Sleepwalking. By an act of unbelievable intelligent hiding, she had drifted into sleepwalking shortly after freezing: it was better to be guided by his steady hand than to find herself deep in the woods at night. And in fact, as it turned out, the sun was still far from falling when they got there. Along passed a fresh breeze touching her neck; a plane of openness instantiated itself to the relief of her lungs; and when she opened her eyes it was to see the disclosed lake. It calmly stretched from a blinded distance to the bottom of the valley, where it spread a perfect mirroring-sky parabola, at which vertex stood paradise lake establishment. The building reminded her of something: was it a sanatorium? Had it been one? It more or less had the early 19th century quality of one: three floors behind a rectangular facade, three rows of windows stretching along each floor, no shutters added, only a wooden door at the main entrance, solid and high.
She saw other walkers leaving the woods from various exit points and conducting themselves towards that door. They came alone, in pairs, or in small groups of three. So they were really there, she said. He freed her hand and simultaneously nodded her in confirmation and waved a compliment to the others, remaining silent as they approached the establishment, like everybody else did. When nearing each other, people shared significant looks but no words. They actually seemed familiar and were composing a small crowd of lookalike comers at the lobby, where checking-in formalities were enacted with no good afternoons nor thank yous dispensed by the arriving guests. At the reception, he handed his identity card and the reservation’s confirmation to the receptionist. She verified and returned the documents with what looked like a key chain and the respective key. She further informed that there were no lifts on the building, they’ll have to walk the stairs. There were also no blinds or curtains on the windows, everything was to be open from the outside as well as from the inside; nor any locks on the doors, the key to the key chain she had just given him being only a word carved in silver, the meaning of which should accurately anticipate the content of his experience at paradise lake establishment. He turned to leave, but as he did so, he stopped and raised his hand and the three of them had the opportunity to look at the keyword. It read “Rosebud.”