Friday, 11 March 2016

Working Title (part 2)

They called it the Dark Tower, but that was an utterly incorrect description. It wasn't dark, lit by gargantuan stretches of LED dots and it wasn't a tower. Instead, the Writers' Gaol was a huge chasm that descended thousands of metres into the ground. But that was the thing about literary creative sorts; they loved being ironic or making references to pieces of fiction and they loved it even more when they could do both.
Nimet climbed out of the police carriage and strolled across the ground towards the ring which surrounded the chasm. The sky was beginning to roll with huge clouds; dark, rolling explosions  of misery and vengeance, as if the Gods themselves were angered by the Creative Prohibition. It cast a dark shadow over the surrounding crop fields, and the sandy gravel that sat in the centre of all the fields, around the circumference of the chasm's entrance. Nimet kicked a stone and watched as it clattered across the floor and towards the edge of the Gaol. She heard it hit the wall once as it went down, and she never heard it hit the bottom.
The only other sound was the slow scrabbling of the crops as a wind idly played with them, as well as the droning buzz of the huge electricity pylon sat in one of the crop fields. Nimet stepped forwards, ever closer to the round fence that surrounded the chasm's opening up to about waist height, but felt a powerful hand grab her collar. She looked back up and saw one of the policemen. They both wore long, navy jackets that came to around their ankles, the lapels pulled back to hold the symbol of the Order in a pin badge form. They both wore poly-carbine vests, able to repel any type of artillery. Blue ties lay beneath them. "Watch where you go, young lady." One of them said. "Once you fall down there, there's no coming back."
Nimet let them lead her over to a porter cabin sat at the side of the huge chasm. Another officer, this one not wearing the same busby hat, opened the door and welcomed them into a small room. There was a desk with a typewriter on it, a filing cabinet with a television perched on it next to a side table holding a kettle. The officer walked over to his desk and turned off a spinning gramophone. He reached for a piece of paper on a clipboard and grabbed a pen. Nimet walked to where he pointed, the wall opposite his desk. There was a height chart on it. She stepped towards it and let them take a picture, her head reaching a line which declared she was five foot four.
The officer took several notes on his clipboard, exchanged it with one of the officers who had escorted Nimet in for their notebooks, and then pointed them over to a door next to the height chart. "Any of you lot get motion sickness? Or vertigo?"
"I do!" Nimet said.
"You don't count." The officer said.
The two escorting officers shook their heads. "Nah, we'll be fine, George. Don't this plenty of times."
"Suit yourselves. East wing, if you don't mind."
They went and opened the door in the corner and led Nimet into a small room with nothing but a bench and a clock in it, a lever poised upwards underneath the clock. They pointed her to the bench and then went over to the lever. One officer locked the door behind him and the other pulled the lever. For a second, there was nothing but the grinding of gears and the whirring of cogs and then the room was suddenly rising through the air. Nimet fell forwards onto the floor, causing the officers to hurry over to her and heave her back onto the bench. As they got to her side of the room, however, it all began to tilt that way.
Nimet sat back down and looked through the windows. Besides the shaky view of the crop fields and the electricity pylons, she could see nothing. Then the chasm seemed to open up next to them and the room swung towards it. Through the window, she saw a huge crane from which they were suspended. Before she could wonder why she hadn't seen it on climbing from the police carriage, the room was being lowered into the Writers' Gaol.
They were consumed by the chasm, like a kraken's writhing gullet but with bulbs rather than venom coated fangs. The room dropped rapidly, sending a strange rushing feeling through her stomach. She felt a headache seeping into her, sickness rising up her gut. One of the officers nudged the other and grunted, giving a half laugh at her.
Eventually, after what felt like a veritable eternity, the room came to a stop. The sickness in Nimet's stomach solidified and she found herself having to take very deep breaths to stop herself from vomiting. She looked up at the officers, her eyes begging them for sympathy, but they simply grunted and pulled another lever.
Outside the suspended room, gangplanks were sliding out of the rounded walls. They came from each of the compass points, converging on the room hanging in the centre. It shook as hidden mechanisms bolted onto them and solidified the connection. Any feelings of vertigo were partially cured.
Doors opened at each of the four points that the gangplanks had connected to; one on each wall. The officers dragged her towards the door on the right of the room and led her across the gangplank. She looked down momentarily and, despite not being able to see anything, felt a pang of vertigo flash through her. Trying to undo it, she stared up and was instead consumed by claustrophobia. Besides a very small circle of light; she couldn't see the opening.
She left the gangplank and stepped onto the balcony that ran around the circumference of the Gaol. Another officer, this one in the uniform grey of a prison guard, accepted a clip board, nodded, and pointed to a door about three cells away. "Through there, please."
The officers marched her along the balcony, passing three cell doors. Two were filled with men and the third had a woman. All three of the people were covered in tattooed writing. The writing had once been quotes, from literature or plays, but now it was nothing more than a grey splodge, wiped out of existence by acid spray.
The doorway they led her through wound back and forth like a snake, leading past various new cells. She saw sights she'd never seen outside of her nightmares; people with iron clamps over their eyes to stop them reading and boxes over their ears to stop them from holding a pencil there. She saw people who had metal face masks, probably because they'd had quotes branded into their skin. One of the cells they passed held a gentlemen who was writing something on a piece of paper. One of her escorting officers headed over to the cell, pulling his laser truncheon, and hit a button that caused the cell door to swing open. He threw himself in and began to beat the prisoner half to death.
"Is it illegal to have paper in here?" Nimet said.
"No." The remaining officer said, continuing to walk. "But it is illegal to write literary quotes."
"How does he know he isn't just beating the guy up for nothing? He didn't even read the quotes."
"What and risk poisoning himself with that dribble?" The officer laughed. "We're not as gullible as you writers seem to believe we are."
"I'm not a writer!"
"Then why did you have Love Labours Lost, hey?" The ears of the prisoners they passed perked up.
Nimet said nothing.
They rounded another corner and found the door of an empty cell. The officer pressed the button on the side of it and let the door slide open. He pointed in. "Get in."
Nimet sighed and stepped into the cell. She let the door slide across in front of her, trapping her in. She watched the officer walking off and then let herself fall back, irritated. For about five seconds, she almost enjoyed the tranquility, and then she was setting about trying to work a way out to escape.

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