The Tower 1
The Tower 1
I lay in bed listening to the rushing sound of the morning traffic on the freeway just below my hotel room. Sunlight filters through the sheer curtains creating a natural golden cast on everything it touches. Despite the sound of the freeway there is a peaceful feeling in the room. I close my eyes wanting to bask in the experience for just a little longer.
The sounds from the freeway melt into the background and are slowly replaced by another. It is familiar, but unfamiliar. I listen carefully until I finally realize it is the rustling of leaves in a morning breeze. I open my eyes and to my surprise find myself lying on a soft carpet of moss in the middle of a forest.
Massive trees reach hundreds of feet to the sky. The sunlight passing through the leaves make distorted patterns on the ground beneath my feet. I turn around in awe taking in the strange beauty all around me. Uniquely shaped bushes are scattered across the forest floor. I reach out to touch one and it shimmers and blurs before me. When my eyes refocus I find the bush has moved several feet away.
Confusion washed over me. Where was I? How did I get here? The questions fill my mind with increasing fear. I close my eyes and take a deep breath calming my scattered nerves. When I feel ready I open them and look around carefully. A trail, slightly hidden by the strange bushes, lays just to my right. I move toward the trail stepping carefully past the foliage.
I walk for what seems like hours weaving in and out between the massive trees. Ahead I notice a change in the light; I increase my pace. I can see now there is a break in the trees. I approach it cautiously not wanting to fall off a cliff or anything. It feels like the trees step aside for me to pass.
I now face a clearing the size of half a football field. In the center of the clearing is a tower made of beautiful round stones. An arched doorway at the base catches my eye. I slowly make my way to the doorway. It looks like wood, but with the sparkle of granite in the sunlight. The door swings eerily open beckoning me. I step over the threshold and look around. The light from the door illuminated the room revealing a tiny fireplace and an enormous stone staircase.
I could feel the cold and smell the dank, musty air of an unused building, but a fire crackled in the fireplace. I scanned the room suspiciously looking for anyone who could have built the fire. It seemed deserted so I decided to try the stairs.
I felt uncomfortable from the first step a feeling that I was being watched haunting me as I ascended. The stairs seemed to go on forever winding up and up. I glanced at my watch and realized it was missing.
Time seemed to stand still as I lifted one foot after another. The sound of my shoes slapping against the stone echoed up and down the stairway. Just when I thought it would never end I reached the top of the stairs.
Thick carpets with strange designs covered the floor of the circular room. Another fireplace, much larger than the one downstairs, sat on the far wall with another fire crackling merrily. I could feel the warmth from the stairs. I slowly walked across the floor my steps silenced by the thick carpets.
I reached out my hands feeling the heat. It toasted my fingers and up my arms. I turned around to let the heat warm the back of my body. I looked around the room taking in the surroundings. An old fashioned desk sat across from the fire with a whole series of bookshelves lining the walls several feet out from the desk.
Books with worn, leather covers filled the shelves. For the first time I noticed the pungent smell of leather in the air. I crossed the room again this time heading straight for the books. The titles were all written in a slanted script and sparkled like gold or silver.
"The ones on the right are the most interesting," a deep voice said behind me.
I whirled around to face the speaker. A figure sat in the shadows of a tall-backed, reading chair. I couldn't see his face, but I could tell he was very tall and broad shouldered. I backed up until I felt the bookshelves behind me.
"Who are you?" I demanded.
"I am the owner of this tower," came the gentle, but firm response.
"But who are you?" I asked again slowly.
"Unfortunately I can't answer that question right now," he replied. "I have been waiting for you for quite some time now."
"Me? You were waiting for me?"
I couldn't fathom why he would be waiting for me. I was a simple girl from a small town working as a flight attendant for a smaller airline. I was not anyone of importance. Why would this mysterious figure in the strange tower be waiting for me?
"For all the reasons you just listed in your head and for the fact that you were brave enough to climb the stairs...and because you saw the books before you even knew I was here," he replied.
Even in the shadows I could tell he was smiling. I relaxed a little, very little. I still didn't understand so I waited for him to continue.
He took a deep breath. "There is a book on the fourth shelf with a dark purple cover and silver writing; will you bring it to me?"
Though nervous to turn my back on him, I faced the shelves and located the volume in question. I pulled it carefully from the shelf. It was very old and the leather was worn and cracked on the corners. As it fell completely into my hands I realized it was very heavy, more so than any text book I had ever carried in college.
I stepped toward the chair and the man moved to get up. For the first time the firelight illuminated his face. It was a very handsome face with piercing blue eyes and dark brown hair. His features were tired and worn, but the wisdom in his expression could not be masked.
He got to his feet and I looked up in surprise. He had to be at least six foot seven or taller. I stepped back involuntarily and he paused. A look of chagrin crossed his face and he reached out carefully for the book I held.
"I forgot how my height amazes your people," he said moving toward a reading stand.
I shook my head. "Only a little surprised. I have a cousin who is six seven," I replied. "I just don't see many people as tall as you."
He looked back at me with an expression of pleasure. He carefully set the volume on the stand and began turning the pages. I watched for several moments before I realized that he hadn't actually touched the pages.
When he stopped he beckoned me closer. Though still a bit uncertain I moved to his side and glanced down at the pages in front of us. In an instant I could feel myself being pulled back through the darkness of sleep.