Chapter 22 – Into the Lion’s Den
The room which the swinging door revealed was just as opulent as the exterior had been. It was an old-style foyer with a large staircase, complete with ornately carved banisters, traced the right wall. From this entryway three doors lead deeper into the house. Of these one doorway stood open to our immediate left and appeared to lead to what I guessed was a living room. A walkway alongside the stairs led to a pair of doors. The door the right and behind the stairs was firmly shut, which lead me to wonder what lay beyond its wooden firmness. The door to the left however was a wide open doorframe which revealed a large and ornately designed dining room. I must have been staring as I suddenly saw the wall of flesh that was Alexander jut in front of me. “Now, now. Enough time for the dining room later.”
He herded the three of us into the living room instead and offered us each a seat upon the overstuffed couches and chairs strewn about the room. With a smile, he promised to return momentarily and he stepped back into the foyer, pulling the double doors shut behind him and leaving us shut into the large room.
My eyes traced the fine piano wedged in the corner and the ornate mantle which hung over the antique looking fireplace. As my eyes continued to wander, they settled upon a glass lamp which sat in the corner and chased shadows from the corners unreached by the small windows. All of the furniture was overstuffed and comfortable, if somewhat antique looking with their floral patterns and clawed feet. From the ceiling hung a large crystalline candle fixture, which dominated the room with small glimmers of color from where sunbeams and lamplight alike had broken on the edges of the crystal. “All in all, it’s a very upscale place to be kept prisoner.” My comment was snide and sarcastic, though directed at no one in particular.
“Look, I’m sorry, okay?” Bobbi’s response came out as a growl, hurt and angry. “How was I supposed to know that this place would be ruled by some kind of nutjob?!?” Her voice had begun at barely above a whisper, but it was slowly rising in pitch as her temper rose.
“You weren’t.” I looked at her all seriousness in my voice, and I didn’t want her to misinterpret my words. “It was entirely possible that this place was the paradise that it promised to be. Seems doubtful now, but we all kind of hoped we had found a safe haven, even if there was also some doubt.” I looked her dead in the eye, trying to hold on to my fleeting calm. “But it doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that something is wrong. We don’t know what, but we know it’s wrong.” I looked around the room, noting that there were only a few avenues for escape. I could see two doors. One door, tucked behind the piano, probably led deeper into the building. The other led back out to the foyer. There was no way to know if either was locked and besides neither seemed likely to be an easy exit. The windows were a possible escape route, but they were oddly small and seemed rather thick. We were truly trapped, intentionally or not.
I glanced at Rick, who stared idly out the window. He seemed almost unconcerned with the situation; passively sitting and watching something out the window. I sighed, figuring that he wouldn’t be much help. Bobbi continued to seethe. She was probably stressed because of her role in getting us here as much as the situation itself. We had unknowingly volunteered to enter a Stepford Prison Camp. Paradise seemed too perfect and I found that more unsettling than even the strangest of mutated towns we had seen. Even the idea of walking corpses seemed normal in light of everything we had seen. This was just eerie. As I was about to open my mouth to say something I was interrupted by the double doors crashing open.
Alexander stood in the doorway with a broad grin on his face. “Dinner is served!” He stepped aside, wedging his girth in the narrow walkway beside the stairs and preventing, making it quite clear that we were to cross the foyer and not consider entering the room beyond. We each stood, eyes glancing between our host and the doorway as we slowly made our way through the foyer and into the dining room.
If the living room had seemed fancy, the dining room was absolutely ostentatious. The table was adorned with a finely woven tablecloth which only barely covered the carven clawed feet of the table itself. Upon the cloth sat serving dishes of elaborately crafted silver with large silver covers placed over them. Each of the seven place settings contained fine china plates and ornate silverware.
A large chandelier that hung ominously from the relatively low ceiling above the table. The windows here were larger than those in the living room, though not by much. More sunshine tumbled through the thick glass and across the table however, which sent twinkling light throughout the room.
I glanced to Alexander, who merely gestured for us to take a seat. It was simple enough to guess the place at the head of the table was reserved for our host, so I chose to sit down in the center of the nearest side of the table. Bobbi and Rick settled in beside me on the left and right, respectively. As expected, Alexander shuffled his girth around the table and flopped into his chair at the head of the table. Grinning at each of us in turn he promised, “My wives shall be with us shortly.”