Chapter 2: Invitation to a funeral (Part 2)
Why are you falling into the trap?
“Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Hughes, and I am in charge of the hotel’s room management.” He paused, still smiling gently in a way that bore great resemblance to the tranquility of a still lake surface, before continuing. “I come from the race of invisible people.”
Feisha suddenly remembered an important fact: Today was April Fool’s.
He leveled Hughes with an unimpressed stare, and said, “If there’s an invisible camera behind you, and behind the invisible camera an invisible audience, I just want to say that I’m not that easily fooled. Even if today is April Fool’s, I don’t appreciate being pranked like this.”
Hughes waited silently for him to finish, then smiled. “I understand, I’ll add this tidbit to your profile. May I welcome you to our team now?”
“I haven’t decided if I want to join yet,” Feisha said. This hotel was way too suspicious; the only people who’d want to join must have delusional disorder and maybe a long psychiatric case history.
“That, unfortunately,” Hughes said warmly, “is not up to you.”
Feisha cautiously glared at him. “What do you mean by that?”
“Please hold on for a moment.” Hughes turned around and called out, “Asa!”
Thundering footsteps approached from the hallway directly across from the doors. Feisha’s eyes widened as he watched a slack-jawed, three meter tall giant emerge sluggishly from the hallway. He’s always thought of Yao Ming as a giant, but now he realized that Yao Ming was really a human. At least he didn’t tower over people when he sat down.
“Please allow me to introduce our co-worker, Asakritos. He hails from the Titan race, and is the hotel’s head security guard,” said Hughes.
Feisha watched as an enormous head lowered itself, watching him with eyeballs as big as his fists, then offered a hand.
“Hello, I’m Asakritos, but you can call me Asa.” A storm of spit rained over Feisha as the titan spoke.
Throwing himself at the door, Feisha clawed at the seam in the middle. “I want to go home! This place is too scary, I want to go home go home gohome gohomegohomegohomegohome…”
The door didn’t budge.
Half an hour later saw Feisha huffing and puffing on the ground. He directed his pitiful gaze at the perpetually smiling Hughes and begged, “Can I resign?”
“I think you should have a look outside before making your decision,” Hughes hummed. “Asa, please open the door for us.”
“I have to do this every single year, so annoying…” Asa grumbled under his breath. Despite the grumbling, he complied and pulled open the door bit by bit.
Feisha zipped past Asa in his pursuit of freedom, only to stop dead before the opened doors.
“Holy shit, what is this place!? Where are the roads? Buildings? The city that I was born and raised in?” He looked out into the void of darkness, on the verge of hyperventilation. “You really didn’t need to steal the city even if it’s April Fool’s, right?”
“We didn’t steal the city,” Hughes said, gently. “Don’t worry, your city is still where it originally was.”
Feisha turned around slowly. “So I can take it to mean that the stolen thing is me?”
“We’re hiring you.”
“I want to resign.”
“You will be automatically dismissed after one year.”
“But Tony only stayed for a week.”
“No, Tony stayed for one full year. The flow of time here is different to that of your world.”
Feisha was shocked. “Does this have something to do with that theory about time being an illusion?”
“I’m very impressed with how humans can always find some explanation for any problem they encounter.”
“But definitely not including Noah’s Ark.”
“Yes, that was recorded in the Bible,” Hughes bowed slightly. “If you don’t mind terribly, please allow me to give you a tour of our hotel and perhaps have a coffee on the way.”
Feisha sighed. “I guess, since I have no other option.”
“No, you may choose to go straight to the dining hall.” Hughes glanced at the watch on his wrist. “It’s just that the kitchen only caters to the blood clan right now, who eat raw meat.”
“I really hope that this is an elaborate April Fool’s program. Even getting roped into doing naked pole dancing would be better than this.”
“I actually pole dance naked a lot, you just can’t see it.”
When Feisha looked up, he realized that the person smiling at him a second ago was gone, leaving only a set of clothes floating down the hallway.
“Oh, Hughes sometimes becomes transparent without realizing. He’ll turn back after a while,” Asa explained to a shell shocked Feisha.
“Can you not spit so much while talking?”
“Lots of people have asked me that question, but even after ten years of trying I can only make the spit not smell as bad.”
“Then can you at least give me an umbrella?”
The bar formed a circle. One half was filled with tables and chairs, the other half with display cases. The counter was tucked away in a corner directly opposite the entrance, and had a vast variety of different beverages that filled up the entire glass cabinet. There were drinks of every color of the rainbow, each a rich color that was almost more vibrant than dye. Hanging on top of the counter were rows of different glasses and cups, refracting rays of every color under the lights. Feisha quietly took this information in; this bar sure was well-equipped, even if the actual staff were kind of weird.
Hughes’ body reappeared in his clothes. He directed an apologetic look at Feisha.
“I’m very sorry, occasionally I forget to keep up the human appearance.”
A tall, blond man with handsome features leisurely walked towards them, one hand on his shoulder and the other gently swishing a glass of blood red liquid.
“Mm, I’m already used to it. When it gets really bad it makes me look like I’m taking care of business by myself,” he said while petting Hughes’s head affectionately.
Feisha looked at him, then at Hughes. Even the unseen have got to have genders, right?
