Chapter 5 (2)
As the doors opened he found himself again in the lobby, brightly lit by the sun that should be on its way out.
The lobby, as it was before, was almost still and quiet. He found very few people around.
As he stepped out of the elevator, he took a quick glance back at their hostess, who was still standing inside the elevator. Her eyes seemed even darker than before.
However, he didn’t give it much thought. Instead, he walked around the lobby. He tried to talk to a few of the guests but they continued on as if he wasn’t even there. In fact, no one he found seemed to even notice him or hear him as he tried to make conversation.
He took a seat on one of the group of couches that lined the centre of the lobby. To talk to a small family. But everyone in the family ignored him. Even the bored looking kid who he tried desperately to entertain.
“Hi” suddenly a voice said and he found himself rising from his seat as he turned.
As he turned he almost expected to find himself glancing at the bright blues of their hostess. But instead, Sam found himself staring at two deep brown eyes. That he almost froze at the sight. Not just because he found those eyes beautiful and captivating. But because he was actually surprised to find a stranger coming up to him and talking to him.
She had a wide and pretty smile just like the girl with the blonde locks, and just like with blue-eyes, the new girl’s brown’s also glowed when she smiled. But in those brown, there was sincere joy and life that was not present in the blue. He found himself smiling back with honest gladness.
“I am sorry to intrude into your conversation,” she said with that same smile “but I could not help notice you were actually trying to communicate!” she continued and he laughed.
“Yes, I was having quite the riveting conversation with the…” he said and stopped and turned towards the family “with whoever they are” he finished and the girl laughed. It was such a happy laugh and infectious.
“You got to excuse them. They are not used to people being social.”
“I am Sam by the way,” he said extending his hand towards her. Her hand were soft and her shake was gentle that Sam was afraid he might break her if he gripped too hard.
“I am Alice”
“You mind explaining,” she said, squinting her eyes and Sam found himself laughing again.
“Alice in Wonderland!”
“Ah! Well, Mr White Rabbit, you mind following Alice for a change?”
“Depends on where we’re going”
“Where is the fun in that?” she asked as she turned and walked away.
She only looked back once, before making towards a door in-between the arched windows of the lobby. He hadn’t noticed that door before. He didn’t hesitate long before he followed her out.
There was a gravel path that led out from the glass doors. But Alice didn’t take it. Instead, she kept to the grass; which made sense, since Sam noticed that her feet were bare.
Sam was intrigued by the girl and, as he followed her willingly to wherever it was that she was taking him, he found himself unable to turn away from her.
She was nothing like their hostess. She was tall, not tall because she was supermodel lean, like the blue-eyed girl; she was slender, not thin. Alice was actually tall; her browns almost reached his eyes.
Her hair fell down in dark waves on to her slender shoulders, unlike the turbulent gold curls of their hostess. But in the sunlight, those beautiful strands shined brown like the barks of the trees around him.
It was her hair that made him realize that they had left the open green lawns of the hotel and stepped into a forest. But if he had expected it to be dark and gloomy he was wrong, instead, he found the forest bright and cheery like Alice. The trees, while close together, created a sense of warm embrace rather than being foreboding. He felt like he had walked into a magical land and almost expected to see dancing fairies, unicorns and other things at any moment. It would sure make a welcome change to all that he had seen so far in life.
Nevertheless, everything remained still around them. And if not for the crunching of leaves underneath his feet, it was also quiet.
However, he soon found himself turning back towards Alice, who had managed somehow to take quite the lead. He was surprised at the speed at which she walked. But then, the grace with which her slender legs carried her, it almost seemed as if she floated through the air.
Suddenly she stopped and turned around to face him. She stood smiling as he tried to catch up with her. She had stopped underneath one of the many pockets of light that fell down. The falling sunlight was like fairy dust, dropped from some unseen hand high above the canopy. In that light, she looked more beautiful than before.
Before, he saw her beauty as being just natural; like the girl next door. Unlike the commercial beauty of blue-eyes. It was the vibrancy and innocence that she gave out that made her shine. But now, standing in the light, she looked like a fairy herself. Her soft brown skin seemed to radiate. In the short pastel blue summer dress she wore, she seemed at home in the forest.
He found himself lost in her beauty until she spoke, and it was like angels calling. Well, the angels of cartoons and TV shows and lore, not the real ones.
“Mr White Rabbit, you are going to have to hurry up a little bit more. I do not want you to get lost and be all afraid,” she said and he laughed again.
When he was close again she turned and started walking once more.
He didn’t know where he was being led when he left with her. But now he knew. The sound of thunder he heard in the distance was unmistakable.
He had barely stepped out of the forest when the full brunt of the image hit him.