Day Three: Ashley
She pretended to sleep. Never in her life had she pretended to sleep so long. This was even more awkward than all of those times she pretended to sleep until some guy left who was lingering too long after a one-night stand who was thinking it might be something more. Somehow that felt better than this did. At least then you knew you had one night that you could remember at least partly, and at least had some sort of pleasure in what had happened even if things were irksome and awkward and unpleasant now, but this was different. She was pretending to sleep in order to avoid having an awkward conversation that had nothing to do with love and romance. At least with those she felt comfortable that her powers of attraction could make the unpleasant truth that it was nothing but a fling and that nothing more serious was intended somehow easier for the clueless guy to take. With this, she didn’t have any kind of reason she could justify for not wanting to talk with her roommate who was, after all, by far the nicest person who could be considered as her friend. Most of her friends were people like her, after all, people like her, beautiful girls who knew how to smile sweetly and pretend to be nice when it was in their interests to do so but would very quickly show a less sweet side to their personality when someone was no longer all that interesting to them, which usually did not take too long.
Why was she trying to hide from her roommate exactly? She couldn’t really explain it well to herself, except that it boiled down to a lack of trust. She believed that the bellhop planned to do something horrible unless she put a stop to it. She knew the evidence she was working with was pretty sketchy, but it was the best she had to go on. She knew that in order to be safe she would have to find some outside help, someone who could put a stop to whatever murderous plans that the bellhop had. But how was one to get out of the hotel? It was no easy task to escape. This place was a prison, no doubt about it. It may have been a well-stocked prison, but it was a prison all the same. She and her friend were prisoners and the bellhop was some kind of jailer. Perhaps he could put on an act of kindness–she knew how that was done–but she knew that he had some kind of evil plans and she planned to put a stop to it. If that meant that her friend would be some kind of bait, so be it. She wasn’t going to be taken in by his awkward charms and his acting like he hadn’t seen anyone else for a long time. He may be awkward, that is true, but it was because he had evil in his heart. People like him were either among the most awkward people in the world or people whose hearts and minds had been darkened by unspeakable evil. She wasn’t going to play the odds in him being merely harmlessly eccentric. If her friend was more optimistic, better distract him while she figured out a way to get out of this hotel before some kind of terrible tragedy happened, the sort that would find its way into the news. She had no intention of being the sort of person who would be caught up in some kind of scandal where she let some kind of psychopath kill her.
Finally her friend was gone. How long did it take to get ready? She couldn’t believe that she had to listen to an awkward phone call that only confirmed her suspicions that she and her friend were in a lot of trouble, and then Kate left for another date with the bellhop. Well, with any luck they would be gone for a few hours. She looked at herself in the mirror. She was a bit the worse for wear after being such an insomniac for the last few days. She hated the way she felt, being asleep or pretending to sleep most of the day and yet unable to sleep at night because she was afraid some kind of horrors would befall her. She would have phrased it differently, of course, because she did not use words like befall in her vocabulary, but as she is not the narrator of her own story, I hope you will not mind me narrating her thoughts and feelings as I see fit to do. I trust that I am somewhat more articulate than she is, and I think that in her state of mind she could probably not be relied upon to give an entirely coherent account of what she was about. Since I trust you prefer even the partial and far from unbiased mediating of her thoughts and feelings and actions from me to the ravings of an unsympathetic raving lunatic, I trust that you will not be bothered that I clean up the vocabulary a bit to suit my own tastes. Anyway, when she looked at herself in the mirror she was not pleased. It was not exactly that she had anyone to impress at the moment, but she was not willing to let herself go and she felt she had to at least appear that she had everything together, so she went into the bathroom and gave her face a quick splash of water so that she looked at least a bit less tired. She was satisfied with what she saw, and so at that point she decided to do a bit more exploring, hoping that she would be more satisfied than she was with her previous day’s explorations. She was not yet used to disappointment. Before she left the room she made sure the do not disturb sign was back outside in its customary place.
