Tower

The Art Door's Tower of Fears

Inspired by the Tower of Fears a special 2010 Halloween build created by The Art Door; open October 28-31 only.

The sound of the TV is a low murmur in the dim living room. As advertisements flicker insistently you note how much less frightening a horror movie is when spliced with girls testing shampoo. You feel the buzz first and then hear the sound that always accompanies a text message on your phone. Touching the screen you see it’s Sarah with her well timed *Ready?* Rolling your eyes you type back, *Been ready. Always waiting on you.* Standing up with a stretch you flick off the TV, move through your house of old wood floors that creak, grab a sweatshirt and decide to wait on the front porch. The night air was full of fall with just the edges of crispness on it. High up the moon peeks through low rolling clouds. You turn your phone in your hand and then text, *On the porch. Everyone else is already out. Hurry up would you.* As you tug on the sweatshirt stolen from Sarah you notice at the time and half sigh, the original plan was 7:30 and it was already 8:00, the place was going to be jammed with obnoxious teenagers.

As if on cue a red Honda flashes into the driveway going a fraction too fast for the neighborhood. The back passenger door flies open and you hear, “Come on!” and a laughing, “I blame Sarah!” Okay, maybe the teenagers weren’t the only ones who could be obnoxious. Nic was up front so you slide in next to Tess and Mikael in the back.

“What’s up, kids? I thought we decided on 7:30?”

Tess is still laughing about something and scoots enough to let you snap your seatbelt; the warm side of her arm is now pressed to you.

“It was all Sarah, drives like a demon but forgets twenty things on the way out the door.”

“Shut up! See if I give any of you a ride again,” replies the spirited red-head you had the pleasure of calling a friend. For years you two had been inseparable. She was the one who held you when your heart was demolished senior year in high school. You were the one who held her hair back after that party in college and you were at her house so much her parents helped raise you. It was only six months after you moved to this area for a job that she too came this way. In fact, the plan was to be roommates again as soon as your lease was up.

You lean back for the ride; it would be a little harrowing as drives with Sarah always were. The general banter and laughter of the group fades in and out as you watch the sky; something didn’t feel quite right but you weren’t sure what exactly it was.

The parking lot was full of cars. The oddly compelling press for the “Tower of Fears” had done its job. Your small band of friends climbs out and Tess gasps, “It’s flippin’ huge! Are you kidding me? How did they even get that built?” Nic shifts and runs a hand through his hair, “You know these things, they can build stuff overnight now.” His argument is not convincing though and there is suddenly an air of anxiousness around as you stare up at the seemingly endless tower.

“They say all your fears are in the maze somewhere,” says Sarah in her best Vincent Price imitation.

“Well, if we are going to climb that thing before midnight we better start,” you say and take the lead with a bravado you aren’t sure you truly feel.
The wait in line goes faster than you expected. Suddenly your group is up; you hand over your tickets and walk into the first floor which appears to be a brick maze. A shadow moves in the corner and your gut says this was not the best idea. You feel a hand slip into yours, “Are you coming, darlin’?” Shaking the general haze you glance at Sarah’s freckled face and nod letting her tug you behind the group.

Mikael nearly lost it on a floor with spider webs; cussing like a sailor and he reveals a phobia no one knew about. Tess leads him through with his eyes closed. At some point near the middle of the climb there is a floor so dark everyone gets turned around. Your phone buzzes and you tug it out of your jacket pocket. Hadn’t you worn a sweatshirt? Someone screams and then people dissolve in fits of giggles above you. Creepy aliens wheeze in your ear as you read, *I think I am on the floor above you. Tired. Meet you at the end?* It was Sarah. Wait. When had you let go of her hand? It must have been several floors ago but you can’t remember. Wasn’t she just behind you? *Okay, but please be careful.*

It strikes you that might have been a strange thing to say but you shake it off again. How tall was this thing anyway? Hooking back up with the others you climb the floors, navigate the maze and make it to the top. There appears to be a line to get down and people are milling about discussing the structure or how they weren’t really scared. “Sarah!” you call out getting a few odd looks from people near you. Ignoring them you push through a few groups looking for that familiar shock of hair. Nothing. Figures. Opening your phone you start text her. For some reason the thread from the night was gone, what the hell? Maybe you had deleted it by accident. You flip to contacts but her name isn’t there either, okay, now something feels weird. There is no way you took her name out of your contacts; it had been in there for years.

Catching up with Nic you tug at his sleeve, “Hey, did you guys see, Sarah yet? She was going to meet us at the top.” He tips his head, brown eyes registering your face and some confusion, “Who?”

“Nic, you know, Sarah, our friend, the girl who drove us?”

Tess turns at the note of irritation in your voice, “What are you talking about, I drove us, hon.”

You glance at Mikael, “Okay, real funny, where is Sarah, guys?”

