded, as the group strolled through the lobby area. “Don’t I have to know you longer than a half an hour for that look?”

“No,” Con replied, snorting in Dan’s general direction. Dan ignored him fully. Looked around, as if plotting vantage points for aim. And perhaps he was doing just that.

“Look,” Dan continued in his pessimism. “As long as we don’t have to see how our lights came back on, you can ignore all my looks, and start plotting ways to put us back together again if one of us goes rogue and the security advancements outweigh your Metaphysical miracles,” Dan was nasally in his last word, making fun. Window snorted.

“No damn security measure outweighs my miracles,” Win said with a great deal of indignation. Emir was watching him then. Window ignored him, of course.

“Not even Ben has that much sw-,” Window stopped short.

“Ben?,” Con asked. “Who-?,” then Con actually stopped.

He peered up at Emir as Window cleared his throat. No. It couldn’t be. And it wouldn’t be…would it? No. Never. And Con dismissed the thought, even as Coyote eyed him. Him…and all the other things he deemed valuable within the area; it wasn’t a matter of ‘taking’. It was just a matter of ‘acknowledging’. That…Coyote did often. Without ceasing, really. That bore little impact on ‘action’. Coyote took what he wanted, when he wanted. It was a trait Con admired to no end. Of course, Coyote cased everything first; and he only took what he deemed absolutely necessary or useful. Even…challenging. It was fun beyond reason to observe. This was no time for such examples yet, though. Especially when even the kitchen sink had been accessible child’s play.

“Window,” Emir started, with stipulations, but minus actual threat. “Let’s leave some things for seconds, shall we?”

“Oh, of course,” Window helped Emir change the subject. “When do we mention the ‘hover cars’?”

Con chuckled, as even Kevin rolled his eyes then.

“Don’t want to imagine that renovation bill,” Kevin said, folding his arms easily, still walking among the others.

“There are more severe bills, I assure you,” Window continued. “However, medical insurance is no longer one of them; the Q.D.D. has more than done away with that, along with the Deficit.”

“What’s the ‘Q.D.D.’?,” Kevin asked idly.

“Oh, it’s the Quality Drug Distribution organization in the modern day government. Most narcotics once deemed ‘illegal’ have been legalized, you see…and are taxable. Therefore…,” Window shrugged.

“The Bible Belt was finally burned off the earth,” Dan quipped, running a hand through his jet black hair. Window laughed kindly.

“Not in so many words. But…few could argue the benefits of legalized, well-distributed narcotics. And the hope for holy miracles began dying the day the planes hit the Towers, you know.”

Most seemed confused…save three. Dan nodded.

“What…?,” Con began.

“Later. The history isn’t going anywhere,” he said. “I’d like more answers apart from that. I’m sure there’s a memorial somewhere to fill that curiosity hole…dates and all.”

Window responded, as if very well rehearsed, but there was no force of routine in his reply.

“Scientific miracles and the like became suddenly prevalent. I can’t blame anyone for the mindset, either. Biblical miracles…well…there was such fire and brimstone, you know.”

“That’s half the fun,” Con chortled.

“You’re ‘half the fun’, punk,” Dan shot back. Con simply smiled…and Dan fumed further, but not seriously.

To be continued…