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SHTF Fiction - The Burnout Chapter Two

The next morning, Patty checked the clock and found she had woken right on time. Always an early riser, she had no problem waking up and was actaully looking forward to the day.

After a quick stretch, Patty took a shower, put on her make up, fixed her hair and took out the business suit she planned to wear that day.

She then filled and turned on the coffee pot in the room for a quick cup before heading downstairs and hopefully getting a continental breakfast before heading to the clients.

Before all of that. she phoned her parents to check in with her daughter.

"Mom, it's me Patty, what's wrong with your phone, it's all scratchy sounding?" she asked when her mother picked up.

"Oh, they are probably working on the lines or something. How are you doing, baby?"

"Good mom. You really should get a cell phone. I never have these problems. How is Elena? Can I talk to her?" Patty asked.

"She's right here eating breakfast. Here Elena, its your mom."

"Mommy! Are you coming home today?" she asked.

"Oh, baby, I would love to, but I have to work. Don't worry, I will be home soon. Are you being good for Abuela and Abuelo?"

"Yes, mommy. I miss you." said the small voice on the phone.

"I miss you too baby. I...*" the phone cut off and for a brief moment, Patty could swear she heard a small crackling sound and caught a faint whiff of something burning.

Simultaneously, the lights in the room flickered and went out. Then there was the distant sound of a car brakes and the crunch of an impact out the window of her hotel room.

Patty went and looked out the window and from the seventh floor, she was able to see the street below and saw none of the cars were moving.

"Now that's odd," thought Patty, "There must have been a power outage or something."

Patty checked her phone and saw it was completely dead. While her nightly habit was to charge the phone on the nightstand like she did at home, she assumed that maybe she forgot to do it last night. She plugged it into the charger and picked up the room phone, but found it dead as well.

Patty had a slight discomfort in her belly when all this happened, but she took a deep breath and told herself not to go off the deep end until she had all the facts.

Patty left her bags in the room, but picked up her purse making sure her room key was in it. She went into the hall, closed the door securely and went to the elevator. After pushing the down button a couple of times, she realized the power was out in the elevevator as well.

That meant walking down (and up again later!) seven flights of stairs. As she headed down to the lobby, she counted her blessings that she was not in the elevator when the power went out as she could have been stuck in there for hours.

In the lobby, it was a scene of mild confusion and typical business travel chaos. A group was standing around the front desk asking questions simultaneously. One man was wearing a white bath robe and was holding a cell phone up demanding service.

In the attached restaurant, there were only a few tables, but they were sitting in the dim light as there were no working lights in there at all. A waiter was lighting a candle on one patron's tables while mouthing what appeared to be an apology.

Patty turned and nearly ran smack into the man from the bar, Lamar Hughes.

"Ms Valdez, good morning and wish it were under better circumstances!" he said loudly. "Looks like we will be getting our rooms comped! I only wish this was the Ritz Carlton and dinner was thrown in for the inconvience!"

"Good morning, Mr. Hughes, oh Lamar, and please, call me Patty. Any idea what's going on with the lights?" she asked.

"No idea at all. But its more than the lights. My phone is not working and neither is the air conditioning or the electronic lock to my room. I can handle waiting in the lobby, but me without air conditioning? Perish the thought! If it keeps up, I am going to my car in the garage and will run it to stay cool!" he laughed.

"The electronic locks? I had not thought about that and I have to get my bag for my meeting. Let me see if I can get some help getting into my room." said Patty.

Patty found a bellman trying to stay out of the way in the corner of the lobby near a large closet where they stored bags for guests.

"Excuse me, but I have a problem and I hope you can help me with it," she said.

The bellman turned and giving Patty a quick lookover and said, "Yes ma'am, how can I help?"

"It sounds like the room key cards aren't working. Is there another way to get into my room? I need to get my laptop bag for my meeting this morning." she asked as helpless as possible.

"Yes ma'am, we have a regular master key to open doors. I will need to get the front desk to validate your ID before I let you in." he said.

They went to the front desk with Lamar tagging along more out of boredom than any thing else. The bellman went around behind the counter by way of a locked door and met Patty around front a few seconds later.

"Mellissa? This lady can't get into her room and I need to verify her ID to let her in with the master key." said the bellman to a harried young woman with three guests shouting at her simultaneously.

"The systems down so you'll have to pull the guest card. If she has a valid ID, you can let her in, but hurry back down, we are going to have a bunch of checkouts this morning," Melissa replied.

The bellman, whose nameplate said Jerry, pulled a small box from a back counter and asked for Patty's driver's license. He then located her registration card and returned her identification and asked her to follow him upstairs where he could open the door for her.

While walking up the seven flights of stairs, they made small talk.

"Have you been outside, ma'am? It looks like cars are having problems too. I just looked out the window and noticed, but I hope the hotel van runs, I am going to need it to run guests to the airport." Jerry said.

"No, I hope taxis are running. I have a meeting in about an hour, wait.." Patty checked her watch and noticed it was no longer running either. "Say, that's strange. I wonder if it's the battery or something."

They finally reached the seventh floor and Jerry walked her down the hallway (which as dark with the exception of light filtering through the windows at each end of the hallways.

"Here we go," said Jerry as he unlocked the door to her room and let her in. He then stood in the door as Patty grabbed her bag and checked her phone which was not only deaad, but had not charged. Patty was already getting warm from the trips up and down the stairs and grabbed the only bottle of water in her room. "This is going send water sales through the roof" she thought. And for some reason, that thought stuck in her mind.

"Here," she said as she held her door open and took two dollars from her purse and handed it to Jerry. "I know you are in a hurry to get back downstairs so I won't hold you."

"Thank you ma'am, please let me know if you need anything else." and then he hurried back to the stairwell which is what Patty wanted him to do.

Patty blocked her door open with her bag and walked the length of the hallway and found what she was looking for, the maid's cart. She had heard it early this morning in the hallway while she was getting ready and having stayed in enough hotels, knew the maids would drop carts in the morning at each floor so the beds could be made up.

But Patty was not looking for extra sheets or towels. Rather, she spied a dozen water bottles sitting on the cart in the center compartment. She only took six however along with some extra bars of soap, wash cloths, and a handful of chocolate mints the maids leave on the bedside table.

Next, she took her ice bucket and the plastic liner down to the ice machine and found that although the control button no longer functioned and released ice without power, there was still a large mound in the catch container below. She filled up the bucket and the bag and brought them both to her room. She put them in the mini bar fridge for the time being and put five of the new water bottles in as well.

At least now she had a supply of reasonably cold water which might come in handy if the power stayed off for a few hours.

After securing her door, she went downstairs to the lobby and saw the situation was the same as before. Rather than deal with the chaos, she went outside to locate a taxi to get to her appointment.

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