Day Two: Ashley
By the time Ashley woke up at the sound of the Butler’s knocking, Kate was too quick to get to the door and get out of the room for her to say anything. She was glad that she didn’t have to worry about having anything to say and she pondered what she would be doing next. She figured that it would be good to try to start with her plans about finding out more about the hotel and escaping its clutches would start from within the room itself. She remembered how there had been windows in the hotel from outside but no windows from inside. It puzzled her as to why that was the case. Did someone have something to hide? She thought a bit about the layout of the hotel. If we enter from the corridor there, she said pointing at the door, we should be looking out the window there, she said pointing at a blank wall. She knocked the wall to see if there was something hollow. Instead, it was solid, as if the space between the windows and the interior wall had been entirely bricked in. “Now, that’s rather mysterious,” she said to herself, unhappy at her discovery. There would be no way of escaping from this room should there be a problem. If the bellhop wanted to harm them he could just come in and so long as he blocked the door against them, there would be nowhere for them to go. They would be entirely trapped. This was obviously not acceptable. And heaven forbid that he should have a weapon to use against them, they would have no chance at all.
She thought fast. Was every other room in the floor like this? She took her keycard and walked outside of her room. She looked down the halls on both sides and saw that there was no emergency exit at all down either corridor. She was sure that was against some kind of law. She may not have known her building codes but she was certainly right in thinking that in every normal hotel that there were exists at the end, or at least at some point, within every corridor. And she could plainly see, walking up and down each corridor quietly, that there was no break in the monotony of room after room. There was something very peculiar and ominous about this to her that the only door she had seen in the entire building was the entrance to the lobby. In order to get there she would have to cross by the restaurant, and she thought that might be too much of a risk at this point, although she would definitely do it if there was no other option. As a point of fact, her intuition that this was wrong was entirely right. It may pain one to say this of someone who one does not like nor find particularly agreeable, but it was contrary to the International Building Code, whatever version you looked at, that there could be no more than seventy-five feet between any point on the first floor of a building and the nearest means of egress. Clearly, this building did not pass code, and no building inspector worth anything would have given the builder of this hotel a permit having seen it. She did not know this to be a fact, but not being a person who had ever spent any length of time looking at building plans or being involved in the construction of buildings, it was not something that she happened to know. Even so, she knew intuitively that something was wrong with this building and its layout, even though she perhaps understandably thought only of herself as being trapped by the building’s deficiencies and took everything with the most sinister motive. Her mistrust of the butler and her mistaken assumption that he was involved in some kind of plot to lead her to some demise that her attention was led away from more profitable lines of inquiry that perhaps this hotel had not been built with any sort of permission and it was not subject to any building codes at all. That thought did not enter her head, though. At least not yet.
She used her keycard on door after door on the first floor, and she found much to her surprise and alarm that although she could get into each room easily enough that all of the rooms were exactly like hers, without any way to get out from the inside. Each of these rooms was a perfect trap, she thought, and yet they were empty and showed no sign that anything had ever inhabited them. There were no live plants in them, no insects, and no evidence that any people had ever slept on the beds. It was the most mysterious thing she thought she had ever seen. She didn’t even think that there were any bedbugs here. This hotel should have been a wreck and a heap, with only one person aside from themselves inside it to take care of it, and yet these rooms were fresh and clean and had a welcoming feel to them aside from the fact that there was only one way in and out of the rooms and nothing to see aside from bare walls, very meager furnishings, and the same sort of television that was in her room. This hotel had a strange feeling to her, what someone more intellectual than she was would consider uncanny, like the feeling of watching A.I., where that creepy robot kid wanted to be loved by his family only to find himself abandoned until in one of the worst epilogues of all time he was rescued by some blue aliens who gave him his greatest wish in some kind of dream sequence. She had not remembered the movie or she would have shuddered at the thought and understood exactly what was meant. The hotel was uncanny, something that was close to a normal hotel but just off enough to cause her to feel uneasy and uncomfortable about it. The general workings of it were alright, but the details kept on tripping her up, like the absence of pens to go along with the paper that had bothered her so much the previous day. All of this added up to make her feel deeply uncomfortable.
