The Tower

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A first person memoir of a man who finds himself in a strange place after being aboard a United States Navy vessel bound for Great Britain's shores. He finds himself in a nightmarish tower, longing to find an escape.

Written in a slightly Lovecraftian or Poean fashion.

Submitted: June 10, 2015

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Submitted: June 10, 2015

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  I have no recollection of how I might have arrived at this dreadful place, or what situation could have been so contrived as to bring me here. The last scrap of memory I can bring forth into my concious mind is being an engineer aboard the U.S.S Liberator, a vessel bound for the shores of England and harboring weapons and rations for our allies' seemingly futile war effort. It was grim work upon the ship, with the dangers of attack never ceasing; it seemed as if all men aboard the ship felt a slight apprehension each time the thunder cracked or the mighty waves jolted the Liberator like a child's toy.

I can distinctly recall falling ill upon our tenth day at sea, amidst turbulent throes from the wretched wind and raging, black waves. A sudden case of the influenza, contributed to food poisoning or general sea-sickness, according to the ship's apothecary. It would be a long voyage, indeed, if the plight of sickness should lay me low so soon, I had thought. I was prescribed asprin for my aching brain, and rest for my weary body and clouded mind.

I can remember the night that my ailment took hold of my body, burried its claws into my bones and held me firmly in its clutches, making me wish for a swift end, for it would be a mercy compared to the anguish of being bed-ridden and utterly helpless. Rest came in uneasy intervals. My dreams were wild, fantastic, and horrible abominations that my subconcious mind threw forth in its death throes. In my dreams, I stood on the edge of a steep cliff which overlooked an ocean as red as fresh blood from an oozing wound. The bood waves lapped the spires of the cliff, and enveloped the black beach below in a tide of putrescence.

The sky was a whirlwind of deep maroon and pitch black night. An angry blending of anguish and despair, perpetuated by foul winds that smelled of toxicity and sulphur. The noxious miasma permeated my nostrils, the vivid realism of the dream world causing me to buckle at the knees, grasp my abdomen and hurl profusely. Climbing to my feet, I nearly stumbled to my death from sheer weakness and fright over the crag of the cliff and into the sea of death below. I felt perplexed by the complex nature of the dream, and I knew not when I would awaken, or if I ever would. I began to panic and frenzy, questions arose in my mind; was I dead?

Then, suddenly, the sense of fear intensified, as if a switch had been activated within me, and I turned from the cliff and ran. I knew not why I felt so endangered, surely the near fall from the cliff was not enough to send a brave sailor fleeing like a herded sheep. Yet I ran nonetheless. The acrid winds whipped the sands and ruddy dirt around my face, stinging my eyes and lacerating my flesh until streams of crimson flowed like rivers.

A spire potruded from behind a steep hill as I ran. I expected to behold some sort of castle, or perhaps a city to use for respite from the wicked storm and impending dread which encapsulated me, beating me down to the last remains of my sanity. I reached the top of the hill, putting me on level ground to the structure in the distance. Thunder cracked overhead, reverberating through the void and stifling all other sound as it asserted its dominance. A terrible dread befell me once more as the windstorm subsided briefly, allowing me a better view of the monolithic structure. It was no castle of golden pillars and proud standards like the tales of old Europe; it was not a glorious city to bring this nightmare to its climax. I realized the horror was only just commencing as I beheld a single, delapidated turret ascending to the bleak sky as if it were a skeletal arm arising from the grave. Its weather-beaten facade stood out menacingly and malifically in the arid tundra of sand.

As terrible as it was, I felt transfixed to it. I could not muster enough strength or pious zeal to turn away from the tower which was hell incarnate. Its crumbling beige face was the only change of color within a monotonous sea of red; red skies, red clouds, red rocks, and red wind. I cannot begin to describe in any great detail the horror, the utter, stifling horror upon my frail conciousness. I walked towards it, step by step, by no will of my own. It was a terrible, horrible feeling of helplessness and danger.  I dropped to my knees as I begged the heavens for a release from this void, some form of salvation. Then, as if my desperate plea had been heard, and the divine spirit of god took action, I was delivered from that nightmare reality.

