Beaumont, 2.B.3, 300 words

J appears only in throngs of conventioneers on the floor of the great hall, surfacing in some key point on the first day of proceedings at which the population, upon first encountering it, provides the greatest instantaneous burst of people, and stays, infrequently floating around the hotel for the entire duration of a convention. He drifts away during a peak confluence of millers and yawners in the evening and returns from somewhere for its diurnal equivalent in midmorning to be again amidst conventioneer tribes at their most swollen and agitated. He sits at a plush banquette without crossing his legs watching through until the final day with unceasing yet detached attention to the faces of the people pacing the lobby floor, then the same preparing for departure. Long after the convention expires in the empty hall and lobby he still struggles to buff every face and trace it made on the air from his mind to see only the blank carpet, vacuuming the nap of the footprints out of his vision, seeing painted pillars clearly, seeing closed doors and assuring himself they sheltered empty rooms until the assurance seems odd; they had never been populated. His program is to feel a nominal totality of the human population slip away, egress the hotel as if from an open landscape, to feel them disappearing over into something that isn’t his, some other facet of life or its postscripts. He needs the faces and lives and traits and practices in his tissue in order to train himself to eradicate them. Long exposure to their faint pulses tapers into a tangible, ceasing annihilation. But the most potent of talismans was the empty hotel itself. It approaches the vision of his own innards, a mysterious and flowing solid machine behind a drape of people.

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