Something Pending

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A holiday you would wish on nobody.

Submitted: August 26, 2012

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Submitted: August 26, 2012

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SOMETHING PENDING

The large rambling house appeared to have come from a fairy tale. On either side of the impressive entrance there was a wing. There were three floors. The roof tiles were dark grey making a deep contrast with the brown and white window frames and the pale stone of the exterior walls. There were many large windows that gave onto an enormous garden. Tall fir trees, flowers of all colours and the emerald green of the never-ending lawn added freshness. I liked it straightaway.
Due to my weakened health after having a severe bout of the flu, I was unable to resist it and chose that place for my convalescence. It was in fact an hotel which had been built originally as a family home in the nineteenth century.
My bedroom was on the second floor in the wing to the left of the entrance. On waking the next morning I got up and opened the curtains. From my room I could see the sea which was twenty minutes away (according to the pamphlet). The problems with David and the flu were already forgotten about. Feeling curious about the other guests and the place, I dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. While I was breakfasting I had a good look at the people at the other tables. We were few and a silence reigned that was more eloquent than conversation.
An elegant, elderly gentleman, who looked as if he was well-off, didn’t take his eyes off me in all the time we were having breakfast. I paid no attention to him. When I got up to leave he was beside me, “Good morning, I saw you arrive last night. I’m Oswald.”
We shook hands, “Good morning, my name’s Nesta.”
“I arrived a couple of days ago. If you like we can walk to the village or if you prefer I’ll introduce to the others.”
“Are there a lot of people here?” As I had arrived late I went directly to my room.
Pointing with his head, he said, “That’s Sheila. The poor thing’s a gossip. She’s strolling around the garden with Milton, who says he is a librarian.”
“Don’t you believe Milton is a librarian?”
“I’m not going to say anything about the matter. If you think something different then tell me, eh?” He was staring at me intensely.
“Well, if that’s how you want it.”
At that moment another man came in. He wasn’t young either. While Oswald was a womaniser this new one was more of an open-air type. Oswald made the introductions. “Captain Alvarez, this young lady is Nesta. She arrived last night.”
The silver-haired captain, with the eyes of a sea-wolf and a weather-beaten face, stared at us like a child to grown-ups, and with an artificial air of false liveliness. “Hello, Oswald. Pleased to meet you, Miss. Have you seen Alma? I promised to take her on a sea trip.”
“She was in the reading-room with that young Fabian.”
“I don’t understand how she can bear that one. Well, thanks. I’m off to look for her. We’ll meet up later.” And he left.
I turned and stared at Oswald, “Who are Alma and Fabian? Is he a real captain?”
Oswald seemed to meditate for a second, “Alma and Fabian…., she is wealthy, not very young, and appears somewhat dangerous to me. Fabian is a handsome but temperamental young man.”
“Why do you say Alma is dangerous?”
“You’ll see.”
We had arrived at the entrance when Oswald said to me, “I’m sorry, Nesta, but I’ve got something pending. Excuse me.”
He walked over to a young man of about thirty-five. What could this pending something be and what did that stranger have to do with it?
The garden was enormous and ended at a pretty bay. The geographical situation of the hotel was one of isolation. I stayed in the garden till lunchtime.

After lunch I went into the village. On leaving the garden a lady came up to me and introduced herself. “You’re new here, aren’t you? I’m Sheila. If you like we can go to the village together.” I was wary of her but as I wanted to know more about the rest of the guests decided to go.
Sheila’s opinion of her fellow guests was as follows: Milton was the driest man she had ever met, Alma too made-up and too rich (jealousy perhaps), Diego was a man of weird business dealings, with too much money in his pockets (how did she know that?) The captain was not as jovial as he seemed. Fabian was as Oswald had described him. Then Sheila turned to me, “Why are you here? This is not the holiday season. Problems with a man?”
Not wanting to feed her curiosity about me, I said, “I’ve had a terrible flu and felt a bit depressed so I came here.”
I must have sounded very boring to her as she said, “The village is over there. I don’t feel well. I’m going back to the hotel. See you later.”
Sheila got into a taxi that had just slowed down in front of us. It was the second time that day I had been stood up.
The village wasn’t up to much, but there was a café. I went in and had tea and toast. The walk had opened up my appetite.

