Archive for corpse

Lifetime GM

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Because he worked the nightshift, TJ hadn’t seen much of Mr Kazantzakis, who was either in his office or remained in his room. Mr Kazantzakis had run the Lucerne Valley Hotel for twenty years and was scheduled to continue for twenty more. The hospitality industry realized the value of loyalty and required senior employees to commit for life.

Mr Kazantzakis’ title was Lifetime General Manager, but it would be more appropriate to say Working Lifetime General Manager. His contract expired when he hit sixty-five. TJ had once asked him what happened after that.

It was the only time that Mr Kazantzakis had avoided a question. He had turned away from TJ and wiped something from his eye, his snow white hair shook a little, and when he turned back his moustache was wet. TJ never again asked him about his future.

Mr Kazantzakis was a hospitality services professional. He was responsible for all areas of the business – revenue and costs, marketing and sales, effective planning, delegating, coordinating, staffing, organizing, decision making, and other day-to-day operations. He had ultimate authority over the hotel and reported directly to its owner. Mr Kazantzakis managed the management team, created and enforced business objectives, oversaw projects and renovations, and handled emergencies and other issues involving guests, employees, the facility, the media, local government and suppliers. His contract also stated that he had “Many Additional Duties”, whose acronym was MAD.

In his time working there, TJ had only disturbed the LGM four times during the night.

The first time was when a group of friends had booked out the second floor. They had a very noisy party and many guests complained to reception. TJ went up three times to ask them to keep the noise down, but to no avail. He had no choice but to wake Mr Karantzakis. The LGM went up to the second floor, saw that people were having good clean fun, and instead of closing down the party, invited all the other guests along. He said, “You are up now anyway, so you may as well enjoy yourselves.”

The second time was when TJ had double-booked the entire hotel. Four buses pulled in simultaneously and two hundred people poured into the reception area, wanting their rooms. TJ panicked and called the LGM, who sized up the guests, chatted to a few, and declared that this would be a Swinging Sixties weekend, with two couples in every room. It was a good way for people to make new friends; how good was entirely up to them. There were no requests for refunds.

The third time was when police were searching for a murder suspect. A witness said that earlier that night, she had seen the victim entering the Lucerne Valley Hotel. The police wanted to question every guest there. The LGM turned the procedure into a Whodunnit? game for the guests, and loaned the police inspector his chequered jacket and pipe “to look like Sherlock Holmes”. He asked TJ to play Watson.

The fourth time was when a guest slipped in a puddle of beer that he had himself spilt moments earlier, and threatened to sue the hotel. The LGM took the man into his office and that guest was never seen again. Later that night the LGM asked TJ to remove a heavy wet bag from his office, and gave him a packet containing $10,000, which he said was for “Inhospitality services.”

The next morning at 6a.m. TJ heard heavy footsteps coming down the main stairwell. He was tempted to say, “Good morning, Deathtime GM.”


A to B

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Camp A and Camp B were now established. It was strange how they had both sprung up at the same time, but without being connected. Rumours said that neither had gone through the proper process, scared by rumours of burial grounds, which if identified would end all construction. But they’d kept the in-joke. A stood for Apparition, said Camp A’s residents; Camp B’s dwellers said that B stood for Banshee. How the hell had he ended up here, Antoine wondered? What had he done to deserve this? And then he remembered.

He was legally obliged to mention his conviction, which tended to make him less attractive to employers. There was no escaping the fact that twelve years ago he had killed his boss. The boss was a mean son-of-a-bitch who had started the fight, and their fight had been fair, but Antoine should have stopped when it was clear that the issue was settled – by his bosses’ teeth being broken, and his lying unconscious in a pool of blood on the floor. There really was no need to smash his skull in with a fire extinguisher. But Antoine had been driven to a point beyond reason, and that’s why he could now only find jobs on the edge of the wilderness – a place he would always inhabit.

