I did not answer.
“Sir, I need your name for the register.”
Still I did not answer. Why should I?
“Sir, give me a name, if not yours, or you will be ejected from the building.”
The clerk wrote the name down and shook his head. He was tired of getting people like me, but that is all there was. People like me looking for the one thing that kept them going. The room was rose red, the desk was black and the suit he wore was charcoal. I had to appreciate how well the colours went together.
“Payment?” he asked.
I retrieved the plastic packed from my backpack and placed it on the desk. He stared at the packed then back at me and waited. I rolled my eyes and reached into the bag, retrieving the cash and placing it in front of him, taking the packet back and placing it in my backpack. The clerk pulled on his rubber gloved and handled the money, counting each and every bill as well as checking the money. Once he had done that he placed it in a machine which did exactly the same thing.
“It’s all there, two grand, let me in,” I told him to speed things along, but he ignored me. The number popped up on the machines display.
He reached under the desk and I already began to lick my lips. He chose a key and placed it on the desk, pushing it towards me.
“Red door, you should know the procedure but I am required to tell you before I let you in,” the clerk droned seriously. I groaned, but I had to endure. “One, the lounge you are assigned is completely insured, although any excessive damage will increase the price for your next visit, we recognize your face Mr. William. Two, the amount you consume is of no consequence to us, you may consume as much as you wish, but be warned that if you do consume too much you can overload your body and it will result in death. Three, you will be alone, no entering other lounges with anyone else.”
“I understand, agree and sign here, right?”
“That is correct, sir.”
I signed the sheet and marched towards the door briskly. I barged through and after a sequence of corners I passed through a jagged hallway and into a straight one which had two doors. The number on my key was forty-two so I ignored the doors and proceeded to the stairs, climbing them quickly, crossing other hallways and passing doors till I reached the fourth floor. My door called for me and in a moment I pushing through it, locking it behind me and checking what must have been twenty times to ensure there was no opening it.
Once that was done I held the smooth, tiny key up to my mouth and placed it neatly on my tongue. I looked up at the ceiling and concentrated, letting the key slide down my throat, relaxing till I felt the coldness settle in my stomach. I could feel it, every edge of the key already being dissolved into a basic mineral that I would assimilate into my system. It was the same chemical that turned my skin white as paper. I had long forgotten my dark complexion. Once the key was destroyed I scanned the room and saw it.
The dispenser was at the end of the room lit by two lights. I walked past the black leather furniture, taking my shirt off as I went and pushed the button. There was a short hiss and in half-a-second a rectangular bottle clunked into view. I was so excited my heart began pounding deeply. It had a black shine to it, brand new, fresh. I could feel the life within it. I turned the top, lifting the lid off to reveal the nozzle. There were several glasses on the table and at the sink as well. I decided to go slow, plucking one up and pouring a glass of the green-blue liquid. It had the texture if milk and the smell of chemicals, but essentially it was everything that I needed.
I sipped at it gingerly at first, letting the cold liquid run down my throat and it was vilifying. I could feel every inch of my body cool with the liquid and soon I was breathing a cold smoke. My body used to fight it, the first time was always hard, but the next time was always better. Each and every sip only got better and better till you ran out of money or you died. You didn’t need food or water, you just needed the cold elixir that was behind the red door.
Within moment the first glass was finished and I drank another and another. Once the bottle was done I dispensed a new one and did the same. One bottle led to the next and soon I found myself laying on the couch drinking from the bottle greedily. It was intoxicating. I could feel my insides burn and freeze at the same time. I could feel my heart pounding within my chest so clearly that I could almost see it. I was more alive than I had ever been.
My smile must have seemed mad, but my body was simply enjoying the sheer ecstasy of being brought back to life. It had never felt so healthy, I was reaching the peak of my potential as my stomach swelled and shrank back into place. I believe I spent two days in that room, drinking so much that my stomach would extend only to shrink back after a few minutes. I knew how to pace myself so I got maximum pleasure without going too far as to kill myself. My body soon became so revitalized I began exercising, working out with my body, doing things that athletically nobody should be able to do without years if training. I was becoming a superhuman, if only for a few moments before I had to take another sip.
Eventually, I knew I had reached my limit. I walked over to the door and pressed a red button next to it. The room filled with a red gas and my eyes slowly closed. When I woke up I was back in the waiting room, sitting on a chair in front of the clerk.
“We hoped you enjoyed your stay, Mr. William,” he said handing me a card. “We hope we can count on your return next week.”