10,005 / 50,000
In which I get Martin to his hotel room, after an unexpected encounter with a coffee-drinking, ass-kicking girl who will turn up later to shoot the shit ouf of stuff. She crept up unexpectedly on me...
Even now, I could still see a few people already that I knew were here for the convention. I spotted a Firefly shirt on one person, Jayne's orange knit cap on another, odds were good that they were together, a few casually dressed guys clumped over by the escalator, and I think I saw someone reading some comics in one of the lobby chairs.
There was even someone already in full costume. I didn't count the Firefly guys. Anyone can wear a Jayne hat, that doesn't quite qualify as a full costume, in my opinion. There was already someone standing around by the Starbucks on the far side from where I was, dressed as Superman, talking to a few folks, and even posing for pictures. I glanced back over my shoulder towards the fperson ahead of me in line to check in, and at my backpack, where my camera was safely stored away for the trip. So much for being in the right place. I was sure if I looked a little more, he wouldn't be the only one around in costume already. Some people loved to start as soon as they got here. I hoped I could find him again later, it was one of the better Superman costumes I'd seen in a few years.
No sign of my roommate for the weekend though, but that wasn't surprising, Chris always got in later, thanks to his flight. Whether it be delays, or just a late flight, he rarely got in before six, and then there was travelling from the airport. Since I'd gotten in so early, I decided to go and meet him there once I was checked in.
Which didn't take long. It would've been shorter, but I was so busy watching people as they started filtering into the lobby that someone snuck ahead of me. I kept my hand on the wallet in my coat pocket, always wary of any and everyone, especially in the city, but also because I'd need it soon enough.
Once the cutter finally finished up, I moved forward and checked into my room, and chatted for a moment with the clerk, as she recognised me from the previous year, and we both talked a little about the craziness that we knew was coming, but with a smile. The people at the Herriott were always friendly, and in some ways, I think they thrived on the craziness we brought under their roof. It was good for business, a packed house, and there had almost never been anything seriously go wrong, but it was crazy none the less. It was a hard weekend for everyone working, but I'm sure the crowds were fun to watch, when they weren't causing what little trouble they did.
And I say 'they' because I did my best to avoid the crazier circles, although not always successfully.
I moved easily through the glacially growing crowd, and back to the column of elevators, arrayed in a circle around a central core. Each quadrant of the circular column of elevators serviced a different group of floors, allowing them to stay fairly uncrowded, as each one only dealt with about ten floors, and the lobbies. It was only a few moments before I had an available lift, and all to myself, to boot.
I let go of the luggage handle, and let my backpack slip down my arm to the elbow, and let it rest atop my laptop bag, giving my arm a much needed rest. As I rode up the thirty or so floors to my room, I looked out the glass-enclosed capsule I was in, and watched the floors beneath me shrink away into the distance while I shot up into the air.
The elevator buzzed, rather than beeped when it reached my floor, and the doors slid open. I made a face at the noise, and remembered this particular elevator from previous years, knowing that it had a problem with its sounds and nothing ever quite came out right.
I exited the elevator, hefting my backpack back up onto my shoulder, and turned, smacking right into someone waiting in the small, curved foyer that the elevator opened onto.
The yelp and bump caught me by surprise, and I nearly dropped my backpack, and camera. I regained my composure and saw I'd bumped into a young girl wearing an X-Men t-shirt and holding a cupthat I could tell had coffee from the smell filling the air, that was wobbling in her hand, and fortunately it looked like none had spilled, on either of us.
"I'm so sorry," I said with sincerity. "I didn't see you there, was totally in my own head space. Are you ok? Here for UniCon?"
She gave me a nod and checked herself and the cup over. "Yep! I'm sure that won't be the last time I nearly take a shower in caffeine this weekend, or at least have someone run me over. You look like you've been here before, so I'm sure you know the drill."
I did. At UniCon, the most commonly heard phrases are, "Excuse me," and, "I'm sorry," as people try to work their way through crowds and not trample anyone in the process.
I nodded back at her as she fixed the wireframe glasses on her face, and took a sip of her coffee. "Well, I'll see you around the convention, hopefully. Probably more likely to bump into you again, since it looks like we're sharing a floor." She stuck out her free hand for me, "I'm Andrea, by the way. Room 3423."
Juggling around all my stuff, and grabbed her hand, giving it a firm shake. "Well, not only sharing a floor, but it looks like we're neighbours. I'm staying in 3424. And I'm Martin. You're awfully trusting to be giving that information out to a complete stranger, aren't you?"
