Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta smoke. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta smoke. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 9 de febrero de 2016

A hotel story

   When Peter got to the hotel, the first thing he did was taking off his shoes and socks. He massaged his feet for a while after arriving, checking if it was as bad as he had imagined. He had some blisters on his foot, probably because he had used the wrong shoes or the wrong socks or who knows. The point was he couldn’t walk anymore so he decided to shower in order to freshen a little bit and then go to bed.

He decided to sleep naked, as the rest of the body also ached from the long day and he wasn’t planning on doing anything special the next day. He wanted to be comfortable during the night and that was a nice way to be at ease. The weather was nice so he wouldn’t feel cold at night or anything like that. Just five minutes after getting into bed, he was already asleep, dreaming some wild story were he had to run and do many things that he would simply not do in the current state of his poor feet.

 All night long he tossed and turned and pushed his pillows to the ground and pulled up the covers and then down. He couldn’t stop moving and he finally woke up when his body felt the smell of smoke. His senses were not very good but he was certain it smelled as if someone was smoking right there in his room. He looked from one side of the room to the other and couldn’t see were the smell was coming from, if that makes any sense. He came out of bed and suddenly the room’s main door was pushed open by a group of men with flashlights.

 Poor Peter fell backwards and looked like a turtle trying to get back up. He had hurt his back and the men had to help him up and tell him to go out. With a hand on his back, the man obeyed and walked towards the door and it was there he noticed the smoke was everywhere. Maybe he had so many weird dreams because of the smoke and no because of his own head but, yet again, he always had weird dreams.

 He continued walking down the corridor, barely seeing were he was going, until he hit a wall and didn’t know where to go next. He noticed a fire escape sign on a wall and followed it. The firemen had remained behind, probably fighting the source of the smoke, so he had to go down some dark smelly stairs all by himself. He wasn’t thrilled to do it, especially since his feet hurt and he couldn’t walk very fast.

 It was just before descending the last step when he heard the voices of many people and realized he had arrived to the lobby, which was packed with people; probably waiting for the firemen to extinguish whatever fire they were fighting against. It was then when Peter realized he wasn’t wearing any clothes, not even underwear or a t-shirt. Not a towel, not a robe, nothing.

 He decided to remain there, in the darkness of the stairs and just hear the people talk in the lobby. He got very near the door and heard someone saying the fire was in one of the rooms, not very far from his own room. It was probably because of a smoker, said a man in very deep voice. He blamed the hotel for not having a policy against smoking and letting some people just do whatever they wanted. He also reminded his audience, which Peter couldn’t see, that many children had caused a scandal the night before at dinner in the restaurant and that it was rumored an old gentleman had once peed right there on the lobby.

 Peter wanted to laugh because that last story had to be false but the man had said it as if he was talking about some very important matter. Even if he couldn’t see him he was sure he knew who he was, a guy that looked at everyone as if they were a bother to him. He had seen him once during breakfast and he thought it was curious that such a large man could blame others for not respecting boundaries. That thought made him want to laugh but he knew he couldn’t.

 Then, he heard some noise coming from upstairs and decided to hide on one side of the stairs. Thankfully the space was almost completely dark except for the emergency exit signs. Sure enough, about five people were coming down the stairs and a fireman was accompanying them. He assured them everything was going to be fine and that they just had to join the rest of the people in the lobby. They passed very near Peter and opened the door, flooding the space with light for a while. Everyone outside turned to look at the family coming out.

 It was really unpleasant to hear so many people faking worry, as if they all knew those people. They were a mother, a father and three children, probably the same children the fat guy didn’t liked and he was one of the people to ask if they were okay. It just proved how false a person could be. Shortly after, the fireman attracted attention to him and announce the fire source had been found and that they were close to extinguishing it. After they had done that, sleeping bag would be borrowed for people to sleep in the lobby.

