[If you’ve never read Oasis before, you should start at the beginning. Something mysteriously broke with the image uploading (I can use old ones, just not upload new) so no chapter image until I get it fixed.]
A Hotel Divided
Half an hour later the sun was fully up, heralding another scorching Oasis day.
Samson and I left the room to find several men dressed in leather jackets and welding gloves waiting outside.
Samson mumbled something about them being the ones to take care of the body and that they wore the leather “just in case.”
Linda burst out of a nearby door, ran straight past me, and threw her arms around Samson.
I didn’t feel hurt by her passing me by. In fact, I didn’t feel much of anything. I was numb.
The only thing I wanted was to be alone, maybe sleep for a while.
But what I wanted and what reality handed me had been very different matters for the past five or six days.
I couldn’t fight the gnawing feeling things weren’t about to get much better.
Almost all of the doors on one side were open, giving the hall some much needed light.
I moved aside to let the guys in leather by with Nathan’s body.
How many will it take? How many can possibly survive?
Several minutes slipped away as I tried to make sense of the past hour or so.
A hand on my shoulder snapped me out of it.
It was Kevin.
“Mr. Malsrock wanted me to tell you what’s been going on here, and then take you to the meeting.”
I looked around. The halls were empty. How long had I just stood there? What meeting?
I gave a shallow nod. “Let me grab my stuff.”
I gathered my things and followed Kevin.
“Here’s the deal. When this all started to go down, Mr. Malsrock told everybody they were welcome to stay, free of charge until it blew over. Problem was, as you know, it got worse. By that third day, we rounded up as many of the neighbors as possible to pool our resources and fortify ourselves here. We’ve done everything we can to gather supplies and more survivors.”
He stopped me outside a door. “You can put your stuff in here. It’s my room.”
I tossed my bag and bat inside.
We headed back toward the stairs and Kevin continued.
“Only now there’s a bunch of lamers who just want us to sit tight as long as possible, not let anyone else in, not go find more supplies. That’s what the meeting’s about.”
We went up to the top floor. There were several large rooms used for receptions and banquets.
Plenty of yelling was coming from inside the second door on the right.
The first thing I could make out as we approached was not a good sign.
“And then you knew we were going to have this meeting this morning, and you still let them in!”
We rounded the corner and entered the ornate room.
I guessed there were sixty or so people there.
The room was split into two section of chairs, turned to face each other. At the front of the room was a raised platform. Samson stood on it with his arms folded and his meaty jaw clenched.
The group I had arrived with was sitting near the front of the right hand side.
The group on the left was slightly larger, and seemed to be led by a short pudgy bald guy who was yelling the loudest.
A vein was throbbing on his bald head. “You know we have limited resources, and still, you’ll just let anyone in off the street?”
He pointed at the teenagers who had arrived with me. “How can any of them possibly help us? You just took on more dead weight. In fact, if you can prove that any of this motley crew has any useful skills at all, I’ll shut up and sit down right now.”
A rumble of applause spread through the crowd on the left.
Samson saw Kevin and me standing in the back. His jaw relaxed a little, but he held his tongue. He seemed to be the only one to notice us.
I caught a glimpse of the middle aged man that had arrived in my group. His face was red and shaking.
Encouraged by the cheers of his crowd, the bald man strutted over to the teens.
“So tell me, what do you add to our little community?”
The girls looked like they were going to cry, and the boy didn’t appear to be far behind.
He switched to the middle aged woman, who was sobbing. “And you?”
She couldn’t even regain enough control to respond.
He went next to the middle aged man, who looked angry enough to pop.
“And what do you do for a living?”
“I’m an accountant.”
The left crowd jeered.
The middle aged man balled up and drew back a fist.
The chubby bald guy flinched.
A couple of folks from the crowd caught the middle aged man before he could throw the punch.
The bald guy lost no time in taking advantage.
“See! Useless and violent!”
Both sides erupted in a chaos of yelling, and the bald guy wandered back to his side.
I rolled my eyes and marched up the aisle.
The yelling dropped to whispering as I passed.
Apparently most of them didn’t know I was here yet.
The sudden hush made me feel weird, like some kind of religious dignitary. I fought the urge to laugh. Am I supposed to say something?
The bald guy threw his arms in the air. “And just who do you think you are, another useless victim?”
A few snickers rumbled behind him.
I’m not terribly tall, but I could tell I was taller than him.
I walked up and got a little too close to him. “Actually, I’ve worked in an ER for the last six years, the last four as an RN. I’m pretty sure that qualifies me as ‘useful’ in our current situation.”
He turned his head and made a face. “Only four years? That’s not much experience…”
I stuck a finger in his face.
“And how many lives have you been responsible for saving?”
He took a swipe at my raised hand. “Get that thing out of my face.”
Samson’s voice boomed behind me. “He’s a nurse with a lot of emergency training and with more emergency experience than Linda. I think that definitely makes him useful. So, according to your promise you have to sit down and shut up.”
The right side of the room, and I suspect much of the left, exploded again, this time in laughter.
The bald guy’s eyes went wide and his mouth froze open. He was dumbfounded.
I wandered over to the right side and sat.
Samson stood up even straighter. “All right then, I think this proves my earlier point. Let’s bring it to a vote. All those who think we should continue to gather supplies and survivors raise a hand.”
It was good timing for a vote. All of the folks on the right side and many of the folks on the left raised their hand.
“Those who don’t?”
The remainder raised their hand.
I noticed that the bald guy didn’t raise his hand at all. He just sat there with his arms folded, giving me a look of pure hatred.
“OK then, it’s decided. We continue gathering. Meeting over.”
The noise level jumped back up as everyone talked about what had happened and shuffled out of the room.
On his way out, the bald guy came over to me. “This isn’t over. I don’t know who you think you are, but you just pissed off the wrong lawyer.”
I was too worn out to react to his little outburst.
He glared at me a moment, and then stormed off.
“I see you’ve met Richard.”
I turned around.
Linda was right behind me.
I had never heard his name before. I gave a half smile. “So your husband really is a Dick.”
She shrugged. “It’s nice to see him finally lose a vote.”
Two teenagers I didn’t recognize came up.
Well, I did partially recognize the one in the lead. She looked like a fifteen year old version of Linda.
She must be Kim.
“Dad can be such a jerk sometimes.”
The other teen pulled up beside her. “Hey, Linda.”
Lilly appeared to be about the same age as Kim, only much more physically matured. She had actual curves and long blond hair. Even though she was trapped in a hotel, she had found a way to do her too-bright makeup.
She looked like the kind of girl that was every dirty old man’s favorite dream, and every concerned parent’s nightmare.
She turned and looked up at me with what could only be described as hungry eyes. “Hi, I’m Lily.”
I could tell that this girl was nothing but trouble. It wouldn’t take too long for her to prove my suspicions right, either.
Samson came up and put his big arm around Linda.
The two teens took off.
Samson ignored them and nodded at me. “Thank you.”
I shrugged. “Sure.”
“Let me give you the tour.”
I didn’t have the heart to say no, even though the only thing I really wanted to do was pass out.
He let go of Linda and gave me a hefty slap on the back. “Good. Besides, there’s some things I want to talk to you about.”
Keep reading to find out what kind of trouble Lily can cause in “Chapter 39: Soap Opera Hotel“