Andrea smiled wickedly, and brushed some dark hair from her face and tucked it behind an ear. "Oh, if anyone gets any bright ideas, I can kick their ass, no problem. Or throw coffee on them. And then kick there ass. Besides, we're on the same floor. If you really wanted to stalk me, it's not like I'll be hard to find. And then I'd kick your ass."
She reached past me and pushed the elevator button on the wall, "And now that your blundering has made me miss my elevator, I'm stuck here waiting. Again."
"Hey, at least it's not the Hyatt," I said over my shoulder as I rolled my stuff away to find out where my room was.
Just as I was about ready to circle the floor, I heard Andrea call out, "Go left! It's shorter!"
"Thank you," I shouted across the walkway that connected the outer walkway by the rooms to the inner enclosure for the elevators, as I turned on my heel, jerking my bags along with me, as I was about to turn in exactly the wrong direction.
I pauses and looked over the railing entwined with vines and a few other plants spaced along the way for greenery, and down into the ribcage of the Herriott beast from the other perspective, and couldn't even make out the ant-like people down on the floors far, far below.
Already it was feeling like I had returned home, before I'd even entered, or even found, my room. The swirling primary colours of the soft carpeting padding my footfalls as I walked along the open corridor and past the recessed doors to other rooms. I had spent so many hours here, it was as familiar and comfortable to me as anywhere else. Which was a little sad, in a way.
I paused as I rounded the first corner, on the small, shorter wall that would be opposite the entrance which I came in far below me now, and elevators, now across the way of a deep chasm. Looking across it, I saw Andrea finally get into another elevator, and waved. I don't know if she saw it, because the elevator started going up instead of the opposite she really wanted, and I saw more than heard her scream as it shot up to a higher floor, to pick up more people.
I smiled and shook my head at her misfortune, and truly hoped to see more of her over the weekend, as the main goal of UniCon for me was meeting new friends. Almost everyone I'd ever encountered, outside of a few drunken louts every year, were almost universally good people, and I'd expanded my circle of friends considerably with each passing visit. It looked like I was already off to a good start.
Turning away from the elevator spine, I turned in the opposite direction and looked out the window that took up an entire sectioon of wall, next to a tucked away little alcove where a soda machine, and the ice machine were hidden. The window gave a nice view of Boston, and the waning sunlight was casting an orange glow over the city. The streets roiled along beneath me, most of them hidden by the other tall skyscrapers jutting up from the ground to meet me in the clouds. Even with most of them hidden, there were still a few thick lanes of road, most notably one that ran north-south almost directly from where I stood and watched, and split just as it reached the Herriott, and traced around the triptych of hotels.
I stood there just watching the traffic split and weave around the buildings, like ants crawling around gigantic anthills. I'm reminded of an episode of the newer Outer Limits series as well, but no one would get that reference, I'm sure. Although at UniCon, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone in a Sandking costume.
With far too much time spent watching the world pass by beneath me, I continued along until I was on the opposite side of the halls from where I'd crossed over from the central spire of elevators. There were only two causeways between those and the hallway around the outisde ring, to get to the rooms, and as I passed another large window on the other side of the alcove for the ice machine, I resumed walking alongside doors and checking room numbers. Each little entryway was recessed from the main wall, and lit with a bright bulb in the ceiling in front, making it look like a street full of homes, if not for every other surrounding detail, betraying the truth of it being a fancy hotel.
As I checked numbers, I also saw their Braille equivalents beneath them, and could only think about how long it takes me to find a room in a hotel, and how long it takes me to find it when I come back after being gone for the day, and could only feel sorry for anyone who had to stop at the doors and read the numbers by hand. I'm sure they're as used to that as I am with just looking, and the hotel certainly had to include such things for those people, but I still was amazed at the people who would use it.
Made more sense than Braille on drive through ATM machines, but I digress.
About half the distance between the far wall, and where I would have the elevators between me and the far wall where I started from, I found my room, and Andrea's door right next to it. I fumbled around with my stuff and dug out the electronic keycards I'd gotten at the main desk, and held the small credit card-like object in my hand, sliding it into the slot in the door handle. Yanking it back, I heard a buzz inside that had become all too familiar, and a little green light blinked repeatedly until I pushed the handle down and shoved the door into the air conditioned room.