 Someone asked who had been the responsible for the fire and all that smoke but the fireman refused to answer that as the most important thing was that everyone was alive and well. They were still going floor by floor checking no one had been left behind. He then asked people to be still and let him count them in order to know if someone was missing from the lobby. After all, they had the list of every single person staying in the hotel and they could easily find out who was missing.

 When he heard that, Peter felt some cold sweat in his forehead. It was obvious they were going to see he wasn’t there and if that fireman had been one of the men that had entered his room, it would seem even stranger. The most obvious thing would have been to come out and just reveal himself naked as he was but he had a better idea: he climbed up the stairs as fast as he could and waited by the door there to check for anyone passing by. When he noticed that the floor was deserted, he came out and started pushing every room door he could.

 That level wasn’t as filled with smoke as the others but people must have been evacuated anyone. The bad thing was that many rooms had blocked automatically but not every one of them. Some had been left open and the system hadn’t closed them back. He entered some rooms and realized many women were at the hotel because he couldn’t find a single clothing piece for a man. He finally decided to put on some pajama pants he found in one room and just come down like that, with nothing else.

 Hoping no one would notice their pants on him, he went back down and opened the door to the lobby to reveal… Well, nothing. No one was there. The place looked even more deserted that the floor he had been in before. He had no idea where so many people had gone so he decided to go around the place to see if he could find someone. They weren’t in any of the two restaurants, or in the kitchens. They weren’t by the reception or by the smokers lounge. Finally, he saw some people running by the building and screaming. He understood right then he had to go out and see what was happening.

 Just as he crossed the doors, a horrible sound flooded the space. He knew he had to run but not why. He followed a fellow runner and just sprinted as fast he could which wasn’t much because of his feet. But he had to make them hurt because his mind knew it wasn’t a time to choose. He ran for at least to blocks until he stopped. Many people were running more but he just couldn’t. His feet were red. He sat on the ground and looked up, realizing why he had been running so much.

 The fire in the hotel had apparently been much more serious than what the fireman had said. A whole floor had sunk and the top part of the building had collapsed into the other and now it looked like one of those futuristic visions of architecture, the top part of the structure not far from collapsing into the street. It was certainly going down but for the moment it stood there, in an odd balance that everyone was fascinated with. He realized many people were looking at the spectacle besides him and that the people of the hotel were just some steps away.


  He walked there slowly, sitting on a bench near them. The fat guy was arguing with some lady, a woman was drunk or high or something, fighting against one of the fireman and a paramedic was curing a child that cried incessantly. Peter felt tired right there. So much he closed his eyes and the last thing he heard was: “I have a pajama just like the one he’s wearing”.

martes, 1 de diciembre de 2015

Smoke and mirrors

   The sound was loud and insisted on staying. For a moment, it seemed they were really ringing at the door but it happened to be all in the dream. The sound was horrible, louder than anything he had heard in the past. He wanted to wake up but couldn’t until he forced his body to answer to his command. It hurt, like peeling of a Band-Aid. The sound then stopped and he felt he was back at his bed but the truth was his own brain had deceived him. Unable to get him out, it had just transported him elsewhere.

 First, he seemed to be sleeping in something similar to a bed but then the feeling fade away and he started falling and falling and falling through consecutive holes in a deep blackness of his subconscious mind. He felt the wind on his face and his ankles but did not worry. Somehow, he knew that he would land softly somewhere, eventually. The area kept changing color, sometimes being red and other times black again.

 Again, he felt he had woken up but this time he knew it wasn’t real. He hadn’t landed anywhere, instead having appeared in a grassy field with small hills and nothing else in sight. Then, the sky changed and it became nighttime and in the ground a forest had sprung up to life. He automatically entered the forest and hoped to find a proper exit to his dreams from there. Maybe there was a door or something special he had to do to end all of this nonsense.

 He felt trapped in a world similar to the one in Alice in Wonderland but the difference was that Alice’s world was at least funny and interesting. His dream world was seriously boring next to it. Having realized he wasn’t able to wake up by his own will, he tried to change the world he was in but all he could achieve was to make some flowers appear. As night had fallen just minutes ago, he could barely see them so he tried to change night back to day but al he could do was getting the sun stuck in the sky, casting an annoying twilight all around.

