The world was spinning. Because I was spinning, strapped into a 3-Axe astronaut training machine. Specters of watercolorish strokes smeared into each other, the cheering crowd had become a faceless mush. My head was thrown back and forth whenever the machine changed randomly the direction. Closing my eyes was out of question, I wanted to take it all in, maybe because I wanted to get it all out, the thoughts about ending my life, my brother and those green eyes.
Five minutes should the ride last in the 3-Axe, the speed picking up every ten seconds. First I was quiet, then I screamed, now I clenched my teeth and my sphincter.
After what felt like an hour, the rotation slowed down, and to the applause of the queuing people, I was helped out of my seat. The hotel employee talked to me, but I only staggered away, giving him and the next person a thumb up. With the other hand I supported myself, fearing my wobbly knees could buckle.
Resting my back against a wall in the hallway and trying to catch my breath, I wiped the sweat off of my forehead and noticed wet marks on my blue hotel sweater, where the 3-Axe safety belts had held me.
«You were super, like a superhero!» I heard a girl say, the mom stood next to her in their blue slacks—the two that had travelled with me in the shuttle.
I forced a smile, «If I'd be a superhero, my name would be Outofshapeman.»
They laughed, and the mom said, «No, you did great. What a rush that must be.»
«It is. You try it!»
«I have motion sickness.»
«She shouldn't see me like that», she glanced at her daughter.
«Point made», I bent down and stemmed my hands on my knees, taking a deep breath.
The girl screamed out of excitement, «I was on the mega-swing, whooyyy.» Her two upper front teeth were missing.
«And what are you up to next?», I asked.
She yelled, «The roller coaster.»
«There is no motion sickness?» I addressed her mom.
«I will wait for Mia.»
«I don't want to go alone», complained Mia.
«Sweetie», she knelt down to her daughter, «I am there, watching you all the time, waving at you…»
«But I don't want to be alone», the girl crossed her arms and pouted.
«You are not alone.»
«Then I can't go», tears welled up in her eyes.
I cleared my throat to announce my leaving.
«Sweetie, that is no reason, you should be on a roller coaster at least once… I don't have to be with you, you can do that on your own, you are a big girl.»
Mia looked at me and suppressed her own tears, but the idea she had, she could not hide.
A roller coaster ride wasn't really on my to do list.
«Please, please, please», her daughter pleaded with her and glanced at me.
I said, «I totally would love to go on a roller coaster ride if that is okay with your mom.»
«Yesss! Mom? Mom? Mom?»
«It is okay with me if it is okay with you», she looked from me to Mia and back to me, «For both of you!»
We were nodding as if we were in the nodding finals of the nodding world championship, me more mirroring Mia who in return nodded even more.
«Okay», and in the cheering of her daughter she said, «I am Chi.»
«Arthur, nice to meet you.»
Mia jumped up and down, her tears not even dry on her cheeks, «Can we go now, please, now, can we?»
Chi turned to her, «We have to ask if Arthur has time now!»
I helped Mia, «If not now, then when?»
For a moment Chi's eyes met mine, her facade cracked for a split second. She didn't tell her daughter.
«Yeeeeeeh!», Mia stretched both fists into the air.
Chi's dark thoughts that had crossed her mind were blown away by the reaction of her daughter, and she picked her up and pressed her cheek against Mia's, their faces turned towards me. It would've made a magnificent family picture, against any other backdrop, in any other moment, anywhere else.
«You are getting heavy and heavier», Chi said, «Soon I can't carry you anymore.»
True, I thought.
And the girl said, «You can always carry me, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, until I'm 100 years old.»
Chi looked at me.
No, she hadn't told her. I understood.
She said, «By the way, no 'stache looks good, too.»
«Thank you», and I pretended to blow it up, which made her smile.
