Grissom stood at the entrance to the NEC looking south towards the Hilton, “So remind me again why we’re stood here at four in the morning?”
Nathaniel smiles and pointed down towards the Hilton “Because there’s something they don’t tell you about the Expo when you’re looking on the website.”
“The things that go on when the games are done and the crowds are sleeping.”
“Yeah? What’s that then?”
“Just wait, you’ll see...”
In the treeline below, Grissom could see movement on the path that led through, several figures, all of them glowing a pearlescent white, came from the trees and made their way across the courtyard towards the main entrance.
“What the hell is that?” Grissom looked over, squinting as his eyes didn’t focus properly
“That...” Nathaniel smiled, “That’s the original Expo crew...”
“Don’t talk crap,” Grissom scowled, “They’ve all been dead fifty years, this place is run by their kids and their kids kids, like you.”
“Yeah, it is, but there’s something you don’t understand about gaming, something that they understood better than anyone.”
“They understood that the best thing in the world is to make people happy, and that’s what they did here. They weren’t bothered about politics, about rules and regulations, they just wanted to make a place where everyone could go and have fun. No matter who they were and what they did in their day job, they’d be welcome here.”
“And what’s that got to do with those things coming at us?”
“They’re not the thing you need to be looking at...”
“There’s nothing else to see there.”
“Not yet...Get out of the way, just watch...”
They stood to the side as the figures walked past, all of them the age they had been a hundred years ago, all of them wearing the old Expo logo on their T shirt, all of them smiling. Grissom looked on in wonder as he recognised Dennings, The founder, Hurricane Hyams, Dodd of the Desk, and Wildman Campbell.
“I’ve never seen them like this...” Grissom whispered, “All the archive footage is them when they were in their eighties...”
“This is them as they lived though, growing old in body but never in spirit,” Nathaniel looked over to the edge of the forest as the figures paused at the door and turned back to face them. “And even though they had to leave us, they brought enough happiness to the world that once a year, on this weekend, they get to come back and visit us again. But that’s not what you should be looking for.”
“What should I be looking for...?”
“That...” Nathaniel turned and pointed back to the forest as the tree’s were suddenly radiant with light as hundreds of thousands of figures, all glowing pearlescent, stepped from the trees and started towards the NEC.
“That’s every person who ever had a good time here,” Nathaniel nodded, “They came here every year in life, and now they get to come again now they’re not here any more.”
“So the crew don’t get to rest, even after all the work they did in life?”
“Look at them,” Nathaniel pointed back to the NEC entrance where the figures were beckoning to the crowd, “Do they look like they want to be anywhere else? Do you think they wanted to be anywhere but here?”
“No...” Grissom stood back and watched the crowd going past, “No they don’t...”
“And that’s how we should all live,” Nathaniel nodded, “Do something that makes a difference to people every day and one day, that something will come back good for you.”
“You’re not staying?” Grissom turned to watch Nathaniel leaving
“This isn’t my convention,” Nathaniel turned back, “Like my great grandfather there, I’m needed on the desk tomorrow morning...
“I just come here to pay my respects.”