The knock on the door drew my attention away from the window, but when my eyes returned after we waited for someone to respond to the knock, there was nothing there. Only the lingering sensation that I must not trust anything that happens here.
Rhonda smiles sweetly, but the tone of her voice did not match, “Now, I wish you not to embarrass me this evening so let me remind you that there are rules to this party.” She went on a tirade of how one would be required to act while in the presences of the owner, the limit of two drinks, there was to be no drugs unless they were provided by the host, but you would be limited to one, cursing or foul language was not going to be tolerated in any language, and the last rule that stuck out to me was no one was allowed to stay past midnight, no, if ands or buts. No one would be given permission to bed in one of the rooms. The consequences of breaking these rules were neglected to be mentioned, but something in the way she continued to stress the last one made me want to be done with this party already.
The woman who answered the door was striking. Her appearance was that of a school teacher one would have read about in a Charlotte Bronte novel. Her features were stern and one felt like they were a disobedient child just caught with their hand in the cookie jar just from the way she seemed to be evaluating one’s appearance. Once done with her inspection she moved out of the way gesturing for us to move in as quickly as possible. In one fluid motion she had shut and locked the door and ushered us toward a large guest book of sorts.
“Formalities, you see,” Rhonda stated as she signed the book with no indication that she cared what was written in it.
When it was my turn, I looked down to see where to sign and the woman quickly switched to a new page. The writing on this page looked slightly different then the one before signed by my acquaintance. Unsure of what I was signing, I began reading the page.
Rhonda seemed to be embarrassed and nervously switched positions. “Just sign it already, it’s just a guestbook. It is made to look like a contract to make you feel like you are signing away your soul, get it, spooky.” She tried to make her voice sound like a ghost you would have heard in an old cartoon, but it didn’t have the same effect as she seemed to be nervously trying to make the sound.
I held the pen and the woman watched me. She paid too much attention to my movements for me to be comfortable. I quickly began to scan the rest of the page, but soon slowed down again when I hit a part of the page that was discolored and seemed to have been handwritten. The lines were simple warnings not to break any of the rules that had been given and that if one is broken, the responsibility would be held by the person who broke the rule. I began to get the feeling something was wrong when I realized that the handwritten portion was tinted with red. The way it has run on the page almost made it feel like someone had written this part in their own blood, but that would be preposterous as going that far for a stunt like that when you didn’t decorate the outside of your house seemed a little unusual. As I signed my name to the page my fingers began to feel numb and my limbs began to tingle slightly.
The exchange at the doorway only intensived in weirdness as the woman never said a word. She did take a pointing stick and directed our attention to a wall in the hall that had all the rules listed in large, bold text. She would point to a number, then snap her stick against each word as if accentuated each one as if our life depended on it. Once she had finished this unusual display, again not muttering a single sound she began to guide us to our place at the party.
I could hear laughter, but saw not a soul. Many of the doors were closed off. I nudged Ronda to get her attention and she simply batted me away. Rhonda made it clear that she was already tired of my inability to just accept everything going on. She huffed and sighed, but made no attempt to alleviate my nervousness.
There was a smell that seemed to cause my nose to wrinkle as we walked the long hallway. It was like as we walked the smell was injected into the place we were and only at the point in the hall, I was being privy to this single momentary scent. It was strong, almost overwhelming in that second. The scent was not something I would have run into on a daily routine of my life or would I expect anyone else, maybe a priest, to have run into this smell. It choked me for a moment, it took my other senses away, my eyes watered, my nose burned, and my throat itches as it entered my orifices. Once we passed that single moment the smell of the house returned and the scent felt like a fleeting memory.