: : :
There I was, sitting beside a girl in the very first cart of a roller coaster waiting for our ride with a shiny metal bar across our laps. Bright lights blinked along the track, which disappeared in a tunnel functioning as the mouth for a vampire-zombie hermaphrodite.
We would go into a tunnel, of the roller coaster, in a hotel above the clouds, truly a magical place. Jaqueline and Afterlife hadn't promised too much. The building had to be huge. And it was only resting on the four pillars.
What other attractions did they have here? In my room I didn't take the time to read the details of the map, I merely scrolled down with my index finger the list of attractions underneath it. First listed were the numbers. The 3-Axe Spinning came first. For what else could I ask than an original old-time astronaut training! That's why I went there first.
Suddenly, I realized the awkward silence between us. I was a stranger to that girl. What must go through her head?
«Hey Mia, you are a really brave girl!» I over pronounced every single word.
«Thank you, Arthur.»
«So you never rode a roller coaster before?» I placed my hands on the steel bar.
She lost her chatty attitude, maybe even regretting the decision to take the ride on the roller coaster, with a stranger.
«How old are you? You must be 10.»
«Noooo», she said, «I am six, in December I'll turn seven.»
No, you won't.
«As my birthday present, I want to have a toy farmhouse with a barn and all the animals.»
«Nice, do you like animals?»
«I love animals, mostly horses, they are beautiful.»
«Did you ever ride one?» I only wanted to keep the conversation rolling.
Our cart moved a few metres forward so other people could jump in. This way, we lost her mom out of sight.
Mia said, «But I will soon.»
«They have horses here, too?»
«They have ponies, deer, panda bears, lions, and, oh yes, an aquarium.»
«I didn't know that.» Jaqueline probably hadn't mentioned the other animals, because they weren't interesting for me.
«Fantastic. You go there right afterward?», I pointed towards the tunnel.
«Yes, you want to come too?»
«Uffh, I …»
«Don't you like animals?»
«I love animals.»
«So you come!»
«I guess so.»
I must've smiled like that, when I was a kid, removed from the daily life and sorrows, sickness and anxiety, waking up every morning to a new day full of adventures. She was really a bit young to go on her journey.
«You are in first grade?»
«Yes, with Miss Shorn.»
«You have fun in school?»
«Don't you have school right now?»
«Mom took me out for our trip.»
«Nice mom. Otherwise you are in school, every day?»
«Yes, D-school, every day.»
That means, she is not sick. Then why should she go on the journey?
Mia continued, her eyes daydreaming, caught in a memory, «On in-person-mondays I sit beside Kent. He always teases me.»
«What does he do?»
«Taking my divvy away.»
«Yes, my divvy, that Kent.»
«What does the teacher say?»
«Stop», and she stretched her hand out, mimicking the gesture of her teacher.
A siren went off blaring, a tone worthy of a foghorn. Mia covered her ears, opened her mouth and pressed her eyelids tight as if she could hear less this way. With a jolt the roller coaster started to climb towards the tunnel, heavy chains rattling underneath our cart.
When we entered the darkness, she grabbed my hand and squeezed it, as soon as we went downhill.
: : :
Chi thanked me for making the ride possible. Mia didn't stop talking, explaining every curve we had taken and, of course, the loop, while her mother pretended to picture all of her more or less abstract descriptions, throwing in the odd Wow and Whoa.
As I had promised, I followed them to the next attraction picking up the girl's story, whenever she looked at me for reaffirmation.
We stopped by the game room. Three free game stations in a row seemed to wait just for us. Mia finished her roller coaster story and turned on a game with animals. Chi stood in the middle playing a fantasy game, me enjoying Justine, offline, but for the first time in color. What a treat.
Over Justine I almost forgot what I want to ask Chi. I tried to sound casual, «Why are you here?»
She looked at me in disbelief that I had asked that. «For… You know what.»
«I know that, but why?»
«I asked you first.»
She played now half-heartedly, her troll casually walking through the forest of green trees and pink flowers, squirrels skittering away.