Knowing that the first floor offered nothing of interest to her, she climbed the stairs to the second floor. She had been tempted to take the elevator, but she knew that elevators had the alarming tendency to get stuck and if she got stuck she knew of only one person who would come to help her out, and she could do without such help as that would likely be, especially if he suspected that she was snooping about the hotel looking for a way to escape. She did not feel that this would be the sort of action that would likely endear her to him, even if he was not the most suspicious or mentally alert types of people. After climbing the stairs, she got to the second floor. It looked identical to the first floor, except that it had a different picture that she did not recognize. She had tried to remember what some of her boyfriends who had been interested in art tried to say, because it looked like the sort of painting that someone would pay a lot of money for. She knew that she did not have the time to waste, though. Carefully she broke into every one of the rooms and found them to be identical to the ones she had seen on the first floor. Half of them were like her room, with two twin beds, and half of them had one queen sized mattress. None of them hid any weapons, any bodies or even the hint that bodies had ever been in the room, or even something that could be used as a sex toy. She sighed a bit at that thought and then told herself that she had to keep together, as there were several stories to look through. Disappointingly, all of them were exactly like the previous floors. All of them had some kind of different drawing at the center of the hall, which was the only way that the floors could be distinguished, as there was nothing about the rooms themselves that gave any clue as to what floor they were on. There were no windows to be found anywhere, nothing but her tired legs to tell her that she had climbed.
When she finally reached the seventh floor and finished looking at all the rooms there, she saw no way to get up beyond that. She walked around until she reached the elevator. She had to prove to herself that she had walked all that way, and she would risk the chance of a malfunction. She also needed to waste no further time. She was worried that if she was out of the hotel room when Kate returned that there would be some sort of suspicion, and even if the well-sleeping Kate–she tried not to be too envious and was not entirely succeeding–was already sacked out when she got back, there would be questions, and those questions would be unpleasant ones. She didn’t know if she could explain her thought processes well to anyone besides herself. She saw that she was indeed on the seventh floor and that the elevator showed no mysterious eighth floor to go to, and so she pressed one and waited for the elevator to glide down, which it did without any sort of malfunctions at all. She could have been disappointed, but no, the elevator reached the first floor without any sort of drama outside of Ashley’s worked up mind, and she exited the elevator and opened her door, amazed to find that it was still empty. It was late at night–her explorations and her attempts at being secretive about it had taken far longer than she had thought. But now she was worried that her friend was unsafe. Had the bellhop put her in harm’s way? Had he lured her to some unsafe place where he was having his way with her? Where could they have gone? She was too upset to move, and too tired at this point to think of where to go that she had not gone herself. She had not heard or seen anything of them since Kate had left the room.
She turned on the television to distract herself. There were, mercifully, no horror movies to remind her of what happened to women who went into the wrong rooms and saw what they shouldn’t have seen at the mercy of some sort of socially maladjusted male psychopath. She had generally been an unpleasant sort of feminist in the course of her life, and was fond of thinking women as the victims of violent men while simultaneously not clever enough to be a threat intellectually to her and fellow members of womankind. So she did not think about the gendered nature of violence, and how it was that men were constantly pictured as being violent and hostile and aggressive towards women, and that women were consistently portrayed as victims of some sort of imaginary patriarchy or some sort of gendered violence. No, what she found instead was Sixth Sense. Finally, a film she could remember. She remembered the first time she watched it and what a trick it was to find out that the main character was already dead, and simply hadn’t realized it or admitted it to herself. She thought it had been a clever trick, and had even watched the commentary to see just how the director had set subtle clues as to that fact that most people would miss. Of course, once the viewer knew that he had been dead all along, the movie didn’t have quite the replay value that the best films had.
Her friend was still not back after the movie was done, and Ashley wondered if she should dial 911 or anything like that. Were there any police officers who would come here and investigate anything? She tried to think of what she would tell if she got through when dialing 911. She had to think of where she was–she didn’t think that some seven-story hotel in the middle of nowhere would be a good enough location, although hotels were not the sorts of buildings that could generally hide, even if she hadn’t seen anyone else. While she thought of what she was trying to say, she fell asleep, although she had actually, for once, been trying to keep herself awake. She fell asleep so deeply that she was unable to hear her roommate come in the next morning, and she fell into a sleep where she had dreams that she could not remember but that, no doubt, would exhaust her when she woke up the next morning, forgetting what plans she had been desperately making the night before.