Johnny and Henry spent their days at the old colonial hotel largely indoors. They stayed in a shared two bedroom with a small balcony that overlooked Saigon from the third floor. Henry for whatever reason ended up largely sleeping in until noon everyday. Johnny mingled about the hotel. After the aliens appeared it seems the entire U.S. war effort in Vietnam collapsed. Now in the hotel there were numerous other soldiers just like them who were simply "tourists". Though the more interesting group were the many reporters and special advisors. Johnny spent his time chatting up anyone who would sit with him. He told wild tales about their time in the jungles and deltas of Vietnam. Some would listen intently but now by about October few gave him much time. Johnny as such began adventuring out into the city more. Henry thought this was a bad idea but he couldn't do much to stop him. At this point Henry frankly didn't know who controlled Saigon. At some point the Viet Cong attacked and maybe controlled the city. There was a lot of gunfire in early October. The "Free Army of the United States" apparently retook the city, but he couldn't tell if it stuck. Regardless, Henry often found himself largely occupied at night eating dinner with one Madame Rosaline. She was a French woman who had lived her entire life in Vietnam. Born and raised here in Saigon. Rosaline was the daughter of a French bureaucrat, though at some point in the 40s he had died due to some heart condition. Rosaline was in the hotel ever since. Her room was filled with fine silks and relics, old books and paintings, it was like a palace. Henry often spent his time drinking wine and champagne with her into the night. Sometimes she would sleep with him, other times she simply wanted to look out into the glowing city and listen to it. There was almost an omnipresent gunfire echoing throughout the city. It was stuck in a forever limbo which was only ever entrancing to the fading noble woman from a bygone era.
Henry enjoyed his routine with her at this point, he hadn't ever really been with someone since his freshman year in high school. Though, that was just an old sweetheart. Frankly he wondered if he had ever gotten over her. Regardless, Rosaline provided company and often made his nights seem wistful and filled with an ever lingering sense of mystique. It was as though Saigon had delivered herself to him and he was entranced. He knew he wasn't the only one she spent time with but at least she provided him comfort as the world seemed to turn ever by.
It must have been in the middle of December one afternoon when things truly changed. The city had largely quieted down at this point and enough news filtered in to inform Henry that apparently there was a new president and a new civil war? He was unsure on the second part but apparently there was fighting in America now and the aliens had made treaties with the government. He was worried about what would happen next but Rosaline reassured him that night. "Dear, the world always rolls on by whether we like it or not." She took a puff from a cigarette, she blew the smoke into a loose cloud which hung in the room. "Who's president or not doesn't matter and neither does it matter if aliens are here. I've seen enough people roll on through saying things are gonna change that all I can do is enjoy myself." She smiled and handed Henry the cigarette as he laid in bed.
"Yeah... I guess that makes sense..I dunno, it just seems like there's nothing I can do."
"So? We do what we can and simply keep on floating by."
Henry didn't know if that were true, he certainly didn't believe fighting in Vietnam was saving America but he also didn't believe apathy helped. He sighed and took another drink.
It was early the next morning when he was woken up by Johnny on the balcony. "Hey man come look at this! I think there's an alien outside." Henry groggily got up and made his way to the balcony. He looked out into the street.
He saw a group of what seemed to be American soldiers though they looked far worse for wear. Only one had a helmet on and the others were wearing a variety of clothes which only vaguely resembled a uniform. There was shouting that his brain didn't process but as gunfire erupted he lazily turned his head to the supposed alien. It was a massive creature which seemed to be solely made out of vines and plant matter. Maybe some bark and wood thrown in for good measure. It was certainly a sight, it must have been 10 maybe 15 feet tall and it easily disarmed the soldiers. The men also soon after dropped unconscious and were pulled into the creature. Henry felt scared but had nothing to vocalize. Rosaline was right on one thing, whatever happened all he could do was keep moving. He went back inside to return to bed before Johnny shouted it was coming towards the hotel.
The two of them made their way downstairs and waited at the edge of the foyer of the hotel. It was a large open area with plenty of light and wind coming through. He saw the massive alien move slowly towards the entrance. Two guards stood cautiously, slowly backing up with their pistols out. The creature began speaking in very poor Vietnamese before asking if we understood English. The hotel's owner, an older American gentleman, made his way out from behind the reception desk with a gang of security. They were all dressed in black suits with M16s and M14s. Frankly, they were better equipped than the Americans outside. Though that didn't surprise Henry considering the hotel remained a safe haven throughout the entire war.
The owner shouted from a distance after clearing aside many of the curious reporters. "Creature from another world! This hotel is a safe haven for all who enter! If you come in peace then we shall let you in, but first I must know if those men you captured are alright.
The creature curiously tilted it's facsimile of a face. It had a wide grin as it reached inside itself.