One Small Step

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"Madame, your room number is three-twenty-five," Max said. He then paused before absentmindedly adding, "To your left in the West wing."

The hotel's layout had been committed to memory long ago, along with this particular speech. Max often wondered if he would one day be replaced by a phonograph.

"Our valets' are on the way with your bags and a lobby boy will show you to your room," Max said.

Behind the guest he saw a young man, in his early teens, formed up smartly in military fashion. Everyone on staff were dressed in uniforms that rivalled the Royal Families' staff and that was precisely what their clients expected.

Max looked over to the boy, then noticed how this dame did not acknowledge his presence. As judged from the jade cigarette holder, corset and long dress that accentuated her bust, this was not some liberated flapper here with her daddy, but someone of old stock. That kind of culture came only through proper breeding and carefully groomed at the finest finishing schools in Europe.

"Will that be all madam," he asked with an accent which had a hint of Latin to it.

It was Latin (Max is short for Maximus) though this one would never pick up on it. That was easy to guess, what with her beating heart and decaying body; all the signs he recognised for those afflicted with life.

Nonetheless, this mistress grundy took her key then walked off as though she owned this joint. One had to respect that, to think she waltzed off without a care in the world! A trait that demanded respect in this line of work.

"All for the best," he thought, before looking out to see traces of the sun's final passing.

It reminded him of a campfire as its burning embers glowed crimson red moments before they turned to ash. Soon the true goddess of the night, the moon, would appear to claim her dominion over the heavens. The stars would then follow by piercing through the veil, a sign that led him to question this world's uniqueness amongst creation.

Max spotted a group of flappers heading down to one of the many lounges in the hotel. They were being chaperoned by some dapper, one who appeared to be perpetually bored. With this fire extinguisher casting his shadow wherever they went, he doubted they would be invited to any petting parties.

The concierge heard the blower ring, not the normal ring that originated from the East or West wing, since those overlooked the valley floor and were reserved for the living. This came from the South wing which featured suites carved into the cliffside.

For the uninitiated, these were identical sounds. To those with heightened hearing there was a difference, though it appeared to be nothing more than stray voltage. For those capable of perceiving the heartbeat of any living creature, these rings were quite distinct.

He picked up the phone mechanically, still fixated on a particular dame. Max was in awe at how her knee-duster, loose fitting top, short-bobbed raven-black hair and feathered hat managed to stir up feelings he forgot existed. Her entire body seemed to flow like satin in the wind, her natural curves and tight breasts were concealed as required by this latest fashion craze, nonetheless her freshly shaved gams were visible and enticing. A shame she was a feather.

"Front Desk," he said while his eyes followed this girl until she disappeared behind the fountain.

"Operator, please hold while I connect you," Mavis said with her distinctive musical tones.

A shame her perky demeanour could drive him up the wall. Nonetheless, she was lightning fast when it came to routing calls.

"We have a problem," Cecil said. After a pause he added, "Molly managed to get into the South wing."

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