«Are you sick?» I asked.
I paused my game, choosing a moment, where Justine looked over her shoulder right at me.
«Then tell me why, I don't get it, she is your child, she... what does her father say to this?»
«Nothing, he left, he is a hero, he walked the plank already.»
«Okay», I should have seen this coming, «But Mia is young, she has a future, she…»
«What kind of future? Working at the gym.»
«What's so bad with that?»
«What's so great with that?»
Our conversation had turned into a whisper, so Mia wouldn't hear us.
I continued, «Despite… You don't know what talent Mia has! Who knows, she might be the next…»
«Nothing. She not might, she is and will be the next nothing, the next nobody.»
«That's harsh. How can you say that? Look at her, she is smart, brave…»
«She got tested, they have these new tests at school. A team comes in and they test the kids’ abilities. Result: she wouldn't even thrive at the gym.»
We heard a glockenspiel sound coming from loudspeakers hidden in the ceiling followed by an announcement, «We would like to invite our new guests to the half-hourly farewell ceremony for the soon-to-be heroes of society in the Kurt Cobain hall. Farewell ceremonies are held regularly a quarter to and a quarter past the hour. You can take your drinks to the ceremony, food is not allowed. Enjoy your time.»
I continued, «Mia is happy, she is a happy child, she will have fun in her life, and when…»
«Because I don't let myself go.» Her body sacked a few inches, her troll hit a tree. She didn't even pretend anymore to look at the screen, she had turned towards me resting her elbow on the station like standing at a bar. «Arthur, I ran out of energy, long time ago, every morning the hardest chore is to get up at all and get out of bed and make breakfast smiling at her, joking around as if there is nothing, pretending to have a life.»
I shortly pondered if I should say out loud, what I was thinking, but if not now and here, when else? «What did your advisor say?»
With her free hand, she pointed around us in a semi-circle.
«Really? I can't believe it.» The latter I said more to myself. «And Mia?»
She shook her head, and first I thought she didn't want to answer, because it was too hard for her, but then she shut her eyes half in anger, half fighting tears, «You think she would be that happy without her mom, in a foster home?»
She let her arm again describe the semi-circle, «The Hotel seems to run in our genes.»
We looked at each other; both without an answer.
Mia was making faces, expressing the feelings her character must have, surrounded by all the animals. She seemed to collect points by grooming and caressing every furry friend she met.
What was there to tell her mom that no advisor could say? This wasn't an overnight decision, everybody here came a long way.
«And you?», she asked.
«My younger brother is sick. The brain.» And by saying that, I tipped against my temple, «He gets a piece of mine.»
Then I turned away from her, pressed play, and Justine kept moving.
: : :
A few minutes later, I left the two. As excuse, I chose to go to the farewell ceremony, knowing Chi wouldn't like to have Mia there, because of the inconvenient questions she could ask. And I was right. Chi mentioned the petting zoo, and Mia's eyes lit up. She pouted briefly when she realized I wouldn't join them for their trip to the animals, but then smiled as soon as they went their way.
Alone with a Pink Pakistani Sunday Shake in my left, I entered the Kurt Cobain hall.
The place was crammed with spectators sipping their long drinks, some whispering to each other, some visibly tipsy, but keeping their serious act together. Although it looked nothing like a house of worship, the atmosphere of death was enough to let the people lose their voices. I leaned against the wall beside the entrance and had to go on my tiptoes to see anything.
The walls and the fake windows reminded the spectator vaguely of a place of worship and solemn celebration. In contrary to the rest of the hotel, the colour tones here were subdued, no blaring primary colours, rather earthy and pastel.
I never had seen that many men without mustache in one place, this could be a not-so-undercover cop convention.
Eight heroes gathered in front of a double-wide door. They wore rainbow-coloured overalls—a stark contrast to the interior. With their hands or thumbs in their pockets, they stood in front of an orange curtain as if they were waiting for a rickshaw.
