Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 4

Con had, perhaps, been granted the gift of a quarter second head start by way of realization, but the form jetted from the adjacent doorway like lightning. Relief clubbed Con as he realized immediately who it was, and hoped the young man wouldn’t kill him before he stopped himself. Con was suddenly thankful he hadn’t been the only one blessed with speed in this outfit…and quick reflexes.

Art by Dcat

Con side-stepped, just to be safe, and had needed to do no such thing; Coyote skidded to a firm halt, nearly toppling over him. He wore the same set of sweats that Con did, and was holding what ‘looked’ like…a tall lamp. A tall lamp that was only the pole, and metal; he’d taken it apart, to use it as a weapon.

Consequently, it also ‘looked’ like it would have been painful.

The two stood, face to face – though the Puerto Rican was several hands higher than the Chinese American teen. Coyote put a hand on Con’s shoulder, as they still stared…and ‘stared’. Coyote was breathing in and out hard – it was definitely…in relief. He knelt before Con, still keeping a hand on his shoulder, and looked him over. Con knew he was checking to see…if he was alright. Honestly, he really didn’t know. He guessed he was alright. He really didn’t know. But he felt a slow smile spread over his face as the realness of Coyote’s presence finally settled in; Con chuckled softly, and rested his forehead against Coyote’s collar bone.

Coyote,” Con heard his voice sound small and unused but utter relief drenched his tone. If Coyote was there, it would be alright. Everything would be alright. Words couldn’t describe his joy so, uncharacteristically, Con remained silent. He suddenly felt incredibly weak and his equilibrium spun in his head so hard, he nearly blacked out. Con held onto the sensation of Coyote squeezing his shoulder, ‘felt’ Coyote’s heart kick in his chest.

Con. Hey. [Tell me you’re alright],” Coyote finished his sentence quickly, in Spanish. His face creased in concern, but he still squeezed his makeshift weapon tightly, ready for combat in a second, if need-be. Con took a deep breath, as the vertigo faded, breathed it out. It was just too much too soon, he guessed. He ‘looked’ up at Coyote, and smiled what he hoped was reassuringly.

“I’m fine,” Con said, pushing strength into the words. “I’m fine, Cee. It’s passing. I just…I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s all weird.”

Tell me about it. It’s alright. Lean on me. If anyone goddamn comes near us, I’ll beat their heads in.”

“Okay,” Con cheered up a bit. “Are you alright?”

Coyote smirked bravado, and Con nodded, again relieved. Still, he ran a ‘diagnostic’ check on Coyote;

Art by Dcat

read the waves of sound like they were orchestrating a modified sonogram; ‘felt’ no inner bleeding, broken bones, torn muscles…there was only bruising where Coyote was clutching the metal so tightly. Slight arrhythmia; that was normal under the circumstances, though. Or whenever Coyote drank 151.

“Did…is that…? Is that a lamp?”

“It was a lamp. Now, I’m going to beat someone’s head in with it. I don’t think I care who’s.”

“Do you know what happened?”

Coyote paused. He was struck by this…haunted look that utterly scared Con. Coyote shook his head. It wasn’t a ‘no’. He was shaking his head to clear it.

“I…yeah. It…it wasn’t good, Speed.” Coyote tried to smile; his smile was a frown, really. A frown that felt like a smile. There was no ‘smile’ in the frown now. Something horrible had happened. Con had a feeling he knew…what. The thought of Coyote being hurt made him sick, and angry. Con knew Coyote would feel the same way…but he had to tell him.

“Coyote,” Con stammered.

“Yeah, Speed.”

“I died.”

Coyote went to say something, but his throat flexed into a tightness that made him mute. He remained so. Con went on. “In the hotel. In-? Is this still the hotel?”

“I don’t think so. It’s…it’s like summer outside.”

“Oh. Oh, God. Okay. I got shot. I know I did. I died. The window-“

“I got shot too, Con.”

“I…I know. I mean…I could tell you…were upset. Oh, God. What happened? Did you see who did it?”

“No. I never did.”

“Do you remember…uh…I mean…after you got shot?”

Coyote stood, still glancing around frequently. He postured in unrest, seemed uneasy altogether, which was unlike him. He grew more and more restless.

“I remember,” he said finally, “the carpet getting warm. Laying on it. That’s it.”

“Oh,” Con said sadly. “Oh.”

“I don’t remember it hurting, Con. It’s alright.” Con nodded quickly, disturbed.

“[ Did you ‘see’ who? Hmm?]

“[ No.]”

Coyote seemed deeply bothered; he spoke quickly again. Quietly, in that way he would when he knew Con was upset about something.

“[ Was there an ‘after’? For you? ]”

Con felt like he was going to be sick again; felt the posture of pain where the glass, the metal, had been in his abdomen, heard the meaty crunching that’d remained as he’d hung halfway out the window, awareness dimming. Blood, everywhere; draining, in his throat. The cold air, whistling. The cool voice…whistling. Con knew he was grimacing deeply. He couldn’t respond. He couldn’t speak. He wanted to sob, to scream, let it out, but would die over and over before losing his composure in front of Coyote.

Coyote’s hand was on his shoulder again. Con ‘looked’ down, nodded.

“[ Alright, Speed. It’s alright. I’m sorry. ]”

Con nodded again. The nausea passed. The sadness stayed, the feeling of failure, but Coyote’s presence numbed it.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Con said earnestly.

“I know.” Coyote smiled, put the hand without the deadly weapon in it upon Con’s head; kind of rocked it back and forth. Con brightened then. But a thought struck him.

“Do…do you think everyone else got-? Kev-?”

“I don’t know, Speed. Chances are…,” he stopped short.

“What the fuck is going on, here?,” Con felt his anger spike suddenly, his impatience.

“I don’t know. We’re gonna find out. If we were all on ‘blackout’…then something backfired on somebody. Comprende?”

“Yeah. Hey, Coyote?”


“What color’s my bandana?”

Coyote grinned.

“Grey. It matches your uniform. Nice sneakers.”

“I feel like I’m on the goddamn track team, here.”

“You look like you’re on the goddamn track team, here.”

“[Look who’s talking.]”

They started walking down the hall, slowly, in the direction the note had specified.

“[You ‘look’ who’s talking],” Coyote joked.

“Asshole,” Con smiled. “Did you get-you got a note, too. Didn’t you.”

“Yeah. I was thinking of making it into a paper airplane and flying it straight up the author’s ass…then I saw the lamp.”

“Good job with that there, Macguyver. Seriously. Was there a matching-“

Con stopped short, readied himself. Coyote followed suit; he stepped in front of Con, weapon up.

No, Coyote,” Con said urgently, in a low register. “Wait.”