Everyone was in the bar after dinner. Alma, what a most inappropriate name! She had everything except a soul. From head to toe she smelled of money. She was middle-aged. I had the idea that I had seen her before but not knowing where or when. Fabian was stuck to her. He was both attractive and repellent. Alma and Fabian were in deep conversation but stopped on seeing me with Oswald who introduced us. I realized that we were not wanted there, and said, “ Please excuse me, but I’m still not quite up to things so I’m going to bed. Good night,” and left.
Sheila and Milton met me on my way out. She didn’t hide her disgust, “Don’t you think it’s a bit early to be going to bed?” She commented to Milton loud enough for me to hear. I don’t know whether or not Milton replied.
I got into bed but found sleep difficult. I began to think about the other guests. What were they doing in a hotel in winter?

Fabian was alone in the hotel entrance the following morning. He was staring at me and I had the feeling I recognised him. But from where? My curiosity was awakened, “Fabian, why are you here at this time of the year?”
Without thinking twice, he replied, “I have something pending. I must go, see you later.”
Everyone had said to me ‘Something pending’. What ‘something’ or maybe it was just a way of getting rid of me. They were all here for ‘something pending’, and then I knew what I was going to do.

That evening Captain Alvarez was behind me and said, “Hello, had a good day? I hope you won’t be leaving us so early tonight.”
“That depends.”
The captain looked at me, “Depends on what ?”
“It depends on something pending.”
At that moment Alma and Fabian entered and must have heard everything. It was what I wanted. I felt rather weird. Everyone was part of ‘something’. What was this ‘something’?
To avoid falling asleep I had two coffees. Oswald took me out into the garden and asked me directly, “Why did you choose this hotel precisely?”
“The photo of the hotel attracted me.”
“Yes, it’s a very pretty place.” Oswald’s voice held no expression.
Oswald put his hand in his pocket and got something out. I saw in the poor light it was a detective’s badge. I started laughing. Oswald was the last person who could be thought of as a detective. “I don’t believe this, it’s a toy. What are you going to investigate here?”
“Don’t laugh, this badge is real. Be careful!”
“And you, too.” I said, as he walked away.

I tripped over Fabian who was sitting in the hall. “What are you doing here, this isn’t the best place to be sitting.”
“I’ve got something pending,” and he stood up.
“Me, too. And it’s you.”
Fabian remained silent, then looked at me again and relaxed, “You’re very funny,” and he sat down close beside me.
At ten o’clock Alma appeared and said to Fabian, “I’ve been looking for you all evening.”
“Sorry, Alma, I’ve been here with Nesta.”
Alma sent him an expressionless stare, “Say goodnight to the young lady. You and I have something pending.”
A man was sliding down the wall as if her were a fly. It reminded me of Spiderman or a vampire. I was unable to make-out his face. All the lights in the building were switched off and there was hardly any moon.

Alma was dead. She had been murdered during the night. At the moment of death she was wearing the orange dress she had worn at dinner. The police came to the hotel. We were gathered together in the reading room. There was total silence. Oswald was the first one to be interviewed by the police. Fabian was very relaxed and silent like all the rest.
We were all questioned in turn. I didn’t know whether it was opportune or not to say anything about the figure sliding down the wall.

Fabian was in the garden with Diego and Sheila.
“Hello, Fabian. I’m sorry about Alma. I know she was a friend of yours.”
That odd look returned to his eyes on hearing me say ‘friend’ He was on the point of speaking, but stopped.
Sheila and Diego went off.
I turned my head and Milton was standing nearby. I couldn’t make out in which direction Milton was looking, but it was very clear that Fabian did not want to see him.
“Fabian, I’m going to the village.” He didn’t hear me, he was still staring at Milton.

The matter of Alma’s death had arrived at the village at almost the time as it had happened. I tried to find out how she had died, but nobody knew. I went back to the café of the first day. I didn’t feel like having anything, I was there because I didn’t want to return to the hotel but neither did I want to be alone. Outside in the street a police car stopped, and out stepped Oswald and Captain Alvarez, who went off walking. Paying the bill with extraordinary speed, I left the café, running. There was no sign of them. Disappointed, I went back to the hotel.