 Walking became harder as his eyes had to be covered because of the light. He walked as if he had become blind in a second, touching everything he could and doubting every step he walked. Then he reached a cliff and had to stop moving. But that didn’t change anything: he still slipped and fell, again falling through holes and for a long time.

 Then, he actually woke up for a moment and realized he was very warm beneath his blankets, so warm in fact that he had been sweating a lot. He removed his short in a moment and fell fast asleep once again. Surprisingly, he wasn’t wearing a shirt either in his dream. Apparently his subconscious liked the idea of being shirtless so much that it had put him in a tropical setting, which he appreciated.

 People he knew were all around: his family, some of his friends, even people he had never been very familiar with. They were all in the beach, playing volleyball or laughing or splashing water to others. It was a small paradise and the sun felt real on the skin, on his face. He wished the dream wouldn’t end but he knew that wasn’t possible, not even if he died in his sleep.

 He stood up and walked down the beach, smiling at his mother who was attending to a younger him and then watching how many of the guys he had dated were casually talking in a small group. They all smiled at him and waved their hands and he knew it was very strange but still waved his hand and smiled too.

 There was a pier he hadn’t noticed before, made of cement pillars and wood planks on the floor. He walked slowly on it, feeling the wood on his feet and the warmth of the sun on his cheeks. He really wanted this to be real, to be the world he lived in. Not only because of the beautiful setting but because he didn’t feel any worry, he didn’t feel he had to do anything. It was just perfect.

 At the end of the pier there was a man, taller than him and shirtless too, that looked at the ocean. All he could see of that person was his back, which didn’t look bad at all. And as he saw him, he realized he knew who he was and that he had to talk to him, to see his face and to hug and kiss him and share his life with him and cherish every single moment they were able to be together.

 But just when he was able to touch the man’s arm, the scene changed and the guy was behind him, with his arms around him. He had no idea why, but he wasn’t compelled anymore to see his face. Maybe deep down, in some other level of consciousness, he already knew who that person was or at least what he looked like. Maybe that’s why he didn’t mind turning around and stop watching the sunset beyond the perfect blue ocean. It was the first time in his life he finally felt at home.

 As it happens often, his body chose that exact moment to wake him up. He opened his eyes sad, frustrated to know all that had happened was a lie and that there weren’t any arms around him hugging him, making him feel alive and safe. He turned his head for a minute, realizing it hadn’t been his brain that had woke him up, it had been the rain in the window. It was very dark outside and he knew he had some more hours to sleep, after all it was Saturday the next day so he wasn’t precisely going to wake up early for anything.

 This time, it took him a while to fall asleep, as he kept analyzing what he had seen in the dream, trying to remember more about the man in the pier. But his mind finally let go of the thought of someone that didn’t existed and just surrendered to the few extra hours of sleep.

 This time, he ran through some destroyed street. There were bricks all around and graffiti on the wall and he felt he was in some serious thing because he couldn’t hear anything besides his feet stomping on the ground. He finally stopped running and went up some stairs, to the second floor of a typical movie motel. He had never seen one of those in actual life, but he had seen so many in movies and TV series that his brain must have design it from similar memories.

 He entered a door on the second floor and locked it. The room was all done in a clear ‘70s style, with the orange and brown curtains smelling of pot, silky sheets on the bed, furniture in gold and silver and a TV set with no remote control. Everything was on point and he knew, again thinking of himself as asleep, that he had seen some place like this one before. He was sure of it.

Suddenly, someone entered the room and he just had seconds to run to the window and jump towards it. Whoever was behind him had starting shooting and his only option had seemed to jump through a window. He landed on the pool below, which was rapidly tainted with his blood. He had no idea how but he managed to get out of the pool and run down the street again. His body was aching but he had no idea where it hurt exactly. He just ran, preventing more damage.