I awoke to the noxious smell of smoke about the air. My eyes shot open and paced swiftly through the darkened room, making out a faint, grey haze of smoke hovering around my room. I exploded from my bed, mustering all of my strength inspite of my sickness and aching body and weary mind, and ran for the cabin door, which I found to be ajar. I pushed it open without skipping a beat, my actions being performed in a seemingly singular movement, as if I were sliding on ice. To my surprise and shock the halls appeared eerily silent; not a soul could be seen reacting to any emergency, nor could Idistinguish any telltale signs of the source of the lingering smoke. There appeared to be no fire, no structural damage of any kind, and no crew. Just flashing strobes of red lights, the creaking of the ship's hull, and the sulfuric odor of smoke.

I pulled my shirt around my mouth and nose to prevent poisoning from the smoke, and stepped slowly into the hall. The only source of light was from the engineering room lights whose flashing intervals cut through the thick, grey air like a blood stained blade. I stumbled around the dim, bleak halls in search of a way out; in search of any crew. The moisture evaporated from my eyes, hindering my vision and intensifying my disorientation. Perhaps my fellows had all perished? If this were in fact the case, and I was lingering aboard a ghost ship, then why hadn't I come across piles of lifeless corpses? Where had the ship ventured to? Had we run ashore, the men abandoning ship and leaving me for dead? The thoughts chilled my bones, even through the brutal humidity of the ship's bowels.

At last, I found a port door, and an escape from the infernal ship just before conciousness fled my body. I was quite perplexed to discover the door still locked and shut tight, as if it had never been opened by any man. No matter. I braced myself for whatever lie in wait on the other side. I expected an entire plethora of possibilities; armed German soldiers waiting to capture me or end my life, a tidal wave to wash me out to see and never return to the waking world, or perhaps even the pearly gates of Saint Peter himself, with opened arms outstretched to welcome me home to the Kingdom of God.

As the door unlatched and opened, the grimness of my situation nearly ruptured the last fruits of my sanity, beating them to a oozing pulp of fermented terror. I beheld a world almost entirely devoid of light, devoid of sounds or smells; save the insufferable aroma of toxic sulphur. Transfixed in my horror, I stumbled from the doorway and fell hard onto cracked, arid ground, as if i had been transported into a desert of suffering and damnation. I was surrounded by ruddy rocks, an angry, swirling sky of crimson. The world I had entered into through the door of the Liberator was monotonous and bleak, dry and spiteful. Foul winds beat down, whipping my face and eyes with stinging sand, like a million paper wasps descnding upon me.I had not the energy or voice to scream and curse at its wretchedness as I drifted into nightmarish insanity, never to experience again the mercy of a sane mind.

I had entered a replica of my dream, yet I was very much awake. For though the sights and sounds which bombarded my senses in my nightmare were of such a vivid disposition, there was something malignantly real about this. I knew, in my insane mind I knew, I would not wake from this. I arose slowly to my feet, struggling to make sense of the red, dark world which surrounded me for miles on all sides. I noticed the considerable height from which i had fell from, and saw but a single metallic door embedded into a cliffside. There was not a trace of the Liberator to be seen. Her crew, too, had seemingly vanished from existence.

Then, like a crushing weight upon my body, the same sense of urgency and fear that had fallen upon me in the nightmare tormented me once more. As if awakening from a trance, I became alert and aware of my surroundings, and I ran. I knew not where I ran to, I simply knew if I did not leave the land beneath this open canopy of molten sky, I would reach an unfortuante circumstance worse than that of death. I pushed my broken body to the point of exhaustion, for the sky, though deep and sunless, emitted a firey heat of such intensity one would believe he had traveled to the core of the Blue Planet. Sweat beaded upon my brow and face and dripped into my dry eyes, blurring my vision. The landscsape remained consistent; broken, hopless and bleak. A thought arose in my mind that death could be my only reprieve from this hell, maybe it was my only escape.

I flopped to the ground like a timbered tree, lifeless and bloodied from lesions and boils from the sand and firey heat.

But death's cold grip did not claim me.

I awoke upon a hard slab, a bed made of a stone monolith from what it felt. The room was opaque, my wounded eyes could not penetrate the darkness which surrounded me. My head still ached and screamed. Perhaps I was in the infirmary and this had all been fever induced delusion. Yes, I thought, this was all just a dream. I'm surely in some hospital now, the lights have been shut off because it is night, I should be sleeping. How could I have been so foolish to truly believe I was traversing a crimson desert?

