Except it wasn’t a village, or so she thought. The two-month planned trip to Laqua Forest Village was supposed to be a core memory to stand the test of time. Her boyfriend had just left her with a wounded heart, and she quickly hated the world. Melvin drove two hours up the foggy mountain hoping to find that forced self-care her friends had encouraged. The rugged SUV bopped and weaved in every direction as the road kept getting smaller and smaller. One glance out the window and she could tell she was now in foreign territory, and at the mercy of whatever mystery awaited her at the top of the mountain.
She sped up as the light turned green. The GPS alerted her to her destination, but she missed the turn. She drove farther up the road and made a quick U-turn when suddenly, the car hit something. The loud thud halted her as she looked behind in the rearview mirror.
What the hell was that? she murmured under her breath.
She turned down the music blaring in the car, swiveled her head left and right, and kept driving. Lights flickered behind her as a figure rushed to the driveway. The figure walked to the curb and ushered the trash bin back to its post. The figure watched as the white SUV turned the corner and was out of sight.
Melvin pulled into her hotel driveway. The sly smirk of the door attendant forced her to cling tightly to her bag as he welcomed her in. The dimly lit lobby of the Village Inn brought a cozy feeling to her when she saw guests walking about and perusing items by the café nestled in a corner by the elevators. She walked into the roomy suite and tossed her bag on the couch. For a hotel on a creepy mountain, the room was nicer than she imagined. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact it cost way less than the original price. Her room was on the third floor, so she got a decent view of town. She rushed to the bathroom and started preparing a bath when she heard rapid knocks on the door.
She opened the door and found nothing but the cleaning crew dragging a rolled-up carpet out of a room three doors down. She looked around confused and back to the crew lifting the carpet into a large bin. The two men turned towards her and waved, she acknowledged them and went back in. Melvin snuck into the bathtub in a relieving sigh as bubbles covered her body up to her neck.
Now, this is just what I need, she said.
The water was hot, but she didn’t care. Over in the bedroom, hands clung to the big windows as a figure watched in the distance. The figure struggled with the lock and was unsuccessful. The stout figure leaned closer and peaked into the room, getting a clear view of Melvin through the mirror hanging over the bathroom sink. The man in blue overalls scurried down the little balcony and unto the one below, then leaped to the ground. He moved in the dark bushes and past the side of the hotel towards the entrance. He waited as the door attendant turned to welcome guests and made a run down the street.
The main attraction in Laqua Forest Village is the local art museum. They call it local because most of the pieces were found and donated by residents in the area in the twentieth century. Gothic paintings and brushed portraits filled the rooms as Melvin made her way past each collection. The family portrait of the Watsons was fascinating because it looked like the youngest son stared daggers at whoever looked at him. Melvin stood there in awe of how accurately the young boy stared at her, almost as if he knew who she was. She moved on to the sculptures, well decorated wood sculptures of wild animals and hunters filled the room. She noticed a man staring at her, somewhat like the Watsons painting and made a face. She continued out of the room and towards the Wish fountain in the middle of the museum. She shrugged off the thought she was being followed when she didn’t see the man anymore.
She moved on to the modern attraction – this section of the museum required guests to pay an admission fee. The attendant was courteous, she looked like the same lady who worked at the front desk of the hotel. But this lady was a bit taller than the other one and had dark hair. Melvin reluctantly paid the fee and went in, an elderly couple followed behind her. The section had an eerie feeling about it. The artworks weren’t paintings or fancy wildlife wood sculptures, but life-like human figures from different trendy periods. The artworks were designed in storied scenarios like one spot that had a small group of ravers dancing. Each figure looked even more realistic up-close and when her intrusive thoughts kicked in, there were attendants ready to tell her off. The elderly couple in the section with her were just as shocked, and the old woman began to feel uneasy with what she was experiencing. Her husband helped her out of the hall. Melvin felt that was her cue and excused herself to the restroom. As she walked towards the bathroom, she brushed against a stout man in blue overalls and immediately apologized. The man kept walking, never stopping to hear her apologies as he walked towards the exit.
Melvin left the museum shortly after and explored the village. The sun had set, and she stopped by a little restaurant on the way to the hotel.
Hello welcome, would you be sitting in or taking out? The waiter asked calmly.
Wait, didn’t I see you earlier at the museum? Melvin was confused as the same dark-haired woman approached her. The woman laughed and told her of her multiple jobs in town. She also informed her of her third gig as a garbage collector for the local cleaning company. Melvin lauded the woman for taking on these jobs and ordered the special to go. The woman urged her to come by the museum the next day for a special attraction and even gave her a free admission pass. Melvin wouldn’t turn down the free link-up on a vacation trip, so she agreed and left the restaurant.
To be continued…