It was very strange! I was observing the facade of the hotel. There was no ivy or usable drain- pipes. Then, how was it done? I was sure that something or someone had climbed the facade that night. Diego was strolling round the garden, I called him, “Do you know which was Alma’s room?”
Diego answered straightaway, “The same as yours but in the other wing.”
The Spiderman had nothing to do with that part.
“Does anyone know how she died?”
“I don’t know, the police haven’t said anything yet. They probably aren’t sure.”
“Thank you, see you later.” Diego was already beginning to walk way. “Where’s Sheila?” I asked him.
“Washing her hair,” he answered.
‘Hair’ why should the word ‘hair’ torment me?

In my room, I opened the window to look closer at where I had seen the figure the previous night. There was no sign.
I made an effort to put my ideas in order, but I got sleepy before I had solved anything.
The noise of the dinner bell woke me up. The room was in darkness. I got myself together quickly and went downstairs.
Sheila was at the same table as Diego. Oswald and Captain Alvarez were not to be seen the whole evening. Milton arrived, greeted us, and sat down at his table. Fabian had dinner in his room (I found this out later).
The dinner was delicious and in spite of Alma’s inexplicable death we all had good appetites. Then we were in the bar, and Milton was offering me a drink, and he brought me a vodka and lime. Milton didn’t look very animated. “ What have you done today, Milton?”
“Nothing important.”
There was something weird about him. I looked closer. He was wearing a wig and his eyes were made-up. I thought it must be the effect of the alcohol. “You’ve got something in your hair, Milton,” and made a gesture as if I were going to remove something small from his hair.
Milton’s reaction was immediate. He jumped backwards, shouting, “Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me,” as if he had been raped.
“There’s nothing wrong, it’s just that you have a little thing in your hair.”
“Let it stay in my hair. I can’t bear anyone touching my head.”
“Thanks for the drink. Bedtime for me. Good night, Milton.”
I locked the door and began to think. A dead woman, a neurotic man, a Spiderman, and a detective. I was still troubled with the idea of having seen Alma and Fabian before. And how did Alma really die?

Milton disappeared during the night. Nobody knew what had happened to him, whether he was dead or alive. Sheila and Diego had had several drinks with him after I had left. According to witnesses Milton had been seen going up to his room at a quarter to midnight.
I found Oswald in the garden talking to Captain Alvarez. On seeing me Alvarez said goodbye to Oswald.
“What on earth is happening here? First Alma. And now Milton’s disappeared,” I asked him.
“I can’t tell you anything.”
“I don’t believe you don’t know anything. You just don’t want to tell me. Where is Alma’s corpse? I haven’t see any ambulance around here. And why does Milton wear a wig and eye make-up?”
Oswald grabbed hold of my arm violently, “Have you spoken to anyone about these things?”
“No, because they’re probably things I’ve imagined. I’ve been ill and it’s said that high temperatures create hallucinations .”
“But now you are better.”
“There might be consequences. Let go of my arm.”
Oswald freed my arm. “Nesta, be careful.”
“Who from? From you?” and I went off.
“I hid behind a fir tree and saw Captain Alvarez with Oswald.
“That’s rather strange.” It was Fabian, who had come up beside me. “Those two together in the garden.”
“Yes, it is a bit. Do you feel better?”
“Better? I haven’t been ill.”
“Last night you didn’t come down for dinner.”
“No, I had something pending.”
I felt it was something to do with Milton. I touched his hair as I had Milton’s. The reaction was the same but even more violent. His eyes were also lightly made-up. What kind of men were they? I ran away and he came after me. Luckily Sheila and Diego came out of a door. “I’ve left something in my room.” And I ran up to my room without looking back. With extreme caution I looked through the net curtains at the scene in the garden. The three of them were walking around the garden.
Trembling with fear I rang room service to bring me up a large pot of coffee. Recovered from shock I decided to pay a visit to Alma’s room. I didn’t know how I was gong to get in but this was the least of my problems. The door was locked with a key, as I had supposed. A window in the corridor plus a mirror would be the most useful. I went to my room to get my small mirror.

