Scent Notes: She sits at the bar, drinking something that could be bourbon, or perhaps it's scotch. Both? The bar smells of fresh tobacco and aged vanilla. You need a pick me up, so you're drinking a cafe mocha spiked with rum. She turns and smiles at you, her eyes amber dark. She beckons you over, and as you walk, unable to stop yourself, the air turns earthy, a blend of patchouli and leather, the scents wafting off of her. These new notes mix with the coffee in your hand and the smell of the bar and intoxicate you more than your drink has. Uh-oh.
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You follow her to a booth in the back corner, and sit down across from her, your hands shaking slightly. You take a sip of your mocha, then regret it, as it just makes you shakier. You say your name is Jamie, and she introduces herself as Alice. You talk for several hours, the liquor flowing the whole time. You hardly drink, sipping the same mocha as it gets steadily colder. She hardly stops drinking, and yet she never seems intoxicated. Platters of food arrive out of nowhere, and she consumes them so rapidly you hardly notice there was even food to begin with. Time is simultaneously languid and fast. You’re conscious that you have eaten, but you don’t know what. You’d come to the hotel bar just for a drink after a long day at a work conference. This was the last thing you’d expected.
Somehow, your mocha has been replaced by straight bourbon on the rocks. How long have you been sitting in this booth? How long have the two of you been talking, and talking, and talking? You’re transfixed. She’s incredibly compelling. You feel entranced, unable to stand up or leave, even though you know it’s far too late and you should be back in your too-hot hotel room, trying to sleep under the absurdly heavy comforter, sweating out all this booze you’ve somehow consumed. Is it even the same day? Is she the same person? Her face keeps changing, almost imperceptibly. Is that blood? Is she bleeding? Are you bleeding? No, now it’s gone. Is it the booze making it difficult for you to focus, or is there something more sinister at play? You can’t tell, and honestly, you don’t want to know. You can’t remember the last time you’ve had such an engaging, engrossing, all-consuming (in every sense of the word) evening with someone so intriguing. She’s worldly, intelligent, dignified, and hilarious. More hours pass. Days have likely passed. Years? You don’t care. You just keep talking. She keeps on eating and drinking.
Then, suddenly, someone taps you on the shoulder. It’s the waiter. You’ve apparently been asleep, completely passed out in a booth. He puts down your bill. You look across from you, and she’s gone without a trace. You ask where she is, and the waiter looks at you quizzically. You’ve been alone this whole time, apparently. He hasn’t seen anyone else besides you, but they’re closing, and you need to get the hell out. You look at the bill, which is astronomical. Your stomach is growling; you clearly have not eaten a thing, yet you’re being charged for nearly the entire (overpriced) menu, and there are empty plates on your table. You pay and begin to walk out, passing by the bartender, who’s putting away bottles and washing glasses. You ask if he saw you with a woman named Alice, if he served her tonight. His face goes slightly ashen, though he tries to hide his look of concern. He saw her for a second before she disappeared, he said, but she’s been haunting the place since it opened. Literally. Word around the hotel is that she’s the ghost of a woman who was murdered on the property right when the hotel was opening all those years ago. You shake your head in disbelief, which already makes you queasy. He kindly hands you a glass of water, which you chug. You thank him and walk out, completely freaked out. What else can be done?
Back in your room, it’s absolutely freezing. You drink the complimentary bottle of water and take some aspirin before passing out in front of HGTV reruns in your bed. You sleep fitfully and wake up very late for the next day of your conference. Your head is spinning, but you get in the shower, scrubbing yourself from head to toe in the hottest water you can stand. After you hop out, you dress frantically, pulling on professional attire even though your brain and body feel completely disconnected. You go back into the bathroom and freeze. Something’s written in the shower steam. Your face distorts in the mirror into a facsimile of the woman you saw last night. Now, there really is blood. You don’t even realize you’ve begun to scream as you read: “Thanks for dinner! See you soon. Xoxo, Alice.”