Sunday 26 February 2023

The Tower - Flash Fiction Story - by Dominic Rivron

 



 

The Tower

Flash Fiction Story

by Dominic Rivron

 

I was walking along the beach, towards a white tower. It was circular and the smooth, stone sides tapered. It was not unlike a lighthouse only the lantern was missing. It was topped instead by a brown, low-pitched conical roof. Perhaps it had once been a lighthouse, I considered. Maybe it had been put to another use and the lantern removed.

The closer I got, the more curious I became. I just had to know what was inside it. It crossed my mind that it might be occupied – in which case, I decided, I'd pretend I'd lost my way. I could ask for directions to nearby Embleton, where I'd arranged to stay. They might think I was an idiot but so what?

I made my way gingerly over the slippery seaweed that covered the rocks and the concrete foundations around the base of the structure. I knocked on the door. It was so substantial that my knock sounded like a mere tap, hardly audible above the breaking of the waves on the beach behind me. Needless to say, there was no response.

I turned the handle and pushed against the door. It was unlocked and fell back easily. I walked in. I found myself in a low, circular chamber. Just enough light came through a small window for me to make it out. The air felt cold. The walls had once been whitewashed, but were now tinted green, covered as they were with an irregular film of algae.

I crossed the stone floor to the window. As I did so, I heard the door swing shut behind me. The window was, as I said, small – about a foot square – and seemed to be made of a thick block of glass. It was impossible to see any clear image through it. It was like looking at the world through the base of a bottle.

Not far from the window, to my left, was the foot of an enclosed staircase. I made my way up it, past another of the small, bottle-glass windows. It led to another room, very much like the first, though this time provided with basic furniture. There was a chair, a table and a low divan. They were all caked in a greasy dust and the upholstery smelt of mildew. They had obviously not seen use for a very long time. On the far side of the room, a second enclosed staircase led up to the next floor.

I wandered round the room and looked out of the window. Again, although it admitted some light, I could see nothing clearly through it. There were blue swirls which could have been either the sea or the sky and flecks of yellow that I took to be the sand.

I climbed the second staircase. Only, when I reached the top, I found the room there was, to all intents and purposes, identical to the one I'd just left. There was a chair, a table and a divan as before. On the far side of the room, a second enclosed staircase led up to the next floor. My first thought was that whoever furnished the tower was making a point or having fun. Perhaps I'd stumbled on some sort of art installation.

I crossed the room and continued on, up. The room on the next floor was, again, identical. The chair, the table, the divan. I began to feel disorientated, slightly nauseous. I decided I must have made some sort of foolish error, although I felt sure that I'd always been walking up the stairs, not down. I could feel myself coming out in a cold sweat.

What was I to do? I had the stub of a pencil in my pocket. It occurred to me to leave it on the table and make my way back to the room I'd just left. This I did and, when I emerged into the room again, there was my pencil-stub, on the table, just as I'd left it.

I put my pencil back in my pocket and hurried down the stairs. My worst fears were confirmed. Whatever I did, I found myself back in the same room.

Sometimes – ever hopeful – I attempt to descend the staircase again, hoping to escape, but the result is always the same. Apart from these brief exertions I have been trapped in this room ever since. I sleep, fitfully, on the divan and when I do I dream: I dream I am living my former life. My sister and I sit before the fire, talking animatedly as we often did. Sometimes we sit down to a meal (oddly, all that I need seems to be provided for me in my dreams). Sometimes I improvise on my guitar. I read, I write. I attend to the garden... And then I wake up – to the cold, to the dim light of the tower and to the sweet, mildew smell of the old divan.




Dominic Rivron has been various things, from a care assistant to a piano teacher. His work has been published in a number of magazines, including Scratch, The Poetry Bus, Dream Catcher and Obsessed with Pipework. He lives in the North of England. His blog can be found at http://asithappens55.blogspot.com


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