Day Five: Ashley
It had not been a good night for her. Not at all. She knew she was alive, or at least so she thought, because she had terrible visions. It was a Saturday night, and she was at the club. She had enjoyed a bit too much booze and was feeling in a particularly argumentative mood. Maybe the music wasn’t to her liking. Maybe the bartender had mixed up something that made her mad, and she was certainly more than a little bit upset that she wasn’t going to be going home with a guy because none of the guys there were handsome. Maybe that was it. At any rate, she saw Kate, who was trying very politely to reason her out of driving home. Of course she was drunk, and a belligerent drunk tonight at that, and for whatever reason she didn’t let Kate drive and didn’t call a cab, and so it was that as Kate was broke, the two of them were traveling in a car driven by an angry drunk young woman. It was a good thing that the streets were empty, but shortly before they arrived home they had the misfortune to meet up with a MAX train and Ashley was driving too fast and was not alert enough to break and wait the half minute it would take for the train to pass. And so it was that they crashed into the very short train and perished. Was this real life or a fantasy. Was this a horrible nightmare or was it a memory? It appeared to have been a memory; it was certainly true to life. With a bit more luck they would have gotten home and they would not be stuck here imprisoned. Her mind startled into a bit more action again, and the scene changed. She saw herself in what she knew to be a memory from yesterday evening. She was trying without success to get through or over the fence, and finally saw herself trying to climb over the gate, only she slipped and fell and hit her head. She saw evening turn into night and saw the bellhop and Kate talking with each other and gently bringing them back here. Why couldn’t they help her escape? She couldn’t take any more of it.
Finally she opened her eyes, feeling a massive headache that she assumed was from the fall the previous night. The lovers were here in her room, she said to herself with considerable disgust. She put her hand to her head and saw the bellhop. “Get out of here,” she said somewhat fiercely. “It’s your fault that we’re here.” He looked at her a bit puzzled, with his head tilted. “I don’t know what you mean.” “You’re the jailer here, aren’t you?” “No, I too am a fellow inmate. Perhaps I am a lifer while you are new here, but I am certainly not your jailer nor anyone else’s.” “You want to hurt us.” “I want nothing of the kind, but if it will make you feel better for me to leave, I will do so and leave you to the tender care of your friend.” With irritating graciousness the two lovers kissed and he left, and after a few awkward seconds of silence Ashley remembered something about their conversation the previous evening. “Where is the bellhop’s room?” “It’s a small room near the lobby.” “Is there anything interesting in it?” “There is a somewhat fancy box on a desk and a lot of books.” “Okay, so no bodies or anything like that?” “No, nothing like that.” “What kind of books are there?” “There are novels and a lot of history books, and quite a few volumes in other languages that he seems to be able to read.” “Oh, okay,” and with that Ashley was silent. “How do you feel?” “I feel like I had too much to drink last night, except not nauseous.” “You knocked yourself out pretty good at the gate.” Ashley nodded in recognition, although she was quite unhappy to have to admit it. “I was trying to get away from here.” “We figured that. The bellhop and I found you out cold on the driveway and brought you back here.” “Thanks for that, I suppose.” “Don’t mention it. Why do you think the bellhop wishes to harm us?” “He’s the only other person here and this place is obviously shady, so what else could it be?” Ashley was pleased at her reasoning, which she did not usually consider her strong suit. “You’ve got a point there. I have some questions for him myself about that.” “Are you going to stay here?” “If you’d like me to, I will, but I did want to see the bellhop again this evening.” “Go to him. I think I can manage myself as long as I keep the lights low.” “Alright, fine by me,” Kate said. With that, Ashley saw Kate getting ready for another night on the town, or at least what passed for a town in these lonely parts, and soon Ashley was alone to think about what she needed to do next.