 Out of nowhere, a neighborhood of tall skyscrapers and perfect sidewalks appeared in front of him. He entered the closest door, which happened to be a department store. He went up one floor on the working escalator and sat down by all the men shoe section to check his body. Only one bullet had hit him, on the right thigh, but it didn’t really hurt. He cleaned the wound with a shirt he grabbed from a table and decided to look for supplies or at least something to eat.

 Common sense drove him to the lower level of the department store. The supermarket was there and he suddenly felt very young and happy. He grabbed a cart and started grabbing various things he had eaten throughout his life: cookies, beverages, fruit, vegetables, cooked meals that smelled delicious, water and even deodorant. He went around with his shopping cart, happy about life and all it had to offer.


 Then, the man from the pier stood in front of him. He knew it was him, even if he couldn’t see his face. The man had been the one firing at the motel and this time he wasn’t going to miss. He had him in his hands and one last horrible thought crossed his mind: “What if I really died here? What if I never wake up? What if this was all a trap?”

sábado, 4 de abril de 2015

Smoke and Cards

   She spread the cards on the table, forming three columns and three rows from left to right. A total of nine cards were there, all facing down. The woman, wearing a wine red shawl and several rings and bracelets on her arms, passed both hands over the cards and seemed to be talking in a strange language. Her clients were two girls, around twenty years old, who looked at her with eyes open and an expression of fear but also looking forward to her next words.

 The woman then did a sudden movement and asked one of them which card to flip over. The young woman indicated one and she complied, revealing the card of death. The woman then did a speech, explaining the deep meaning of this card. She asked several questions too, ranging from past relationships to dead family members. In less than twenty minutes, she flipped over all the cards and told the girl it all meant she was going to have an unexpected surprise very soon but that she should be weary as someone may be there to betray her. The girls looked at each other and, after paying, they went out giggling, discussing their results.

 The reader waited for them to be far and then called for her assistant, a young woman that looked a lot like her, in order to ask her if more people were waiting. The young girl told her that no and that her lunch would be done in just a few minutes so she could use the time to eat something. The card reader’s name was actually Suzanne and she had been a pharmacist for some time but that job had made her unstable, cranky and bored with life. She had always wanted so much more from everyone and everything and a pharmacy would never fulfill her dreams of grandeur.

 So one day, she overheard some women talking about going to a woman that read the crystal ball in a fair and she decided to go. The woman was a big sham but she learned that people would decide to believe in anything if it’s well presented to them. Before becoming a card reader, Suzanne had been a very practical and skeptic person. In one second, she could debunk any stupid thing people believed in and that had earned her a friendless life and a difficult interaction with men and even with her parents.

 So after seeing all the glitz and mystery of the crystal ball reader, she decided to become Madame Zelda, a mysterious seer that had come all the way from Romania to help souls in need to find their way by reading the cards of their life and other things. Her business, located in a small store in the city’s downtown, was very successful from day one. She had hired her niece Amanda to be her assistant and to give away fliers to every nearby college. Suzanne knew that the younger people were especially prone to believing anything so she knew that was the way to start.

 Six months had passed since that and her strategy had worked. Lots of giggling girls came in and decided to get their cards, their coffee and even their cigarettes read. Suzanne did everything and anything and people would buy what she said and even if they didn’t, she knew very few would tell anything to her face. People were strangely polite when referring to something as plain and simple as the arts of divination. But the point was that they always came.

 A she ate a bowl of pasta with meatballs with her niece, Suzanne realized they looked very much alike: their hand were both skinny, their skin the color of olives, big bushy hair and big brown eyes. She asked her niece what would she like to be when out of school and she told her that she had a dram of becoming a nurse. She wanted to help people and thought the best way was to care for people’s health. In the long run, she might even become a doctor but that wasn’t going to be decided just yet.

