Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 7
Ch.7

The following morning, they drove down a dirt road through a dense forest. Grandpa’s sedan barely made it through the hidden passes and rough terrain. The morning’s sunrise was unable to peek through the tree lines above while traversing this somber threshold, but as the forest thinned, the terrain became bright grasslands, and at its center the Tower.

The Tower’s face, decorated with pillar like architecture and dressing, was an imposing image of fortitude. The top of the Tower pierced the sky, reaching high into the atmosphere. A structure truly ripped from the pages of fantasy and brought to this world in a daunting manifestation.

They pulled up to an archway at the base of the tower that led to a flight of stairs and a large door. The car idled as grandfather and grandson did the same. A minute passed and neither said anything to the other, but Ben managed to find some words. “Thank you, Grandpa.”

The old man nodded and gave his boy a hug. “You be careful now. If you say you believe in yourself then I'll believe in you too, boy. Just don't forget that I'll be waiting for you when you’re done here.”

“I can do this. What are you going to do while I'm in there?”

“Me? I think I should get ready to send out some documents to a few newspapers. Worse comes to worse I can at least let people know what happened. I'll be back for you tomorrow, and you'd be better be here waiting.”

Benjamin gave the only family he ever knew a hug and said, “Love you, grandpa.”

Twenty paces later Ben stood in front of the entrance of this architectural behemoth. The doorknob was cold and rusted. The door itself had a worn face and chipped paint. The hinges screeched as he slowly opened the door and from the darkness inside came a gust of dirt that made him cough.

A mesh of pipework and air conditioning units crowded his view. A narrow pathway was lit from the outside world that loosely gave him direction. Is this the boiler room? he wondered. Ben crept through the pipework with his arms out, finding his way to a light source he could see in center of the maze. Steam buildup hazed the air. Some pipes hissed as his fingers touched their surface. “Shit!” The Water mains however, were gentle to his fumbling affection.

Voices, bouncing around the pipework, alerted Ben that he was not alone. Crawling through a thicket of machinery, he stumbled upon two men sitting at a table playing cards. They spoke of sweat and lubrication oil, in a way that they were referring to a few female coworkers during afterhours. Their paint stained coveralls and grime covered forearms were a dead giveaway to their profession.

So I guess I found some janitors. Maybe I should interrogate them.

The two men played their game until the table between them flipped off the ground and slammed into the wall. Their cards followed suit. Ben came from his hiding spot with a hand out and a scowl on his face. The two men stared at Ben as he delayed his inquiries for what he thought would create dramatic effect.

“Hey get the hell out of here kid. We’re not bothering you,” one man said.

Ben’s facade crumbled.

“Yeah go up to your room or something,” the other man suggested.

The two men picked their cards off the ground, and set the table upright. One man sighed as he noticed the table now had a wobble. Before they could return to their game, they noticed Ben still standing there dumbfounded.

“Go past that heating unit near the wall, and take a right. Once you see the elevators, take the third farthest on the left. That should take you to the upper levels. Oh, and you’re welcome, asshole.”

Ben took the man’s advice and came upon two rows of five elevators. The right row had panels with a down arrow next to them. The first two elevators on his left were combination locked, via number pad, accessible. A red X taped off the fourth elevator and the fifth had no indication on how it was accessed. 

He approached the third elevator, pressed the up arrow, and walked inside. On the right wall was a rectangular device that had a blue ball at its center. When the doors closed, the blue ball lit up and said, “Command,” in a robotic voice.

“That’s pretty neat,” he said, absentmindedly impressed.

“Invalid Command.”

“Take me to Lilly’s room.”

“Invalid Command.”

Invalid? “All right, take me to the top floor.”

“Invalid Command.”

“Main floor?”

“Accepted.” The elevator raised.

“Sweet.”

“Invalid Command,” said the voice as the elevator stopped.

 

Near the top of the tower sat a goddess. She was on her bed with her head down, hands resting on folded legs. Lilly had practically been sitting there ever since she returned to the Tower. Her extended absence had not gone without consequence, but it did not affect her state of indifference. Her powers were involuntarily reaching out beyond her room like an invisible tide expanding to the lower levels of the tower.

She picked her head up and gasped, “Ben.”

Lilly closed her eyes and heard, So once I get to the main floor I'll have to find my way to Lilly. If I can get in and out of this place without causing much of an alarm, I doubt I'll have much problem.

“What are you doing here?”

Ben jumped and looked around the elevator. Her voice was right in his ears. “Lilly is that you?”

“Ben, get out of here. You’re not supposed to be here.”

“But I came to save you.”

Lilly smiled like an adult would smile at a small child trying to build a house. “Ben this is where I'm supposed to be.”

“But is this where you want to be?”

She didn't respond. A subconscious alert told her of a nearby disturbance. Lilly turned her head, startled by Baal standing next to her.

“I know you must be upset about being forced to come back. At least you accomplished your little mission, and you had a small vacation at the same time.”

“What are you doing here? And don't sneak up on me like that.”

“I just wanted to talk to you about your mission. You know, the unworthy lamb.”

Lilly stood and faced Baal. “Leave my room. I will not have any visitors at the moment.”

Baal nodded as he walked out and said, “Guess I'll have to look into this, Woulms, person. Luck have it he'll walk right to my doorstep.”

 

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