I saw Oswald, Captain Alvarez, and the inspector going into Alma’s room and closing the door. I followed them, and I was on the point of trying to hear what they were saying when the door opened and I quickly hid behind a thick curtain in the corridor. The inspector carried a sports bag in one hand and the three went downstairs. The inspector disappeared, and Oswald and Captain Alvarez entered the recently opened bar.
I had no desire to see Oswald, so I went to eat in the village. I saw the inspector leave carrying the same sports bag.

I couldn’t avoid Oswald for ever, so I went to the bar to liven myself up and there he was. “Hello, Oswald. How’s the great detective?”
Hello, Nesta. Where did you eat today?”
Foiled again. "In the village.”
“What time did you return?”
“Nearly sunset.” We heard the dinner bell. “Oswald do you know anything about Milton?”
He took hold of my arm and said, “Stop thinking about him.”
For the second time Fabian didn’t dine in the dining-room.

After dinner I was restless and wandered around the reception area. I was alone. Something caught my eye. From beneath an armchair I pulled out a sports bag. It was the one the inspector had been carrying. I slid back the zip enough to see what was inside. Alma’s face with that same arrogant look on it as when she had seen me for the last time. Before closing it I saw a couple of hands too. A feeling of repulsion and surprise forced me to close the bag quickly. I left it under the armchair. How had it got there? Hadn’t I seen the inspector leave with the bag?
I had a brandy in the bar, to relax. Oswald was staring at me. My presence was unwanted so I went up to my room. I locked the door and the window, got into bed and switched off the light. It was eleven.
At three in the morning I heard a noise at the window. Like the fluttering of a bird’s wings. My fear was greater than my curiosity and I didn’t dare open it. I put my fingers in my ears and placed my head under the pillow. I fell asleep.

The following morning I breakfasted in my room. I didn’t feel like seeing or speaking to anyone. I preferred to have flu than to be in this weird, absurd situation. Nothing had been cleared up yet. Why did Alma and Fabian recognise each other? Why did Milton and Fabian wear wigs?
Fabian had disappeared who would be next?
The maid had told me everything she knew.
I packed my case and rang down to reception to prepare the bill.
Oswald, Captain Alvarez, Sheila and Diego were waiting for me when I went into reception. “I’m leaving. I no longer want to be even one more day in this place. Three people have disappeared and nobody seems to care.”
They looked at each other. Very good. If they didn’t want to say anything, then it was up to them.
Oswald said, “Come here.” He opened the door of a room that was beside the bar, there they were: Alma, Milton and Fabian.
“Come closer. They are the latest technology. Robots! Programmed dolls. They were being tested to see up to what point they could be accepted as real people.”
“Why should they be acceptable as real people?” I asked puzzled.
“They were being programmed to keep an eye on the guests.”
“And why not use real detectives?”
“A doll can’t be killed.”
“I feel ridiculous, but still don’t understand anything. I don’t know whether to believe what you’ve said. It seems too fantastic. Where do the inspector, the other guests, and me, fit in?”

The young lady in the travel agency I normally use was looking at me, “Wasn’t the hotel good enough for you? I find that very strange. It has a very good reputation.”
“Well, I’m not at all satisfied.”
“I’ll get the boss to see what he thinks.”
How on earth was I going to explain about what had happened. I would never be believed. “Forget it, it isn’t worth all the fuss. Goodbye.” And walked out.

On my way home I stopped in front of the shop window of the Adventure Travel Agency. Yes. Yes. There was my hotel, and the life-sized cardboard cut-outs of an inspector, a detective, and in big letters ‘THE HOLIDAY GAME'. And in a large photo of some guests in the garden I could see Alma, Sheila, Fabian, Diego, and Captain Alvarez.

The flu! The Holiday Game in the shop window was the ‘something pending’!!!

Alcohol. Medication. Very high temperatures. Too much coffee. Hallucination.

Where on earth have I been? Somewhere? Anywhere? Nowhere?


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