 Suzanne then asked her about her sister, her niece’s mother. She was not the best mother in the world, that’s for sure. She had the traces of all the women of the family: beautiful heavy smokers but convulsed souls inside. After all, they had a recurrence of mental issues in the family and Suzanne’s sister Amelia apparently was the prime example. She was always thinking of things that helped no one and had never really cared for her daughter. In part, that was why Suzanne had decided to accept Melanie in her home for her last year of school. She didn’t regret her decision so far.

 Melanie proved to be different than her fellow female family members: for such a young girl she knew very well what to do and what not to do and how to do the things she wanted for herself. After all, she was only sixteen and about to step out of school. Suzanne had already spoken with her sister about Melanie’s education but Amelia had assured her that there was more than enough money for that. The girl was the daughter of a very rich man that wanted nothing to do with them and paid handsomely every month in order to keep them away. And it worked perfectly for all of them so there was more than enough money to pay for her nurse education.

 Suzanne often liked to go out with her, shop around or to the movies. They were both lonely girls, no real friends around and Amelia had never grown fond of her own daughter, always seeing her as only her source of money. It was true and obvious that Melanie felt much more at home with Suzanne than with her own mother. They had fun together and they both learned a lot about each other in only the first few months of living together. They would share magazines and talk about boys, and fashion, and the future. And they both loved to finally have someone to hear them.

 Suzanne’s life as a young woman had been exactly the same, if not worst. She had very few friends because she wanted so much more from life. She was not happy with the crumbs she received from both her family and her present, she had always wanted more. She left home after refusing her father’s orders to study in order to be secretary. He thought there were roles and jobs for women and other for men and that she had nothing to do in a hospital, even if most nurses were actually women. He said he knew that she wanted to become a doctor and he didn’t agreed. So she left and never went back.

 Years later, she attended her father’s funeral and her mother refused to speak to her. After ten years, she still wasn’t speaking to her as if it had been her that had been harsh to her daughter. But that was the way it was. She was one of those women that live for the man they marry and in that moment, she was lost. She nothing and she felt empty and alone. It would take a few more years for her to become closer to her daughters and when she finally did, death came for her too. Now, it was only Suzanne and Amelia and even if they didn’t agreed on their life choices, they called each other every so often to ask how the other was doing and if they could be of any help.

 When she finished eating, Suzanne grabbed a metal box and organized what was inside. Melanie, who hadn’t finished eating, stared at her, looking all the types of cards she had inside, the cigarettes, the guides of how to read the cups of tea and coffee and also the hands. She had everything in that little box and then Melanie realized her aunt’s life was all inside that small object. It all summed up to that.

-          - Aunt?
-          - Yeah?
-          - Are you ever sorry?

 Suzanne looked at her, confused.

-          - What do you mean?
-          - With people that come here.
-          - hat should I feel sorry?
-          - You’re not a real seer. You lie to them.

 The woman was frozen right there on her chair. She had never discussed her business with anyone but Melanie was the person he loved most and she knew they had to talk about it. So she just answered that was the way she had found to feel she was receiving what she deserved from life. The girl then asked if she didn’t feel bad to tell lies to every person that entered the store. Suzanne took one of her niece’s hands and held it. She then looked at her in he eye and told her that people chose to believe what she said and that that was their decision. She knew she was lying to them and she knew it was wrong but her way of living was honest as she was true to herself. Then she took everything out of the box and showed the bottom to Melanie.


 There were two transparent bags and both had money inside. Then Suzanne told her she was saving for both of them, so they could live better and she could put up another kind of store, something better and that she could be proud of. The girl smiled and right then a bell rang. It was the next costumer. Suzanne straightened her shawl and went down to her smoky, cinnamon scented room as Melanie followed her in order to get the door.

martes, 25 de noviembre de 2014

Tropical nightmare

The beach was perfect, like the ones in movies or on brochures. Most times they are just less attractive, filled with smashed sea shells and lots of leaves laying around. Not this one though. It seemed it was cleaned every single day because it was impossible it was naturally perfect.