I chuckled hardily to myself. What a fool I had been to be undertaken by such hysteria! Surely I was safe, safer than anywhere else on this earth; for at least I was not braving the perils on the churning seas. I was thirsty, the fever had certianly done a number on me, I had thought. I brought about my right arm  to finger the wall for a nurse call button to summon a glass of water.

And to turn these god-damned lights on!

I found myself speaking aloud to the empty black canvas that was my room, chuckling in embarassment, hoping nobody had heard me.

My hand slid over the surface of the wall, and I was surprised to find it made of rough stone which abraded my flesh. I lept from my bed with the revelation that I was not in a hospital, nor was I safe. I stumbled through the darkness and fell numerous times over loose stone tiles and deep crags within the floor. I felt around the room's lengthy permimeter and found myself in front of a door, which felt as if it were made of splintered wood. A small beam of light leaked from beneath the doorway, struggling to ward off the opaque bleakness of my chamber; or as I perceived it, my prison. I felt an iron latch on the door and gave a hardy tug, but the door did not budge an inch, it was locked securely from the opposite side.

Damn! I knew not where I was, or how much time had transpired since my most recent bout of unconciousness claimed me. My primary goal was to leave this room and seek a way out of whatever structure contained me. The room was pitch black, blacker than the open sea during a new moon, save for the thread of light which flickered and wavered beyond the wood door. The room was as silent as a crypt. I the rivers of blood pulsing through my ears in nervous anticipation of what may happen next; for I knew not. The sound was maddening.

Taking a step back, I considered my options, and it seemed I had but one that was worth any weight. I would try to batter the door down with my full mass centered in the heel of my foot. I was a sturdy man of considerable height and strong build, and more stamina than most men I traveled at sea with. I took three large paces back and braced myself for the coming impact. Running at full speed, I extended my foot as it collided with the door, sending it into splinters upon the floor and hurling me into the other room. Wood shivers peppered my face and I slammed to the floor, intense pain shooting through my leg and radiating to my abdomen. I had surely broken my foot and fibula, no doubt. The pain was excrutiating; I let out a hard gasp and clentched my foot, still inside of the boots I was wearing on board the ship.

Struggling to my feet and balancing my weight on the foot that still retained its integrity, I surveyed the new room. It was constructed entirely of sturdy, grey stones which had a sort of cold aura surrounding them, at odds with the heat of the endless landscape I had previously found myself in. In fact, I noticed, the entire building itself seemed inexplicably cold, as if the smoldering temperatures of the sunless sky mattered not. Haggard support beams bore the weight of the ceiling above me, though I did not trust their strength, expecting them to give way and collapse in the blink of an eye. And in the center of the room there stood a single, lone table of mildewed wood and oaken complexion; atop it was a gas lamp, the source of the feeble illumination within the room.

I noticed through the dimness there lie a slit window within the stone, and I approached it, using the old table as a support to steady myself from falling; I found it to be damp and cold to the touch. The window was of the same persuasion as those found in medieval castles in Europe, in which archers could pelt their assailants with missles from relative safety. Just a mere slit cut into the rough, cool stones, like a natural formation.

I found myself staring into the same gaping, endless red monotony that I believed I had escaped. The sense of dread swept over me again like death's cold hand; but I knew that death could not save me, nothing could. The realization that I would never escape this dreaded place set in, but I had nothing more to feel. My sanity, as I recall, had been shattered early on. I know now that such a thing can be deemed a mercy even though it perplexed me at the time. I remember thinking to myself that this must be Hell. I had died at sea at the hands of waves and storm, or in a hail of torpedoes and gunfire. I imagined my mangled corpse adrift in the Atlantic, food for the sharks and the lesser abominations that dwelled just beyond reach of man's domain. I knew not how long I must have been dead, for this was but a speculation within my shattered conciousness. If this was Hell, then I could not win; the game had already ended.