For one, Ashley knew she needed a lot more rest. She didn’t know where she could find some alcohol or some medicine, but she did see that the room had a fridge she had never opened. “That’s the ticket,” she said to herself as she saw some bottles. She knew how she was getting to sleep tonight, she said to herself looking approvingly. She wasn’t much of a wine drinker, but she preferred wine when she was drinking alone and that was definitely likely to be the case tonight. She was going to make the most of it, that’s for sure, no matter how pathetic it was to drink alone when one didn’t have to. She looked at the bottles and thought that it was the sort of wine that one found relatively cheaply at wine tastings. In her normal existence she would likely, at best, drink some of these bottles with plenty of fruit punch in some kind of sangria mix, or to wash down some chicken at a business conference where there was no good cash bar, but beggars couldn’t be choosers and this was not the time or place one wanted to make demands. It was the first good surprise she thought that she had been able to enjoy, but there was still something to do. She tried to rack her brain about what she wanted to do today. She knew there was something she had yet to accomplish but she couldn’t remember what it was. And then the thought hit her like a late-night passenger train. She was going to investigate the bellhop’s room. It was the only sleeping place she had not yet looked through in her investigations, and if he planned to harm them, it would make the most sense to keep the weapon of destruction close by. Indeed, even if her head was killing her, this would be a good thing to investigate.
At least she knew where she was going to go this time. But first she wanted to go check herself in the mirror to see if her beautiful face had been disfigured. There was a tone of pity in the voice of the bellhop that suggested to her that her stock may have suffered a reverse as of late. No, she looked at the mirror. No, his pity was not because she was no longer pretty. That was a comfort at least. Immediately a less comforting thought came her to her mind, though. If he did not pity me because he no longer thought me to be beautiful, then maybe he pities me because he thinks me insane and he is one of those people who is not motivated to ridicule those who are mentally ill but rather look upon them with benevolent indulgence for their obvious and lamentable incapacity. She could not bear to have such a man pity her. She would have been content to have him scorn her for her rudeness but be obviously attracted to her and embittered by it anyway. It was bad enough that this fellow was obviously a poor judge of women in that he preferred her more plain but it was worse that instead of holding secret and frustrated longings for her in his heart that he pitied her. It was enough to drive a woman who was not strictly sane over the edge. It comforted her a little bit, at least, that anything she did to him would likely be explained with an insanity defense that would be foolproof. No one could deny, not even her, that she was not having her best moments right now, but that was no reason for an ugly fellow like him to pity someone who was several levels above his league.
She reminded herself that she had a job to do and might as well get to it. She washed her face and dried it off with a fresh towel and then walked down the hall towards the lobby with her keycard ready to do serve to allow for some breaking and entering for a good cause. To her surprise she found that the room was unlocked. Obviously this bellhop was not used to having people snoop around his room. Aside from the general small size of the room, what struck her most was how much of the volume of the room was taken up by books. Had she been of a literary turn of phrase, she would have been reminded of the plague of the frogs discussed in Exodus, where the land of Egypt was filled with heaps and heaps of dead frogs. Of course, the books that were heaped and heaped in the room smelled a good deal nicer than decaying frog carcasses, but it was the principle of the matter that frogs and books, especially of the serious kind that these books were, were about equally appealing to our brave heroine. Then she saw the box. This was a curious artifact that was more than a little bit shiny. She opened the wood box on the desk and looked inside. Oh, this would do very nicely, she said to herself. She could not let such an object stay in here. It would be far safer with her, she reasoned to herself. It was not theft, exactly. It was simply borrowing, or rather re-appropriating. She had felt the same way when stealing a boy from a girl who was not as attractive as she was. Pretty things and useful things belonged to her, and it was simply unjust that someone less attractive than herself could have such nice things. Such a thing could not be allowed to stand.
That was as far as the matter went with her, and so she took the box and made sure that the room was otherwise left undisturbed and she closed the door but left it unlocked afterwards. The lovers were still having their conversation inside, talking about whatever boring lovers talked about it, and she returned to her room. She found a nice and safe and comfortable place for the box she had purloined, or liberated as she preferred to see the matter, underneath her bed. Her bed was a good place for things that were liberated, after all. After she made that, it was time for her to drink. How much would it take for her to want to pass out before watching any other horrible movies that would only remind her of death and suffering? She downed the first half bottle of wine that she had found and it tasted passable. It was by no means a great year for wine but she had tasted far worse things in her short life thus far. As the second bottle went down the throat she felt the pleasing sensation that she would soon be enjoying sleep. If it was not the sleep of the blessed, at least it would be the next best thing, and that is the dreamless sleep of the alcoholic in a deep slumber. Best of all, while she would normally be worried that drinking too much would give her a horrible headache in the morning, she at least had the comfort that the headache she was enduring right now was likely to be far worse than the headache that a bottle of wine downed in two half bottles would give her. She was comforted by that thought as she drifted off into a contented sleep.