As several people have expressed interest in the story I’m currently working on: “Skyscraper”, so this week I thought I’d do a little shameless self-promotion, and offer a bit of a sneak peek!
Please note that the following is an unedited draft, so there may be mistakes and general sloppiness.
Any and all feedback is welcome.
Enjoy! (I hope)
Danielle sat up on the cold asphalt. Her ears were ringing, but other than that, she felt fine. She looked down at herself; there were no visible injuries. Even her school uniform was clean and undamaged.
Then she looked around, and her stomach clenched. In every direction, the asphalt stretched uninterrupted into the shadowy distance. Only a single object broke the otherwise featureless world; a single impossibly tall skyscraper about a hundred meters ahead of her. Most of its windows were broken, there wasn’t a single light from inside, and huge chunks were torn from it. It looked as though a stiff breeze would send it crashing down. Almost the entire sky was covered by swirling black clouds, except for a small, gleaming blue circle like the eye of a hurricane, just above the skyscraper.
But it wasn’t just her bizarre surroundings that worried her. She couldn’t remember how she’d gotten there. In fact, she couldn’t remember much of anything. She knew her name was Danielle, and that she was sixteen years old, but beyond that, almost everything was a vague blur.
“Hello?” She called. The darkness absorbed and suppressed the sound. There was no response, not even an echo. “Help!” She screamed at the top of her lungs. All the volume she could muster made no difference.
She breathed deeply, trying to defuse her panic. This has to be a dream, she decided. I just have to wait until I wake up. So she waited. For a long while, nothing happened. Then she noticed with an icy rush of terror that it was gradually getting darker. Looking up, she saw that the circular window of blue sky above the tower was slightly smaller than it had been when she first saw it. She didn’t know why this frightened her so much, but suddenly sitting there and waiting was no longer an option.
Danielle scrambled to her feet and ran towards the skyscraper. By some basic, primordial instinct, she knew she had to get to the top, and fast.
It might have looked like a hundred meters or so to the base of the skyscraper, but it seemed more like a kilometre by the time Danielle reached it, panting for breath. Despite the damage to its structure, it didn’t appear old or weathered; more like a new building that had been ravaged by some terrible disaster.
Its sliding, automated front doors were closed, and in their dark glass, Danielle caught a glimpse of herself; a slight girl with shoulder-length black hair and dark eyes. There was a careless frailty in her bearing, as though she’d given up trying to exist and let reality do it for her.
To her surprise, the doors parted smoothly as she approached, despite there being no other sign that the building had electricity.
The lobby was immaculate, shadowy, and desolate. She quickly spotted two doors, one clearly an elevator, the other labelled with a picture of stairs. No point taking the elevator with the building half wrecked, she thought, hurrying to the latter door and grabbing the handle.
The moment she touched it, there was a deafening crack, and white hot agony tore through her head. Caught off guard, she cried out and fell to her knees, clutching her skull in both hands. The pain faded quickly, and was gone in seconds. Breathing hard, Danielle got to her feet, looking around. She couldn’t see any obvious cause for the sound or the sensation, but given it had happened precisely when she touched the door to the stairs, she decided to try the elevator after all.
She pressed the button to call it, and the doors opened immediately. White light flooded into the gloomy lobby from the elevator’s vacant, brightly lit interior; besides the gap in the clouds, it was most welcoming thing Danielle had seen so far in this strange, forbidding place. She stepped inside and pressed the button for the top floor; 201.
The doors closed, and the elevator lurched into motion, but it seemed to be moving very slowly. At this rate, it’ll take forever to get to the top, thought Danielle, if it gets there at all.
As if confirming her fears, a deep, thunderous vibration shook the elevator, followed by another a moment later. The pattern repeated itself over and over. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Like a heartbeat.
Then, at the 9th floor, it ground to a halt, and the light went out, plunging Danielle into pitch blackness. Just as terror began to take hold of her, the doors slid open, revealing a room so dazzlingly bright that she couldn’t see what was in it. Shielding her aching eyes with one hand, Danielle stepped out of the elevator.