Then, as I stared blankly into the field of stone, I spied a small shape, like an ant from my considerable height behind this window and enclosed in this dark structure. It scurried along the dirt below me, occasionally stumbling and tripping, frantically. A faint hope rised within my shattered shell, my heart raced, my broken appendage no longer pained me, the blisters and scrapes on my skin no longer stung me. I cried out to the shape below as it grew closer, discovering it to be a man; perhaps a sailor who had survived the liberator's uncanny demise? I knew not, but the sensations swirled within me at the prospect of being retrieved, or at least sharing the insane sufferings with another. I know now that I feared an eternity of emptiness more than the pain and opression of my captive land. I screamed again for the man, louder this time, more wild, but he did not hear, or he did not care to hear. Was he an illusion? Was he a demonic shade come to torment me in this land of half-dream; this land of ever evolving vistas of reality?

I cried again, tears of joy and panic streamed in torrents down my seared face and into the cracks of my dry, cavernous lips. He now stopped, a gesture, seemingly, that he had heard me. I beamed. Maybe this man knows a way out of this infernal place. Maybe he has answers. If all else we can be companions, joined in acute suffering.

I called out again, sure I had seized his attention to me. He slowly gazed up at the building, his face obscured sightly by the deluge of sand; I could not make out who this man was, or where he had come from. He had seemingly appeared from thin air, materialized into this vaccant world that only I seemed to traverse; and as I gazed, my throat hoarse and dry from calling, he collapsed to his knees as if to pray, and unleashed the most terrifying, mournful sound I had ever heard expelled from the human vocal apparatus. He croacked and moaned like a mother mourning the loss of her newborn child, the sound chilled my blood, and it haunts me still. I pittied him, yet wondered why he could not hear me call to him. An insidious sense of deja vu overtook me suddenly, daring me to evoke my deepest memories.

There was an eery familiarity, a sort of psuedo-memory, something that may have happened yesterday or a year ago, or possibly never happened at all. I peered closer, my eye nearly extending beyond the limitations of the window, struggling to see. Sand and dirt assaulted my cornea and lodged in my dry throat; the wind barrelled through the small opening of the window, threatening to topple me over in my weakened state. Despite all this, I managed to steal a single glimpse at the mysterious figure below me. The sand eventually lifted the veil from his face, allowing me to make out minute details and determine if I recognized him at a member of the Liberator's crew. He was red haired, close shaven and of a muscular build and above average height, his skin scarred and bloodied, I presumed from the rugged terrain of the surrounding lands.

Then the source of my trepidation was revealed as I writhed within from the horrible discovery that the man below... was me. It was I, as I had remembered being within that fever-driven, lucid dream just nights ago; at least it resonated within me that it was only a few mere nights ago. I steadied myself as the breath flew from my lungs, nearly capsizing me.

But how?

The questions reeled in the darkest recesses of my mind. This knowledge I now possessed became the pinnacle of my terror, and I was focussed entirely on it, no other thought mattered save for this irreverence of all of God's laws of nature. Something like this should not be, yet I saw it; a reprise of what I had believed to be a dream which I now observed from a new perspective. I came to realize my own wherabouts: I resided within the horrible tower from my dream! The very place which had been the crux of my nightmare; the tall, foreboding monolith which raked the ruddy sky with its archaic, malignant majesty. Judging the distance from where I was to the ground below, I estimated I must be somewhere in the middle tier of the tower.

I stared down below at my dream self, unsure of what to do next, fearful of what might transpire. I could not recall what happened beyond this point during that nightmare; perhaps I had made myself forget. It seemed I could not interact at all with him... myself. My dream self's eyes, from what I could see from my substantial distance above, appeared empty and glossy, giving the impression of death or paramount fear. It was the same expression that is apparent within glass dolls; lifeless, yet sinister.

As I contemplated my options, I recalled that in the dream I was overcome by a surge of intense fear which had led me to the insufferable tower and across the bleak landscape. Someone, or something, must have been pursuing me. I did not wish to entertain the thought, and hoped I could avoid the subject all together, but it itched and poked at the back of my mind. What horro could be so supreme that it piqued my sense of fear without my eyes ever befalling it? If this land was truly some reflection of my dream, or vice versa, then I knew I would find the answer to my loathesome question. The intense fear was somehow linked to whatever followed me through this oblivion, a beacon of coming dread.

