|Percy I. Chapman | Ἑρμης (polytropus) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-05-28 16:09:00
|Entry tags:||apollo, hermes|
seek, then, no learning from the starry men
Who: Lucas and Percy
What: Taking advantage of the spa offer, the two friends head out to make a day of it.
Where: WiLoft Spa
When: May 21st, 9 a.m.
For all of his occasional primping and preening, Percy had never been to a spa before. The offer from the Pax Letale management was shady at best--anyone with half a mind could see through the offer in a New York minute. It did absolutely nothing in the way of actually explaining why his home had turned into a multi-floored museum of various time periods. What it did do, however, was offer up a bribe with seemingly little strings attached. If anything, taking advantage of a spa day might lead to further insight as to why the apartment complex had drastically changed in the first place.
And that was how he found himself waiting at the front desk for his friend, schmoozing in the meantime with the cute attendant behind the counter. Percy had managed to convince Lucas to come along with him, insisting that what he really needed was an actual day off, away from the hospital and from any on-call demands. However, Lucas was running late--either that, or Percy had arrived too early. Whatever the case, he kept glancing towards the front doors, looking for him. After what seemed an eon, Lucas finally arrived.
“There he is, the man of the hour! What did I tell you, Chantel, he’s never a minute too early or too late. Just what the doctor ordered.” Percy winked at the attendant, and then motioned for Lucas to join him at the counter. “Just show her your I.D. and we’ll be good to go; she’s given me a full rundown of everything this place has to offer, and I don’t think we should refuse any of it.” Chantel giggled and nodded her head in agreement, waiting expectantly for Lucas to provide his name and address.
“I’m just like Gandalf, Percy,” Lucas said with a smirk. He fished out his ID and flashed it at the cute girl at the front desk who took it and wrote something down in a book, then handed it back to him.
“Right this way, gentlemen,” she said, leading them away with more than a little flirtation. Lucas raised an eyebrow and glanced at Percy.
“If I come out of here smelling like lilac, I’m blaming you,” he said in a mock-threatening tone as they followed their host deeper into the facility. “Although I gotta say, spending an afternoon being fawned over by attractive ladies instead of in surgery was definitely a draw,” he added, winking at Chantel as she glanced back at them and then held a door open for them.
“These are the change rooms. From here you can take a quick shower and then head out into the mud bath.” Lucas grinned at her, feeling rather playful with the joy of not being at work on a work day.
“Are you going to join us?” he asked her suggestively. She laughed but shook her head.
“Don’t be crass, Luc,” Percy chided while wearing an expression of utmost seriousness; he stepped lightly around Chantel, pausing to offer her an appreciative smile. “We’ll be seeing you later; thank you for your time.” Entering the preparatory rooms, he grabbed a warm towel and a robe from two neatly folded stacks placed on a bench. “I’ll see you on the other side, man,” he said with a laugh, and then crossed into the shower area, choosing his stall and attending to the appropriate matters at hand. When he emerged, he dropped his belongings off in a locker, wrapped himself in a robe, and padded on bare feet out into the hall leading to the main rooms of the spa. It didn’t take long to find the select room housing the mud baths, and Percy found himself greeted by an attendant that was possibly cuter than the lady at the front desk. Seeing that Lucas was lagging behind again, he helped himself to the attendant’s friendly assistive manner. Several minutes later, he was peering up at the ceiling from within a stone mud bath, buried up to his chest in a thick layer of mineral-enriched mud. Well, Percy thought to himself, now I’ve done everything.
Lucas took his time in the hot shower, wrapping the warm fluffy towel around himself and then slipping into an equally fluffy robe. He hastily stashed his clothes in a locker and then headed out through the door marked ‘mud bath’, grinning when he saw that Percy had already been there for quite some time.
“Sorry man, that shower was awesome,” he said, unabashedly shedding his robe and carefully stepping into the mud next to his friend. “Okay this goes against everything I know about hygiene...but it’s actually quite nice.” He lifted his now mud-slicked arm out of the bath and grinned at it. “It’s like I’m five years old again,” he smirked. His eyes caught sight of the lovely attendant nearby and he winked, having not noticed her before when he’d slipped naked into the thick warm mud. “People pay a lot of money for this, don’t they? I wonder how much the building is out with all of us taking advantage…”
Hearing the sound of his friend's voice, Percy turned to see Lucas finally approaching. Allowing him a measure of privacy while he entered his own mud bath, Percy went back to his careful assessment of the spa’s ceiling tiles. “This is holistic medicine of the highest degree, Luc; you just have to imagine yourself as being one with Mother Earth.” He tapped his fingers on the edges of the bath, mud clinging to his skin. “Whatever the cost, they're clearly able to eat it,” Percy mused thoughtfully, tossing a curious look at Lucas. “Not that the luxury of transforming into a human mudpie makes up for being locked inside the building for a week straight.”
