The moment she had looked into his eyes, she had known... He was
perfect. His eyes radiated the most contemptuous disregard for one's
own life she had ever perceived in anyone. And there had been others...
One by one she had tested them. Some were no good to begin with. Others
were promising at first, but at some point in the process, each one
had eventually revealed a weakness. She had discarded them and continued
her search for the one... The one who would participate willingly,
completely, without resistance. This time she felt more confident than
So confident was she in her initial assessment of the man, that rather than provide him with a mechanic or a body shop of some sort, she had decided upon an inn. That was the first test. And as she had predicted, he passed. She lingered nearby in the woods just to marvel at the ease with which he neglected his vehicle. She could tell that he was entirely capable of never returning to it. He was annoyed, yes. But not because of the car. He would likely prefer being here, in this situation, to whatever his life had been before.
She was thoroughly excited as she entered the motel to wait for him. There was one tiny obstacle that she thought may prove to be his downfall... He had nearly left it behind; But at the last minute he had reached back for the doll. She had seen it there as he was approaching, and wondered what it meant to him. Admittedly, she was disappointed that he was bringing it with him. But she didn't worry about it too much. It probably brought back some of his most painful memories... the ones he was trying to block out. She would ask questions; try to get him to tell her about those memories so that she could judge the intensity of his attachment to them. She was quite confident that the second test would go just as smoothly as the first.
The shabby front door creaked open; a dinky little tin bell announced the event with lazy insignificance. Tom Welland slowly dragged himself into the inn. He looked to his left as he entered, noted the sofa and the outdated television set. He closed the door behind him and observed the right side of the room... and gaped at the astonishgly young and beautiful woman with pale skin and fiery orange hair. She was standing just beside the door, staring at him with an electrifying smile. Her bright apricot eyes seemed to be probing into his soul. He suddenly felt vulnerable.
"Would you care for a glass of wine? Mister... " she asked.
"Tom." he said abruptly, and paused. "Sure." He set down his bag and suitcase on the floor where he stood, and watched her.
She drifted so gracefully to the counter across the room that Tom actually looked down to the floor beneath her, to assure himself that she had feet and was walking. He had never seen a woman move so fluidly... It was probably just the effect of that skirt she was wearing, he told himself.
She returned to him with two glasses of red wine, offering one to him. He accepted it, and drank most of it in one movement. It relaxed him. He breathed deeply. She was staring at him again.
"Where are you from, Tom?"
"Ah," he sighed. "Lots of places."
She grinned. He didn't even seem remotely interested in wooing her.
"I understand. So where are you going?"
"Haven't thought about it much." He finished the rest of his wine.
She pried: "Surely you have someone to go to? Someone you care for?"
She watched his eyes... they had darted down the instant he had perceived her question. As he had answered, they had fixed themselves on the empty wine glass in his hand; as if he were wishing he hadn't finished it so soon. He was uncomfortable in that moment and was searching for a distraction.
"Well you seem very tired so I won't keep you any longer. I'll show you to your room now, if you like." She finished her wine and set the glass down on a small table. He nodded in assent. She reached for one of his bags-- the one she had seen him stuff the doll into. But she was cut off; he frantically bent over and picked up both bags before she could reach it.
So he's touchy about something, she thought. Could it be the doll? Or is there something important in the bag that he wouldn't want me to ask about? And who is this person he's trying so desperately not to care about?
She pondered these things, and the risks they implied, as she led the most perfect subject she had ever found into a short hallway. There were two doors: one in the middle of the hall, which they passed; and one at the end, which they entered. Tom followed the woman into the small room with blank wooden walls and floor. There was no furniture except a simple bed and a side table, which held a lamp and a clock. There was nothing else in the room whatsoever. Not a window, a rug, a picture or mirror... and just the one door. He dropped his bags on the floor and turned to look at her.
Her eyes were tempting him and
repelling him at the same time. He didn't try to think of anything to
say. He just looked at her and waited.
She smiled again. "Pleasant dreams, Tom." and closed the door.