Thursday, November 22, 2007

In The High Tower

The cat sat, watching. It perched atop the great Tower of the Eastern Sea, a thousand feet above the waves that crashed at its base, as the tower swayed gently in the wind. Its duty was to watch: to see the ships that came in, and be sure that they bore the Eastern flag. They all had, for so long as the cat had watched them.

But the cat's bane, of dread Curiosity, is as strong as ever. A storm raged over the sea one day, casting hail and lightning down below the cat. Nothing could be seen; and so the cat, purposeless and ever-so-curious, abandoned its post to see what lay in the tower it was set to guard.

The uppermost levels held offices and bedrooms. The cat snuck through those, curiosity unquenched.

Below them were dark storerooms, filled with food and other supplies. The storm's fury was deadly loud there, and the cat, after a few sniffs, travelled downward.

On the next levels were paired rooms; one filled with light, the other with darkness, separated by plated glass. Men lurked in the darkness, watching those in the light; who looked rather less composed. Sometimes the men in the light were questioned.

Once the cat saw one beaten, as it looked on inquisitively.

The cat walked further down. It found only darkness henceforth: prison cells. Men affixed to wheels and set to spin. Others locked in spiked boxes, or being whipped, or perpetually drowned by streams of water.

At the bottom of the tower, men walked in lines, marched off the ships the cat was set to watch. They were chained and guarded. One turned to the cat as he passed, and told it, "We have committed no crime save freedom."

The cat looked at the ships. It saw them, and their flag; and that they were not as the cat had remembered. And then it traveled up again. In the cells, a prisoner, grasping for bread, told the cat, "Only hope preserves us in this eternity of darkness." In the torture rooms, a woman fixed upon the rack set her gaze on the cat, crossing on the other side of the room. "Our only release is in death," she whispered, barely audible even to a cat's ears. In the offices, a man, dressed in suit and tie, whispered to himself: "We are all prisoners here of our own device."

The cat reached his perch. The storm raged unabated below it; careless of the whims of man or cat. The tower rocked alarmingly in the high winds.

Slowly, the cat began to sway with the wind, a thousand feet above the hard sea below.

The tower tipped.


King Kessler said...

That was incredibly cool in an incredible amount of ways!

Cavalcadeofcats said...

As has happened before, you liked my story more than I did.

Probably for the best.