Vice Times Seven

By @leahrothman
Vice Times Seven

When Claire Morana decides to take her ever-so-difficult family to a spa vacation, she hopes that she might finally be able to relax for once in her life. However, she soon realizes that the spa might be carrying a couple secrets of its own- a sinister plot hidden underneath a beautiful facade. Will she discover its true intentions, or is it already too late?

Chapter 1

A New Beginning

Yet again, my husband was driving like a mad man. I expected nothing less than that, as most days he drove 30 over the speed limit. Still, today he was going a bit too fast for my liking. As I looked over at him, I noticed that he was gripping the wheel so hard his knuckles were turning white. The coldness in his eyes made them a shade darker and he seemed to be glaring at the road. I don’t know what made him so angry, but I knew if I tried to calm him down, he would crash the car. I couldn’t risk him potentially harming the kids. Like usual, staying quiet was the best option.

To distract myself, I turned around and looked at the other occupants of the car. In the middle row was Cassius, Alexander, and Diane. My brother Cassius was an odd one, but I loved him all the same. He looked very much like me: from our chocolate-brown hair to the round shape of our nose. However, while I had eyes the color of my hair, his eyes were a striking shade of green. I had always wondered where he had gotten it from, neither of our parents carried the gene, but he always laughed and said it reflected who he was as a person. Alexander was my oldest and what one would call “the golden child.” In high school and college he was always at the top of his class, the football star, and the best all-around student. Now, he had a job in the government and was quickly working his way up. I was proud of him, but I sometimes feared that he lets his success get to his head. Diane was my favorite, she always has been, even though I would never admit to it. However, a couple years ago, seemingly overnight, she went from the kind, wholehearted girl I had always known to this completely different person. Every single day, her clothes cover her less and less, she constantly is out with her friends, and she always has a new guy over. She says she isn’t dating any of them- apparently, it’s beneath her- but she clearly likes them enough to spend that much time with them. She’s still beautiful, but sometimes I think Diane’s taking it a bit too far.

I shifted my eyes to the back row, where Marie, my father, Warren, and my mother, Frederika, sat. Marie, my youngest, was eating another snack, the crunching causing my mom to flinch. I lost count of how many nutritionists I took her to, but they never helped. She just continued to eat, more and more. Marie is nearing thirteen, but she weighs almost 200. She seems indifferent to it, but I worry eventually she’ll notice. I was surprised my parents decided to come. My dad does nothing, absolutely nothing. In fact, he had been sleeping the entire car ride. He has taken advantage of his retirement to the fullest. So when he told me he was actually going to leave the house for this vacation, I was floored. My mom is the complete opposite. She’s been a workaholic for as long as I can remember; I never really saw her growing up. All she did and does is spend time at her business: the Tweed Corporation. She’s a business tycoon and her corporation collects money faster than any other in the world. I think the only reason she agreed to take a couple days off of her, in my opinion, horrid job was that I paid for the entire vacation.

Suddenly, a high pitched voice broke my thoughts. It was Marie.

“How much longer do we have? This car ride has been taking forever. It seems like we’re going to the middle of nowhere,” she squeaked as she stuffed yet another twinkie in her mouth.

Alexander was quick to answer. “Five minutes Marie. Don’t worry.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m always sure,” Alexander quickly snapped back.

Diane decided to pipe in. “Mom,” she asked, “Why are we even going to this spa? Andrew was supposed to come over.”

I sighed. Andrew was the boy of the week. The week before it was Colin, before that Spencer. It goes on and on.

“I know sweetie. You’ll see him when we get home. Doctor Bouchard told me that I needed to take a break and relax for a week… for my health,” I responded, smiling at her.

“Mom, who’s Doctor Bouchard?” asked Marie.

“My therapist. You’ve met her a couple times.”

I found it peculiar that she wanted to have relationship with my family, but she assured me that it was just so she could truly understand me. So, once every other month, she meets with each of them. I let it go within the first week. I’ve only been with Dr. Bouchard for about a year or so, but she is the best one yet.

Marie giggled. “Oh yea! She’s very pretty… and nice. She always gives me a lollipop when I leave.”

Jim scowled but didn’t say anything. I know he thought this trip was pointless and was very reluctant to take the entire family, but Dr. Bouchard had told me great things about the place. I even looked it up- it was one of the top spas in the country. I’m positive the only reason he agreed to go was because Dr. Bouchard pressed him about it nonstop for weeks. Still, Jim hated that I even went to see her, something about how therapy was voodoo magic. I’m not really sure what he says about it word for word; I usually try and block it out.

Suddenly, Marie jumped up. “Look! We’re here!”

Jim abruptly came to a stop, throwing all of us forward. For a second, all I could hear was the screeching friction between the tire and the road. I was about to give Jim a look, but I knew better than that, so I collected my thoughts and quickly slipped out of the car and onto the solid ground. Everyone else followed, except for my dad. My mom had to wake him up and nearly drag him out of the car. As one of the attendees helped Jim get the bags out of the trunk, I saw a man approach us. He was wearing a crisp white suit that definitely cost more than the entire trip. His gray hair was nearing white as well, closely matching his suit and appearing almost transparent in the light. In fact, the only thing that wasn’t white was the black rose tucked into his jacket pocket. He seemed to exude charisma as everyone turned and looked at him. For a split second everything was quiet, the only sound coming from the trickle of the waterfall in front of the door and the song of a bird, exotic, I presumed.