A hotel employee darted into the room, directly into the middle of the heroes, hugging two and spoke into a wireless microphone that hung almost invisibly from his ear to his chin, «Hello folks, sorry for me being delayed, Mister Apostolakis didn't feel well, hence me.»
The crowd mumbled and the heroes on stage whispered to each other. I also wouldn't have minded seeing him again after he quit the Fact or Fake Show.
«Anyway, welcome to this very special moment for our heroes here», he shook the two guys he was holding, they smiled as if they felt sorry for something, maybe the attention, nobody was used to, «This is their great day. They have the power, the guts, the smarts and the social responsibility to live up to this selfless act. Tell you what, I can't wait myself, I wish I could come along with you right now!»
Laughter in the audience, smiles around the heroes.
How would I fair up there when it was my time, all eyes on me, stage fright came to mind.
«The greater good is our goal, and this is your hat-trick», he turned towards the eight, «Did you have a good time here?»
They answered him with a unanimous yes.
«That seemed to me more like an okay time?! Is this all? Again...», this time he raised his voice and pulled out every single vowel, «Did you have a good time?»
Now they yelled out «Yeah!»
He turned toward us, «How about you? Do you have a good time at the Cloud Hotel?»
The crowd went bonkers.
Into his laughter the employee squeezed an «Oh, I love you, I love you all, I love the amazing energy in this room. Can you feel it? Can you feel it?»
Everybody responded in a frenzy, the audience and the heroes.
The man lowered his voice again and spoke to the eight, «Did you hear this? I know what they think. I do the same. I am so proud of you, from the bottom of my heart, you are the true heroes of our society, every single one, the heroes of your family, they must be so proud of you, and in the name of the society, now I wish you all the best for your journey!»
«Wooo-hooo!», from a guy in front of me.
After he said a few sentences about their lives, music faded in, Hearts Must Bleed, but instead of the band the hotel employee sang, it turned out to be a karaoke version, and the heroes joined in. The second line was sung by the entire congregation. It sounded weirdly impressive, everybody wanted to be the loudest, it seemed.
When the song ended, the orange curtain opened, and the heroes walked in a single line through it and waved to us like astronauts boarding their 20th-century spaceship.
We applauded, cheered, somewhere a glass fell to the floor, giggling from two men that enjoyed one too many long drinks.
With the curtain closing behind them, all voices dialed down to a quiet, and a blanket of silence cloaked the crowd. Trapped in their own fantasies, painfully reminded of what to come, the audience hurried out of the hall towards the next entertainment. I was glad, I was one of the first, even feeling a pushing hand on my back.
: : :
Before my appointment at the sun plank, I visited several attractions pointed out to me as places of interest, mostly activities I never haven't even dreamt about trying without the hotel.
On the shooting range, I fired my first shot. For me, it was more about the actual pulling the trigger than hitting the target, the kickback, the feeling of power in my hands, in me, a power I never had experienced before.
I have to admit, I spent more time at the range than originally planned. Once I had fired three different handguns, I got what the employee called trigger fever. I wanted more of the kickback, of the sound and the smell and the feeling of being able to conquer the world. Upon my wish, he handed me several rifles, starting with a shotgun ending with a 20th century carabine.
Rubbing the soft skin between my thumb and index finger where the kickback left its mark, I trotted down the hallway. My right shoulder felt like somebody had repetitively punched me, and my ears glowed red and hot because the ear protectors were a number too small. But it all was worth it. I still could smell the gunpowder on my fingers.
The race track was next. I couldn't actually believe that there was something like this inside the hotel. As it turned out, they had built one big slanted circle, you could speed up a car to over 100 km/h. An old 1989 red Firebird, with an electric engine, of course. All you could hear was the swooshing through the air and the tires on the track.
I had to wait a bit in line since I wasn't the only one who wanted to drive a car at least once in their lifetime. Like at the shooting range, mostly men attended the racetrack. Some I even recognized from the range, rubbing their hands in anticipation of the next adrenaline rush.
