Follow the Signs.
The glare was dazzling. Daniel yanked off the spectacles to find it was worse without them. Even when he closed his eyes, he could still see the glow.
Put the glasses back on. They will adjust, Contralto said.
Daniel obliged, but didn’t open his eyes until the glasses were in place.
He was in the centre of a shopping mall at night. Men in suits and women in evening gowns stepped carefully around the old man in a crumpled pair of shorts and a rather dirty t-shirt. Neon light flashed out messages in a language that could have been English but were so bright and blurry that he could make no sense of them. The buildings blazed with light—beacons of excitement, gratification and bliss.
Everything wavered as if the lights were too dazzling.
Nothing is what it seems, Soprano said. It’s a world of illusion.
Conversation drifted to him, almost intelligible, yet elusively incomprehensible. Hawkers and buskers added to the noise; shouting, singing and chanting from the sidewalks. Beside him a teenage boy waved a glossy magazine as he extolled its merits. The noise melded into a discordant buzzing almost as overwhelming as the glare from the lights.
Just as the lights had a ghost, the noise had a whispering echo.
‘What’s the magazine about,’ Daniel asked the boy.
The boy glanced his way with a frown, and for a second Daniel thought he could see the pictures clearly, but before he could even decide if they were about some sort of sport, everything blurred again. The boy looked away and resumed his spiel.
Even if he could understand you, he wouldn’t listen. Contralto’s voice was a balm against the raucous buzz. Everyone here has their own agenda.
People continued to step past him, some ignoring, some smiling, some muttering in disgust, but no one spoke directly to the shabbily dressed old man. Daniel decided to ignore them as well and tried to make sense of his surroundings. Directly ahead of him, a casino was illuminated by flashing cards and dice. More signs indicated live theatre, movie theatres, pool halls, video gaming and even brothels. Further along were two large stadiums for sports or large concerts.
‘Every form of entertainment known to man.’
Remember, nothing is what it seems. Mezzo’s voice seemed urgent.
Daniel shivered. The night air was chilly. ‘So, what do I do now? Can I get inside where it’s warmer?’
You must look for a sign, Contralto said.
Daniel suppressed a laugh. ‘Well, there must be a thousand or so around here.’
Just then the flashing cards in front of the casino changed to wads of cash. At the same time the dice changed to a tumble of glittering coins.
‘Did you do that?’
We have no control in this world, Mezzo said, but you must follow the signs.
‘Okay, but how do I get into a casino in this outfit?’
The chorus sighed, a very short passage of Clair De Lune.
You can walk in. It’s only when you get inside that they try to take money off you.
From Language Barrier, a Human Factor story.
Now what could be inside a casino that could interest Daniel. After all, he has no money with him.
Ah, Daniel, it is a world of Illusion so don't be deceived.