Friday, August 14, 2015

He Got Blinded by Beauty

Evan ended up telling Victor a lot about his life. It was fun for both of them and they found out they had a lot in common. The only difference was the time they were coming from. Victor was the man of the 21st Century while Evan was the man of the 19th Century. Of course, he couldn’t say anything that would lead Victor to realize that. They were being watched by the white wolf.

On the way back, Victor couldn’t help but remember another story that his mother told him.

“This one is about Hera. My mother was very intrigued by that Goddess. She used to say she was a victim of a perverted society.” He chuckled and looked down at the snow.  “If only she’d see me now.” He mumbled to himself.

“Your mother loved ancient Greece, didn’t she?” Victor nodded.

“She’s a history teacher. She has a soft spot for Greece but she’s never been there.” Evan smiled as he started to remember things from his own past.

“My mother loved Egypt. It was one of those places you had to visit if you had money.” Victor tilted his head to the side and blinked.

“Did you?” Evan nodded.

“My father was an explorer. He died in Egypt. That’s why, no matter how much she loved that country, my mother swore she was never going to visit it ever again.” Victor sighed and patted his friend for comfort. “They died a long time ago but it feels like yesterday.”

“I don’t know how that feels. But the memories will always be with you. If anything happens to my mom, I’d always have her stories in my mind.” Evan chuckled.

“That sounded like something a woman would say.” Victor narrowed his eyes at the older man and hit him playfully.

“I am a sensible man.” Evan scoffed.  

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When they got back, Abel was standing in front of the door, staring at them with his icy blue eyes.

“What are you doing here, Abel?” The boy didn’t even blink.  Are you guarding the entrance, like a loyal dog?” Evan’s words were mean but they were true. Of course, Victor didn’t know that.

“There’s going to be a new guest. I’m waiting for him.” His voices sounded the same. Evan raised an eyebrow and glanced at Victor before he opened the door.

Inside was warm and cozy. Evan walked into the restaurant and ordered two glasses of wine. Victor remained in the foyer. He was ready to give Guillermo his jacket back but the boy stared at him with those blank eyes. He didn’t sketch any expression but he did point to the back door. Victor nodded and put the jacket back where he took it from.

As he was walking out of the room, he heard a knock. He turned quickly but there was nothing. The back room was full of a lot of things but none could knock. He brushed it off and went to his friend. On the way, he passed the reception. Guillermo vanished from his seat. Victor stared at his desk until he entered the restaurant.

“Have you looked at the reception?” Evan raised an eyebrow.

“What for?” Victor shrugged and sat next to Evan. He grabbed the glass of wine and swayed it around before he took a sip. Evan was watching him like a hawk.

“I know this is an old hotel but I didn’t see a phone. Not even an old one.” Evan blinked for a few seconds before he turned his head to the front.

“And?” Victor turned completely towards the Irish man.

“How do they get guests? They can’t make any arrangements on the phone and can’t even get resources. No one will come all the way here without a proof that this hotel is any good.” Evan looked to the side and masked his reaction by drinking wine. “And how ca they afford taking care of it? They need money for everything to look brand new.”

“They have enough money. This hotel is special, Victor. This hotel is compelling.” Evan glanced at him, to see if he got the subtle hint. Victor was completely oblivious. “Look, you have to see beyond the beauty. See it for what it actually is.” The younger man was surprised. Evan suddenly turned around and seemed bothered by something.

“And what is it, Mr. McAllister?” Both men turned around to face a woman. She was dressed in a red long dress and her hair was pulled back into an old style. Her eyes were enchanting. He put the glass down and got on his feet. He was captivated by those big green eyes of hers. “Well?” She raised an eyebrow and stared at them in a certain way that made Victor’s heart tremble a little.

“Nothing. It’s nothing.” He spit the words out before he finished his drink.

It was obvious for everyone that Evan knew the lady. However, the atmosphere between them was awkward.

“My name is Victor Abbot.” She moved her eyes from the Irish man to him. She smiled and bowed her head in greeting. He grabbed her hand and kissed it on the back, as the gentleman he was.

