No Vacancy

Spell Squadron Issue 21

Ninety-nine guests in ninety-rooms. One hundred rooms on one hundred floors. This hotel is ninety-nine percent full. I almost wish the math were harder to work out. It would give me something to do all day besides waiting for the last guest.

Here’s what I used to do. I would wait for the clock to hit six and I would fix a continental breakfast. Eggs, bagels, bacon. I laid out some bread next to the toaster. I put scoops in the cereal. I carefully laid out packets of syrup and butter and different jams. I whip up some pancake mix and put it next to the waffle maker that output spiral shaped waffles… I have to brag on myself. It was an amazing breakfast. No one showed up though. Not when only one person was checked in. Nor when there were thirty. I stopped after that.

For those three hours, I would nibble on some eggs and a bit toasty. I’d make my special breakfast. The toast made the crust. The butter and jelly the sauce. The eggs the cheese. Sometimes I’d put bacon on top for the topping or replace the toast with a spiral waffle. It was my breakfast pizza. I would never eat much though. I’ve not been too hungry since I’ve been here. So I’d pick at that and watch the weather channel. Always the weather channel. It was the only channel these TVs seemed to get. Always the same program too. Maps! Maps showing an incoming storm. A mess of clouds spiraled just off the coast. The storm surge was taking its time. It was coming through. Every time the front door opened it seemed as if the rain came down harder than when the previous guest arrived. I hope the storm isn’t what’s keeping the last guest from arriving.

The next few hours were for housekeeping. When I got the first guest checked in, I went through all of the rooms and made sure they were all presentable. They were. All the soaps with the word Amity carved into them. The tiny shampoo bottles with the same name on the label. Every item always in the same spot in each room. After that, I didn’t bother checking every room every day.

For the first few guests. I didn’t bother cleaning their rooms. Because they never left. I didn’t want to intrude. But then, boredom set in. So I’d go through each room. Each guest. Asleep in their bed. On top of their bedding. Fully clothed. So weird that each was so tired as to not get ready for bed. I guess less weird than them not waking up though.

I would go into each room and open the blinds for the day. No light came in. Each had a view of the same sight: dirt. I guess I forgot to say that the elevator only went down. Only the first floor had any sort of normal view, but even that was obstructed by the constant rain and overcast skies. I couldn’t see beyond the curb.

So I’d ride the elevator down a floor at a time and open the blinds of each window, pretending to let the light into these poor sleeping souls. I’d also check their televisions to see if they got something other than the weather channel. They didn’t. After I got to the end of the current guests, I would ride the elevator back up to the lobby and eat lunch. Well, I’d make lunch. Even if I wasn’t hungry it gave me something to do and a way to pass the time. Each day I’d peel the paper off the one-a-day calendar and a new recipe would greet me. The date was always Thursday the 4th, but it was always a new recipe. No repeats either. So I’d prepare that in the kitchen and give myself a serving while I waited at the help desk. I’d pick at the food and watch those clouds creep their revolution towards me.

Then I wait for it hit one. That’s the check out time. No one has checked out since they’ve checked in. I haven’t seen anyone awake since they’ve checked in. That doesn’t stop me though. I’d be mad if I went to check out after an abnormally long sleep and had to wait. So I wait. Then, one minute after one I put up the sign that says ring bell for service and I descend on the elevator. I go back through each room on my way up. I close the curtains I drew. I turn off any televisions or lights I left on earlier. I ride back up to the lobby one room at a time.

Dinner isn’t served by the hotel, and I don’t bother making anything for myself. I just wait after that. I wait for the next guest to arrive. They arrived regularly at first. They would come in from the rain, shake out their umbrella, take off their cap and approach the desk. I would greet them. They would ignore me and ring the bell. I won’t say I wasn’t offended when they ignored my very presence, but service is the name of the job. I would give them their key and follow them to their room with their luggage. They would make me wait for the next elevator. Service sucks.

By the time I would get to their room, they would already be out. I’d take the luggage to the closet and turn out the lights and leave. Then, I would go down a floor and make sure the next room was ready for use. Sure, I checked them all before, but it never hurts to be sure. And what else do I have to do? I never got more than one guest a day. None since ninety-nine.

I sit at the desk for a little while more. Waiting and hoping for a service call or anything else to happen. Nothing ever did. So I’d brush my teeth in a sink in the back with the Amity toothpaste I stole from one of the rooms. Watch the spit spiral down the sink, frothy and blue. Sometimes I did laundry after that. I didn’t have to, no one used the towels, but it was calming folding warm towels. I’d imagine I just came in from the rain and these towels warming me and drying me all at the same time. Then the scratchy tag with the Amity logo would break me from the daydream and I would continue to fold.

The boring parts weren’t a problem until that’s all there was. After guest ninety-nine showed up, nothing. I’ve thought about going outside, but I can never bring myself to do it. I’ve thought about trying to wake up one of the guests, but I can’t do that either. The fire alarm sits across the lobby from me. Tempting me. I could just pull it and pretend there was a fire. I could even start a small smoky fire and it would be less of a lie. Somewhere deep down I know they wouldn’t wake. So I wait.

I wait and wait. Every day I make sure the room on the one-hundredth floor is ready to receive the final guest. What will happen when they arrive? Will the storm finally reach or will they not make it until the storm has passed. If it’s the latter, it could take one hundred years with how slow that storm seems to be moving. I go back through each room. I look at the guests. They’re all different. They each have the same umbrella and the same Amity brand luggage, but they’re of all different shapes and sizes and colors. I try to find something in each of them that reminds me of me. One has my eyebrows. Another my hair color. Yet another my hairstyle, and a few others with hairstyles I had worn before. Some I can’t find a connection too though. I’m sure if I knew more about them I could find at least one thing each of them shared with me.

I wait some more.

Then boredom breaks me again. So, I look through bags. They don’t seem to be waking up anytime soon so I don’t feel too bad. I find the things I need to connect with each guest. A pin that reminded me of one I had once. A shirt I stole once from an ex-boyfriend. A shade of lipstick that matched the one I stole from my sister. A bracelet that matched one I had shoplifted from the mall. I admit I did have a stealing phase once. I remember the toothpaste I stole from one of the rooms, but that was different. You have to brush your teeth. Once I go through all the luggage I feel connected to each guest. I feel accomplished. I feel a bit tired. It wouldn’t hurt to lie down for a nap in the room on the bottom floor. I ride down to floor negative one hundred. I turn on the television. I kick off my shoes. I yawn. I lay down in that last empty bed, and I close my eyes. The storm arrives.

The End.

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