It was quite something seeing the walls flying by, when you drive so fast. However, the sensation when shooting, I ranked higher.
Sobered up enough, I was ready for another long drink, one that I would take with me onto the sun plank.
In order to get there, I had to change the levels and cross the hotel to the other side. Positively surprised I didn't see any lineup; just a few people gathered in front of the entrance thanks to the fact we all had an appointment. Nobody talked. Even eye contact was avoided, everybody focused on the clock above the door or a place on the wall or on the floor. The only sound came from slurping the long drinks, half of us were sipping through straws that resembled a looping roller coaster. I watched the orange liquid creep up as I sucked on my Vodka Sunset.
: : :
When it was time for me to walk through the door, I still had most of my drink left, and another hotel employee welcomed me; Teya's white-blonde hair waved over her shoulders. She took my glass, threw the straw in a garbage bin and drank it up in one before placing the glass next to a dozen other empties.
I said, «Hey, that was mine!»
«Get a new drink later.»
«Why did you...?»
«I'm not allowed to drink on the job.»
«But you just did!»
«But nobody knows. Get a fresh cold long drink after this. Your Sunset would be lukewarm after this anyway.»
We stood in a small, square room with three doors. Wood paneling all around me, even on the ceiling. Five white coats of different sizes hung on hangers in an open closet, the middle one still dangled from the last visitor hanging it there.
«You can put your device there», she pointed to a set of four cubby holes.
I placed my 55er in the closest one.
«Arthur, do you have any other objects on you, any loose objects, a belt?»
I padded down my pockets as if I had to reassure myself while I shook my head, the belt she must have noticed earlier, «No, just the belt.»
«Please», she smiled at me, her straight teeth shone whiter than the LED light above us. More and more, I was convinced the staff here was cast by a model agency.
Her sparkling nail extensions pointed at the neighboring cubby hole without touching it.
I opened my belt, pulled it out, rolled it into a snake, and put it away.
«Do you need something to hold up your pants?»
Judging by the way she said that, non-committal, professionally friendly overplaying her boredom, she had asked that question a million times.
«No, I'll be fine, I just stick out my belly.»
She could have at least smiled a bit. But she probably heard that one a thousand times, too.
«Good», she said, «Now take the warm coat from the right, so you are not freezing out there.»
I fumbled a bit with the hanger since it was attached to the metal bar, which I hadn't expected.
«Oh... okay, hehe», I made.
Again, no reaction from Teya.
I zipped up the padded jacket.
«All the way», she said.
All the way up.
She handed me a pair of heavy dark sunglasses with protecting shields on the sides as well.
«Really, do I see anything at all through them? I don't...»
«You will have the full experience. If you are not wearing them, the sun could blind you.»
«Can I take a glimpse without them?»
«You wouldn't be the first, and I can't keep you from doing it, but you won't be able to enjoy much between now and when you go on your journey, because you will be at least partly blind.»
I looked at her, and she must have read my mind.
So she added, «And in a lot of excruciating pain.»
I cringed, pain was nothing I was after. Nevertheless, I waged if it was worth the view, the moment, the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
«It is not», Teya said.
«It's not worth it, you take off the shades outside, and it'll be instantly a white flash, and it supposedly feels like somebody drills glowing iron rods through your eyeballs into your brain. And they stay there until your journey, and until your journey, you'll beg to leave early. From what I heard.»
«You have a way to convince people.»
«So I was told.»
I put up my shades, still smelling the gunpowder on my fingers.
The corners of her mouth twitched, indicating the onset of a smile, «Now it is super dark for you, but they balanced the glasses for the outside, you can even look at the sun directly. The tone of the shades auto-colour-corrects the entire environment, so you will experience the colours as they really are.»
«It's the best! Are you ready for the ultimate kick?!»
