“Uh, Autumn, are you sure it’s okay for us to be back here?”
“Yeah! Felicity, I told you, it's fine, it’s cool, my boss is cool. Come on! I want to show you something!”
The two girls moved quickly down the back hallway of the hotel, dodging stacks of chairs, room service carts, and other obstacles.
“I never knew you were into this stuff,” said Lissy. “I mean, if I had, we could have, I dunno, done a movie marathon or something.”
“When?” replied the girl in the hotel uniform. “I’m always here.”
“I guess that’s true,” Lissy muttered.
“It’s fine, we know now, and maybe we can do the movie thing on my next weekend off. In, like, four months. But whatever, come here, look!” They had reached a door, which Autumn cracked open. Lissy could see a large banquet space that was slowly being transformed into booths. “Look, look!” Autumn insisted, pointing to what would soon be a booth on the end of the nearest aisle. “Know who that is?”
It looked to Lissy as though it was a rather good looking guy and a girl who hadn’t quite made up her mind the last time she sat down in front of a hair stylist. Autumn was obviously expecting her to reply, and she felt a little silly saying, “N...o, should I?”
Lissy looked at her roommate. “I like Harry Potter stuff. Neither of those people look like actors from the movies, unless you’re gonna tell me that that girl is actually Nymphadora Lupin.”
“Huh?” was Autumn’s reply.
“Yes, that!” Lissy pointed at her roommate’s face. “That’s how I feel when you ask me who those people are. I don’t know.”
Autumn sighed and nodded an apology, just like she had the time she had accidentally left a wet towel on Lissy’s bed. “Okay. Well, you can pretend to be excited with me, then.”
Lissy nodded her forgiveness, just like she had the time she had gotten yelled at by the RA because Autumn had gone to work and forgotten that her stereo was blasting the Pokémon Theme―on repeat―for four hours.
“It’s Kent Jackson,” Autumn said. “He draws Oblivious Girl, and the girl is Hazel Kirke, they write the comic together and she colors it. I would totally get my hair done like hers if they didn’t have a rule against it here.”
“Really?” Lissy eyed the girl’s orange and purple leopard spotted mohawk.
“Yeah, she’s awesome, right?”
Lissy was saved from having to disagree by a man’s voice calling down the hallway, “Autumn, are you down there? You’re supposed to be at the front desk!”
Autumn jumped like she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “Uh, yeah, I’ll be right there!” she yelled back. Then she turned to her roommate. “Okay, keep going down the hallway, and the second door on the left will take you out onto the sidewalk where you parked.”
“You’re leaving me here?” Lissy protested.
“It’s not a big deal, just go two doors down and you’ll be fine!”
“I thought you said it was okay for us to be back here!”
“I thought you said it was okay for us to be back here!”
“Yeah, it is, just… well, not right now, because I’m supposed to be somewhere else. Two doors down.”
And then she disappeared back the way they had come.
Lissy stood, alone in the service hallway of the hotel, marveling at the seedy underbelly of the Chicago fan convention experience. It wasn’t terribly exciting. Or very well lit. She started down the hall in the direction her roommate had indicated, hoping she would be standing outside within sight of her car in a few minutes, but it took her almost two to reach the first door on the left, and the second one was nowhere to be seen.
She wasn’t afraid of getting lost. She was in a large hotel in one of the biggest cities in the country. If nothing else, she could just start shouting, “I’ve been abandoned in a dark hallway by an Oblivious Girl fan!” until someone found her. If that reference didn’t work, she could always resort to Star Wars: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” She smiled at the thought and pulled at the red and gold striped scarf around her neck. The hallway was so full of stuff that she had to turn sideways a couple of times to squeeze past things. “How can they work back here?” she murmured to herself. “I’m surprised I haven’t knocked anything over, or fallen―”
And that’s when it happened.
Great, now I’m going to die, she thought.
Instead, she heard someone yelp, and say, “What the hell?!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” she cried as a reflex.
“Whoa, calm down!”
A strong hand above her elbow helped her to her feet, and she looked into the face of her knight in shining armor. He looked like that comic artist, but Lissy was sure it couldn’t be him, since she’d just seen him in the other room. Plus, this guy’s hair was black instead of light brown.
“You’re not… who I thought,” he said. “Are you okay?”
“Are you?” she replied, as he rubbed a hand on his shins.
“I’ll be all right. Why did you trip over me?”
“It’s not like I did it on purpose! You’re the one laying on the floor with your legs across the hallway!”
“What are you doing here, anyway?”
“I’m hiding from Hazel. I’ve already carried about a million boxes in for them today, and I had to sneak away to get some rest.”
“Oh.” Lissy felt slightly awkward, standing with some stranger alone in a deserted hallway. Maybe she would put one of her Gryffindor socks in with Autumn’s laundry when she got back to the dorm. “Well, I... think they rent rooms here. It’s a hotel.”
“Yeah, but…” he began, then shook his head. “Never mind. Sorry I tripped you.”
“It’s fine. I’m sorry I tripped.” She glanced along the wall on her left. “You wouldn’t by chance happen to have seen a door on this side of the hallway, would you?”
“Sure, there’s one on the other side of that rack of wine glasses. Why?”
“It’s how I make good my escape,” she informed him. She shifted the glassware, which luckily was on a rolling cart. “Wow, I never would have seen it if I hadn’t tripped over you. Pretty lucky, huh?”
“I’ve never heard of someone luckily tripping over an innocent bystander,” he said with a grin.
“That’s me,” she replied. “Lucky Lissy!”
Just then, a door on the right side of the hallway opened to reveal an irate girl with a leopard mohawk. “Jack, are you slacking off again?!”
Jack sighed. “Yes, I am,” he admitted.
“Well, get back in here, I’m too short and I need your help hanging stuff.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jack said resignedly. He glanced at Lissy. “Good luck,” he told her.
“Same to you,” she said, and opened the door, looking back to see him following Hazel Kirke back onto the floor.
She stepped outside, and there was her car, right in front of her. She sighed. At least Autumn had been right about that. It wasn’t even the first day of the CON and already she was having adventures. This was going to be an interesting weekend.