Journey through the River of Belief

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"Great, more rain," John said while looking out the window.

There was nothing out there other than dreary grey skies. While it rained over the colourless landscape, he was reminded of his time at sea and had no desire to linger on that.

When was the last time he had seen the sun? For the life of him, he could not remember.

"That's depressing," he said.

Left to ponder his situation, something from within urged him to ignore the weather. John felt compelled to sit in his comfortable chair, light a warm fire and read a good book. That was surely the better alternative?

John scanned the clifftop and found the familiar vestiges of the Grand hanging over the valley. Even through the naked eye, John made out the signs of decay from years of neglect.

Why was it that he never noticed the hotel when he first moved here? That was a mystery since this hotel had been built to dominate the skyline. Instead, he needed to scan the ridgeline until it sort of appeared from out of his peripheral vision.

Nonetheless, the appearance of the hotel was probably a subterfuge, an illusion to keep people away. If that hotel was nothing more than a vacant husk; a monument to past atrocities then the town's collective fear ought to have ebbed. The stories should have lost their potency and faded into folklore. No one wanted to believe in the bogeyman!

For now, John had a mystery of his own. He was curious about finding pictures of Eleanor within Edward Locke's diary. These pictures had all been taken well over twenty years ago. It was unlikely that someone would be able to maintain a youthful glow for so long. There should be signs of age or decay, much like the hotel did.

Eleanor looked to be a woman in her mid to late twenties. If he guessed her age correctly, then she would have been under ten when these shots were taken. Alternatively, if she were twenty in those pictures, then that would put her well over forty!

Perhaps Eleanor had a doppelgänger? Could these have been pictures of her mother or a close relative? The resemblances were uncanny, and that alone seemed to disprove that theory. Some children did resemble their parents, but was it possible to be a spitting image?

Frustrated with a slew of questions without answers, John returned to his seat facing the fireplace. He was settled on the idea of seeking out Eleanor, it was time to contemplate future plans. In time, he wanted to scale the Grand's walls to see what lay beyond. That could wait, given how the rain and humidity seeped into his bones. Would he ever feel warm again?

Once he began to read his book, John smiled. This particular diversion may yet prove useful. Since he was reading The Count of Monte Cristo, some of the story's elements were bound to read like a how-to manual.

* * * *

As expected, Eleanor proved to be as elusive as she was mysterious. On this rain-soaked morning, John walked through town drenched from head-to-toe. He hated the rain and the cold but focused on scouring the town for signs of that raven haired beauty.

John shivered with every gust of wind, clenching his jaw in frustration until he laid eyes on a young couple walking hand in hand. At first, nothing appeared to be out of place, but he had this nagging feeling that something was amiss. To think, a Kodak moment with the couple oblivious to the rain.

The barrister remembered falling for an English girl during the war and how the world and its woes melted away with nothing more than a kiss. For a time the ravages of war no longer concerned him. One glance at her piercing grey eyes was all he needed. That is until he returned from a patrol and found out that her neighbourhood had been bombed out of existence. Why was it that he could not remember her name?

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