“Hey man, how was work?”

Gabriel looked beaten down has he dropped his keys on the apartment’s small entryway shelf. “It was the day from hell bro, let me tell you.” He sighed as he took a second to decompress, his head shaking as he thought about his shift at the hotel.

“Bad guests or something?”

Snorting, he collapsed heavily on the threadbare futon that served as their living room couch as his roommate started boiling water for coffee. “So that new kid, Jeremy. It was his first shift and he spills boiling tea on some guy’s lap, just absolutely soaking the guy. Apparently he got into an argument with him just before about how he hadn’t even ordered tea in the first place, so it looks even worse for him. The shift lead pulled us all the floor staff aside when I got there and said there can’t be any more screwups. I think Jeremy went home crying at the end of the night.”

He accepted the mug of coffee—it was soy-kaf, the hotel didn’t pay enough for him to enjoy the real stuff—and let it warm his hands from the bitter January chill. He was fortunate to live in a nice enough area, but the walk from the transit stop in near-freezing temperatures always did a number on his joints.

“But that all got sorted, right?” his roommate asked.

“If that was all! So I’m doing the usual thing—checking in guests, telling people where the weight room is, whatever—and then the security system activates. We’re talking full lock-down mode, with a booming voice on the PA saying that there’s an active shooter outside. People in the lobby are freaking out, Jeremy looks like he’s going to have a panic attack, Andrea—one of the weekday shift folks covering for someone at reception—turns sheet white, and all the doors and windows have their security barriers come down.”

Gabriel shook his head, rolling his eyes. “Nothing’s coming in over the employee net, so I check my comm and it’s all quiet on MeFeed, nobody saying anything about a shooter.”

“Do you still follow that crazy lady who says there are people climbing up and down her fire escape?”

“Yeah, that one across the street from the hotel. I mean, if someone was out on the street shooting, I figure she would have said something. Anyway, I tell Andrea to call Knight Errant while I try to get corporate’s Matrix security guys to wake up so I can calm the guests down, when the stupid panic lights start up—you know, the big red ones that look like you’re three inches away from a fire truck? Yeah, they didn’t help the situation.”

Relaxing in an overstuffed chair with a bag of kelp-krisps, their roommate whistled in awe. “What did the guests do?”

“Oh they were freaking out. About half of them ran to the doors and windows to, I dunno, get a look at the action or something? The glass is bulletproof, and the shields were down, but I was about to duck behind the reception desk when the next thing happened.”

“Oh no…”

“Yeah, ‘oh no’ is right. So some guest rushes up to the counter from the cafe, and trips over their own feet. They had some hot tea or something in hand, and the mug goes flying, directly into Andrea’s face. So there’s the alarm going off and the PA system going nuts and Andrea looking like she has a broken nose, and now she’s covered in hot tea too, and the guy who Jeremy spilled all over is out of the bathroom and he’s yelling into his commlink about some meeting or whatever, and then the lady who hit Andrea in the face manages to stand up…”

“Is she hurt too?”

“No, but she starts dry heaving, right at poor Andrea, who just can’t deal with this and high-tails it to the back room and I’m left with this guest who’s about to throw up, who apologizes because ‘this happens when she gets nervous’. So security is calling me saying that something’s happening with their system—yeah, no kidding—guests are still freaking out, people are calling in saying they can’t get into the building, this lady in front of me is gonna be sick all over the reception desk, and I’m the most senior person on the floor.”

“Dude, so what ended up happening with everything?”

“The tech guys got the system back up a few minutes later, the doors and windows all opened up, most of the guests cleared out, and Andrea went home to ice her face. Jeremy was a mess and all kinds of management folks swarmed in. I can’t even imagine how many rooms got comped from everything.”

“But they let you go home early at least?”

“Yeah, except they aren’t paying me for the full shift. The next time something exciting happens can’t I at least get paid?”


Story inspired by events which transpired in a weekly Shadowrun game I run.
Header image from Pixabay.com, a great source of royalty-free stock images.