Christine slowly twisted around, her blue eyes wide in terror.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Simone creaked.
Christine’s jaw trembled. Pushing herself up, she pointed into the woods.
Nothing seemed odd. She took a quick inventory of her surroundings- the grayish brown bark of the old cedar trees, spindly trunks of the maples, bright berries, and a white trunk. Her eyes immediately jumped back to the white. They didn’t have birch trees in their forest.
She looked up slowly, following the white trunk until the details grew, and the recognition unfurled. “The ivory tower,” she breathed.
“We have to go,” Christine whispered behind her.
Now it was her turn to freeze. She barely felt the insistent tugging on her shirt.
She had never been this close to the edge before. They had run this small stretch of woods in the back of the camp for years, but never ventured to the outer boundaries. She focused on the barbed wire camouflaged into the stacked brambles and woody debris. Rust and moss grew around the sharp teeth of the corroded metal. And beyond it, what she’d taken for a white trunk revealed itself as the brick base of a tower.
The skillful, tidy stacks of bricks had worn over the years. White paint flecked off the sides. The dilapidated mortar left exposed gaps and piles at the base. At the top, the tower widened. A row of shattered windows looked out behind them, toward the camp. Squinting, Simone glimpsed writing on the dangling threshold marker. The soft charcoal letters described the tower with one word.
“Restricted,” she whispered, her breath clouding the air. Christine’s cold fingers pulled her hand from behind.
“This isn’t safe. We shouldn’t be this close to the edge.” Christine’s words fell on deaf ears.
She tugged again, drawing Simone away from their discovery. Twisting around, she brushed her bangs out of her eyes, searing the image into her mind.
A new sensation gripped her, a curious blend between fear and curiosity. Simone smiled, liking the way it felt.
-The Ivory Tower 2013