Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 8
Ch.8

“Hello? Just tell me where you’re at and I can come get you. Lilly?”

The doors opened to an intersection of four large hallways that met at an assortment of couches and pottery. Every inch of the interior’s surface reflected cleanliness. Aside from the empty ambiance and mellow tune in the air, he was alone.

Ben left the elevator and walked to the center of the intersection. Down each hall, he could see doors in different patterns and eventually a turn that led deeper into the level. A black line, along the walls of every hall, had grid like diagrams every few feet.

What do we have here? Ben thought, approaching one of the diagrams.

Along the Y-axis were “Seats” from, SEAT3 descending to SEAT1. The X-axis stated different capital letters separated by commas. Above the grid was a plate that read, Wing M.

This might as well be in cuneiform.

Ben walked to another graph on the black line that was less informative than the last. Seats were replaced with four different “Grades”, listed Grade4 descending to Grade1. The letters became a single number on the X-axis. This time, Wing H was above the complicated chart.

After five different grids, Ben decided, “I’ll just go with Wing M.” Wing E, Wing H, and Medical & Residence hall, would have to be investigated on a later date. He traveled down Wing M and passed by a few closed doors. “Dr. Gray,” a nameplate said on one of the doors. Another room had the words “Cal. Lab” above it. Ben felt like he had to find someone that could help, but if he stopped and asked for directions, he feared of exposure as an intruder.

A noise came from behind one of the doors he passed. The nameplate read, “Math.”

Math?

“Stand out in the hallway until security gets here. You're going to be in big trouble young man.”

Ben froze. He thought of cycling his powers but the door opened and a little boy came out with a frown on his face. As the boy walked into the hall, the door behind him slammed shut. “Stupid teacher,” he said. He threw a paper plane in the air, but before it hit the ground, an invisible wind picked it up to recover from its nosedive. After the third time the plane returned from a plummet, Ben realized it was the boy manipulating the paper.

“Hey.” The plane fell to the ground and the boy looked over at Ben. “What's your name kid?”

“Tommy.”

“Tommy, can you help me out here? I need to find a girl. Her name is Lilly.”

Tommy picked the plane up and sharpened its crinkled nose. “I don't know that name mister. I'm not supposed to talk to older people. They might be a member of the Ascending.”

Tommy threw the plane in the air and made it hover above his head.

“That power you have there is pretty neat. You must be strong.”

Tommy's concentration faltered after Ben's complement and the plane fell.

“I can only do it when the plane is the only thing I think about. I'm not as good as most people with the gift,” Tommy said.

Ben picked the plane up with his mind and put it in the boy’s hand. “Just keep trying and you'll get it.”

Tommy hesitated at first but then said, “What do you need help with mister?”

“Do you have a map of the building? Or a directory of some sort?”

“Hold on,” Tommy said. The little boy reentered math class and the woman's voice came back to make threatening remarks. Tommy walked to the back of the room and took a poster off the wall. The woman was still ranting as he returned to the hallway and closed the door behind him.

The boy held out a propaganda poster. At the top of the poster, in bold letters, was the catchy phrase, “Cream of the crop, Rise to the top.” Below the phrase was a collage of pictures that displayed living rooms heavily decorated with a theme of furniture, dining rooms with chefs preparing massive amounts of handmade meals, and entertainment systems that ranged from televisions to computers and various audio equipment. Ben noticed a sentence that stuck out on the poster, reminding him of what the janitor said in the boiler room.

“It says right here you'll get your own room. What does that mean?”

Tommy put the poster down and looked at Ben lopsided. “You're not from around here, are you mister?”

Ben leaned over and whispered, “I'm on a secret mission kid.”

“You're going get your face smashed in if you don't know what you’re doing.”

“All right Tommy just tell me what I need to know.”

“The reason I'm here is to one day get a room of my own, and then I’ll be strong enough to become a member of the Ascending.”

“Who are the Ascending?”

“The strong ones. They can do a lot of things with their gift. I was told that each member is a divider for each part of the Tower. Right above us is the first of the Ascending members.”

“These Ascending, what are they like?” Ben asked.

“I already told you, they’re the strong ones. You get a room. You get a new name. You get maids, and personal teachers, and I don't know. There's a lot that goes with being a member, mister. I still have six more years before I can try to get a room. I'm not that good though. The other kids in my grade are way ahead of me.”

A voice came from the speakers in the hallway. “Block B is over, Block B is over. Move to Block C in today's planned schedule.” Three other kids came from math class and walked down the hallway, paying Ben no attention. Down the corridor, a few other children came from different rooms and made their way to other classes, an eerie resemblance to what Ben thought he had left behind.

Shortly after the bell rang, the halls were empty again. Ben looked down and Tommy was gone, leaving the poster he was holding on the ground where he once stood.

 “The Ascending? Maybe I should have a talk with one of these guys.” Ben folded the poster and put it in his jacket pocket. He walked towards the end of the passageway in search of a staircase.

 

Baal stood at the center of his room with his eyes closed and his hands crossed behind his back. The lights were off and every door was locked. His power reached out from within. Like the arms of an army’s worth of octopi, his invisible tentacles encompassed every crevice of the massive tower.

“There you are,” Baal said. He made a rare facial expression that would display happiness if it were on a human’s face. “Let's see what happens when you are left to your own devices.”

Baal's eyes opened and with that, every light turned on and every door unlocked. He looked down at the ring on his left middle finger glowing a dim green color.

 

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