The fear surged within me and rose to new heights as below my dream self wept and wailed perpetually. Everything that was happening seemed to take considerably more time in comparison to the dream, as if time itself was slowed down and spoke in a creeping drawl. A climactic intensity culminated in the air, stewing in its miserable noxiousness. Then, the ground trembled lightly, as if a sudden earthquake had struck, A low, bellowing resonance came from the direction of a hill just mere yards away from where I stood in the confines of the stone tower. I knew even without knowing, I feared without concious effort, and I wept without the slightest trace of sadness within my soul; the air grew danker, the sky grew more and more miserable and dark, as if night crept over the arid plains.

As if a black moon rose to the horizon, a dark, massive figure, bathed in shadow, loomed over the hill with a slow intensity I had never seen before. The figure peaked over the hill's crest, groping the red desert sand with myriad clawed appendages, moaning and grunting bestially; it rose as tall as a mountain, if not taller, and was larger and more grotesque than any creature I had ever laid my eyes on; though now I prayed for blindness.

It came into full view and I could make out its scaley, black body, playing contrast to the red facade of the cliffs and hills and sand. Its malignant red eyes, set deep inside its horribly human face, pierced the air, sending beams of light wherever it rested its sunken gaze. Its mouth appeared to be sewn shut, rendering it unable to make any noise other than hideous bellows, which registered in my mind as grunts of agony. As I before mentioned, the creature was equipped with dozens of gruesome appendages which ended in menacingly hooked taloned claws; I was unable to distinguish arm from leg, for they bore the same structure, and sprouted haphazardly from seemingly random locations on its sleek body; the beast twirled and gyrated as it walked, so that at one point or another, all of its horrid limbs carried its weight. It resembled in many aspects a massive, humanlike spider.

Standing upon the threshold of the hill, it cocked its head slowly and fixed its eye beams on my dream self; he still knelt there, head in hands, rocking to and fro like I had seen the shell shock victims do. Then, the beast descended from its perch and moved like a thunderous shadow towards the base of the tower. It writhed with each booming step, turning over its body and traversing obstacles with a sickening ease, a spectacle which disturbs me still to this day. The speed and efficiency and sheer lack of time it took for the beast to descend from its hilltop perch and plant itself behind where my dream self knelt was baffling.

The beast's eyes were transfixed on the kneeling figure before it, his back turned to the thing that wrought his doom. I watched horror stircken from the dank tower room as the creature reared back its head inb a sickening display of inhuman contortion. Muscles and ebony veins bulged from its throbbing, scaly skin. I could see it was trying to force is sewn mouth open, the entire desert echoed with the appaling, grim sound of tearing flesh and snapping strings. The beast mumbled a terrible lament, a resonance which assualted my ears, causing me to grasp them, jeopardizing my balance.

The mouth ripped and tore, the beast forcing it open, never relenting. I saw the strings which sealed its mouth, they were more like stark black tendrils, almost organic; pieces of crimson flesh stuck to them in the onslaught of self mutilation. It was a grisly display. The struggle payed off, and within a minute of watching, its mangled mouth was free at last. It raised its head to the sky as I witnessed a terrible transformation occur; its butchered lips began to recede, indeed its entire face seemed to slide back on itself, exposing a sinister set of protruding teeth and blackened gums. It shrieked like a bird of prey, then, as quickly as the transformation had started, it had set upon my dream self, devouring him in an explosion of red gore.

I watched in disbelief as my doppleganger was consumed without  thought, without sound, without the slightest signs of struggle or agony. He was washed away on a tide of blood to rest forever in the internal void of the hideous abomination. I felt as if a piece of me perished along with my dream self, for I ached and felt hollow, and swore the air whistled through holes in my skin and bones. I was still in a state of perpetual shock and bewilderment at what was made manifest before me, I still did not know my location or where I had been before. I did not see a deeper meaning or relevancy in the world around me. I simply knew I had to survive, lest I be trapped for an eternity longer than all other eternities.