Out here things could be different though. Here was a convicted killer wearing a shirt and tie, in his air-conditioned office-trailer, having meetings with respectable people. He was only employed two days a week by the Village, and had to make best use of that time. One day was for fieldwork, the other for meetings. Today he was exploring options for connecting Camp Apparition to Camp Banshee with the three main interest groups.

His assistant Laurence was great at prepping. He could rely on her entirely. He wondered if she knew about his conviction. He reckoned that she did, but never mentioned it. What a pro. He was very lucky to have her. Why a sassy girl like that worked out in the bush though, he had no idea. At 11am she said, “The Lucerne Valley Merchant’s Association is here. They look like a fun bunch. Watch the one with two moustaches.”

“The one with two moustaches” turned out to be the grocery store owner. Antoine couldn’t help smirking when he walked in; he had a regular moustache, and a monobrow. Two moustaches. He said, “Merchants want the most direct route possible. Twenty kilometres of new road is not going to come cheap. We see the need to connect the two camps and are supportive. But as the biggest taxpayers in town, we want value for money. So we say built it straight, and build it cheap. Don’t drown us in more taxes.”

After lunch Laurence said, “Lucerne Valley Families First are here. I’m not sure why, but they seem to have brought their pet caterpillars.”

A group of people with fat sideburns walked in, and Antoine smirked again. That girl needs to behave herself, he thought, or she’ll get me into trouble. But he wondered when this hirsute fashion had started; was this Valley’s heritage Middle-Eastern?

A hefty lady was their spokesperson. She said, “We would like the road to take the scenic route between the two camps. If you run straight between them, you cross swampland and flood zone. You also skirt bluffs where bears and cougars have been spotted. So for the safety of our children especially – they’ll be on their bikes, or walking – we want the road to stick to higher areas away from the swamps and bluffs.”

At teatime Laurence said, “The Lucerne Valley Developers are here. They are very keen birders. Habitat will be their main concern.”

A group of men with beards and wigs walked in. This time Antoine could not help laughing. They were surprised at first, then angry. “What is the meaning of this?” said their chairman. “Is this a business meeting or a clown show?”

“I’m sorry,” said Antoine. “My assistant told me a joke earlier. It was a killer.”

“Well, do share it with us,” said the leader. “We like a good joke too.”

“I’m sorry, it’s a personal joke.” I will kill that girl, he thought; but only in a nice way.

“We Developers would like to see a network of roads. Not just a straight stretch between two armpits. We need roads to spread through the area, to create access to new neighbourhoods. A road from Camp A to Camp B will not attract anyone. People prefer eyesores out of sight. But a complex network will induce demand. That’s capitalism at its best, creating something from nothing.”

When everyone had gone, Antoine and Laurence put their heads together. Both were history buffs. They brainstormed the many types of roads in antiquity – dirt-tracks, flint-covered, stone-paved, corduroy-timbered, timber trackways, clay-brick-paved, Persian Royal Roads, Roman straight roads, Arab paved roads, and roads besides rivers, along which materials were hauled by horse-drawn boats. They discussed some related structures including bridges, tunnels, supports, junctions, crossings, interchanges, and toll roads, and of course the continuous right-of-way required.

Antoine suggested that he and Laurence use a fieldwork day to walk the proposed routes. They found the straight route involved much bushwhacking. The scenic route was easier, largely following animal tracks. A network could follow natural breaks and contours. But none of them felt right to Antoine. Was there anything else?

As dusk approached, they fell onto a pine forest track. There was a full moon tonight so they continued walking. Mushrooms grew profusely, and owls were hooting; wisps of blue light appeared and disappeared; someone had hung coloured glass balls at intervals; they heard rustling and whispering, and felt shadows. They had found an ancient corpse road, where bodies were transported from the Village to forest burial grounds. The Apparitions and Banshees were lonely here; they were long forgotten. They liked to see the living, especially those who were close to death themselves. This man they knew had killed someone, and the woman was here to avenge her father. They were pleased that company would be arriving soon.