By Douglas E. Gogerty
Prince William spent much of his time exploring the ancient city. Once the intense daytime heat got to him, he would duck into one of the ancient buildings. Inside some of the larger building was a scene similar to the one he saw in the first hotel. There was the sound of a strange language being spoken and people sitting in front of these strange machines.
The people at the machines appeared to be having a good time. The Prince marveled at the number of people visiting this ancient city in the Forbidden Zone. It appeared that many people from across the ocean visited this city. The influence King Jonathan wielded must be great overseas. At least, the number of people enjoying themselves in one of his cities was large.
The Prince spent most of his day wandering along the strip of hotels. As the day wore on, the heat of the day began to lessen a bit. Nonetheless, it was still stifling hot outside of the air-conditioned buildings. With the sun far from its zenith, his thoughts turned to where he would spend the night. He was sure he could stay at one of the hotels, but that would mean he was like everyone else. He was royalty. He should have some special accommodations. At least, that is what he thought.
He pondered the question when he wandered off the main thoroughfare. He wondered what was beyond the glitzy main strip. Thus, as he wandered around, he found part of an ancient and abandoned commercial district. He saw boarded up shopping centers and stores of all kinds. This was once a thriving city with all the amenities.
He continued to walk looking around. He did not care where he was going. He was just exploring the ancient city. He wanted to see what was beyond the beaten path. Thus, he would come to a street and turn onto it. He headed left and right at random. He had become thoroughly lost.
After one particular turn, the area he had entered was much more residential. There were crumbling residential apartments all along where he walked. After a bit more walking, he came to empty lots. It was apparent to him that there were once structures on these empty stretches, but they were demolished. There were also vast stretches of crumbling asphalt.
As the road on which he was walking came to an end, there was a stretch of demolished buildings directly in front of him. However, behind them, he could see some houses. One that caught his eye was walled off from the direction he was going. It was on a cul-de-sac and sat somewhat isolated from the surrounding buildings. It had a wall, which ran along three sides. However, it was not a defensive wall. It was more of a privacy wall or an architectural accent. It would not keep out any invaders, as it was not particularly high and it had no spikes on top. It was just a wall to separate this particular house from the apartments and the neighboring houses.
Behind the wall was a very large single story building with a red tiled roof. Like many of the buildings in the city, it had an earth toned stucco exterior. It looked somewhat like a southwestern-style villa. It had a pergola along the front, which likely had some water hungry plants clinging to them at some point. Those had long since died off. However, it did provide shade for a front porch.
In addition, there was a circular stretch of long abandoned concrete in front of the house. It encircled a small bit of sandy soil which may have been a lawn of some sort or a garden. The once lush garden had been long abandoned and was thoroughly dead. Further, there was a large dead palm tree on one side of the house, and some dead trees along the entryway.
Prince William walked along the circular path towards the front door. The dead trees practically fell over as he walked by. They had been dead quite a long time and the elements had not quite destroyed them. The front door of this elaborate structure was boarded up. This house had stood up to the elements well, but it was clear that no one had looked after it for quite some time.
Furthermore, this house was not boarded up recently. The wood barring the door was brittle from being exposed to years of intense heat. It nearly disintegrated at the touch when Prince William pulled on it. Despite the neglect, the house was still impressive.
Once inside the building, the Prince found the house dark and barren. The former residents had taken all of their possessions with them. At least, someone took them. Thus, the rooms were empty. However, each room retained a certain luxury about them. There was no expense spared in the creation of this structure. Prince William thought that perhaps the luxury was the reason the building was boarded up. The owner borrowed too much and could not pay for such an elegant home. Furthermore, no one else could afford the extravagance to buy the building from the owners.
As the Prince walked around he noticed that the marble floors were covered with a thick layer of dust. Nonetheless, the house's grandeur still showed through. Even the bathroom had a sense of elegance. While the structure was not as large as the castles he had lived in or visited, it was still fit for royalty. It would be fit for royalty even as a prison. He thought that he could make a home of it.
He flipped a few switches, but they had no effect. This structure was not connected to the power system. Despite not having any power, the interior was surprisingly cool. Not hotel cool, but cooler than the outside. He wondered how that was possible. He tried a few other things, but the house was not connected to any services. The house had no water, no electricity, and no cooling.
The Prince continued to explore the house. He walked out the back door and wedged into one corner was a small pit. Perhaps it was a swimming pool. How decadent. In the middle of the desert, this home had a pool of water. No wonder there were wars over water with people willing to waste it in such a manner.
Prince William was happily considering staying at the home. He would ask Princess Angelina if services could be connected. It would be a perfect place for him. It was then that he realized that he did not know where he was. How could he consider living there where he did not know where there was?