“You’re not homophobic, are you?” The blond man raised an eyebrow, piercing blue eyes challenging him to say otherwise.
Feisha felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “N- No.”
“Are you gay?”
“No, I’m not.” His face felt like it was on fire.
A corner of the man’s lips quirked upwards. “Then your life here will be very boring.”
“Because there are no females here.”
Hughes frowned disapprovingly. “Gin, don’t scare him.”
“I’m just telling him the truth as it is.” Gin shrugged, then sidled up close enough to touch his thigh to Hughes’.
Hughes gave Gin a look. “It’s only a year, not everyone needs to date.”
“Oh? Are you sure you can manage a year?” Gin licked his lips.
Embarrassed, Hughes turned his head away. “Stop playing around, there are people watching.”
In response, Gin pressed his body up against Hughes, licking at his earlobe. “Don’t worry, I’m not playing around. In fact, I’m very serious about this…”
Despite feeling a little weak, Hughes assertively insisted, “There are other people watching.”
Gin’s other hand snaked itself around Hughes’ waist, leaning in slowly as he breathed into Hughes’ ear, “I like it when people watch. It’s more exciting.”
Asa looked sympathetically at Feisha, who looked too overwhelmed to do anything, and decided to give him some helpful advice. “You’ll get used to it.”
Feisha abruptly pushed away from the table, and made a run for the door. He’d go insane just by spending a day here, never-mind a full year! Titans were from Greek mythology, whereas invisible people were from sci-fi… How are these two things meant to be put together!? He couldn’t make heads or tails of this bizarre situation.
He wanted to go home, not stay with a band of weird monsters. What if this place was the laboratory of some mad scientist? If he knew this was how he was going to end up, then he would’ve preferred to be drowned in spit by Zhenjian Wu and his old hag, then stepped on. Even that would’ve been a better outcome than becoming insane in the middle of nowhere.
The doors were still wide open. Feisha leaped towards the freedom that was so close he could almost taste it.
“All that lies outside is a fracture in space and time. Humans that go into it will be ripped into shreds.”
A cool voice sounded from behind him.
Feisha stopped in his tracks and turned around with a face full of suspicion. “You think I’m going to listen to your lies…” His words trailed off.
A man wearing a black shirt and white jacket was descending down the stairs. His long, ink-black hair flowed behind like water, contrasting with a pale face that gave off a holy aura. Handsome doesn’t even come close to describing his appearance, for it was a perfect assortment of features.
As Feisha’s eyes met with twin orbs of obsidian, he felt his breath catch in his throat and heartbeat speed up.
The man stopped about three steps away from Feisha, ruby earrings twinkling.
“Are you…one of my people?” Feisha suddenly realized that ever since he entered this hotel, no one in here had spoken any alien languages.
“No.” His voice was cold, but very pleasant to listen to.
“Did you get kidnapped here as well?”
Feisha came to a conclusion, softly asking, “Then…what are you?”
The man narrowed his eyes. Just as Feisha braced himself for the man to explode at him, he suddenly took off the white jacket.
Feisha unconsciously took half a step back, nervously saying, “You- you want a one-on-one? You need to think carefully about whether or not you want to do this, I know kung-fu, you know, the really deadly type. Have you heard of White Bone Nonuple Claw? There’ll be stuff stabbed into your skull like incense sticks. What about Heaven and Earth Great Shift, and the Li Flying Dagger…”
The man looked at him with a blank expression.
Suddenly, an enormous pair of black wings spread out behind him, blocking all light reaching Feisha like a blackout curtain.
“I am Isefel, the CEO of Noah’s Ark.” His tone was cold to the point of chilling.
Feisha stared at the crisscrossing feathers, mesmerized.
Our loveable loaf’s name comes from Kritos, with an Asa added to the front.
“I’m very impressed with how humans can always find some explanation for any problems they encounter.”
This phrase originally used a Chinese saying, 天上一天，地上一年 (lit. one day in heaven, one year on Earth), followed up by Hughes expressing his awe at how Chinese people can find an explanation for anything in their history and literature, except translating it straight wouldn’t work because there is no such saying in English. The closest English counterpart to this would be 2 Peter 3:8 (With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day), but the next exchange with Hughes wouldn’t work because it draws on Feisha’s unfamiliarity with the bible.
Gin’s name in Chinese is 金 (jīn), meaning gold (likely a reference the color of his hair). The alternate spelling Gin was chosen to reference his role in the hotel.
“Are you…one of my people?”
What Feisha actually said here was “Are you…Chinese?” followed by his realization that everyone in the hotel spoke Chinese.
I know kung-fu, you know, the really deadly type. Have you heard of White Bone Nonuple Claw? There’ll be stuff stabbed into your skull like incense sticks. What about Heaven and Earth Great Shift, and the Li Flying Dagger…”
These weird kung-fu names are all from well-known Chinese novels.
White bone Nonuple Claw – 九阴白骨爪 (jiǔ yīn bái gǔ zhǎo)
Heaven and Earth Great Shift – 乾坤大挪移 (qián kūn dà nuó yí)
Li Flying Dagger – 小李飞刀 (xiǎo lǐ fēi dāo)