Day Four: Ashley
It was the same thing as yesterday. Ashley was rather irritated at herself that she had to pretend sleeping, but if there was one thing that was good about pretend sleeping was that she likely heard things that she wouldn’t have heard if she was obviously awake. She had heard her roommate leave the room in mid-morning and didn’t know whether it was safe to actually be awake to avoid an awkward conversation, and she felt she was wise to do so because in a couple of hours she was back and watching some boring judge shows on television. She had forgotten what a barren wasteland television was during the daytime, even in a hotel like this. When was the last time she had watched as much television as she had in the past few days, she thought to herself. Most of the time she preferred streaming on her phone or computer, but those weren’t available and she hadn’t been online in forever. Come to think of it, the judge show was pretty useful for one thing, and that was reminding her that she might want to call in a lawsuit against the hotel for its general shadiness. She was sure that there were a lot of things about this building and the way that she was imprisoned here that were against the rules, and she wanted to escape today. She had already found out, for example, that there were no windows or doors in the rooms of the hotel, and only one exit through the lobby, and to use that effectively she would have to make sure that the bellhop was distracted, and there was only one way to do that.
She saw her chance when her roommate did exactly what she hoped she would do and scheduled a date for the evening. She also noted with some pleasure that her roommate wanted to see where the bellhop’s room was. This was an area of potential interest, because if he was hiding anything, it would be likely to be in his room. She now felt that it would probably be good to talk to her roommate at some point to see if there was anything of interest. She hoped that Kate could focus on something other than the bellhop, who was quite plain by her demanding standards, but since Kate was usually pretty conscientious she was sure that there would be something worthwhile in what she reported even if she would have to suffer a lot of discussion about how Kate felt. She didn’t want to hear about how Kate felt, and honestly in her long friendship she had never had much interest in how Kate felt. She could remember well what she would rather be doing and where she would rather be. Even though it was probably a weekday, she wanted to go out to some concert or out to the club, find some handsome guy and ride him, because she was pretty sure that she was going to go crazy if she didn’t find someone to be with. She didn’t understand how people could restrain themselves or why they would want to. She felt horrible, and she hadn’t even given any thought as to why she hadn’t been hungry for anything but a handsome bed partner for days. She normally didn’t eat a huge deal but food never mattered that much to her and she wasn’t paying attention to little details like that. She hadn’t taken a bath or shower in a few days and that didn’t enter her mind either. She was a person of limited interests, and right now that included getting out of the hotel and away from whatever evil forces were in control of it and finding someone to sleep with. Everything other than that was not a problem for her to worry about at present.
Perhaps she would have been less troubled and less anxious if she had paid attention to the details of her existence. Her existence, for the past few days, we remember, had not been very interesting, but the few details of it were worthy of thought and reflection. She had woken up in a strange driverless car with a friend of hers and been dropped off at this sketchy hotel where only one person worked. If she had been in her right mind, she would have seen that the bellhop was not particularly threatening, but that clearly the situation was strange. It was odd that the living arrangements were so austere. It was strange that there were no exterior doors or windows or balconies or something of that nature. She was certainly not entirely unreasonable to be puzzled by these mysteries. Yet she assumed that the bellhop was malicious. Because she did not think highly of him, she assumed him capable of great evil. To be sure, it would have taken a great deal more imagination to have wondered if maybe he too was a cog in some larger machine. It was this way in the real world too, in that people assumed that others were necessarily evil, and not that there were larger systems involved with much of the evil that was present in the world. That did not, of course, absolve people of all responsibility for that kind of evil, but they did put those evils within a larger context. If there was evil here, and Ashley was sure that there was, she would have been better served to enlist as many allies as possible. If she had been an empathetic person with a sort of moral imagination that would have raised her above the ordinary young woman of her time, she would have recognized that the bellhop was not some kind of psychopath, but was a suffering soul as well. The insane and the paranoid, though, were not often wise. Few people, even on her good days, would have ever called her wise, and she was certainly not being wise right now. She didn’t need anyone to tell her that, however much she tried to excuse herself on a count of general exhaustion.