Then he smiled, exclaiming, “Ah! The Morana family! Welcome to the best week of your life! We’re so happy to welcome you.”

My mom rolled her eyes. “Who are you?” she asked.

The man laughed. “Nice to meet you too. I am Francis Galton, the owner of the spa.” He motioned for us to follow him.

“Come along. There is much to do.”

We all looked around at each other. I had no idea what to expect from this place, but I trusted Dr. Bouchard. If she said I have to be here, then it’s the best thing I can do for myself and my family. Swiftly, Diane’s hand shot up. “What about our bags?”

Galton walked up to her and bent down to meet her eyes. “They will be brought to your room. Do not worry child,” he stated, standing up and looking at us, “Now… let’s go to your rooms.”

She shrugged and we began to walk into the spa. I was immediately hit with the smell of mint, just like the type my mom used to make when I was sick. We all looked around in wonder; the inside was extremely impressive. The walls were whiter than Galton’s suit, the floor a clean hardwood that looked soft to the touch. Waterfalls were everywhere, trickling into an intricate river system running through the floor, breaking up the hardwood. The spa screamed cleanliness, maybe even being a bit too clean. Staff members were rushing back and forth but didn’t make a sound. I didn’t see another family, which worried me a little. Maybe it’s not as busy this time of year.

Finally, we reached our rooms. Galton turned around to face us. He then lifted up his arm towards them, as if he was presenting a gift.

“Here are your rooms. In order to give each of you the most relaxing experience you can get, each of you will have your own room.”

I looked at all of the doors. There were eight, all in a row, each a varying color with each of our names on it in black, bold font. Jim’s room was first and I gasped as he opened it. For one, it was huge, but it wasn’t the size that shocked me. It was the style. Everything was black minus the bed. The four-poster bed was blood red, directly contrasting the monochromatic feel of the room: the black marble floor, the black geometric shapes on the walls. Even the toilet was black. The room was magnificent, to say the least, but my opinion of it quickly changed when I saw the other side. In the corner, there was a huge punching bag and some weights. Right next to it was a huge wall of weapons, ranging from a samurai sword to various types of knives. In the middle of them was Jim’s favorite, an AK-47. I only knew what it was because Jim always paraded it around the house, threatening to use it. I tried not to grimace and my stomach churned as I worried who he would choose to use those on, but then I saw the three dummies standing off to the side. I sighed, thankful that momentarily, I might be able to finally relax. What kind of spa is this? Jim smiled and went into his room.

Cassius was next. His room was completely green- a perfect match to the color of his eyes. I assumed the specific color choices had to be some sort of theme. The floor was a white abstract-like flooring. The bed was simple, green still, but simple. The walls were painted the same color, but had no design on them. There was what I thought was a window at first, but as I looked closer at it I realized it was a two-way mirror, looking straight into my husband’s room, which I thought was a bit strange. I didn’t dwell though, maybe it relaxed him knowing what Jim was doing. Cassius’s room was very nice, nicer than any of the hotels we had stayed at on the way here, but it was not on the scale on Jim’s… not by a long shot. His knuckles balled into fists as he walked in. When he turned to look at us before shutting the door, I tried to give him a comforting smile. He ignored it.

Marie raced to her room, throwing it open with glee, letting out whiffs of a sweet scent. It was her paradise, the perfect room for a twelve-year-old. It looked like the inside of the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel. There were different candies and all of her favorite foods spilling out of everything, to the point I didn’t even know what the room actually looked like, though I could make out that her selected color was orange. I sighed and moved on, watching her begin to eat her eleventh dessert of the day.

Diane looked nervous as she came up to her room, but when she opened it I saw her breathe a sigh of relief. Her room was mostly red, the exact shade of her lipstick, with splashes of black. Everything was satin, from the sheets on her bed to the curtains covering the windows and I could smell the faint scent of a perfume, though I couldn’t place which one. I couldn’t really see the closet, but it looked enormous. A red glow covered the room, which I assumed came from the lights, but they were still dim. Most of the light came from the various candles sprinkled around the room. I quickly noticed that there was also a mirror hanging above the bed. To be honest, it looked like a place married couples would go for their honeymoon. But if she was happy, then I was happy.

Alexander didn’t even let us see his room. He flew up to the door, opened it quickly and shut it before I could see anything other than flashes of purple and mirrors. I guess he wanted to keep his room to himself. My dad was the complete opposite. He took his time getting to his room and walked inside just as slowly. His room made a “man cave” look like a playground. There was a huge bed, but it was pushed off to the side in order to make room for the three televisions, video game console, huge fridge, cooler of beers, and five computers. The most recent football game was on, as well as two other random shows. The imagery overload was giving me a headache, but for the first time in my life, I saw my dad move fast as he quickly shut the door and lost himself in the technology.

My mom’s room was a rich man’s heaven. Everything, and I mean everything, was gold. The floor, the counters, even the base of her bed. I was such in shock I couldn’t even look at the rest. With a smug look on her face, my mom went into her room, letting her fingers dance over the edge of the golden counter, leaving me alone.

As I came up to my door, I didn’t even know what to expect. When I opened it, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was completely simple- a small bed with plain white sheets that took up almost the entire room, a simple television mounted on the wall, and a small bathroom off to the side. Just how I liked it. I turned and looked at Galton.

“That you so much for your hospitality.”

He smiled. “Of course. We are here to make everything better. Dinner is at seven.”

Then he walked away, leaving me to wonder what I had brought myself and my family into.

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