Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews the roof, Max purturbed

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-03-07 - Updated: 2009-03-07 - 1108 words - Complete

Max had succeeded so thoroughly in turning his thoughts away from this place that he was genuinely taken aback by what he saw when he pushed open the first unlocked door he found, about two dozen flights down.

The vista before him gave him an even greater dose of vertigo than the door back at the Centralict Library. Walking down all these steps had somehow brought him to the roof. Or at least a roof. He looked around, seeing that he was surrounded by walls and drop-offs leading to an uneven patchwork of rooftops on various levels for as far as the eye could see.

Behind him was the stair landing.

That was when he remembered where he was. He had been quietly hoping he was mistaken as he passed all those landings, but now he had undeniable proof. This was the place Mom had spoken of years ago, shuddering in spite of her own reputed courage and fortitude. The bizarre maze he had had nightmares about for weeks after he overheard their tale.

He knew it was also too late to double back and try to warn Shades, and now he wondered what had possessed him to let each other split up in the first place. As large as this place was, it was very possible he might never find Kato and her friends. Or Shades or Justin. No way back, Alida said, in the life he left behind, and somehow stumbled back into again. From here, he would have to be prepared to defend both himself and Bandit from the dangers of this place. As he looked out over this jagged roofscape, he turned his mind to trying to remember as much about that account as he could, knowing that even the most minute detail could very well make the difference between life and death.

For both himself and Bandit, as well as for the others, if he found them.

Arming his laser sword, he set out, jumping down to a roof one level below him, Bandit hopping down to a rooftop vent unit, then to the roof. This area was completely surrounded by higher rooftops, so he started up a fire escape stairway, working his way to the highest point. From up there he could see that this was by no means the highest level in this place.

In spite of the rooftops stretching as far as he could see— or perhaps because of them— he had the distinct feeling he was somehow still inside the Harken Building. Though he was not sure why. He just knew. And not even the overcast sky above could dissuade him of that much.

When he first met him, after his escape from Tranz-D, the librarian told him that there were many strange places and things in the Sixth Dimension. Since his unexpected departure from Paradise, he had seen some things that seemed to confirm that assertion. Of course, the librarian already had him with his stuff about Tranz-D, and then there was his own experience with the Mall itself, as well.

After surveying the surrounding landscape, he concluded that it didn’t really matter which way he went. It would be nice, he decided, if he had some way of telling direction. He wondered if the others were having the same kinds of problems he was.

When he climbed down to the next level, a piece of paper blew down from some level above him, floating down to his feet. From the ragged edge, it appeared to have been torn out of a book. He picked it up and started reading:

Enter ye the Spooky Door, step beyond the lantern’s beams, ancient dark corridors to explore where nothing’s what it seems. Don’t get lost upon thy way, the path of nightmares and dreams, in this old place, the games it can play. Skeleton key in hand, the silence screams.

The path looketh calm, but beware: tho all is silent in the Halls of the Dead, the Machines That Make Nothing wait there until a blinking green light turneth red. Halls of locked doors, hidden danger; let not the lost child lead thee astray, to the wrath of the Phantom Stranger, ‘For we are many!’ the voices say.

Dead words drift across the page, the wisdom of some ancient sage, echoes of a long-forgotten age, but arcane verse doth set the stage:

Behold the sweet
Lady of Twylight— tattered shadows billow from her mast, in the sea fog’s shimmering light, ’tis an eerie spectre of the past. The derelict adrift in the Misty Main, shades of men seem to man the decks, a ghost ship that’s the traveler’s bane, on a journey—

And that was where the page ended. The other side appeared to be some writer’s interpretation of something that must have been written on a previous page, because it seemed to have no bearing on the passage he just read.

On one hand, he was left scratching his head. On the other, those ominous words also worried him. Reminded him that he faced a grim fate indeed if he couldn’t find a way out. He absently folded up the page, tucking it into his pocket as he continued on his way.

After ascending several more levels of this fascinating structure, Max stopped and rested for a long moment, just letting the breeze blow through his hair as he thought. Just as he used to in Paradise. Just as he used to back in the Islands. Thinking of all the places his father had been, all the places he would someday be. Or dreamed he would be.

A whole world out there he had always wanted to see, and now he was out in it.

Or at least he had been. And he knew that if he was going to get back out into that world, he would have to find a way to escape from this twisted maze. He was beginning to suspect that he could wander around out here forever and never find an exit.

As he started back down, he found he had gained a whole new appreciation for just how big this place really was. At least, according to Shades, the Mall’s interior was proportionately matched by its gargantuan exterior. All he could picture of this building was a box with more space on the inside than it occupied on the outside.

It was starting to hurt his mind.

So he decided to take some of Shades’ sage advice.

Just try not to think about it.

But it was hard not to.
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