“The Grand Marriott Hotel ♒︎⧫♏●,” by A.K. Blake

Apr 20th, 2022 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Dear Customer,

We hope you enjoyed your stay at the Grand Marriott Hotel ♒︎⧫♏●, where our motto is “Timeless service in any timeline.” Please take a few minutes to respond to a short questionnaire. As a small thanks for completing the survey, you will be entered to win a prize in the preferred currency of your dimension (rare natural objects, paper cash, antimatter, credit card, cryptocurrency, or direct cerebro-chip transfer). We look forward to serving you again soon.

Sincerest regards,
The Friendly ♒︎⧫♏● Staff


Please rate the following on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being Excellent and 5 being Poor:

Staff greeted you and offered to help you.

❍♋■ arrived through the portal with indigestion as usual. Something about all the spinny lights and not-fully-existing-while-existing-in-all-dimensions always gave him heartburn. He burped immediately upon stepping into the lobby, the gas congealing into a large bubble and floating toward the ceiling, only to pop on the glittering chandelier.

♌□□♌ slapped him with two of her appendages, her normally pearly blue coloring taking on a worrisome royal hue as her suckers left little indentations in his rubbery skin.


“Do you have to make a scene everywhen we go? Can’t you for once have a little decorum?”

He shrugged all four upper tentacles, which did nothing to mollify ♌□□♌. Insead, she turned positively navy, letting out a harrumph and slithering off to the front desk. Still, hard not to appreciate that wiggle of hers.

A bellhop appeared next to him with a hover for the luggage. ❍♋■ thought he handled the interaction quite well, all things considered. He barely stared, even though the bellhop had only half the proper number of limbs, and he said nothing at all about its sad, completely unsinuous gait. Handled it with decorum you might say. Not that ♌□□♌ seemed to notice.


Staff were knowledgeable about products and services.

“Good anywhen, Citizen ♌□□♌,” said the thing behind the front desk. “I notice you’ve selected our Romantic Eras Suite. Excellent choice. I’m sure you and your consort will be quite satisfied.”

“Ought to be after how much it costs,” grumbled ❍♋■.

“Oh, shush,” ♌□□♌ said, turning back to the front desk employee. It truly was a hideous thing, with dull skin and eyes far too forward-facing. She added coquettishly, “I’m sure we’ll have a wonderful stay, thank you. What was it again? Gron?”

“Tom,” the front desk employee said. As if that were normal. As if people could be expected to remember and pronounce things like Tom. “Glom,” ♌□□♌ said again, practicing it, savoring it. She glowed bioluminescent. “So nice to meet you, Glom.”

None of this went by ❍♋■ unnoticed. For jelly’s sake, why not just produce her egg sack right in front of him while she was at it? But this was exactly the kind of magnetic quality that had drawn ❍♋■ to ♌□□♌ in the first place. He still remembered the first time he’d seen her, her limbs covered in grease as she dug into the hard shell of a sea insect, laughing with her mouth full. She positively glowed in the watery light, winning fifth place in the eating contest at the Annual Echinoderm Festival. He had never seen anyone so beautiful. She was electric. She was just always on.

The only problem was, it didn’t seem to matter who she was on for.


Staff went above and beyond to meet your needs.

Their luggage had already been deposited neatly at the foot of the waterbed by the time they got to their room, a level of service that left ❍♋■ begrudgingly impressed.

“Oh, squid-bean, look!” ♌□□♌ exclaimed, wriggling over to the viewing screens.

One depicted a winding cobblestone lane atop a rustic mountain, the path dotted with brightly shingled cabins like little pieces of candy. Another showed an underwater ball, the sort his father used to reminisce about, complete with elaborately constructed reef towers and a buffet of sea creatures so vast it took three cycles to eat all of it. Still another revealed a fantastical glitterscape, clouds of shimmering emerald dancing past sandy dunes of the palest pink.

“Which one should we visit first?”

“You want to go right now? I thought we might make our own magic first if you know what I mean…”

“Oh, ❍♋■, your head is always in the gutter.”

“I thought we came here to get some us time.”

“We did, I want us to actually spend some quality time together. Look at all these beautiful eras. Don’t you want to explore them with me?”

❍♋■ mumbled something about how the eras would be there later—that was the whole point of a timestream freeze, after all!—but ♌□□♌ ended the conversation by crossing all her upper appendages and staring resolutely at the glitterscape until he gave in and let her the lead the way.


Products and services were available and as described.

The one good thing about the glitterscape, in ❍♋■’s mind, was that it would require a lot of sudsing and scrubbing to get it off. He was having trouble keeping his sprongles from extending the entire visit. Instead of focusing on the cerulean statue of some tree thing that ♌□□♌ oohed and ahhed over—a bit of an overreaction for what was essentially shiny concrete—❍♋■ was picturing them in the tub later, ♌□□♌ practically oozing with gratitude, all sultry eyes and slick tentacles.

But he got none of this. In fact, far from appeasing ♌□□♌, their sojourn only seemed to fuel whatever it was that was annoying her. Instead of a sexy soak, she cleaned most of the glitter off herself with angry, brusque scrubbing, then wriggled out of the bath as soon as she was done, leaving him to struggle on his own. ❍♋■ was at a loss. Hadn’t he done everything she’d wanted? Hadn’t he let her use funds from the joint cerebro account, haggled with his boss to get a full two cycles off work, and put off coupling to follow her into what was essentially an overhyped children’s crafts exhibit?

