The Tyler Hotel was the only hotel in the Culture District. Standing at its base, it seemed to stretch indeterminately upwards, an endless spire of windows, balconies and carved ledges. The entrance, to compete with the grandeur of the building itself, was a wall of smoked glass that was three times as tall as a man. But when I stepped onto the large red welcome mat, the glass receded upwards with a quiet whoosh. I took a few, hesitant steps into a lobby whose purpose was clearly to astound, rather than welcome.
An ancient giant of an oak tree towered over the lobby with branches that bowed almost to the floor. Glass lanterns hung from its boughs, turning it into a colossal chandelier. The lobby stretched upwards endlessly, encircled by countless platforms that made up the floors of the hotel. The roof was a dome of glass and stars that shone down on the dimmed lobby.
"Eh-herm," a voice came from the inconspicuous concierge desk. I turned to find a balding man staring at me over the tops of his folded hands.
"Can I help you?" he asked in a voice that threatened to call security.
I walked over to the desk, which sported a massive bouquet of white and wine-colored peonies.
"I should have, um... reservations here? Please?" I asked.
"Name?" The concierge asked, fingers hovering over the keyboard.
"Uh...Allen Wilton, sir."
The concierge raised an eyebrow, but typed in the name without a word. I suppose, in his profession, he had gained a knack for discretion.
"Here you are, Mr. Wilton," the concierge said, "Room 610."
He unlocked and opened a drawer in his desk and, after a bit of searching, pulled out a keycard.
"This is your key, Mr. Wilton. Do you have any...luggage?"
"Oh, no," I said, shaking my head and taking the keycard.
"I'll have someone escort you to your room then. It's yours until tomorrow afternoon. Please enjoy your stay at the Tyler Hotel."
The concierge rang a bell and seconds later, a boy appeared and motioned for me to follow him.
"Welcome to the Tyler Hotel, sir," he said brightly, despite the late hour, and led me into an elevator, "I hope you'll find the room to your liking. There is an excellent view of the city from your room."
I nodded, not sure what to say. The elevator climbed for what seemed like several minutes while my escort chattered happily about the services and facilities offered at the Tyler Hotel. Finally, the elevator stopped and the oak-paneled doors slid open. We stepped into a circular hall that was open on one side and looked down on the lobby. Leaning over the brass handrail, all I could see were the branches of the oak tree that obscured the entire lobby.
"Right this way, sir," the escort said, and led me to my room. I slid the keycard through the reader at the door, it chirruped and I heard the lock click. The boy held the door open for me as I shuffled into the room.
It was the size of my apartment, with smooth walls painted a calming bluish white. Paintings of oak trees hung from the wall and a single, large ceiling light made of crackled glass diffused light over the room. The centerpiece of room was a bed that could have slept three people comfortably, covered in blue silk brocade and framed by a forest scene carved into the headboard.
I sat on the bed and the covers puffed up around me. It was the softest thing I had ever been on and I flopped back, grinning uncontrollably.
"Damn!" I said, laughing, "Does everyone here have beds like this?"
"Everyone in the hotel at least, sir," the escort said. I sat up in surprise. I thought he had left already. He stood there and stared at me, hands folded behind his back and I wondered what he wanted.
"Um, I think I'm good, so you can go," I said.
A fleeting expression of annoyance crossed his face and he left, closing the door on his way out. Shrugging, I kicked off my shoes and fell back onto the bed, burying my face in the silk-encased down. After a few moments of relishing the impossible softness of the bed, I got up and went across the room into the bathroom. Almost as big as the bedroom itself, the bathroom was made almost entirely of white porcelain. A white sink stood over a white tile floor that led over to a white toilet and back to a great shower encased in glass.
I gave a low whistle at the shower. It could have been a room in and of itself. At least a dozen shower heads lined the white tile walls and ceiling, and a wire basket filled with shampoo, shaving cream, soap and other necessities sat in one corner. A shelf piled high with clean towels occupied another. Without hesitation, I peeled off my clothes, tossing them in a haphazard pile beside the toilet. The showerheads were controlled by a single panel on the wall and I chose a button at random.
A single, spiraling waterfall came down from the large showerhead in the ceiling, followed by alternating showerheads in the walls that created a fanning spray. I stepped into the cascade, letting the warm water spray away the dirt and scratches and troubles of the day.
Any thoughts about why I had come to be here melted from my mind and were replaced by the fantastic sensation of just being here at all. There would be plenty of time to worry about Leon Werner and the strange Miss Werner after I had gotten a good night's sleep, anyways.
I remained under the hot, steamy waterfall long after I had cleaned myself, turning on the "massage" option and letting it soothe muscles cramped and sore from hours of hiding in the Park. When I was done, I dried myself with one of the velvety towels and wrapped myself in the white robe that hung from a hook beside the sink. I walked back into the bedroom, amazed at the sheer decadence of it. Was this the kind of life that Edisoners enjoyed daily? If so, then no wonder so many people lived here. I climbed under the covers, cocooning myself in down and memory foam.
‘If you were going to die in your sleep, Allen, this would be the place to do it.'
As if sensing that I was in bed, the ceiling light began to dim and eventually went out completely. Outside the panoramic window, the District seemed to have stolen stars from the sky to brighten itself. It had then neatly stacked the stars into towers, like a toddler's blocks, making sure that each had enough space to shine. The night sky above the dome was pale and jealous in comparison. Across a sea of light, the Cinema floated between the heavenly and terrestrial stars, its outline glowing in blue neon.
From up here, everything was beautiful.