Voice Of Reason, Part 3

(by Blackbladder, 04 May 2006)

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Voice Of Reason 
by Blackbladder

Part 3 - Room For Improvement 

Melanie Elgin had worked at the Hotel as a night shift Room Attendant
for only a few months, but enjoyed the work. She had always worked at
night in her previous jobs as cleaners and CCTV operators. Melanie had
quickly become one of the most reliable members of staff, and often
supported her other colleagues. However, she found her concentration had
been waning over the last 24 hours. She struggled to stay awake during
her breaks, and found herself being supported by her work colleagues.

I don't understand it'¦why do I feel so tired, Melanie thought as she
handed a guest a tray of food as part of her Room Service duties.  

As the door closed, she walked down the corridor and caught a glimpse of
her reflection off the metal elevator doors.  

She looked back on the woman in the reflection - medium build, blonde
hair and short in height. She saw her brown eyes appearing red and
bloodshot from fatigue, and the area around the eyes were black. Melanie
couldn't understand what was happening to her. 

Just as she was about to get on the elevator to return to the kitchens,
a pungent smell acquainted her senses. Instinctively, Melanie felt
compelled to investigate the smell, and followed its scent down the
corridor. As the smell grew stronger, she reasoned that it came from one
of the rooms on the floor. Eventually, Melanie stopped and stared
directly at the last room door in the corridor - Room 639. The smell was
very strong and potent, irritating Melanie's nostrils. Without thought,
Melanie used her swipe card to gain entry. As the door closed behind
her, Melanie's attention was drawn immediately to a woman smoking at the
room window. Melanie was about to launch a verbal volley of abuse as the
woman had clearly broken the law, and marched towards the offender. 

'There is NO smoking permitted on these premises'¦' Melanie started, but
struggled as her voice became weaker.  

The silhouetted woman just smiled and inhaled again - the tip of the
cigarette shone bright red. 

'Don't you remember me?' The woman asked as a river of smoke flowed from
her open mouth.  

Suddenly, memories of the Melanie's previous shift flashed in front of
her eyes - memories that had been forgotten'¦ 

Melanie stood outside Room 639 and knocked the door firmly. A woman soon
opened the door and allowed Melanie to enter. 

'Is there a problem?'  

'Yes there is, madam'¦we have had complaints that someone has been
smoking in this room. With the new law in place, this is an illegal act
and I have the right to ask you to leave.' Melanie retorted, as she
tried to remain calm. 

'Don't call me madam, my name is Bernie'¦and yours?' The woman replied

Rather than question Bernie's smug statement, she replied instinctively
without remorse. She seemed disturbed by her open nature towards this
woman, and tried to refer back to the original subject. As Melanie
thought of this, she spied a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, Marlboro
Reds, sitting on the window ledge. Bernie followed her glare, but seemed
unfazed by the frown on Melanie's face. 

'Follow me.' Bernie said plainly as Melanie complied instinctively and
walked towards the window.  

Bernie picked up the pack and handed them over to Melanie. 

'I am guilty. I have been smoking since my second night here in the
room. It is too damn cold out there to smoke.' Bernie justified as
Melanie looked over the pack in her hand with disdain. 

'So tell me about your job.' Bernie instructed calmly.  

Instinctively, Melanie replied as she flipped the lid back to reveal the
cork-tipped cylinders. With the information about Melanie and her
nightshift duties, and idea came to mind. 

'You must be tired all the time during your shift. Your eyelids must
feel heavy.' Bernie suggested as Melanie looked straight at her. 

'Not normally. This is so strange.' Melanie replied weakly as a sudden
state of body fatigue overcame her. Her back soon felt heavy as her
shoulders slouched forward. Melanie even had to steady her balance by
using the chair. She now struggled to retain focus and the desire to
throw Bernie out had been dampened.  

'Stop worrying. I am here to help. It is obvious that you need something
to keep you awake during your shift. A new smoking habit will do.'
Bernie suggested. 

'But I don't smoke!' Melanie tried to shout. 

'You will have to learn, won't you?!' Bernie replied impatiently - she
found Melanie one of her most resistant subjects yet. 

'The more you rebel against my advice, the more tired you are gonna be.
Do you want to get sacked for sleeping on the job?' Bernie commanded,
enforcing mental insecurities into Melanie's mind. 

'I guess you are right.' Melanie sighed. 

I can't afford to get caught napping by my colleagues - I have to do
anything to keep awake, Melanie conceded in her mind as Bernie held her
hand out. 

'Give me a cigarette.' 

Melanie obeyed, and handed a Red and the lighter over to Bernie. Melanie
watched with mixed emotions as Bernie lit up immediately, sucking all
the toxins deep inside her chest. Bernie parted her lips in
anticipation, and exhaled into Melanie's tired face.  

'Now it's your turn. Have a cigarette.' 

Melanie complied as she extracted a cigarette from the pack of Reds and
put it between her lips. Bernie produced a flame from her lighter and
looked deeply into Melanie's helpless eyes. 

'You are gonna love this! From that first puff to your last, you will
feel your body become buzzed with energy, and you will reason that
smoking can help you in your battle to beat fatigue.' Bernie said
excitedly as she extended the flame over towards Melanie's cigarette. 

Melanie accepted the light from the cigarette, and sucked as the smoke
filled her mouth. A warm, comforting feeling overcame her as she puffed
lightly on the cigarette.  

She watched, intrigued, as the smoke floated from her mouth in a small
cloud. Melanie felt her tiredness lift as she took drag after drag.  