But they aren’t laughing; there isn’t a single thing in their eyes that betrays the trick. Suddenly you can’t breathe. “Sarah, our friend Sarah, my friend Sarah. She has freckles. I was practically part of her family, ” you were babbling, you knew you were babbling.

“Drugs?” you hear a voice ask with slight concern.

“No, never, not in all the time we have been friends. Low blood sugar maybe?”

They thought you were crazy. But you know. Sarah who had always made you stronger.

“Sarah? SARAH!” you hear yourself screaming out. There were people all around you. Voices full of calming, placating words.

The fear grips your heart,
presses at your stomach,
churns up your dinner,
toys with your mind,
this is your dark secret,
this is your biggest fear,
and you know the tower has stolen her.

Everything has changed.

No one will ever believe you.

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Gilded Cage

House Cyr in Second Life

Inspired by House Cyr built by Lucia Cyr.

Wide wings push downward to give lift, fan out to catch a warm current, and then adjust for wind; in this way he circles the island and House Cyr. His eyes, the color of burnt summer sun, scan the walls and turrets of her home, her prison. He was her assigned guardian, sent to keep an eye on her situation, as it were. The Gods could be cruel but for her they had found a crumb of mercy. Swooping through the floating islands he searches for any other movement on the grounds. The red roofs of each tower accent the crystalline blue windows making this place a work of art. Each intricate sculpture drew the eye. With ease he angles down and settles on the edge of a massive grey, stone wall in view of the upper rose garden. The full moon would call to her and he would be waiting.

Sweet warmth, like that of velvet, seemed to carry her along and cover her with its presence. The dreams vivid and soft; she could not avoid sinking into their seduction. Subconsciously she gives in to these moments. Curled amongst red satin sheets a tiny smile almost graces her pale lips. The amulet about her neck glows with its own light, pulsing with her heartbeat. She must be dreaming of something that pleases her, perhaps her fair painter, or the endless dark fields of her home, her real home.

Violet eyes flutter open to look about her dark room in the place she had to live. Oh to have stayed right where she was, in her dreams of pleasure. The amulet still glows softly against her breast, and she can feel the inner warmth residing there for a bit longer. Bare feet press into one of the plush red carpets that were carefully crafted and placed about the fortress. Azure light filters through the windows of her room. Frowning she feels the pull, there was something…

Quickly she dons a warm gown and slips from her room, suddenly willing to grace the upper world with her presence. Shying away from the throne room she hurries onward she knew not to ever enter there unless an invitation was extended. She had born witness to the results of such trespassing. Old eyes stared down at her from portraits lining the red walls, paintings, idolatry of those with power, those so much older than she. Portals whispered to her but she ignored their temptation. Air, she needed night air, she needed out of the rooms closing in on her.

She pauses only once, at the entrance to the ballroom, its clockwork floor mesmerizing her as if she were a regular toy of those that ruled this place. They call her a guest, she knows she is a prisoner but she is not a mindless servant. Shadows of finery. Parties at a cost. Dark laughter fills the room. Gasping she tucks her arms to her body and climbs more urgently.

One hallway, then another, more stairs, a careless switchback and then the burst of night air blowing back her autumn colored hair as she reaches the garden. Her heart drums against her chest. She breathes in the scent of hedgerows and roses. Sinking her feet into the grass she looks up at the full moon. Then, accompanied by the sound of the stair stepped waterfall, her voice rises in a haunting melody. In the light of the moon she dances, small fireflies join her movements, she becomes unearthly. Violet eyes are pale, her body twists and turns, the music of her voice echoes.

When she explodes from the doorway like some wild creature, he holds his breath, he knew she found her way out of the maze without even trying. They had never fooled her. Black hair, tousled from his flight, teases against his face. Her form is familiar to his eyes. Had it been an eternity, or just days that she was in his care? How many times had he seen her do this, on a night when the moon was full? At these times, she seemed like a nymph, a wood sprite trapped in the body of a damned woman. There she was, dancing, her voice raised in a kind of prayer, her hair and eyes lit like some caged creature. He remembers the first time he saw her this way, the shock that coursed through him. Up to that point he had hated her, loathed that he was in charge of her. But now…

She did not know him, she would never know him. A silent observer was all he could ever be. Invisible chains tied him to her. Through the night he keeps vigil until she is exhausts herself completely and drifts back to her quarters, her gilded cage.

Here is How We Live

 

City of Doom on Next South in Second Life

Inspired by City of Doom, The Next Day built and created by Sana Dagger, Sephiroth Juran and sweet Tantalus.

Here is how we meet:

It starts in a room so dim I can only make out faces in the refraction of light off shining surfaces. There is the kind of base that pushes through your chest and seems to echo in your soul. You float across my vision and the world slows down exactly as it does in movies. This is not how the real world works but it’s true, Love, this is how I see you. Everyone else fades. The light plays in the strands of your pale hair and I stop breathing for a moment, an hour, a thousand years. Your dark eyes pass me once but they return. You feel it too. I watch the wonder register on your face; the edge of your lips curl in a smile. My heart decides to beat but it’s moving too fast and I am sure you can hear it. You are a golden thread in my tapestry and I feel you weave strength into my life as you cross the room.