When Kate left for her date, Ashley got up and pretended to be awake this time. She walked to the door and made sure that the “Do Not Disturb” sign was on the outside. She wondered if Kate had noticed that she kept on putting the sign outside to keep the bellhop from coming in. Again, had she been a more alert person, she would have noticed that the very same consideration and mildness that kept him from entering the room anyway was what made him an unlikely serial killer to lure two beautiful young woman to his creepy hotel and then kill them in brutal and grotesque ways that one would see in an Eli Roth film, but she did not have the time or the capacity to be generous about the morality and decency of other people. She went to the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror. She thought she till looked pretty ravishing but looked a bit tired. She wondered if she had any makeup to get rid of the bags under her eyes and then paid attention to what she wore. She tried, with her limited capacity for empathy, to put herself in someone else’s place, and figured that she should probably wear some fresher and more athletic clothes for her escape attempt which was to begin shortly. She looked in her suitcase and closet and found a cute looking tracksuit. That would definitely work, she nodded to herself approvingly and made a quick change. Yes, looking as if she was working on a triathalon would definitely improve her credibility should she meet up with anyone on the road. Looking to herself in the mirror once again confirmed her in her own mind that she definitely had improved her odds of a successful getaway from certain destruction. And that was all the confidence she needed to be off.
She figured that by this time that Kate and the bellhop had gone to eat but she walked carefully by the lobby and heard the voices coming from the restaurant and saw the empty place at the lobby. The coast was clear. As silently as she could, she exited the hotel. There was still enough light out that she felt that she should be able to find a place to get away. She jogged around the hotel from the outside and noted all of the windows that could be seen, and she saw continuous fencing except for one gate. Several times she tried to get through the fence itself with no success. She was not skinny enough to fit through the wrought-iron fenceposts to get to the forest outside. She was unable to get a foothold so that she could climb up the fence and over it, although she tried her best. This was not an easy place to get out of, she said to herself. After a considerable amount of effort she saw the sun dip below the line of trees and knew that she didn’t have much time left if she wanted to escape tonight, and so there was only one more thing to try. She went to the gate, which she figured would be the most watched place there, and tried to get the gate to open. She was unsuccessful at that, but saw that the machinery of the gate allowed her a chance to climb, a bit, and so she did. She had climbed on top of some machinery and reached up towards the top of the gate to place a handhold between some decorative spikes, when all of the sudden her foot slipped and she fell backward onto the drive. Immediately, her world went black.
Perhaps it was fortunate that her hopes for escape that night died with her slip and her knocking herself out by accident. She did not hear the alarm that was raised on her behalf, at least eventually, nor did was she conscious when the bellhop and her friend Kate together carried her into her room and tucked her into bed and sat together and talked to each other with some concern, and when the bellhop kissed Kate goodnight as Kate promised to take care of her roommate. She was insensible to everything, although aside from that she appeared to be fine. No one called 911 for her. No one could, for there were no emergency services that went to where they were. Of course, that would have raised more red flags for her had she been alert and aware, but she was not. She didn’t have to pretend to be unconscious this time, because she was unconscious for real, and it would be a while before she woke up. The more cynical person, I imagine, would wonder if she had knocked some sense into herself, but that stuff only happened in the movies. Well, there was that one time, it must be admitted, that a certain Louisa Musgrave was jumping too high on the Cobb at Lyme and knocked herself unconscious and had what most people would consider PTSD afterward with being startled, but for the most part that sort of thing did not happen. Ashley, as much as it might be hoped for by anyone else, did not have a moral reformation as a result of her concussion. We will explore the repercussions of this fall at a later date, but suffice it to say that she had put herself in a lot of pain but was not improved in character as a result of the experience. And, for the moment, her being unconscious did have one very good result as far as she was concerned, and that was absolving her from having to explain what she was doing. All things considered, if she had to fall, it was probably for the best that she was not conscious, even if would be an unpleasant surprise for her to wake up in bed with a massive headache. That happy event, though, would have to wait several hours.