The chauffeur was correct when he said there was nothing for miles ahead. It was the same dense forest all around us. I hadn’t been scared at first, but then the trees began to take on a ghastly shape. They appeared deformed, twisting into grotesque shapes that didn’t resemble trees at all. The forest lost all its picturesque form and turned into something enchanted and deadly.
We reached a fork on the road, one lead to the West, the other the East, we had just come forth from the South, there was no road to the North. The chauffeur turned East and took it all the way down until a large, grey stone house came into view. The chauffeur stop the car near the entrance. He let us out.
“You are expected,” the chauffeur said. “Go on right inside.”
He got back in the car and drove around the corner. I held onto Stan’s hand as we climbed the steps towards a large, thick oak door. Before Stan could knock the door opened. We waited for someone to greet us, but no one did.
“Please, enter,” said a loud, male voice. “You are in a safe place.”
I clenched Stan’s hand tighter and we both walked inside. The door closed behind us.
“I’m sorry I won’t be joining you tonight for dinner,” said the voice. “Please, make yourselves comfortable. The dinning room has been set for both of you. Enjoy your meal. Perhaps I will see you in the morning.”
The only light to illuminate us in the darkness were a myriad of candles aligned on scones that lead us to the dinning room. A long table was set for two people where an array of food was displayed. A fire roared in the fireplace, not far from the table, candles were lit making the room feel cozy and warm. I noticed the grey walls were bare of any paintings, which was rare in these old homes. Nothing in the room stood out, at least from what I could make out from it. I felt my belly grumble.
“Well, let’s not be rude,” Stan said, “and enjoy the feast the host has set out before us.”
I filled my plate with modest potions of roasted potatoes, brisket, and a loaf of bread. Stan did not hold back and took a portion of everything. I ate with my manners in mind, while Stan forgot his.
“Aren’t you hungry?” Stan noticed I was barely eating.
“I’m fine, just a bit cold,” I noticed the flames in the fireplace growing larger.
“Is that better?” I heard a voice in my head say.
I didn’t respond. The rest of the meal continued in this odd silence. I doubt Stan noticed, he was too busy with desert. After dinner, we were led to a corridor on the first floor. We both were given separate rooms. Our rooms were not close to each other or even across from each other. Stan had to walk further down the hall to get to his room. I bid him goodnight and went inside. I was surprised to find the room cozy enough. Our host was very gracious as he left me a night dress on the bed. I undressed carefully, glancing about the room to make sure no one else was watching. I placed my clothes near the fireplace in hopes they would be dry by tomorrow. I quickly jumped into bed and without even realizing it I fell into a deep sleep. I can’t recall the dream I had, but I know I had a dream because the last few images rolled in my head like a movie being played. I was awoken by a tap at the door.
“Darling, are you awake?” It was Stan. “Don’t rush if you are. I will wait for you in the dinning room. Don’t be late for breakfast.”
I stretched my arms in the air and mumbled something to him. I clumsily got out of bed and began dressing. I was in such a good mood I had forgotten about last night. I looked myself over in the mirror, fixed my hair as best I could, put on a little rouge and lipstick and went out the door. The corridor was as dark as night, candles lit the way to the dinning room. I noticed the same bare walls through the house, not a picture on them, not even anything that resembled a decoration, just the sconces that held the candles. As I walked toward the dinning room my good mood began to fade and replaced with doubt.
“You can not stay here much longer,” said the voice whom I recognized as my host.
‘Why would I want to stay here,’ I thought to myself.
“They always do,” said the voice. “You have until noon to leave. If you do not, I might resource to being an unkind host.”
His words unsettled me. When I reached the dinning room Stan was having coffee. I was about to tell him what our host had said, but he spoke first.
“Darling, good you are here,” Stan placed the newspaper he was reading on the table. “I thought perhaps you overslept.”
“I could never oversleep,” I said.
“Let’s have breakfast,” Stan said.
Our breakfast consisted of toast, a boiled egg and half a grapefruit.