Mental Castles, Part II

I realized this morning that yesterday’s piece wasn’t done. Well.

—something that should be there.

In theory, anyway.

She slowed as she realized the darkness had engulfed her, erasing the topology of the castle and putting thick felt static in her ears. You couldn’t get to the foundation from the castle itself. The entire structure was designed for control and stability, and allowing unmanaged access to the foundations might have jeopardized that.

She opened her mouth and tried to take a deep breath, but the darkness had no consistency, and nothing happened.

She closed her eyes, and tried to project calm, but the darkness had already settled, completely still, and nothing happened.

She opened her eyes again, and tried to cast herself back to the previous state, holding the crystalline structure of the past around her, and found herself thrown out violently, tossed down hard on the floor (though the darkness still took no form or figure).

Defenses she herself had set up, years ago.

Carefully—not straining to remember, she would never forget—carefully she began to move into the patterns of the key, the assurances of safety and the unique arrangement of mental tumblers to allow the door to open—

Without any passage of time, she found herself descended into the foundation fort.

No glittering ice here. No warm halls and gleaming laboratories. This was a bunker, metal sheet walls echoing down the hall as the presence of the windstorm seeped through time.

She looked up and down the twisting corridor, mouth drawn. The metal structure wasn’t as bare as it first appeared. For years it had borne the necessary service of storage and rudimentary catalog—and retreat.

Did Em still pad these floors at night?

In the end, though, this level was constructed to be functional, and it was, but she had learned or discovered that “functional” was not all a castle should be.

This wasn’t it, though. Not nearly the bottom level.

Finding her way through the riddled passages was easy, as if she had just been here yesterday. The lock on this level was much plainer—not a combination lock, but it might as well have been. She had avoided this place for so long, though, that the urge to turn back was a pressure differential in the air, though density and temperature seemed to remain constant. Her hindbrain cried a warning, then burrowed under her cerebral cortex.

The door opened and there was a rush of wind—not the furious flinging of air and sand Outside, but a mild breeze that nonetheless seemed to travel through all the pockets and folds of the dark grey coat and the beige shirt.

Had she, in fact, forgotten what lay below?

She stepped down through the trapdoor, the hatch that opened onto yet another world below.

That’s where she had to go to find herself.

Hm, seems like there might be one more part. Maybe even two. Not sure, though…we’ll see.

Part of NaCreSoMo.