Using its pulsating, grey tongue, which resembled a rotten corpse, the beast licked the gory residuum of blood from the sand until not a drop was left, then checked its soulless gaze at me. The fear surged within again, knocking me to the floor upon my back like a physical presence had struck me down. I scrambled backwards, my feet slipping and sliding on the plethora of sand which had blewn in from the outside. My eyes shot frantically around the room for some sort of shelter, or some exit, but none was visible. It seemed to me that the room had only one entrance and exit, which I had come through only moments beforehand. Crawling on hands and knees, I ducked beneath the centered table, my only possible refuge from what may come next.

Outside, the ground rumbled and shook vehemently with each approaching step of the ghastly beast. The gas lamp toppled over and exploded against the hard stone floor, glass and sparks flying in every direction. I shuddered beneath the table in pitch darkness, the rumbling growing louder, a terrible gurgling sound which the beast emitted now rising to a fevered pitch. My heart slammed in my chest, any harder and it would have cracked my sternum. Sweat poured like rain down my clammy flesh and collected in pools in my boots; another liquid stained my pants and spewed out around where I sat.

Then as soon as the earth shattering rumbling began, it ceased, yet only briefly. A darkness of an intensity and dark vigour I had never witnessed before or since that day shadowed itself over the small window slit, causing a total eclipse of even the faint phantom glow of the outside world. The air fluctuated from hot to cold, hard to still, arid to moist, silent to intense; moments of clarity stood betwixt moments of insanity and fear, as if I felt every feeling I had ever known battling for supremacy. Death was near the window; and death was the beast with red eyes and gleaming, jagged maw.

Deep red light poured into the room, like blood upon a lamp shade. The creatured peered inside, seeing all, including me. There was no purpose in cowering beneath a table from it, I was not hidden. Its breath heaved, mustering a whirlwind of putrescence and death, causing me to gag as I could taste the air. Horrid thoughts entered into my mind, thoughts of death and famine, plagues and a world wrought with suffering and destruction. This creature, I began to consider, was a harbringer of death, a beast which has seemingly chosen me to carry out some unnamed task, one that i could not escape.

The tower began to rumble and sway, loose blocks fell from the cieling and slammed to the floor, the wooden support beams splintered and rained down upon me. I felt the integrity of the tower's facade fail and explode, its entire weight shifting to one side, hurling me backwards and pinning me to the wall. The beast had surely come upon the tower in the attempts to uproot it from its foundations.

My stomach sank as I spiraled downwards with the battlement, a never ending fall to the sand below. And as I fell, I caught a last fleeting glimpse of the beast's gruesome face, seemingly smiling in wolfish delight at what it had accomplished... what had it accomplsihed? Only it knew. Only time could tell. My world went black as my body became one with the rubble and my bones shattered with a sickening crunch, a torrent of blood to paint the ruined stones and a plaster of organs to cement it all together.

I awoke in a hospital.

The doctor explained to me that I had been found in a roadside ditch two miles from the dockyards. A fisherman found me, body broken and mangled, clearly dehydrated. When he rushed me to the hospital, no doctor thought I would live through the night and the conclusion had been reached that I was struck by a passing automobile. Despite my incessant ramblings, the doctor assured me that I was safe, that there was no supply ship sailing for England, in fact I had no United States military records. I was baffled, yet chose not to argue lest I be deemed an insane man and live out the rest of my days in asylum; though who is to say I am not insane?

That was three excruciating years ago. I do not know what transpired on that ship, or what infernal domain I found myself in, or the origin of the tower or denizens therein the wretched landscape. I no longer have dreams when I sleep, if I am granted the vestige of sleep. I spend my existence in a constant state of fear, for I do not even know myself.  I know not what it wants from me, nor can I decipher the meanings of the images which flooded my mind before the tower collapsed like that fabled Tower of Babel. I know not of what is to come next, though I sense deep within myself a residing fear; it will call me back to finish its job. I will be subjected once more to its biddings and terrible cause, I cannot say when, it could even be tonight while sleep beckons me.

Each day the nights seem longer, I know the time approaches. I shall not allow myself to be destroyed and beaten down, to be its slave and carry out its tasks. I must prepare myself physically and spirtually, for the beast must be destroyed when it calls me back; even now I hear strange whispers by night in the hours before dawn. I will be prepared to face this demon when I am summoned back to the desert of hell, and to the tower.

 


© Copyright 2020 Claudias Samnite. All rights reserved.

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