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September 22, 2018

37. The Royal House Supria

The Royal House Supria was enormous. The hotel footprint sprawled the landscape of the affluent land, the thrusting and folding mountains that surrounded it. Within a narrow valley, it was atop towering peaks and elevation, surrounded by ibex and edelweiss. It’s size was given to extravagant accommodations: a respite for tourists and travelers of the highest pedigree, a white collar mountain resort among the beautiful surrounding landscape.

Fascinating suits of empty armor stood watch within nooks along the endless hallways of the Royal House Supria. Sentries of witness. Their completely covered selves perpetually held a downward sword or resting spear. The lack of dust suggested activity—or more likely an efficient team of housekeepers. The plush carpet was always landscaped and cleaned to retain its saturated and honorable red hue. Golden tassels hung from long golden rope. Purple drapes hung from tall, powerful windows. The interior, the design, he decoration of the hotel was lavish and extravagant.

Yáñez was originally from Chile. This was apparent in his caramel skin, well-oiled hair, and dark mustache. His eyebrows were thick and nearly touched but he maintained himself and trimmed regularly. He was tall and narrow. His outfits were tailored and starched to crisp perfection. His accent had faded as he had not visited South America in decades. Yáñez has not forgotten why he had expatriated from Chile. He now lived and worked as the executive hotelier, head butler of the famed and remarkable Royal House Supria. This had been his life for the better part of four decades. This had become his life entirely. He was punctual and efficient to perfection. Hospitality and servitude were his honor and distinction. He easily recalled the serendipitous and near-magical means of receiving the initial role as bellhop. The appointment seemed divine.

Yáñez provided accurate and growing numbers to the owner, a vaguely royal family. The hotel was always booked and multiple wet bars were a social watering hole for white collar and well-to-do guests to mingle. The ski resort moved along endless lines of wealthy families along gondolas and meandering ski trails. The land and the people were peaceful and serene.

But there has always been a feeling—that something had followed Yáñez from Chile to the wind-blown mountainous alpine area of Hotel Supria. Something ethereal and ominous but entirely undescribable. A something that locked doors behind him and turned out lights when he’d look away. And in the hotel in came in the form of missing keys, hats misplaced, and coats on the wrong rack. The royal and esteemed residents were rarely, if ever, the target. But the feeling—the truth of the enigma—had followed and evaded Yáñez for years. And seemed to grow more potent. A fold in the rug that tripped his step would be his only trouble for weeks. And then a bout of locked doors and spilled inkwells would remind him of his invisible vexation. Flickering lights brought a more serious and threatening tone to the hotel.

Early in his tenure he openly asked the staff if they shared his experience of strangeness. He learned quickly to only speak when spoken to and that he alone was subject to the otherworldliness. But Yáñez was the only subject to experience these otherworldly happenings. The staff, the guests, no one else was ever around or near enough to experience firsthand what Yáñez felt.

Five years into his tenure at the hotel he switched rooms to avoid the happenings. They followed and so he settled into his current room, where he had lived for some decades now. And so the events became an integrated, nuanced, and negative part of Yáñez’s life.

Finally, on a cold and bitter evening Yáñez stood at the end of a long corridor of rooms in the great hotel. His gleaming leather shoes stood on the plush red carpet. Yáñez was turning off lights and winding the Royal House Supria down for the night. His heart was full of his work and service. He looked down the long hallway and doors began to open and slam violently, in succession, closer and closer to Yáñez. The final door closed, nearly touching his aqualine nose. Yáñez stood powerful and outwardly showed no fear, statuesque. Inward, despite his age and wisdom, he shook in confusion. These happenings were not to disturb his esteemed guests. And now their very doors acted out in defiance, frightening guests and inciting screams of confusion.

Yáñez considered his guests his top priority—even above his own life. And he knew what must be done. Yáñez called his butlers and staff together. The hour was past their bedtime but the matter was critical. They trusted Yáñez. He called his associate butler directly, You must gather the guests. Take them to the Great Hall. Gather them there for safety and count them. We have 347 guests this evening. Account for each of them against the manifest. To the head chef he gave an envelope. Do not open this for now. You will know when. Yáñez shook his hand solemnly and gazed into his eyes with all respect.

Yáñez apologized to the few guests that had thus far been collected. He bowed to his staff and turned his back. Yáñez opened the grand french doors of the Royal House Supria, they swung open and an icy breeze let itself in. He stepped his leather shoe into the snow and immediately the unnatural violence stopped. Yáñez continued his departure into the dark night and freezing winds and his appointment as executive hotelier at the Royal House Supria abruptly concluded.

Influence here is taken from the film, Grand Budapest Hotelby Wes Anderson; Mary Shelley’s infamous novel, Frankenstein; and Julio Cortázar’s short story, “House Taken Over”.