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The Tower 2
I opened my eyes and realized I was back in the hotel room. It was a dream, or was it? I felt like no time had passed. The sunlight was still coming through the window, but it was a bit dimmer than before. I glanced at the clock. It still read the same time.
I yawned and rolled out of bed. My legs were sore and stiff like...I thought about my 'dream'...like I had climbed hundreds of stairs. I shook my head. This wasn't possible.
Suddenly the phone rang. I jumped and then reached over to answer it. It was my wake up call. With a groan I stiffly got up and showered and got ready for the day. I had three flights to work and then we'd be coming back to the hotel for another night.
When I finished I grabbed my lunch and manual and left the hotel room. Everything seemed slightly off, like I was still dreaming. The sounds around me echoed a little and I took a deep breath trying to shake the feeling. I reached the lobby and met my crew and then we hopped on the shuttle to the airport.
The day was normal and when we returned to the hotel that afternoon I made a beeline for my room. It had taken two flights for me to shake the weird feeling and I was anxious to change and relax. I planned to walk around the hotel and soak in some of the beautiful sunshine.
When I changed I sat on the bed feeling suddenly tired. Unconsciously I lay down and closed my eyes. When I opened them I was again standing in front of the tower. The door opened again just as it had the first time. Without reservation I entered and glanced around. Nothing had changed, except there seemed to be a layer of dust on everything. I looked up at the winding staircase and groaned.
I still hurt from climbing the stairs before and here I had to do it again. With a deep sigh I started. The passage didn't seem to go as long as before and after a much shorter time I found myself at the top of the stairs looking across at the flickering fire.
Everything up here was just as dusty as the main floor, but I turned immediately to the tall chair and the stand where the man had put the book. The chair was empty and the book still sat on the stand. I walked silently across the thick carpet and approached the book.
The dust here was the same as everywhere else. I reached out and brushed it away, anxious to see what was there. The page was blank. I blinked remembering something had been on it before. I looked around hoping the man would return to explain everything, but the room remained empty.
Frustrated and annoyed I walked over to the bookshelves. They were still lined with the many leather-bound books, but they looked even older and more worn. I couldn't understand what was happening. Why did this place look like a hundred years had passed? It had not even been a day.
I took a deep breath trying to picture everything as I had first seen it that morning, the warm fire, the rich carpets and no dust. When I opened my eyes nothing had changed. Frustrated I moved toward the stairs. Clearly there was some sort of magic involved in this, but I didn't understand it nor would I be able to without some sort of help.
Resigned I started down the stairs. I am a practical person, but I love fantasy. This whole dream reeked of fantasy and magic. Yet my practical brain wanted to understand, wanted an explanation. So I was determined to find one.
I reached the bottom of the stairs and left the tower. A large meadow surrounded the tower and tall trees surrounded the meadow. To the north I noticed a tiny break in the trees and what looked like a path. With a tremor of excitement and nerves I made my way to the path.
It didn't take long for the trees to close around me. I looked back and could barely see the tower through the thick branches and leaves. At this point my nerves started to give out. What in the world was I doing? I'm not this adventurous.
I turned around and took a step back toward the tower and stopped. Deep in the back of my mind I felt I should go on. I hesitated, not sure what feelings I could trust at this point. With slow measured steps I resumed my travels on the path.
The forest around me was quiet and peaceful. Different from any other forest I had visited. The usual noises of bugs and wildlife were gone replaced only by the sound of wind moving through the branches high above my head. I craned my neck searching for a landmark ahead, but I could only see the path winding through the trees.
After what felt like an hour I sat down to rest. I was tired and hungry and thoroughly unimpressed with this new adventure. I knew if I kept going it would eventually get dark and I would need to eat and sleep. With these new thoughts I became worried.
What if I never got out of this place? What if I died in this dream? I shuddered. It was like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe gone crazy. I should have met a faun or someone by now.
Angry this time I turned back and again I stopped. The deep urge to continue almost overwhelmed my senses. At that point I knew I would not be able to return until I finished whatever it was I had to do here in this forest, so I continued on.
As I walked I reviewed every fairytale I had ever heard and tried to figure out which on my brain had thrust me into all the while wondering why I hadn't awakened yet. As I walked further away from the tower I started to notice a change in the forest. The trees started growing further apart and the rustle of the wind in the leaves above was now being challenged by other sounds.
The sounds didn't frighten me, on the contrary I felt more comfortable and at ease. After what felt like another two or three hours the trees broke away and I found myself at the edge of a deep chasm.
I stepped back carefully swallowing the queasy feeling that came as I stared down the cliff. I looked to the left and could see nothing but trees and the sheer drop into the mist below. The path turned to the right followed the edge of the chasm until it came to a bridge.
The bridge was a grand affair rising in graceful arches high above my head. It was wide enough to fit a car but I supposed in this fantastic world I was experiencing it would be a coach and four. It arched out into the chasm supported by a fantastic layout of what looked like iron or steel trusses.
I searched for the other side but could see nothing but the heavy mist. At this point I was well and ready to go back to the tower and wait for something else to happen. I wasn’t about to waltz out onto a bridge that I didn’t know how old or structurally sound it was. The astonishing height of the bridge and depth of the chasm was enough to keep me firmly on the ground.
The deep urge to continue struck me again, but this time I was going to be stubborn.
“If you want me to cross it then you’d better show me how stable it is and provide someone who will cross with me,” I said stubbornly.
I fully expected to wake up at that point, but I stayed right where I was, waiting. At this point I could see the sun dipping toward the western horizon (I assumed it was west). It was still warm and felt more like early afternoon than evening. I waited for another half hour and watched as the sunlight illuminated the arches of the bridge near my side of the chasm.
Slowly but surely the mist began to burn away in the afternoon warmth. I still couldn’t see to the bottom, but now the entire bridge was visible from where I stood. It had to be at least a mile wide and several hundred feet tall. The trusses on both sides were anchored deeply into the rock walls of the chasm arching to the center.
The bridge was suspended between two solid towers grounded firmly on each side of the chasm. The structures were made of a mixture of stone and the iron or steel that matched the trusses. Long chains attached to the top of the towers and dipped down near the approach in the center.
I studied the structure for several minutes before making my decision whether or not to cross. It looked solid enough and new enough that I shouldn’t have any problems. The rails of the bridge were high enough to block my view of the chasm below giving a bit of added comfort to the situation.
With a deep breath I stepped onto the bridge. I had gone about a hundred yards when I remembered the fairy tale of the troll bridge. With a shudder I tried to push the thought away. This didn’t seem like that kind of fairy tale situation. I hadn’t encountered monsters of any sort so I felt relatively safe.
I continued. It felt like an eternity before I reached the other side of the bridge. When I turned to look back the mist had risen up obscuring the other side. I closed my eyes, grateful for the sunshine and nervous for what might be ahead.