Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Eiffel Apartments



The girders above me crisscross with no discernable pattern, the spire of the familiar arcing landmark lost completely at this entirely vertical angle. Around me, I can see the middle class apartments that have been built around the tower's four legs, intersected at ground level by the shaded blue canals which connect this place to all corners of the city. A gust of surprisingly cold air rushes past the thin walkway where I stand staring, and, tightening my overcoat by several notches, I walk on and into one of the building's interior hallways, hopefully more suited to cold weather.

"New Eiffel Tower Apartments - room number E-417A" reads the note in my hand, and my handwriting - the possible whereabouts of the man I've been ordered to find. For many years, it was believed that I was the only government agent in the world who could work in dreams as well as in reality, a fact that my superiors were quite proud of.

But recently, there had been rumors of a dream operator more shrouded in shadow than myself - his nationality and loyalty both unknown, and his base of operations only rumored to be somewhere in this long-since independent French colony. Why he would choose such a strange country as this - a small island built in the same shape as Paris, with its landmarks scaled up in size for dramatic effect - is a mystery.

Scanning the door numbers, I deduce that the room in question is in one of the other buildings, and backtrack outside to the nearest tower-to-tower transport device. This small chamber, a steel elevator-sized cage dangling by long chains from a rail high above, is unfortunately the best that could be done in an elaborate makeshift building like this - with the complex maze of rafters and walkways above, a simpler device would suffer from constant jams too difficult to easily repair.

I step into the chamber, which shakes lightly as I fasten the gate behind me. The chains above squeal as the room swings away from the building, the scenery outside still visible through the bars. The room trembles as the chains constrict to lift it, and through the grating below I can see the canals and girders below shrink subtly as I rise.

With a clang, the room fastens against another building, the gate opening to escort me out. As I walk through the halls, watermarks seem to appear on the walls, surprise evidence that this building is more dilapidated than the last one. Turning a corner, I find a large pipe jutting out of one wall, dripping water into a gaping hole below. I pause, sensing something wrong - how could just one wing of this complex decline so completely? 

Anxious to get this investigation over with, I rush to the room indicated on my slip of paper. Instead of a door, there is just a drawing of one, with these words written where the knob should be:

"Let's see you dream your way out of this one."

Immediately, I turn and make top speed back towards the transport - shaming myself for not having seen this trap coming. This complex, the elevator - all of these are obvious mimics of my own unique dream architecture, specially forged so that I would not realize I was in fact just walking into someone else's mind.

I make it back to the transport just in time to see the chains release, dropping the little caged room into a canal ten floors below. Looking around at the ready-to-collapse building around me, I concede that I only have one option, to grudgingly fall back on my last resoer. Rubbing my eyes open, I wake up, tipping my hat to this new enemy, knowing that once awake I will never encounter him again.

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