Project 52: Toppling Atlas

1 short story a week. 52 weeks a year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Week Two: March 8th to March 14th

The World's Last Smile

"It looks so ominous" I say to the slabs of stone in front of me. But I have since lost the ability to fear. I stare at the tower, and watch as it slowly stretches up. Constantly growing, the tower itself lives. I know the kind of people who live in here though, and for all the wonder of the building, my mouth holds a sour expression. Horrid creatures, which would burn their tongues if they tried to call themselves humans, exist here. Filled with rivers of wine, they are too intoxicated to feel their flesh melting off. Foul guttural creatures that will kill a family for their paper, and eat their bread on the way out too. That's their way, and they sicken me with it!
My arms bond together, and a hammer springs out from between them. I grip with both hands, and start to swing myself against the tower's base. Several swings later show no progress in hurting the tower, but the echoes of my failures scale the walls. Into balconies, the sound creeps, and comes back with bubbling laughter, quickly accompanied by the horrible little beasts pointing and laughing. My fingers worm their ways into the cracks, and my feet find footholds, so I climb. Their stench fills my nose and fuels me to continue climbing. Their fingers point out towards me at first, but the cowards quickly remember what fear feels like, and creep away. After a few windows, one of them throws a porcelain dish at me--missing me--and as soon as the sound of it breaking on the ground outside is heard, the rest devour him. I chuckle to myself knowing that even when I, death, am presented to them; they can still find the ability to be avaricious. I continue to climb.
After awhile, one of them decides to pour water on my head, but I am not like them; liquid does not control me. I tilt back my head and open my mouth, letting it fill. I climb past their window and spit it into their faces, roaring laughter as they shrink away. Higher up, their bodies trembling bodies start to ripple on the surface, and a particularly sickly looking one approaches me with what appears to be the intention to push me. However, direct eye contact was enough for the string to land in my hand to dance him away. My laughter no longer allows them such splinters of courage anymore. Window by window, they start to congregate in corners of the room, wailing when I approach, and not stopping until out of earshot. They may not be my targets, but they surely don't deserve my pity. I start to make game of their fear; reaching into rooms and grabbing items to toss out into the air.
Fear slowly starts to flush out to anger; the poor, poor fools. The further I climb, perfecting my game, the more angered they start to become. They start to approach me now to try and push me off, but their dirty tentacles are slow from years of lounging. With a single hand, I crush the remaining bones in their faces. My laughter starts to scale with me, louder the higher I rise. Passing through a cluster of clouds, I start to feel the tower writhing under my touch; I spitefully dig them in deeper.
Curiously, I come upon a window with no creatures to be seen inside. Through the clouds, I can still faintly see land, but cannot possibly see a top to this tower, so I crawl inside. There is a set of staircase in front of me, so again, I climb. I follow the stairs, inlaid with gems and covered with slime for what seems hours, before coming to a doorway at the end. Opening it up, I step in, and am suddenly standing on top of the doorway. It makes no sense how I could walk out of a door in front of me, and it end up under me; but it is what it is. Looking around, I see that I am on a flat surface, when it suddenly hits me. "I'm on the roof!"
To test this, I walk towards the edge and look down. The ground cannot be seen, only clouds circling the tower. "I've made it to the top, it's time to begin" I remind myself. Reaching into my mouth, I pull out a tank of gasoline, and set i on the ground in the middle of the tower. Walking around to gaze in wonder for a final moment, when a whistling above me interrupts my inspection. A white blur falls in front of me, slamming onto the stone roof, and knocking me to the ground.
Dusting myself off, I walk towards the object, and notice it to be the body of a girl; or the mangled body of a girl in a white dress. After a few seconds, I approach to check for a pulse, when an arm flicks into the air, bones noisily snapping back into place. Jumping back, she slowly rises to her feet, and her head snaps up to stare at me. Eyes rippling like water, I recognize who she is. "Peter, you cannot amend the mistakes you've made. Why are you here?" she coyly says. Her hand slowly reaches to grasp my chin, but I knock it to the side. The watery eyes roil for a second, but quickly level out once again. "Peter, you cannot possibly expect me to believe you think to accomplish anything here. You will always belong to me, and the ghost of your past will suffocate you". Despite frantically telling myself not to, I burst out into a fit of laughter. Skin dripping off like the creatures below, her body loses its definite shape, and muddy fingers grab my throat. I'm not sure if my laughter rose as the pressure in her fingers tightened, or vice versa, until it was difficult to breathe. With one arm, I pull her against my chest, and keep her from running away; her screams of protest dull noise in the background to me. And the other hand reaches for the tank of gasoline. Holding it above us, I use my thumb to flick open the tank, and start to pour it on us and the towers roof. The tower lashes out under my feet, and her hands claw into my chest to escape, but it's too late for us. I strike a match and the flames immediately swallow us.
"I've set this tower on fire. I have set us on fire. I have set myself on fire" I say to nobody in particular. The tower falls apart, and I fall off of the edge, plummeting towards the earth. The last thing I could remember was smiling for the first time in years as the wind rushed past my body. "You were wrong my love. I never thought I could amend the mistakes I have made, I just wanted to make things right again". Oh, if only the whole world could have witnessed my smile.

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