Cadmus watched the attendant walk away from him until she blended in with the crowd of noisy Sapiens and quiet Rationals and robots. Some of the robots looked like Sapiens and a few others looked like Rationals, but they acted differently than either of them. He couldn’t put his finger on it. Some of the robots didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before.
He looked around at the huge glass walls of the hotel lobby. He saw several glass elevator shafts on each wall with glass cabins containing people moving up or down or other directions altogether. Some of the glass walls were transparent, creating the illusion that people on the other side were walking or sitting on air. Some of the glass walls were mirrored, reflecting the opposite mirrored walls to infinity. Some of the walls were enormous glass screens covered with all sorts of information, graphic art, and images.
One wall displayed an image of the female behind the counter whom the attendant had pointed out to him. The female image spoke to him in coherent audio waves saying, “Hello Cadmus. Are you feeling well? Whenever you are ready, you may come to the counter in front of you and I will help you check into your rooms.”
He smiled with embarrassment at the woman behind the counter who was staring at him. “OK, Lonesome, it’s time we got ourselves checked in,” he said to the dagu still sitting on his lap. Lonesome turned around and jumped off. They walked over to the glass counter.
“Hello Cadmus,” the hotel clerk said. “I trust you have had a pleasant trip so far.”
“It was OK,” he answered, “but a little long. We took the scenic route.”
“Do you have any special informational, social, sanitary, dietary, wake-up or sleeping requirements?” she asked pleasantly.
“I suppose your hotel is connected to the infosphere like everyone else?” he asked.
“Yes of course,” she said. “Everywhere you go in the city you will be connected automatically.”
“My dagu likes synthetic meat and will need to relieve himself at night,” Cadmus looked down at Lonesome and scratched the scruff of his neck just behind his ears the way he liked it. The dagu leaned into his hand and his right hind leg began to thump the glass floor.
“Certainly,” the clerk responded. “We’ll have your dagu’s food sent up to your room. There’s a flushable space in your room that will remind him of your back yard in which he can roam around and relieve himself. As soon as he leaves it, it will flush away everything including the smells.
Your room number is 142857. You may take the hyper-vator over there to the 142nd floor. When you get out, just follow the arrows.”
“Do I get a card or something to open the door?” he asked.
“No,” the clerk laughed prettily, “the door has been programmed just for your hand and your dagu’s paw.”
Cadmus turned to look for the hyper-vator she had indicated and turned back to thank her.
“Do you need any help with that backpack,” she asked.
“No thanks,” he said and then to Lonesome, “come on boy.”
“Oh and one more thing,” she called to his back. He stopped and turned around to face her. “Pay attention to the signs. Don’t go anywhere by yourselves that says ‘Rationals only’. You might never find your way back. Make sure you have a Rational to guide you.”
He wondered about her warning. He wasn’t blind, you know. He guessed it was because he couldn’t see beyond his three dimensional volume. In their world he must be considered partially blind. He said, “OK, thanks” and turned back toward the hyper-vator.
Cadmus and Lonesome walked over to the hyper-vator. He entered “142” on the keyboard. In a few moments the glass door opened and they entered the glass cabin. He saw the glass lobby and the female clerk quickly fall away and the glass floors rush past them. Although he knew the cabin was going up, the inertial vector felt like they were moving diagonally or sideways. He didn’t know whether or not he could trust the sensations of his body anymore.
The cabin slowed and stopped. The glass doors opened and they stepped outside into a glass hallway. The walls displayed flashing arrows pointing down the hall to the left. They walked to the end of the hall. The arrows turned the corner to the right. Halfway down the hallway a door was flashing. The door was numbered 142.
Cadmus saw no handle to twist so he put the palm of his hand on the door and it slid open. They entered tentatively. Lonesome sniffed around while his companion explored the rooms.
The walls had running information and data flowing down them, information about everything he could imagine: how to adjust the lighting, translucence of the walls, heating, coolness, wallpaper, softness or hardness of the beds and chairs, the time and alarms, music, news, programs, meals and snacks, events, and guided tours, to name a few. There were avatars of a concierge and hotel clerk among others.
Cadmus explored the rooms of his suite. He threw his backpack onto one of the glass chairs. He half expected something to break but it didn’t. He pushed his hand into the glass chair cushion and it felt unexpectedly soft. He walked over to the glass bed and sat down on it and it was soft too. He’d heard of smart glass before but this was genius glass.
He looked around for Lonesome but couldn’t see him. Then he saw him coming out of a glass box and heard a soft flushing sound. The dagu seemed relieved. Cadmus bent down and looked into the glass box. There was a large garden with grasses and stepping stones, flowers and tall leafy trees, and a lovely gazebo, all this in a glass box not much bigger than the dagu.
He found his own bathing and elimination room. There was a glass shower stall with water spray and dry air nozzles, and soap and shampoo dispensers.
There was a large mirror wall in the bathing room. He looked at himself in the mirror. The image staring back at him was pretty much what he expected to see, but there was something not quite right there.
He decided not to waste time thinking about it.
Cadmus took off his clothes, entered the shower, and turned on the water. The nozzles sprayed pulsing thin streams of water at him from several directions. He shampooed his hair and soaped his body. Then he rinsed himself. He dried himself with the warm air nozzles directing dry air at his body from several directions.
He stepped out of the shower stall, walked out to the chair to retrieve his back pack, and pulled out a clean set of clothes to wear. As he was dressing he looked out the external glass wall at the tall hotels, also glass, the clouds flowing around and between them, and the ghostly pale planet taking up a quarter of the pale blue sky.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, Cadmus looked at the information wall and asked the virtual concierge for a map of the city showing the nearby sites of interest to tourists and any local events around this time of day. The concierge asked him whether he wouldn’t prefer to get something to eat first and then explore the sites. He thought that sounded good so the concierge suggested a restaurant just off the main lobby, and displayed a map with instructions how to get to it.
He picked up his backpack and walked to the door. Lonesome was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and they walked out into the hallway following the arrows back to the hyper-vator.
from Out of Time