Carlsbad was not a very large town and so Mike was able to reach the location of the hotel in which he had previously stayed, driving the narrow and winding streets at thirty miles per hour, in less than twenty minutes. He stopped the car and climbed out, his mouth open wide in surprise. The little inn on Ocean Street that had been his accommodations every time he had visited, since the early days of his marriage to Tiffany was gone. The little hotel had leaned against the side of the hill so that its landward side had only one story, while its seaward side had three stories, the bottom one resting right on the beach. In its place was a tall black tower.
“Shit. When did that get here?”
Mike looked left and right. Though this was the only such tower, the lots to either side were now construction sites, the small inns and condos for rent all gone. He leaned his head back and looked up.
“I don’t know if I want to stay here.”
“It looks like a well constructed building,” said Patience. “I’m sure that it will prove satisfactory.”
“It looks like the obelisk from 2001: A Space Odyssey.”
“You should check in. I’ll get the luggage.”
Crossing the street, Mike entered the black metal door and walked through a black and red lobby. Behind the counter stood a clerk, a handsome fellow with an unusual combination of features, as if his ancestry was from Africa, South America, and Central China. Mike knew though that his ancestry was strictly Cupertino California—he was a Daffodil.
“Welcome to the Orcinus. How may I serve you today?”
“Orcinus… Orcinus? Is that Shakespeare?”
“The orcinus orcus is an endangered cetacean of the family delphinidae.”
“Yes, sir. The hotel, by famed architect Sean Pilson, was designed to evoke the proud image of the orca’s dorsal fin.”
“Doesn’t look like it at all,” said Mike.
“Do you have a room?”
“For how many nights, sir?”
“May I access your information only for purposes of making your stay the most pleasant one possible?”
“Yes. Michael… um, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Winston Smith. Springdale, California.”
“Yes sir. I have you; 11 North Willow, 82803?”
The clerk didn’t have to look down at a terminal or a wriTee. Everything he needed to do his job, including connecting to the Infinet and reading Mike’s information, was located somewhere under his skin.
“Would you care for a sea view?”
“Room 314,” said Patience, suddenly at Mike’s side.
The clerk’s eyes darted to her and a look that Mike didn’t understand crossed his face. A second later though he was just as he had been.
“Very good. Your room is ready for you.”