“Aida Valenti.” Evan watched the interaction between the two. She was looking at him with that usual mask she was wearing when she would meet someone new. On the other hand, he could see the thrill on Victor’s face. He knew something was off with her from the first glance but that didn’t stop him from wanting to know more. Of course, Evan was a young foolish boy back then. If only he would’ve figured it out sooner.

A young man entered the foyer of a hotel he found in haste. It was winter and he needed to spend one night somewhere before getting back on the road.

“Mister, welcome to the Moonflower Hotel.” Back then, Guillermo wasn’t the receptionist; a woman was. She smiled kindly at him and grabbed his jacket. “It’s snowing outside, isn’t it?” Evan nodded. “How can I help you?” Her smile was sweet. She was that kind of woman who could make you feel welcomed anywhere; even in a pit.

“I need a room for one night.” She nodded and led him to her desk. As he was waiting for the key, he noticed how neat the desk was. Back then, they didn’t use phones, therefore he didn’t find it suspicious that it was missing.

“Here. Room 390, on the third floor.” Evan raised an eyebrow and took the key. He was very confused how to get there. The woman chuckled and made sign for a boy to come over. “Abel will show you the way.” Evan glanced at the kid. He was around 10 years old, maybe.

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On the way to his room, they crossed a lot of halls and walked for a while.

“How old are you, kid?” The atmosphere was weird. He felt like animating it a little. “Shouldn’t you be home with your parents instead of working in a hotel?” Abel didn’t respond. Evan sighed. He couldn’t do anything but watch where he was going. He noticed the paintings and mirrors along the walls. As they were walking deeper into the hotel, he realized some paintings were empty. Most of the ones on display were portraits, yet there were some with nothing.

“Room 390.” Evan stopped just in time or else he would’ve fallen over the boy. Abel moved aside and let him open his door. Once he unlocked the door, Abel finished his task. He was ready to leave when he suddenly stopped. He glanced at Evan over his shoulder.

“14.” He said and left for real. Evan was dumbstruck. He chuckled before he closed the door. That was probably the answer to his question.

On the way to the foyer, Abel’s eyes hardened.

“It’s been 14 years.” He mumbled to himself. On the way to the stairs, he passed a certain painting that he hated.

Next morning, Evan woke up ready for the long ride to Venice. He didn’t expect to meet Abel when he opened the door. Something about him wasn’t exactly the same.

“Is there something wrong, Abel?” That was his name if he remembered correctly. The boy tilted his head to the side in confusion. “Did I get your name wrong?”

“My name is Kain.” Evan frowned. He leaned in and inspected his face. The kid was Abel, he was sure of it.  “I’m here to get you downstairs, for breakfast” He nodded and followed the boy.
On the way back, he did the same as the night before. His eyes trailed over every portrait and every interesting shaped mirror. It was quite modern for the architecture of the hotel. The thing that got him amazed was the huge mirror at the bottom of the stairs. He stopped and looked into it. He could see the reflection of the whole foyer in it. He reached out to touch it but stopped right before his fingers could graze it.

In the restaurant, he got everything he could wish for. It was amazing how diverse the food was. He asked for coffee and got it made exactly like his mom used to make it. He closed his eyes and enjoyed that little piece of Heaven.

“Are you the new guest?” He opened his eyes and met a pair of amazing green eyes. She chuckled and sat in front of him. She asked for a cup of tea, which she got really fast. “I’m sorry to disturb you but it felt lonely standing by myself.” She added. Evan shook his head quickly.

“No, no! There is nothing to disturb.” He offered her some fruits. She shook her head and Evan felt himself blush. “I’m sorry, where are my manners. I’m Evan McAllister." A gentle smile graced her face. She was really pretty and gracious, even if she was only drinking her tea.

“Aida Valenti. I am the owner of this hotel.” His eyes widened in surprise. “What? Do I look too young to be an adult?” He shook his head quickly and realized he had been rude. She laughed. For her, it was only a joke.  “You don’t have to be embarrassed, Mr. McAllister. I was just joking.” She took a sip of her tea as he calmed down. “How did you find this hotel?”