As she exited the last room she heard the noise of conversation and knew that she had to quickly return to her own room or her snooping would draw the attention of the observant but hitherto tolerant bellhop. She did not want him being suspicious of her own efforts at escape that would lead him to be more vigilant about her. She did not want him to think of her at all, but to be entirely distracted by Kate. She smiled at herself, thinking how unusual this was for her. Thus far in her life she had always wanted as much attention as possible from men, even men who were far less handsome than the plain but decent looking bellhop, but now she wanted the only male around to not think of her or look at her at all, and leave her entirely free to pursue her own private schemes. She thought it was ironic, and though that word had a hackneyed feel to it, it certainly did apply in these circumstances to the case at hand, an occurrence that was singularly contrary to one’s expectations given a knowledge of her character and habits. Never in her own life had her own interests led her to think of something other than captivating the attention of someone else and causing them to be distracted from their attention by her radiant beauty. She was a bit at a loss of how to accomplish this, as she was not used to dressing in a frumpy way or deliberately making herself look more plain. She had seen many movies where ugly ducklings turn out to be incredibly beautiful with minimal efforts at makeovers, but she did not have the sort of mind that followed the process backward to make herself look at best adorkable like Taylor Swift in the “You Belong To Me” music video or something like that.
She was sitting on her bed and trying to look innocent, and failing at it, as it was an unfamiliar look for her, when Kate came in beaming happily after her kiss with the bellhop. Kate smiled happily at her and laid back, intending it to be a celebratory gesture, but as soon as her head hit the pillow she was out cold again for the second night in a row. Ashley looked at her a bit surprised. How could her friend be like this. How could they plot together if her friend was going to just collapse unconscious at the end of every night. The more she thought to herself, though, the more she thought it was a good thing. Perhaps her suspicions would only make her friend mad, because clearly Kate and the bellhop had a great time. And all she could suggest was what Kate seemed determined to do already, and that was captivate and charm the bellhop so that she could be free to do what she wanted without fear of detection. He was an intelligent man, that she could see from their witty conversation when she arrived, but he did not appear to have any sort of supernatural awareness, and so she was content that her friend should use her modest charms on him. Come to think of it, it would be better not to tell Kate what she was up to at all. If Kate knew what Ashley was planning it would probably only stress her out and make her more anxious and concerned and less able to please the bellhop with her naive charm. Yes, that would be better, she thought to herself. It would be far better for the two of them to distract each other with friendly conversation and maybe even some affection so that they would be so infatuated that they could not interrupt her from trying to get out of this joint. That would be far better than trying to enlist Kate as a co-conspirator to do what she was already doing anyway. Why not just take advantage of the gift she had been given? That was how she spent her life anyway.
She felt satisfied, but still the sleep did not come. It bothered her that Kate could just fall asleep as soon as she hit the pillow, even being dressed to at least the sixes or sevens as she was, while she had to be an insomniac unable to sleep. She would try to make the best of it. What was on the television? She looked at the movie. It was Ghost, the movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. It was an enjoyable enough movie, she supposed, even if it was not a classic. After that there was P.S., where a husband’s letters comforted his widow after his untimely demise. She pondered why the movies chosen for guests to watch was so odd. It was, like so much else in this hotel, uncanny, since she was not the sort of person who really enjoyed thinking of or dwelling on issues of mortality. She was the sort of woman who liked to live her life as best as she was able and not look too far forward or back. Life was too short to waste it spent in regret or to make plans that one might not be able to accomplish. It was far more profitable to think tactically, live in the moment, and to enjoy what there was to enjoy. For the moment she did not want to think of death or the afterlife at all, and thought it silly that people who were dead should trouble themselves about the affairs of the living, or vice versa. When she was dead, something that would hopefully not happen for a long time, she wanted everyone to drink to her and think fondly of her and just go and live their own lives. After all, whatever happened, she was determined to enjoy it as best as possible, and for the moment at least she greatly enjoyed the caper she was in, even if she had been dissatisfied in her object of escape at present. There was at least a little bit of time for her to find a way out of here.