Christmas at the Hilbert Astoria (Part 1 of 2)
by Sam Schreiber
“You’ll have to forgive the delay,” the concierge told Nick, smiling conspiratorially over the Talathello marble counter. “It’s our busiest time of the year.”
The hospitality program punctuated the nonsensical assertion with a knowing wink.
“Can’t imagine that joke ever gets old,” Nick said, tucking his hands into his red flannel overcoat and rocking on the heels of his black workman’s boots. The concierge’s static-gray face went blank for a moment as more sober-minded algorithms kicked in.
Booking a room at the Hilbert Astoria was, by definition, always possible. But booking the right room could be a slippery proposition. The Vice Regent of Svartalfheim had spent a month waiting for the palatial suite he’d demanded, or so Nick had heard.
Nick’s own requirements, while nowhere near as extravagant, were exacting in their own way. Though of course, he hadn’t been a guest at the Hilbert since before his face had been splashed across Coca-Cola’s 1933 advertising campaign. Nick suspected things had changed since then.