“I don’t know. It was here and I needed one. I just saw it from the road and with how badly it was snowing, I took it for granted.” She chuckled. “This is an amazing hotel. I’ve been in many around Italy but this one is captivating.” Her eyes were tinkling with amusement.

“It is. I offer the best treatment to my customers. In exchange, I expect high quality reviews.” She leaned over the table and winked at him. He laughed.

“I’m sure you get them effortlessly.” She leaned back and stared at him bemusedly.
“You think so?” He nodded firmly.

“What is there not to like about this place? It looks majestic on the outside and mysterious on the inside. Isn’t that what people these days are looking for? Some thrill?” Her eyes narrowed slightly and thought carefully of his words.

“Is that what you are looking for?” He shrugged.

“Might as well. This place gives off a nice feeling. It’s the perfect place to escape real life.” She stared at him carefully for a few more seconds before she got up.

“In that case, I expect you to stay for more than one night.” The way she spelled those words sounded like an enchantment in his ears. “A lot more.” She smiled and walked into the foyer. He stayed there in a state of absolute bewilderment.

He didn’t need Abel or Kain or whatever was his name to show him the way to his room. He grabbed his stuff and locked the door. It was weird because the halls seemed different. He stopped in front of a mirror to arrange his hair. He stopped when he noticed something. Except his face, there was something else reflecting in the mirror. He turned around and noticed the portrait. It didn’t seem special if it wasn’t for a face he knew well. He walked closer. The portrait wasn’t of one person. The boys in the portraits looked to be around 14 years old but the painting was dated from 1600. His eyes widened and his heart started to beat faster. He hurried into the foyer but the woman wasn’t there. Actually, even the people in the restaurant were gone.

“What the heck is going on?” He couldn’t think of anything but ghosts. He was a strong believer in supernatural, after all. Those boys were supposed to be dead. Instead, they were walking around like nothing was wrong. He was scared.

Once he got out, he forgot the way back to the road. Actually, it was weird. He could swear it was snowing the day before. He could swear it was winter. So then, why was so hot outside and why was there spring? He ran. He didn’t know where to but he hoped he could find a way out of there. He got lost rather quickly in the forest. He felt someone watching him from afar but didn’t have the courage to look behind. He stopped to take a breath near a lake. The view didn’t matter in that moment. He walked towards the edge and bent to look at his reflection in the water. He frowned. His face looked different, suddenly. It looked-

“Older.” He whispered. He couldn’t believe it. He splashed water on his face but it didn’t have any effect.

“Evan Mcallister.” He knew that voice. He turned around quickly and saw her. She looked the same but her dress was ripped and she had a small hole on her chest. He narrowed his eyes and looked closer at it. “So young and so foolish.” She took a step forward which made him take one back.

“Who are you?” She chuckled and took another step forward.

“I may be a lot of things, Mr. McAllister but I am not a liar.” Her eyes were tinkling with that emotion he saw before. It wasn’t anything evil; if anything it looked like playfulness. She was playing with him.

As she was getting closer, he realized what the hole in her chest was. His eyes widened and he raised his head to look at her face. She was really close; too close. 

“You’ve been shot.”

“Twice. By accident.” She narrowed her eyes at him and got down to his level. “I was just like you, back then. I couldn’t see the hotel for what it was. I could only see the magic of it.” She leaned towards him and he leaned back. “Rotten. That’s what it is. Do you know why this hotel was built, Evan?” He gulped and shook his head. “To kill.” She whispered before she shove him in the lake.

He squirmed and tried to remain at the surface. He knew how to swim but that wasn’t helpful at the moment. The image changed as something from deep within the lake grabbed him by his feet. He could see it. The forest was growing old, the sun was getting engulfed by mist and the hotel was barely standing. It was ruin. Everything was a ruin; even her. He closed his eyes and took a last breath of air before he gave up. The last thing he saw was that amazing pair of green eyes staring at him with excitement. 

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