Avenging Angel -
02-24-2012, 03:52 PM
(Author's note: This was a story I wrote a few years ago that got deleted because of some issues I bought up which were against the rules. It was very popular back then, got a lot of rave reviews, but the Mods and the Admins cut it out of the forums. Since I have no new story ideas, I present the remix version of "Avenging Angel")
"Attention, passengers, we will be landing in Las Vegas, Nevada in ten minutes. Please fasten your seat belts."
Flight 207 from Detroit to Las Vegas lowered itself gracefully onto the runway, gliding onto the tarmac with practiced ease. The airline crew positioned the accordion-pleated exit ramp to the door of the plane for the passengers to disembark in safety and comfort. On the plane, passengers gathered their overhead bags, purses, and other possessions, groaning as they stetched their cramped limbs after the hours long flight, thankful they had arrived at last.
Carey Conner picked up her broad-brimmed straw sunhat, checking for any dents from having stored it on the overhead compartment, and, having found none, strapped it onto her head. She was fairly attractive for a woman who was three years shy of the half-century mark, with blond hair reproduced by Clairol, a waistline a bit thick in the middle due to the DNA on her father's side (and an overindulgence of Frango's mint chocolates), and the darkest brown eyes ever aided by a pair of bifocals.
She had looked forward to this trip since September of last year when she scored a vacation package during a down period in the travel industry for a two-week stay at the fabulous Luxor Hotel and Casino in February. The opportunity simply to escape Michigan's schizophrenic climate was worth every dime she had shelled out to pay for this trip. Her latest book, Things I Learned At My Mother's Knee and Other Low Joints, had sold well enough for her to go first class. Carey had worked for this vacation, she owed it to herself, and no one was going to deprive her of it.
She waited at the luggage carousel for her big vinyl suitcase that she had owned since her freshman year at university along with her fellow passengers who shared the same hope that the baggage had accompanied them all on the same flight. Mercifully, it did--she spotted the big butterfly name tag dangling from the strap which identified it as hers. Snatching it up from the conveyor belt, she made her way to the car rental desk.
The sunny-faced clerk gave her the keys to a silver and black 2005 Lexus. The sleek vehicle seemed almost intimidating compared to her old '94 Grand Prix back in Detroit. Once Carey got the feel of it, however, it was as if she owned it. It handled so well as she drove to the Luxor, guided by the navigational system installed in the dashboard. No, wait, it wasn't called the "dashboard" anymore, she recalled--it was the "control panel" now. Everything was so high-tech now, so sophisticated and so bewildering to her, a product of the Baby Boom generation. When Carey had been born, the transistor was the big technological development. Now it was the microchip and everything that went with it--and it went into everything, it seemed. So much progress in forty years.
The Luxor wasn't hard to miss--indeed, one had to be blind or three days dead to miss the enormous black pyramid, the giant Sphinx, and the obelisk hotel sign announcing its presence. Carey pulled into the main drive and stopped at the valet parking kiosk. The attendants swung into action, fetching her bags, escorting her into the lobby, and parking her car. She had remembered to bring enough cash to tip them all, and she entered the Luxor at last.
The first thing that struck her was the size of the atrium. It was reputed to be the largest in the world, and it did not belie that claim. It was larger than the main entrance of the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Hell, it was as big as Cobo Hall! The Pistons could play the Final Four in this place, Carey thought. She crossed the cavernous atrium to the hotel desk and checked in without delay. Her room was somewhere in the middle of the hotel, with a window overlooking Vegas' fabled Strip. Carey thanked the receptionist and left for her room.
Tipping the attendant (they weren't called "bellhops" or "bellboys" anymore, so she didn't know what to call them), she settled down to rest after her long trip. She had arrived. She was in Vegas, Sin City, America's primere destination for gambling, entertainment and decadence. So much to see and do, so little time. Two weeks wouldn't be enough to enjoy everything, she figured.
Airline food not being noted for being five-star quality, dinner was the first order of business. Picking up her purse and key card (Geez, even keys had become obsolete, she thought), she headed back down to the atrium and to the first restaraunt she could find.
Seated in a booth in the hotel restaraunt, Carey was perusing the menu when a young man approached her. She stood up politely, shook his hand, and they both sat down. At first she was a bit miffed at this intrusion of her privacy, but he was a traveling magician, he said, and would she like to see a card trick?
Carey consented, having enjoyed magic since she saw Milky the Magic Clown on television when she was six years old. Las Vegas had always been a magician's mecca, and had hosted many famous magicians, from Harry Blackstone, Jr., to the newest phenomenon, Criss Angel.
The one sitting beside her, the young man with red-gold hair and fashionable goatee, fanned out a deck of cards. "Okay," he said, "pick out a card, any card."
Carey obliged, choosing the Seven of Clubs, and concealed it from the magician.
"Now, place it back in the deck, and don't let me see it."
Carey did as she was told. The magician held the deck upright, and seemingly levitated a card from the deck. He held it up before her eyes. "Is this your card?" he asked, holding up the Five of Hearts.
"Uh, no, I chose the Seven of Clubs," Carey replied.
The magician looked at the card. "You sure?"
"Yes, I chose the Seven of Clubs." she insisted.
Frustrated, the failed magician got up and stormed out of the restaraunt in a huff. Well, that's two minutes of my life I'll never get back, Carey thought. The Chicken Fettuccini, however, made up for the intrusion.
Dinner finished, the bill paid, Carey went back into the atrium where a small crowd had assembled around someone vaguely familiar to her. Of course! It was that magician, Criss Angel, that everyone was so crazy about. Well, he certainly has to be better than that lame-ass in the restaraunt, she thought.
Criss had called for a volunteer from the audience, and an eager young girl, barely twenty, tripped forward. Criss put her in a trance and bent her backwards. Pulling away his arms, she levitated in midair to the astonishment of the crowd. Carey was equally impressed. Now, that was magic, she thought. Criss Angel was to magic what Steve Yzerman was to hockey. That red-haired amateur was bush league; hell, he wasn't even ranked. Look at him over there, she said to herself with contempt, still trying those same lame-assed card tricks. The few guests who condescended to watch him were equally unimpressed and walked away from him, completely bored.
"Face it, dude," one t-shirted youth said to him, "you are no Criss Angel." He turned away and headed for the MindFreak shop.
Still weary from the long plane trip and jet-lagged from crossing two time zones, Carey decided to go back to her room and rest. There would be plenty of time to see the sights. It was five-thirty Las Vegas time, but her body clock was chiming seven-thirty Detroit time.
Carey dozed in the peace and quiet of her suite. The Luxor's rooms were amazingly soundproof, she discovered. Would that her condo was the same: no common wall between her and her neighbor who enjoyed late night television and even later night bedroom activities with her boyfriend. It was going to be a great two weeks, no doubt about it, she thought.
Her serenity was shattered by what she thought was an earthquake, followed by a rumbling sound, then the piercing wail of the hotel fire alarm. Jolted out of her nap, Carey dashed for the door, only to be blinded by smoke billowing up from below. The automatic sprinkler system activated immediatly, spraying water everywhere, soaking the carpet and everyone who walked on it.
"Good God!" Carey exclaimed. "What the hell happened here?"