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5. The Tower

4. Midnight Cafe

3. Hallway

2. Threshold

1. The Drafting Board

Urbex: The Tower

avatar on 2024-07-10 01:26:17
Episode last modified by Perri on 2024-07-10 17:35:45

114 hits, 17 views, 3 upvotes.

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Walking is usually good. It raises your heart rate, clears the mind, and focuses the senses. The brisk chill of the night air braces you in the present. But for me, none of this is wanted right now. My will was a product of delusion. My confidence was a small bobber in the middle of a hurricane. But more than any of that, every step forced me to confront the reality of what had happened to my body. Fuck, I'm a girl. Some waifish aughts grunge punk at that. Orange-tipped hair, snake bites in my lips, and discs in my ears. She was the type of girl to smoke Newports behind the cafeteria in highschool. I used to crush on a girl like her in high school, but I felt awkward and silly actually wearing all of this stuff.

I groaned and rubbed my eyes vigorously. It's insane. Really. I'm insane. It's the only explanation. It doesn't matter that my thighs don't touch with every light step, or that the black skinny jeans hugging my hips are just as smooth and tight around my crotch. It doesn't matter because none of this is real. I'm either insane or I hit my head and I'm in a coma. I stopped swinging my arms, and slapped my cheeks harshly, hoping to wake up from this nightmare. When I didn't, I hugged them across my body. The embrace was nice, and only partly because of the cold air. I could feel the layers of cloth under my black shirt and the subtle weight held there shifting with every step and hated it. Part of me wanted to jog, to get to Tallulah quicker, but I knew the chaotic mess of unfamiliar sensation that would cause me, so I kept trudging on, my chucks tapping out a steady rhythm on the asphalt.

Every 30 seconds or so, I'd pass under the orange glow of the sodium streetlights before returning to darkness. The warm light was gentle on the eyes and gave the night a mesmerizing otherworldly quality. I seemed to recall the road being lit with the sharp white light of LEDs, but perhaps that was closer to town.

Every few minutes a car would pass by, but I was otherwise alone with my thoughts. It was usually comfortable, but this time my solitude was crowded with anxieties. My thoughts turned to Tali. Her panicked cries as the door slammed shut, isolating us from one another. She would be okay, right? The door closed on me, but she should hopefully still have an escape route. She was easily excitable, but she never lost her head. Hell, that was part of what was so charming about her. I reminisced briefly about a time we got caught trespassing in an abandoned research facility on a government site. After navigating rusty scaffolding and burnt-out warehouses, we stumbled on a place that was very much NOT abandoned. She screamed at the sight of a security guard but had picked the deadbolt on our escape route before the rest of our crew even had eyes on him. She was always quick like that and had smartly texted Brace before I disappeared. That recollection brought me some comfort.

Brace's name came from his username on the urbex forums, "BracedForImpact." A pacifist ex-paratrooper, and a hobby mycologist for perfectly innocent and entirely legal reasons. He was one of the more distinct personalities in our crew. The thought of the tall ripped guy with dumpy clothes always reminded me of a movie quote about the "duality of man." I chuckled lightly at the thought of him. Yeah, I was definitely glad he was on his way. He was probably already on the road and would pull an all-nighter to get here in four hours, maybe? It was two hours ago that we started our climb up the abandoned tower's fire escape, and it's been maybe thirty minutes since Tali texted him, so he would still be a ways off. I'd reach Tali before him, and then... what? Hold her? Kiss her? Tell her it would all be okay? Could I even think about that in a body like this?

I could practically see her smooth-toned skin catch the moonlight and her silky dark hair blending with the night sky. Her appearance favored her Cherokee ancestry, despite her fiery red headed mom. How would she look at me with those dark slender eyes when I told her it was me? With skepticism, concern, disgust? Even if she was unbothered, how would I feel? I looked down at the gentle swell beneath my shirt and thought about my chest rubbing up against hers. I flustered at the idea. Okay, maybe that wouldn't be the worst, but... The emptiness between my thighs suddenly felt more insistent.

I tugged on the denim inseam that suddenly felt too tight but didn't want to pull the low-waisted pants any lower.

"How impractical," I puffed. I certainly wasn't looking forward to hopping fences and climbing broken fire escapes with these things. The chunky black belt was purely cosmetic, and the tightness of the fabric would limit my flexibility. Not to mention how thin the denim felt. These things didn't even protect me from a cool breeze; they'd be useless against rough surfaces and sharp edges.

I realized, with satisfaction, that I was nearing my destination and took a brief moment to orient myself in the downtown area.

It only took a second to spot my destination. It was the tallest structure in the whole town, peaking nearly as high as the low mountains that cradled it. As I focused my attention, I realized it was different than I'd left it. Floodlights now crowned the tower, with red lights on the center spire, and some of the windows were lit up. My heart leapt with concern, and despite my discomfort, this time I began to jog.

I was only two blocks away but was panting heavily by the time I rounded the final city block to the structure. It was mostly as I remembered, but the place seemed better maintained than I recalled. I would have placed money that the bottom floor windows were all boarded up or broken in, but for some reason, they looked pristine and washed. The fence that I recalled encircling the side of the building was also open to the back, allowing me easy access to the fire escape. Maybe we'd overlooked it, but I was certain that Tali and I had to hop that fence.

Dumbfounded, I continued my journey to the base of the building and put a hand on the cold brick, as if confirming the reality of my untrustworthy eyes. It was too dark to make out any detail, but the entire place seemed... newer?

Down an alley, and around the fence, I reached the fire escape without incident. The bottom stairs were pulled up and out of reach by a simple weighted mechanism, posing my first obstacle. Swinging my arms, I leapt up, failing to cover even half of the distance I needed. The bottom step remained multiple feet out of reach. Feeling foolish and cursing my stolen height, I got a running jump at the brick wall, prepared to wall climb those extra feet. My useless chucks hit the brick and slipped. My knee bent, and I ate the brick wall.

Pain bloomed on my cheek, and a stream of hushed curses coursed from my lips before I righted myself and glared at the steps. I should be able to reach up and just grab the damn thing, but here I am getting beat up by a brick wall! I touched my finger to my cheek but only felt a small amount of blood and just wiped it with my sleeve in annoyance.

Screw it. If I can't climb the fire escape, I'll just break in and use the internal stairs. I picked up a large craggily block of cement, stomped over to a window, covered my eyes, and threw the rock with clumsy force. I was so uncoordinated, and the block was heavier than it looked, but you can't miss when you're four feet away. The window shattered with a dramatic crash, but as I hefted myself up and prepared to clear the glass from the frame with my jacket sleeve, I was frozen in place by the sight that greeted me on the other side.

An office. Not cement floor and deteriorated walls. A fully furnished office. Roll-around chairs. Big blocky printers. Fax machines. Old computers. Plastic lamps. Trash cans. Yesterday's stale donuts and reports due first thing tomorrow morning. It was a fully furnishes, actively used office. It didn't make sense. It was impossible. "Impossible" things were happening way too often, but no other word let my mind even begin to process this reality. This. Was. Impossible.

As I was frozen in a stupor, trying to reason my way through this irreconcilable sight, a sharp sound cut through the night, the chirp of a police siren. My heart leapt and my thoughts scrambled, but before I could act, a heavy hand grabbed the underside of my arm, and I yelped in surprise.

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