Bernie sat on the ledge and smoked her own cigarette expertly - hoping
her inhaling would rub off on her new student.  

After three small puffs, and more energy restored, Melanie inhaled
deeply as she studied her captor. A broad smile emerged on Melanie's
face as she felt a buzz shoot through her body after a successful
inhale, followed by a controlled exhale. The dazed expression had lifted
from Melanie's face as she smoked her cigarette in silence, her mind
open to new suggestions. 

After revealing the identity of the complainer, a guest named Sandra in
Room 638, Bernie had instructed Melanie to forget about her smoky
encounter. She also told her that the fatigue would return and remain as
soon as she left the room. Upon leaving, she had also been instructed to
come back to Room 639 the following evening to 'complete' her training'¦ 

Melanie's expressionless face soon turned to a sly smile - she knew what
she wanted. She walked towards Bernie and held out her hand knowingly.
Bernie obliged, and handed Melanie a pack of Reds and a new blue bic

Bernie smiled as her new student ripped open her pack with eagerness,
placed a cigarette between her lips, and lit up carefully for the first
time. Melanie inhaled instantly as the cigarette tip glowed red - her
eyes focused on Bernie as she lit her own cigarette. 

With each puff, Melanie's fatigue had disappeared, leaving her feeling
refreshed and enjoying the powerful nicotine buzz. 

'You look like you enjoy it, Melanie. How are your friends and family
going to respond to your new habit?' Bernie toyed as she inhaled sharply

'Screw them! My father smokes but my mother and younger brother don't.
Maybe I could 'teach' them to be tolerant of the habit.' Melanie smiled
evilly as she exhaled another cone of smoke - thoughts of corrupting
filled her brain with each successive drag. 

'That's the attitude. Your enjoyment comes before them. Don't let family
rule your life.' Bernie smiled as smoke trailed from her nostrils. 

Both ladies choked on their smoke in mid-drag as the room door was
knocked harshly. 

'It's Mr. Johnson! Open up!' an angry voice emanated from outside the door. 

'What do we do now?' Melanie whispered, realizing the voice belonged to
Bernie's next-door neighbor in the hotel.  

Both ladies reluctantly extinguished their cigarettes on the outside of
the window while Bernie opened the door. 

A woman walked in - short dark hair, blue eyes and tall - and scanned
the occupants of the room. Bernie stood behind the door and Melanie
fidgeted nervously as she walked away from the window.  

'I thought I told you to sort out the smoking issue?' The woman stated
rhetorically at Melanie. 

Melanie briefly introduced Bernie and Sandra to each other as a way of
distracting from the crisis. 

As Melanie was about to make excuses for the smoke, she saw Bernie and
Sandra exchange disapproving glances. 

'Oh just calm down and have a smoke!' Bernie said in response as she
took out her pack of Reds. 

Melanie couldn't believe the cheek of this guest - she was convinced
Sandra would storm out and demanding for sackings. Melanie then had to
look twice as Sandra smiled knowingly towards Bernie before taking a
pack of Craven A cigarettes from her coat. Bernie lit Sandra up to
Melanie's disbelief - what was going on, she thought. 

Sandra closed her eyes and sucked deeply as nicotine flowed through her
system like blood itself. A smile stretched across Sandra's face as she
exhaled as smoke billowed from her nostrils, and slowly her eyes re-opened. 

Bernie motioned both ladies to take a seat while she explained the

'I should have said to you, Melanie. After you went away last night to
return to your duties, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I
approached Sandra and changed her outlook on the habit. I made her feel
that she needed something to relax. Sandra was so tense and uptight when
we first spoke - I bet you are glad that I changed that'¦' Bernie
suggested towards Sandra while lighting a fresh cigarette.  

Sandra smiled back, lost in a haze of blue cigarette smoke.  

'So why Craven A? I thought you were a Reds woman like me?' Bernie asked
as she lit herself a cigarette from her own pack. 

'My parents are nonsmokers, but my aunt and uncle both used to smoke
these. I used to hang around a lot with my aunt and uncle when I was
little and thought it would be fitting to smoke their brand. For years,
I harassed them to quit like my folks. Now I can make it up to them -
you know they still smoke and they are in their 80s!' Sandra said
excitedly as she puffed hard. 

'I'm so grateful, Bernie. You have helped me see the good side of
smoking. I couldn't believe all I did was complain about smoking when I
hadn't even experienced the relaxing benefits of it myself. Don't know
what I'm going to say to my boyfriend when I get home'¦' Sandra explained
to Melanie, who began feeling her own nicotine cravings manifest. 

'I'm sure you will come up with something, Sandra. Why don't you light
up, Melanie?' Bernie replied, then teased Melanie. 

'Go on Melanie. I'm not exactly going to complain, am I?' Sandra
reinforced Bernie's instruction - she actually wanted to see this young
Room Attendant smoke. 

Melanie gave in to the peer pressure, as well as her new cravings, and
lit up a new Red as the ladies looked on with envy.  

'I wish I was your age, Melanie. Great body, may I say'¦' Sandra stated
as Melanie inhaled greedily. 

'Thanks.' Melanie stated, her cheeks blushed red from the compliment.  

Melanie took a final puff of her cigarette, before making her apologies
to Sandra and Bernie and walking towards the door. 

'I better get back to work'¦they will wonder where I've gotten to. Thanks
again Bernie - you really have enlightened me. I adore smoking, and
never want to quit. I know I now have something to keep me awake during
these shifts.' Bernie said before she left the duo. 

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