Lucas snorted in derision. “Makes you wonder how they can afford that with a building that’s almost empty...you’d think they’d want to fill those vacancies so they can actually make a profit on the place, right?” he asked. He scrunched up his face and then added, “and another thing - were trapped in that building for a week and I didn’t see you once...what, did you find the secret harem floor or something?” he asked with a playful grin. “And didn’t invite me?” He was, of course, full of shit on all of his flirting and talk. He could count on one hand how many women he’s been with, and still have fingers left over, but there was nothing wrong with teasing.
Lucas’ comment on the sparsity of tenants gave Percy pause; it was a notion which he previously hadn't stopped to consider. Scooting down a bit further into the mud, his brows furrowed, Percy briefly turned over the matter before giving his attention back to Lucas. “Hey, don't think so little of me. Of course I would've invited you. It would've been at the very top of my list when visiting a harem: Invite Lucas.” Grinning at his friend, he shook his head, dismissing the idea. “I paid a few visits to some of our more worried neighbors, out of the kindness of my heart.” Kate and her dogs came to mind, as did Esther and her anxiety about the sudden changes--she’d become even more agoraphobic. “I also went exploring with BB, you know that loud TMZ writer?” Percy shrugged. “We found a lot of interesting floors, but no working exits.” Carefully, he left out telling Lucas about his rendezvous with Max.
“Don't tell me you spent the entire time playing doctor,” Percy added, only half-kidding. He could just imagine Lucas spending way too much time trying to contact the hospital and his nurse squad.
Lucas laughed, letting his head fall back against the tiled floor behind him and shifting a little in the mud. “I wish,” he said, purposely misinterpreting Percy’s words to the other meaning of ‘playing doctor.’ “Nahh, once I'd accepted that there was no getting out of there, I did some exploring on my own.
“I gotta say, whatever that was, it sure seemed real. I mean...there was every chance that we were all experiencing the same strange high, but.. it was so specific, and we all saw the same things. No drug could do that.”
“Nothing you know of, anyway,” Percy replied, the statement carrying with it the tone of a question. “But it begs further investigation. It’s too bad we don’t have a detective in the building--the only thing I discovered was that the olives from the first floor? They were amazing with a dirty martini.” Humming in satisfaction at the memory, Percy ducked lower in the bath, covering his shoulders with mud. It felt weird, but it was free--and that was all right with him. He could handle a little weirdness if it came at no cost. Although, speaking of weird…
“Something happened to me that week.” Percy peered over at Lucas, speaking more quietly than before. “I don’t know what I ate, drank, or otherwise imbibed without realizing it, but I was faster than usual. I timed myself constantly since my phone wasn’t good for much else. I made it up seven flights of stairs, on foot, in less than three minutes. And I wasn’t running.” He studied his friend, both of them living mudpies at this point. “Tell me you didn’t find the cure for cancer or something equally out of reach while we were all locked inside.”
Lucas frowned and leant closer when Percy hushed his tone, glancing over at one of the attractive spa attendants to check that they weren’t listening in. “I gotta say man, of all the things I saw that week, that sounds like the least weird,” he admitted. “I mean...I saw butterflies, real live butterflies, appear out of nowhere and then disappear in mid-air. I know they were real, because the guy I was with saw them too. It happened twice...once on my own and then a few hours later with that guy Gabe.” He paused, thinking about it for a moment, and then grimaced. “And then there were the entrails…”
Percy’s eyes widened, first in curiosity, and then from a strange mixture of surprise and disgust. “Butterflies are fine. There’s nothing wrong with butterflies. But you’re telling me you saw Honest-to-God entrails?” Lucas’ admission sunk in further when Percy reiterated it, and he looked understandably disturbed. He lowered his voice a bit more, noticing an attendant walking towards them. “Where did you see entrails, Luc? They were from animals and not people, right?” In all his wanderings around the complex during the off-kilter week, Percy hadn’t once caught sight of anything quite so disturbing. He had, however, came upon some grisly heads at one point with BB. But that was a lot different than finding actual innards.
“I'm pretty sure they were from an animal,” he said, “human...guts...tend to be bigger,” he said carefully with a slightly wrinkled nose. “They were on the ninth floor, the one that looked kinda Greek, with all the statues and white marble and fruit. Just...there, on the ground. Arranged like…” he paused and frowned at his own thoughts, debating for a moment whether he should say it. But this was Percy.
“Okay, this is gonna sound...well, crazy doesn't seem to cover it. I...it was like the entrails...were trying to tell me something.” He waited for a second with a half grimace on his face. “Like...I swear the first time it looked like a butterfly...and then I saw the butterflies. And a few days later...it looked kinda like a goat, and then I ran into this guy...well, for a second it looked like he had horns. And hooves.” Another grimace creased his face in anticipation of Percy's reaction. It sounded crazy to him, what must his friend think?
