The cereal today wasn’t particularly great, but the music playing on the radio was perfect. Dire Straits surrounded me as I picked up the bowl and walked over to the living room. It had the largest window in the house and gave me an excellent view of the rolling hills and towering mountains in the distance. It was fantastic to be so far away from it all.
However, no matter how far I was away from them and their problems, there always was a knock at my door in the morning. I sighed and walked upstairs to appear at the bottom floor. A wonderful shortcut considering I rarely go upstairs for anything. Without hesitation, but lacking a smile on my face, I opened the door.
“Cornelius,” Winston nodded as lifted his large suitcase. “I know you don’t wish to be bother on the full moon, but urgency is not a strong enough word.”
“Come in, Winston,” I told him. “I’m sure you’re exaggerating, as per usual and we can take care of the problem.”
“I sure hope so.”
Winston made to place his suitcase on top of my entrance hall table, but I stopped him.
“Not there,” I told him, as I waved my hand and the suitcase began to hover. “We will take the suitcase and place it in study. Last thing I need is for you to crush my society Minilings.”
Winston lowered his eyes as he passed the table to follow me. He was surprised to see upon further inspection a small village on the table, filled with the tiniest people.
“Aren’t you afraid that they will take your house over?” Winston asked. “You know the Minilings have a tendency to establish themselves quite widely.”
“These ones are still in their barbaric phase,” I replied. “It will be a life-time before they even build a new village.”
“If you say so.”
We entered the study, a large room with a table at its centre. Surrounding us were various tomes that I had filled with my discoveries. Even after all these visits, Winston still looked around the room at the tall bookshelves in wonder.
I placed the suitcase on the table with another wave of my hand.
“Alright, show the problem, Winston,” I told him in between bites of cereal. I grimaced as it went soft and with a blink they disappeared.
Winston opened the suitcase and slowly a towering building began to rise from its depths, stopping just before hitting the ceiling. Winston had been working on this project ever since I knew him, always making changes to the building despite the residents complaints.
The residents would make calls to him to ask him why the building is painted every other day or why the water runs slower and the fountain at the top of the roof a lot faster. These questions were reasonable, but Winston, as I’ve known him, has always provided them with the answer, ‘It is a part of keeping the building up to code’.
“Yesterday the illusion spell began to wear off near the basement,” Winston explained. “I received a call from the handyman last night saying he could hear a cat purring when he went down in the basement, but couldn’t find it. When I looked over there was my cat using the building to scratch itself.”
“Seems only fair if you leave the building lying around like that,” I told Winston, leaning in close and staring through one of the windows. An old man was watching TV, but when he threw a beer can across the room and it landed in the trash can he jumped to his feet and began to cheer. “Nice.”
“So, what is happening, Cornelius?”
I lowered my eyes to the basement level. It was aged, as old as the first two levels of the building. It made sense to why the enchantment was fading, the runes surrounding the building having not been cleaned in a while. With that, I cut Winston a sly glance and blew along the walls of the hotel. Dust flew off in clouds and slowly the enchantment resealed itself. Even Winston could see that, but he was far too embarrassed to see the dust coming off the building.
“There are not many things you need to do to manage this place,” I told Winston, tapping the side of the case, the hotel lowering back inside. “But dusting it of cat hairs and the like will certainly maintain the illusion.”
Once the hotel had sunk all the way I shut the case.
“How it Sebastian?” I asked.
“Him? Oh, he’s doing alright,” Winston replied. “Has tried to make an attempt on the mice, but I keep him from it.”
“You still have mice?”
“Well, it can’t be helped.”
“Winston, I gifted you the cat so he can help manage the rodent problem. Remember that one rat that tried to use the double doors?”
“Yes, yes, I do remember.”
“Right, will take care of your own place and you will take care of the hotel as well and please, let the cat do its thing. He is looking out for you after all.”
“Right, I understand, will do, Cornelius. Thank you. I’m going to head back and open this thing up before I get another call about how stuffy it is.”
As he said it his phone began ringing.
“Speak of the dark ones,” he murmured, taking his phone out with his free hand. I opened the front door and watched him walk out onto the city street. “Yes, Mrs Richards, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will see to it, you don’t have to call…”
I shook my head as I closed the door. Of all the things that magic can help you do, why would you work so hard to make a hotel for mortals? It seemed a waste of time to me, but I suppose Winston was never really interested in growing his powers beyond bettering his day-job.
“Me on the other hand…” I murmured as I returned to the living room on twelfth floor. I turned back to the window, which now held the best view of the cosmos, stars, galaxies and thriving planets. “...I see there is a lot more to be explored.”