♌□□♌ barely looked at him when he finally dried off and oiled himself back down. She was already in her night suit, tucked down into the warming goo of the waterbed so that no part of her luscious body was visible. She stared resolutely at the screen with the little cottages as it started to snow in that era and the young of that planet came into view to put on some kind of dance.


Staff offered pertinent advice.

Giving up, ❍♋■ ordered room service. At least the food sounded good, although there were some strange dishes he skipped over involving an inordinate amount of condiments and meat in some kind of casing. Another of the ugly staff appeared at the door with a tray.

When it asked if he required anything else, ❍♋■ said, “Not unless you can get me a new consort.”

“Ah, I’m sure you wouldn’t really want that,” it said, brushing some its coarse hair behind the ungainly pair of round, fleshy things sprouting from either side of its head. “Maybe what you really need is just a little perspective.”

❍♋■ thought this exceedingly deep, not realizing it was one of the taglines used by Hotel ♒︎⧫♏● in their commercials and hammered into the vocabulary of its staff for this very purpose. ❍♋■ returned to the waterbed mollified, fully prepared to take a more enlightened approach to the situation.

“Something to eat, squid-bean?”

“I’m not hungry.”

“Oh, come on, ♌□□♌. We haven’t eaten since mid-cyle. What’s going on with you? Is this because of what I said at the front desk? I was just joking!”

“Nothing’s wrong.”

❍♋■ ripped into his plate aggressively. After a few minutes of slurping, ♌□□♌ continued as if he had prodded her.

“Maybe if you had just pretended to care even an ounce about that era.”

❍♋■ threw down the other half of the overlarge anemone. “This about the era? Squiddy, it just wasn’t my thing! I’m not into glitter!”

“You’re not into anything anymore!”

“That’s not true.”

“Oh? What was the last new thing we did that you liked?”

❍♋■ paused, thinking. “That restaurant we ate at. The one with the bubble grasshopper dish.”

“Not food. I mean what was the last experience we did together that you actually enjoyed instead of just sighing, and trying not to participate, and acting like it was too expensive the whole time?”

❍♋■ blinked his inner eyelids. “I don’t do that.”

Yes, you do.”

“Well, I can’t help how I feel.”

“Then you could pretend to care for my sake.”

“So just lie to you? Just be a different person all the time?”

“I thought you were that person!”

“What in the seas made you think that?”

“I don’t know,” ♌□□♌ said abruptly. “I guess maybe…maybe you were always like that. You’re right.”

“Oh, ok. Well, then. Great.”

♌□□♌ continued watching the uncoordinated young make some kind of ball shape on the ground with their bodies, but her eyes were glazed over as if the inner lids were closed.

Eventually, she said, “I guess maybe it’s just getting old is the problem. I don’t like dragging you around and trying to get you interested in what I like as much as I used to.”

“What? ♌□□♌, we don’t have to like the same activities. You can do your own activities, and I can do mine. And then when we come together, we’ll have more to talk about.”

“But I don’t want to do it that way,” she said, flapping her limbs against the surface of the water bed and finally turning to look at him. Her eyes were brimming just as he’d imagined they’d be in the tub. “I want to share things with you.”

❍♋■ stared at her, the greasy anemone slipping through his appendages. “Well…I’m sorry. I thought you liked the way I was.”

♌□□♌ flushed sapphire. “I thought I did too.”


Staff was courteous throughout.

“Um, yes, I’d like to…check out, I guess.”

“I’m sorry, Citizen, was there a problem with your room?”

“No, no. The room was fine. The other Citizen will be staying through the rest of the trip. I just, um…I’m going home early.”

The thing at the front desk didn’t react as it typed something in with its tiny, many-jointed appendages that hung off of its other two upper appendages.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you enjoyed your time with us.”

“Not very much, no!” ❍♋■ said, a wave like a shiver running through his body. Then he sighed. “Not your fault, though. Not much you could’ve done about my breakup, is there?”

“Actually, we have a Former Partner Simulator Suite if that’s something that would interest you.”


“It’s quite popular and very discreet, I can assure you.”

❍♋■ imagined some kind of holographic imitation of ♌□□♌ wrapping itself around him, her limbs suctioning hard, her skin slippery like oil. It wouldn’t really be her. It wouldn’t have that spark. But still…

“How much?”

❍♋■ gasped at the sum.

“No, I’ll be fine, thank you. Save that for the suckers.”

The thing behind the desk made a face that might be amusement, crumpling its lips and wrinkling the thing with little holes at the center of its face.

“As you wish, Citizen.” It spun the screen around. “Here is your receipt. If you could just confirm everything is in order.”

❍♋■ nearly choked. “Is that…are those…”

“The totals. Yes, Citizen.”

Next time, ❍♋■ vowed, he was saying no when a consort wanted a “romantic adventure” disguised as a very expensive relationship talk. Closing his eyes, the transparent lids and the outer ones, ❍♋■ okayed the amount.

“Thank you, Citizen. One last thing, if you wouldn’t mind taking a few minutes to respond to a short questionnaire regarding our service, I would appreciate it. We look forward to serving you again soon.”


Overall, how would you rate your stay at the Grand Marriott Hotel ♒︎⧫♏●?

My consort doesn’t love me anymore. Lot of money to figure that one out. Food was good, though.



A.K. Blake enjoys ice cream more than most people. She also likes science fiction, summer breezes, and shooting things in video games. You can find more of her stories at 365Tomorrows and Daily Science Fiction!

Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.