Truth be told, it wasn't very close to the road and tourists hadn't invaded yet. Only locals, like Pat, knew about these natural beauties no one else knew about. And that was the reason why I had come here with Kevin. We wanted an adventure but also clean bathrooms and a comfy bed. Well, we got it.

It was all Pat's doing. She was a native Hawaiian Kevin had met in work. He worked in a travel agency and many people were very interested in visiting Oahu and all other islands. Pat had been to Kevin's office offering the services of her family's company: they provided personalized tours for small groups or couples all over the state of Hawaii. They only asked for the visitors to fill an online survey to know their tastes and schedules and then the perfect tour would be assigned to them.

And up to know, it was perfect. We had visited pineapple crops and the most interesting sites of Honolulu and its surroundings.

Today, it was Maui's turn to amaze us and the beach had done just that. Pat told us she would leave for a couple of hours to visit a cousin not very far. That would give us privacy and time to enjoy the beach. We only saw couples there and not that many. We held hands and walked on the soft sand. After a while we took off our clothes and jumped in the water, leaving our things hidden behind a coconut tree.

The water was also perfect. We swam a lot, for a hole hour before we went back to the beach. We had something to eat and looked at the ocean, dreaming of one day leaving in or near a place like this.

Then I realized my phone and Kevin's were not in the backpack. I checked two, three times but could not find anything. We worried, as Pat had told us to call her at 4 PM, but how if we had no idea of the time of day. Actually, we had no idea of what her phone number was. I looked around for the cellphones as Kevin went to look for someone to lend us a phone to call but I found nothing and he found no one.

We put on our clothes and walked back to the road. It was a long trail through the trees, but Kevin said he remembered the way so I followed him, holding his hand but in silence. After 45 minutes of walking, we finally got to the road but it too was deserted. Something felt really wrong.

We waited and waited and the sun was going down and we worried more and more. We were supposed to be in a boat back to the hotel by then, but instead we were standing by a lonely road and darkness would settle in no time.

I told Kevin that we should walk, at least to be closer to a town or something and he agreed. Not much time passed when a car drove by. We made signs for it to stop and it did. We both jogged towards it but then I saw who was driving and who was sitting in the back.

I tried to pull back but someone grabbed by the arm and made me enter the car. Some other guy did the same with Kevin, forcing him into the back seat. The car drove off and we were not saying a word. We both knew what was happening but did not see it coming. One mistake, and we would be done for good.

I should mention I am a police officer. As such, I have captured and sent to jail hundreds of thieves, murderers, con artists and so on. The man that was driving was a drug lord who people thought had died in a helicopter crash. I saw the explosion myself and that was another reason for my silence.

Kevin also knew who he was because I almost died the day of the helicopter accident. One of the drug lord's men shot me but thankfully I received no serious damage. But Kevin was not fixed on that man. He was looking at Pat, who was sitting there, next to them. She just gazed at the window, as if she was on a car with friends.

Already dark, the car pulled off by a small house by the road. We were forced to enter, as well as Pat was. The drug lord then started talking about revenge and intelligence. Pat had led us to a trap, set by him to kill me. I had been a key member in the investigation against him and it was my testimony that had sent his wife and son to jail. Now, he wanted to get "even".

He thanked Pat for her help but stated that he couldn't leave any witnesses. She went mad when he said that and tried to attack him. One of his men grabbed her and the other shot her in the head, in front of us.

The man continued, telling us the house was soaked on gasoline and that we would die as he had supposedly died: on fire.

Before leaving, of the thugs, the one that had killed Pat, turned around and shot me in the right thigh and Kevin too. They weren't going to tie us but wanted to be sure we wouldn't escape.

The house rapidly caught fire and, before the smoke began to be unbearable, we heard them drove off.

The pain was too much and I had to drop to the floor before I fainted from it. Kevin had been shot in the waist and begged me to do something.

The fire was everywhere and we were already coughing and pulling back from the flames but it was futile. The place was made from would only and it wasn't a very big house. Options were scarce.

We were going to die.