The first thing that struck me as we pulled onto the grounds was the immensity of the manor. It seemed impossibly large, as if it stretched the mere space around it just to make room for it’s existence. My eyes were wide as I dug equipment out of the car and piled it on the barely paved road that lead up to the manor house. I tried to think of how I would describe the place. It was an ancient mansion that appeared to have been converted into a hotel at some point in the past. The grounds were part secret garden, part Jumanji with a quiet wildness to it, like a venus fly trap poised to attack. The house itself was straight out of a mystery book, with the look of a million secrets all fighting for space in the bricks.. Miss Catalyst burst out of the driver’s side door in a flurry of motion. She held up a set of keys that glinted in the sunlight, inspected them contemplatively, then tucked them back into her clutch. Her skirts flowed and swayed behind her as she sashayed up the road. I grabbed an armload of my things and hurried after her. Miss C was alive with excitement as she explained to me her plans. “We’ll hold the grand opening on May 3rd. We’ll need to bring refreshments and libations of the finest quality. D, you and Tabby will put together the staff, I want them dressed sharp! This will be our the finest party yet!” She paused and I stretched onto my toes to finish hanging the banner that now stretched across the front gate. HOTEL PHANTASMAGORIA!
It proclaimed in grand, bold letters. Miss C and I stood back and looked at it. A flash of movement in a window caught my eye. I had felt their presence from the moment I stepped onto the grounds, but now I was sure. “Miss C…I don’t think this place is abandoned as we might like…” Miss Catalyst grinned at me wickedly and waved her hand dismissively. “Oh yes, I noticed them already.” I sputtered and pulled out my clipboard, preparing to mount a defense on the merits of safety and sanity. Yet I knew by the mercurial look in her eyes that nothing would sway her. “Djinni, look at these.” She pulled the keys once again. “I had such dreams….dreams…I’ve never had before. I felt as though the pain and poison of the world was burned away or banished from my sight, if only for the night! For one shining moment I was left a spinning prism of color and life. When I woke I was clutching these in my hand.” She turned back to the manor, my eyes followed and curiosity gripped me. “Aren’t we going to at least go in…just to take a peek?” I asked, feeling mixed intrigue and terror. “This place is a dream. Dreams are fleeting things…we’ll go once or not at all. The things we see will change us, for better or for ill. It shall be a reflection of the things within us…our most secret desires. How can we steal this treasure for our own, selfish little Djinn?” I smiled sheepishly and tucked away my clipboard. “Still lots to do though, eh?” “Oh, yes! First things first: The Guest List! I know JUST the sexy, daring little darlings to invite to delve into this beauty with us! It’ll just be a small affair of course…there’ll be you and I and the crew….and three hundred of my closest friends!” I rolled my eyes playfully. Small affair indeed. I tried to ignore the feeling of a thousand pressing gazes baring into the back of my neck as we climbed back into the car and tore back onto main road to make ready for the coming attraction. Hotel Phantasmagoria, there for a night and gone in the morning, like a dream or a spell or young love. I sighed as I thought of what was to come. It was all so mysterious! One thing was sure, with the people we were inviting, it was sure to be sexy and exciting!
From the mercurial mind of Djinni