Percy might have otherwise laughed if Lucas didn’t look so damned serious. Sure, he’d often joked that Lucas needed to relax now and then, but Lucas had never been one to not fully comprehend matters of severe gravity with the proper attitude. It was likely part of the reason he’d been successful in the medical business. And by the look on Lucas’ face, this definitely could be classified as a matter of severe gravity.
“You’re telling me that you basically saw the future from looking at guts.” Percy shot a quick glance at another pesky attendant--sure, she was cute, but now was not the time--coming close to him. With a firm shake of his head, he sent her in the other direction. As if more mud or a glass of iced lemon water offered by her could solve the situation at hand. “Luc, you lived as a psychic for a week? And Miss Cleo never called you out for stealing her job?” Percy shut his eyes for a moment, sinking into the mud bath as he tried to comprehend what, exactly, Lucas had just revealed to him. “I know you wouldn’t lie about something so odd, but...has it happened again? Since that week, I mean. You’ve never been too off with your intuition.”
Two months ago, Percy might have written off Lucas’ premonitions as mere coincidences. Hell, he would have written off his own experiences as well, albeit they were far less gory. But that no longer seemed an option.
Lucas put up a hand to hold off on what Percy was saying. “Now, I didn’t say that…” he glanced at the attendant and watched her sidle away from them when Percy shook his head. “I’m just...it’s just a coincidence, right? I mean...I don’t even know if that’s what I saw. I just got...this impression from it, and then I saw those things later elsewhere. It could just be...suggestion, or the strangeness of everything just getting to me.” He knew, deep down, that that wasn’t it, but admitting out loud that he saw things in a pile of guts, and not only that, that those things were some sort of premonitions, were a little much for him. Now that they were out of the building and all the strange changes were gone as if they’d never existed, those memories seemed ludicrous. Absurd, even.
He laughed, as if he could shrug it off as a joke, “I’m not about to start my own 900 number yet,” he said, though his smile was just a little bit off.
Clearly, Lucas was struggling with the fine line between what constituted acceptable reality and what pushed the rational mind into the realm of fiction; Percy had danced along that very border himself in the recent past--most noticeably on the Deluxe Floor of Pax, transformed into a sprawling desert. In that instance, the desert, the mirage, the fantasy had not won. He’d pushed the fantasy aside and escaped to reality, or at least what constituted a more acceptable form of it, albeit within the confines of his own apartment.
“If you do, be sure to give me a call,” Percy said lightly, looking over at Lucas and noting the usually radiant, if a little goofy, smile he wore seemed dimmer. “I’ll work on my traveling time again and hand out fortunes to your callers on foot. Think of it as a more organic step up from Amazon’s delivery service.” Lucas laughed, grateful that his friend was running with the joke instead of pushing on the serious. Percy was quiet for a few moments, their conversation posing the issue of what to do with these...talent discoveries, as well as stirring up a memory he might have otherwise forgotten.
“Well, while we’re on the topic of strangeness at home, I had the oddest dream shortly after I moved into the building. I thought I’d just drank too much.” He laughed at his own omission, attempting to keep his mood light for both their sake’s. “I woke up in the middle of a dream, but it was a dream within another dream--you know the sort I’m talking about,” Percy continued, not sure if he could stop now that he was finally divulging the details to another person. Better that it was to Lucas rather than anyone else, as ridiculous as the dream had been. “A man was standing in my living room, dressed like a...shepherd? I suppose. I don’t know how he managed to get inside my apartment, but he told me that I’d invited him in. He said that he was...delivering a message. And when he left, I didn’t see him go--he was too fast for me to follow.” Percy gave Lucas a questioning look, as if to ask him what he thought about the dream, while silently hoping that his friend had experienced something similar.
Lucas listened to the story, unable to hide his rapidly rising eyebrows at the increasing strangeness of the story. Dream. Whatever. “A shepherd,” he said, a statement rather than a question. “So...you’re dreaming about Jesus then?” he asked with another silly grin. “If he says you’ve invited him in, you’re in trouble, you’ll never get him to leave after that. Believe me...once I decided to hear out some Jehovah’s Witnesses and they never got the hint.” He knew he should be taking this more seriously, but he also knew that if he did take it seriously, he’d also have to take what happened to him seriously too. And maybe have to wrestle with the idea that what happened wasn’t just a coincidence.
“‘Jesus take the wheel,’” Percy replied with a grin, and Lucas laughed. “Or take my pamphlets, free of charge.” He paused, feeling as if his quip had fallen flat--likely due to his own inability to accept Lucas’ explanation. Whatever the true reason behind the dream-within-a-dream, it hadn’t completely been a byproduct of his subconscious mind. There was something else to it, something Percy hadn’t quite discovered yet. “He definitely wasn’t Jesus, although maybe that’d be easier to believe. I’ll let you know if he comes knocking again, and then I’ll send him your way.”
