H.F.O. - The Scenario
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H.F.O. - The Scenario

You paused just inside the gate to mop your brow. The heat was positively punishing, and the long walk up the mountain exhausting.

From this vantage point, you could see the valley below. Smog dimmed the view, and mountains around the edge trapped the hot, stagnant air. To the east, you could just glimpse a mesa. "Reminds me of Los Angeles," you thought.

Having caught your breath, you continued on the path straight down the mountain into the park. You turned right at the intersection at the bottom, and headed towards a foreboding black building. Built atop an artificial pond, the building had all the elegance of a tarpaper shack, but seemed more permanent. Waves of heat emanated from the roof. As you walked on the path over the pond, you looked at the water. It was unnaturally hot, and the color - it just wasn't right.

You knocked sharply twice on the door, as instructed. A voice from within responded, "Coming!"

Momentarily, the door opened to reveal a large man with thick, black, shiny hair. "Welcome to my humble abode," he said. His voice was rich and deep, but expressionless.

He noticed that you were looking at the water. "I call it Sweltering Lake," he said. "Please come in."

The door closed behind you with the finality of a vault. He beckoned you to sit, and you welcomed the chance to rest. The room was even hotter than the air outside.

"It's stifling in here," you said.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he replied. "Let me throw a bit more coal on the fire."

"No, please, don't trouble yourself on my account."

"As you wish," he sighed. He sat down across the table. "Now, let's get down to business," he said. "You've received accolades for your work. Every property you've managed has been a success."

"Thank you," you replied. "I've tried to build the best parks that I can."

You continued, "Your property definitely has potential. With the heat, we could give it a tropical flair. We could install pools and fountains, build water rides, and plant some big shade trees. Concessions would be enormously profitable."

At the last statement, you could sense that he brightened just a bit.

"The hillsides are just a natural for building great roller coasters, if we can buy some of that hilly land. Do you know if it's for sale?"

He smirked. "It just so happens that I have a purchase option on most of the surrounding area. In a few places, I made deals for construction rights. I'm always amazed that people are so eager to make deals with me."

"Great!" you exclaimed. "I know I can increase the value of this park. You said your goal was $475,000, right?"

He nodded, but said, "I prefer not to call it a park. And one more item that you need to consider…" his voice tailed off. "I'm deeply in debt. It's hard to admit that I was bested in a deal." He was visibly shaking. "If you take on this assignment, the debt will be your responsibility."

You considered his statement. "Do you have a deadline?"

"You can take all eternity if you need to."

"I won't need it. Now, let's talk about specifics. Your park has no rides or attractions. None. The guests here look half-dead."

At that, he flashed just the briefest smile.

"I looked through the catalog, and there aren't many attractions available. I don't mean to be rude, but if the only food and drink we can offer is fried seafood and soymilk, and there are no bathrooms, well, it just sounds like Hell."

"Exactly!" he said.

"There is a decent collection of gentle rides," you noted. "Log flume and rowboats, that's a good start for the water rides. Let's look at the coasters." You turned the page. "Reverser, Heartline Twist and Flying Turns. Not my favorites, but they should do, to start."

You flipped to the next page. Very slim pickings. "It looks like we have some research to do," you said. "What are the chances of getting bathrooms in here?"

He nodded in assent, "We can get everything we need. How do you suggest that we proceed?"

"I'll start by designing a good coaster, and installing some gentle rides, to get the guests warmed up."

"Oh, don't worry about getting them warmed up. Every one of them is expecting an intense experience."

You looked at him questioningly.

He continued, "after all, nobody comes here looking for a good time."

"Well, that will change, that's why I'm here. Your guests will be grinning, laughing and having a great time before I'm done."

His gasped. His face turned bright red, and a vein swelled on his forehead. He stood up, towering over you. "Then this discussion is complete. This is Hell. If that's your plan, then you will be invited to manage here when it freezes over."

He escorted you to the door, and stepped outside with you. The skies had turned cloudy while you were inside. He looked up, and a drop of rain fell, then another. Suddenly a chilling wind blew across the valley. Snow began to fall. Both you and the Devil stared in amazement as it fell, harder and harder. Then it began to stick to the ground.

He stared at you quizzically for a long time as the snow continued to fall. "Well," he said quietly, "Do you want the job?"

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