«Yes, ready.» Except, with the shades on, I literally couldn't see anything else besides the ceiling light, and her teeth floating in mid-air next to me. It didn't matter what direction I rolled my eyes, the sunglasses seemed to be lightproof.
«It's the door behind you», she said.
I turned around in what I perceived to be 180 degrees and my hands searched for the doorknob.
«Warm», I heard her say.
I kept moving in the same direction.
My fingertips tippled over the wood.
I tried to grab something I couldn't see.
«Colder», her voice carried her disappointment.
My hands wandered back the way they came, where it was 'hot'.
She said, «Try this.»
The shades slid down my nose an inch and I could see above them.
Now Teya smiled, she had moved them down for me, «A secret trick. As long as you are inside.»
She seemed to be happy with letting me goof around and being too excited to think about moving the glasses after the blind-spiel. What made people getting off on feeling superior? How insignificant their own existence had to be if they only shine in the brief light of the shortcomings of others, and they roll in it like pigs in a bog.
I asked, «You let all of us do this hot-cold game?»
«Only the ones not taking off the shades until they grab the doorknob.»
«I am... we are nervous, nervously excited.»
«A little fun.»
«Come on, give me a break, I'm doing this day in day out, same thing, some change once a while.»
«How long is your shift?»
«Ten hours, six days, a day off.»
The gym seemed to be more fun, than working her job. Alone all day. At least I could chat at work.
«Doesn't sound like much fun.»
«Hence», she only said and I got the reference.
That's what the bitterness of a wasted life void of personal development can do to some people.
I pushed the shades back up my nose and turned towards the door, turned the knob, rattled on it. Locked.
«You will hear a beep, then you can open the door», she said.
Just when I was about to give up, it beeped, and I heard a mechanical sound from the lock.
I took a deep breath and opened the door.
: : :
Blue sky. For the first time in my life I saw the sky, not tinted like in my room, and no clouds above me, the blue sky, I only read about on history blogs—all pictures and videos were monochrome.
No description came anywhere close to this, the tone of the blue changed gradually toward the horizon, where the clouds underneath us ended. And the clouds didn't look grey at all from the top, they were white, puffy, soft, inviting, like a fluffy bed. I also read about that, in a biography of an old war pilot, who praised the sky above the clouds. Now I know what these people meant when they praised this world, and why the plank, the Cloud Hotel, was so special.
I stood in the shade cast by the hotel structure above me. Its shadow rested on the majestic white below me like a gigantic fat cigar, slightly shaped like an elongated egg. Underneath the plank, a red net protected Lethbridge from jumpers. I am sure some tried, so they had spun a net.
I totally could see people trying it, forgetting their responsibility not to hurt or traumatize anybody during their journey. Signs every ten metres read 100,000 volt—the net was electric, one big barbeque. Getting fried was less appealing, but necessary; I imagined irresponsible predecessors jumping onto the net and then crawling toward its end, so they could jump into the clouds, fall through them and smack down in Lethbridge.
I wanted to feel the sun, I still stood in the shade, but I saw the tip of the plank in the broad daylight.
The plank was comfortable to walk on, wider than I expected and it didn't swing a bit, it felt like a glorified catwalk in the sky, red, with a rough anti-slip surface. The air was cold and dry and clean, crisp, and its thinness let me breathe deeper, or maybe because of me being excited anticipating the sunlight at the end of the plank.
An unprecedented silence underlined the moment, highlighting the sound of my breath, the sound of life.
Right before I would step into the sunlight, I stopped, the tip of my shoes inches away from the end of the shadow cast over me, away from the light of the sun. I was alone, the door closed, the only opening in the hotel structure. Absolute silence, no white noise, no people, no ambient music and no flickering screens, a pure moment.
Thrown back by the absence of artificial stimuli, my senses re-grouped in a way I never considered possible. If I would have ever experienced a total lack of buzz, and instead lived through an almost spiritual moment of sacred silence, I would have thrown all screens out of my studio. How would be a life without information?