Lucas chuckled and then looked up as one of the attendants came their way with two glasses of champagne, setting them down next to them. “Thank you,” he said, his eyes roaming over her a little too much before picking up the glass in his slightly muddy hand and taking a sip. After she softly walked away, Lucas caught Percy’s eye and lifted an eyebrow. “A guy could get used to this,” he chuckled, “champagne service, beautiful attendants, warm bath...even if it is mud,” he added with a grin. “It’s like we’re gods for a day!” He took another sip of his champagne and then set it down. “So what do you say, after this do we hit the sauna? Massages? You could get a manicure,” he teased.
Happily, he accepted the courtesy drink, glad for any kind of distraction from their conversation. Although he felt more comfortable discussing these matters with Lucas than he might have with most of their other neighbors, it didn’t take away the nagging feeling in the back of his mind. The puzzle pieces of this mystery hadn’t been completely discovered, and lacking the missing pieces made Percy feel uncertain.
Uncertainty was one of his least favorite states of mind, and so he took a healthy drink from the champagne glass, not caring if mud coated the thin glass stem. “We’re either gods for a day or the new owners of Playboy,” Percy said with a smirk. “And I think a manicure would suit you better, Luc--think of how excited your nurses will be when you show them the latest nail fashions.” He pretended to muse over the potential options for future enjoyments at the spa, studying his champagne glass as if it were a work of art. “Both would be excellent, and why not? If they’re going to let us have everything on the house, we ought to take advantage of every last bit of it.” A mischievous twinkle brightened his eyes, and he gave Lucas a familiar grin. “Let’s get while the getting’s good.”
“Think about it - if we’re gods, we could just usurp Playboy from the owners for ourselves with our godly powers,” he grinned, draining his glass and setting it on the tiles behind him. “And besides, I’ve heard that women like men who mind the details,” he said, taking a moment to inspect his nails. “Maybe I will get a manicure, and a pedicure, and then reap the benefits of the Metro life.” He smiled cheekily at Percy and then looked up as the attendant came back, informing them that their soak time was up and ushering them out of the mud and into the showers.
Once cleaned of all traces of mud, they were then shown into the steam room. Lucas, wearing nothing but a towel about his waist, settled himself on one of the benches and breathed in deeply of the hot moist air. “I’ve read articles about all the benefits of steam rooms,” he said as Percy sat down, “opening pores and sinuses, reducing stress, increased circulation, relaxing muscles...although I had to tell one of my patients who’d recently had a heart attack to skip the steam room and go for the hot tub instead. It can cause problems if you have a weak heart.” He’d felt bad having to spoil her fun, but Nish seemed okay with it and followed his directions. He was just glad she’d read the sign with the warnings on it and called him; the last thing he wanted for her was a fun spa day turning into a trip to the ER.
The steam room was, by all accounts, another first for Percy. Within the clouds of steam, neither of them seemed wholly there, flicking in and out amongst the water vapor. “I think I’m feeling my pores open right this minute,” Percy said with affected earnestness, sitting down on a bench positioned near Lucas’ chosen seat. “This is like living in a cloud; I don’t know if I love it, but I do know that I don’t hate it,” he admitted, hands splayed on the bench while he leaned his head back against the wall--oddly cool despite the plethora of steam.
“Good thing our hearts are more resilient,” Percy said after a beat, imagining Lucas’ mystery patient number 147 to be an aging grandmother, or perhaps a middle-aged, over-stressed politician. “I hope they took your advice, but it’s a shame they’re missing out on all of this. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I was waited on hand and foot.”
Lucas nodded, “she did, opting for the hot tub instead. It was actually her recommendation that finally got me to take advantage of this place.” He took a deep breath of the hot moist air and let it out slowly, enjoying the tingling on his skin from the steam. “I actually like it in here, though we can’t stay too long, even healthy people can have problems in here after about twenty minutes. Heat stroke is the most common, but rapid dehydration is ironically a possibility too.” He vaguely realised he was doctoring, on his day off, but he couldn’t help it; it was who he was.
“Well, this steam room is probably less temporary than time,” Percy remarked, waving one hand through the constantly forming and depleting mist, as if to prove his point. “Come on, let’s head to the next set of rooms--I saw a sign mentioning a thorough massage, and what could be better after sitting in here and steaming like a kettle?” With a grin, he left with Lucas to the massage rooms, both of them met by friendly attendants who aided them in becoming comfortable upon the massage tables. Competent, trained hands worked the muscles in Percy’s shoulders and back. It wasn’t long before their conversation lulled, each of them all too happy to relax and let the attendants do their job.
And so when the needle pierced through his skin, he barely noticed, drifting off into a dreamless state upon the table.