12 April 2014 - 2:00 pm

Altered Perspectives: Challenge #3

Choose a building where people rent rooms: a hotel, motel, hostel, or an inn. Think about where it is located. What kind of world is this? What era? Is it in a city, out in the wilds, the last stop for miles, or part of a thriving hub of travel and tourism? What is around it? Next door?

What is within its walls? Does it have many rooms? What are they like? Is there a penthouse suite? A honeymoon suite? Is there a restaurant, or a ballroom, or a swimming pool?

This building has been open to the public for many years. Decades, perhaps. What kinds of celebrations and events have been held there? What is the general tone or feel of the place? Is it aging well?

What kinds of people have passed through its doors and slept in its beds? Who is its usual clientele? How do they treat it? How long do they usually stay? Why do they come to this particular hotel, rather than anywhere else? Is it price, or facilities, or a particular feature like a famous chef, or something more nebulous, like a promise of anonymity?

What does the building think of its clientele?

Now think of a particular evening. A celebration is happening. It could be something public, like New Year’s Eve , or a private event, like a costume ball or a wedding.

While this celebration is ramping up to full swing, there’s orange light growing nearby. A fire is making its way towards the building, burning up the city or the brush or woods nearby. It’s out of control, driven by prevailing winds, and eating up everything in its path.

Write this night of celebration from the point of view of the hotel. As an extra challenge, include a conversation between the building and the fire.

Next up: Challenge #4

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One comment

  1. Leeseedee says:

    I am old and tired. It has been such a long time since I was created, a building that bridged two cities. I was a beacon of light on the long journey, a place for them to rest and to talk. My rooms were like cradles to soothe the restless and tired. Within my walls were families, mothers with restless babes, lovers exploring one another, restless youths on journeys of discovery, lost sons and daughters making their way back home. I meant something. As the years went on, my beauty began to fade, but still the travellers came. The rooms were a little worn, but still the cradled the weary and the restless.
    Then one day, the travellers began to fade. It was subtle at first, whereas once we were completely fill, soon a room or two stayed bare every night. Then more rooms. Soon I became a struggle to fill half. As the world moved on, the need for me faded. There were better ways, easier ways, to get from one city to the other. They built a highway. People began travelling by plane and by train. I still had a small trickle of visitor, but it was nothing like what I once had.
    As the visitors left, the little civilisation that had built up around me began to fade. Shops closed as more and more people moved away from out little oasis. Finally, the only one left was me. I was run by an elderly couple whose children had moved away when they were old enough. We sat in silence, punctuated by the occasional traveller. I was no longer beautiful, and the cradles of my rooms did not soothe as they once did. The travellers were restless and debaucherous. The lovers in rooms were strangers, brought together by the promise of coin. Mothers held crying babies, unsure of how to settle them. And the restless youths travelled aimlessly, the discovery now of ways to destroy themselves.
    It was a the first day of summer when the old man passed away. Summer was high season and we managed to gather a few travellers every day. The man and woman had been cleaning me, dusting the cobwebs away from the faded chandelier in the dining hall, vacuuming the threadbare carpet and changing the sheets in the simple, bare rooms. It was doing this last task when the old man collapsed. The old woman found him and called an ambulance. By the time it arrived, she was dead too. His was declared a heart attack. Hers was a broken heart.
    The children came home to mourn their parents. The dining hall was a transformed into a funeral parlour, the coffins closed and wreathed with flowers. Within my walls I heard the murmurs of their heirs.
    “The building should be closed and sold. We will split the profits and leave this place behind.” Everyone agreed.
    The night went on and mourners drifted through my halls, slept in my beds and ripped me apart. The news travelled between the guests that I was to be abandoned. The opened me up, looked through me. So many took souvenirs. Even my chandelier was unscrewed and taken away.
    Finally they slept, and I was left to weep tears that would never fall.
    A creaking and groaning snapped me out of my mourning. The trees around me were crying in fear. They reached their arms towards me, away from the monster that chased them. I saw it; it was large and red. Strong hot arms grabbed at the trees and swallowed them. The fire was hot and angry and coming towards me.
    I trust myself out, trying to talk to it.
    “Hello.” I called, unsure it would reply.
    The fire stopped still for a moment, a tongue of flame licking at a tree but not engulfing it.
    I tried again.
    “Fire, child, it is me, the building.”
    “What do you want?” The voice was deep and full of power, but still very young.
    “I need your help.”
    I told the fire my story and told it how I was to be forgotten. I showed to him the many people sleeping in my rooms and what they had done to my building. The trees around me cried and protested. They did not want to die. They were old, like me, but unlike me they had one another. The fire was thinking.
    “Stop complaining.” The fire snapped to the trees. “Others will grow in your place. I am fire and you are trees, it is how it is.” The trees whimpered and cried. “As for you, building, I accept.”
    The fire burred hotter and higher and turned its direction to the building. Deep inside itself, the building felt the people awaken from their sleep, some aroused from their sleep by the heat and noise, others by the cries of their peers. The people ran, leaving behind what they had stolen, and even leaving behind many of their belongings.
    The fire licked the me. It slipped into my first floor, through the check in desk and the small sitting room with its tiny fireplace to the dining hall. The coffins of the little old man and woman were there, and the fire ate them up. The fire moved higher and higher, eating the threadbare carpet, slipping between the rumpled sheets and tearing down the cradling walls. Soon I was more fire than building.
    As the fire reached the roof, I took one more breath, and released it in a sigh. The walls collapsed, the floors gave way and I fell. As the ground rushed up to meet me, I said one last goodbye before everything went black.
    The fire burned for two more days, eating at every little part of the building, until there was very little left.
    Very few people ever visited that site again. The trees grew back, and greenery covered the remains of the building. Birds built nests in the trees that surrounded it and animals made their dens in the last of the remains. Everything was as it should be, and the building was happy.

    April 16th, 2014 at 10:33 pm