Or was it distraction? Disinformation?
«Arthur, are you dreaming!?», Teya's voice crackled over a loudspeaker next to the door.
«No», I spoke to the clouds and the blue sky.
She was right. I stepped forward.
The light and the warmth flooded my face and seeped into my body, deeper and deeper, spreading to every single molecule. In slow motion I raised my hands to see them holding the sunlight, washing them with light, playing with it. A sigh of relief left my lips, a humble noise that surprised even me in its innocence, its honest emotion; and I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with clean, dry air and sunlight.
What must the people have enjoyed their lives throughout all the centuries! Experiencing the sun and the sky and the colours day in day out before the clouds came and the rain. Sure, there were wars and famines, but at the end of the day, you had the sun. With the energy of the sun, one could tackle any difficulty in life.
Or did the people in the past take the sun and the blue sky for granted?
I slowly turned around to let the sun wash all over my body. Alternating, I closed my eyes to concentrate on the warmth and the orange behind my eyelids, and opened them to take in this incredible light. The shades worked like a charm.
I felt something cool on my cheek. I touched it, my finger was wet, a tear had left my eye, and the slight breeze immediately cooled it down. A tiny sparkle of the sunlight in the salty water blinked on my finger.
«Okay, Arthur, time's up!»
I wiped my finger dry, my cheek.
That's how fast ten minutes could fly by?
Slowly, I left the sunlight behind me, entering the shade as if my back was attached to the sun with a bungee cord, I dragged my feet, the door like the shape of a coffin in the hotel's wall.
: : :
Neither Teya nor I said a word, it was as if there wasn't anything to say or to talk about anymore. I had seen the sun, and Teya displayed professional respect and refrained from bugging me with formalities. She knew not to thwart the experience I carried with me, in my heart, my memory, forever, my short forever, and I appreciated that.
My eyes still had to squint for a while after taking off the dark shades. They had to get used to seeing without them, and I took my time to devour my experience in peace, with as few people and action around me as possible.
When I passed a short empty hallway, I chose it as my temporary refuge. Even the way to my room seemed to be too long now, too busy, too polluted with artificial noise and light and garbage. Everything faded in the light of the sun and the blue sky. Across from the only door, I leaned with my back against the wall and closed my eyes, embracing the pure emotional exhaustion.
I had walked the plank. Me, Arthur, stood above the cloud-ocean underneath the sun. A moment that should have lasted longer. They didn't promise too much about the sun plank. It was exactly the enormous experience they had described—and more.
In the past, before the clouds came, I sure would have been a daydreamer who could just sit in the sun, at a lake or on a field, and be happy, maybe reflect on my life, the world in general, rest, recharge my soul and walk away into the world free of misguided anger and pant up hate.
They should have a quiet room here, a transitional space, to wake up from the incredible experience, a place like where deep divers recover after their trip, where you can gather yourself emotionally, regroup after the sun-plank. This would be a valid addition to the Cloud Hotel service.
I should write a note and drop it into the digital suggestion box. I couldn't be alone with that overwhelming feeling, with this idea. If they would ever build one, future generations of heroes could enjoy this additional pleasure, an echo-room for the sun and the sky, a room maybe named after me.
«Sir, are you okay?»
I opened my eyes, a janitor stood next to me with his cleaning cart.
«Yes, thank you, I am okay.»
Did my voice sound softer? Peacefully?
«Good. You need anything? A drink? A drink that fixes everything? Shall I call...»
«No, thanks, not necessary, I was just relaxing, I saw the sun.»
«Oh, congratulation!», he looked over his shoulder in the direction as if he could see the sun somewhere there. «Well, then», he fished a bunch of keys out of his pants and unlocked the room, pushed his cart through underneath his stretched-out arm imitating a dance move, and disappeared behind the closing door.
My stomach growled.