Here is how we love:

Our souls are in a thousand overused clichés and a million old poems; but someone must have understood to put us there so clearly. I am Eurydice to your Orpheus but you do not look back as we rise from the underworld. In my wanderings as Odysseus I deny Circe and return to you, to my home, ever grateful of your strength and clarity. When I came back to where I should be, you whispered, “Nan, sweet Nan,” into my hair and I knew life was my warm Florence. Your strength sweetly marred by your insecurity. My boldness balanced by a tenderness I feel only for you. Together we are formidable; you have pieces of me tucked inside of you. I weave you stories when you ask and it makes you love me more; you swore you could see my wings spread wide with it all.

Here is how we live:

You want quiet on a farm, a simple life of rocking chairs and a harvest from the earth turned by our hands. In our tiny orchard the red, tart apples grow high and lush when the autumn winds call. I watch the world spread out before me and I want to take it in. I want to see each piece of land and every glittering light.  I want to taste all the rich flavors that are created and, with a full belly, climb to the top of a mountain to commune with the stars.  The air is clean and sweet, the sky is only dark when it rains, our lives are simple and rich with love. We dance through leaves and fly through nights; it’s a give and take but we make both worlds lay down before us. We rule our own destiny, denying cages or boxes, and make the dreams bend to our will. My desire. Your temperance.

Here is the truth I don’t tell you:

On radioactive city streets, under the glare of neon, I am telling you the last story you will ever hear. There is an electronic hum all around; our foundation. The rain is cold and wet down my scalp. It drips from rivers flowing through my dark locks onto your chilled skin. It did not suit to move you; no one can help and the end will come fast. The concrete and steel world we call home feels all the more oppressive. My legs are numb from the cold street corner. We made a mistake and now you pay for the transgression. At least the Neuronia will never touch you; our OXY is low and we are out of WAT.  I cannot see the sky; we can never see the sky. You asked me to tell you about us. I am curled over you, my body protecting as much of you as it can, my soul slipping down the drain as the life of you, the very core of you, lifts in layers from your body. You leave me here in this hell alone. Your body relaxes in my arms, the hint of peace on your face, as I spin you this tale. I tell you a story of light. I weave you magic in the dark. I give you my last dream. Us.

Keeper of Light

Lumeria in Second Life

 

Inspired by Lumeria, Roan built by Abel Moonites and wildangel Swift. Loosely based on the myth of Lemuria.

 

Time is of little consequence for her and she waits for the shift to come.

She is a keeper of the light.

She knows they are hidden but not lost.

The mythology speaks of this world but so many men have lost the capacity to believe beyond themselves. There are those who try to stretch out but they allow the beliefs they hold to empower hatred and self-righteousness. The story of her people has been twisted to a dark thing.

She watches from the towers, she watches from her sunken world of water and peace, she speaks to the aquatic creatures who answer her calls and she waits. Her faith is not enough.

Before her lies a garden of crystal grown from the waters of calm. Walking the land she allows the tips of her fingers to run over the smooth, glowing body of one and warmth spreads from the touch. Individual crystals held the understanding; a knowledge to be passed on to humanity when the time is right.

That time had not come.

Clues had been left for them, but they do not want to believe. Her eyes scan the patterns of her world which matched the lines her family had placed outside the veil. They had left notes, symbols in the earth and on the ground.

That was not enough.

Beneath her stretches out a bridge built over pure water. She sees light move of its own accord. She did not understand humanity’s squandering ways. Here the air was from before the time of even Atlantis. Yet, she continues to wait for the moment when she can bestow the light of the crystals.

They did not deserve it yet.

Each year, each war, each senseless death took them farther from her.

She sits and looks out onto their world with eyes full of light.

She is a keeper of this secret and she waits with hope.

She knows they may never be ready for her gift.

Time is of little consequence for her and she waits for the shift to come.

Listen

 

Embay

Inspired by Embay built by Serenah Raynier

 

The eighth day of third month of the fifteenth year PD (Post Downfall)

It happened so fast that even as I look back now, going through each day slowly, I can’t recall how it all unfolded. There were rumors and threats then a shift; a simple crack in the most basic part of the world’s structure. The crack didn’t show in the papers, you didn’t see it on the news, and people didn’t know to talk about it; it developed regardless of the complete lack of attention.  This subtle split grew, opened its mouth wide, branching out, filling up with hatred, speculation, fear, pride and our endless desire to prove something.

Once the gaping maw caused instability everything changed. The bombing was frightening enough, not just us but everywhere; pockmarking this world with unbearable scars. It was only by some miracle we did not destroy the earth in an instant. Like the crack no one saw, we tip toed around and fought dirty; fought using small bombs, sickness and subterfuge. No one wanted the blame for the end of the world but there were other ways to fight. Then, the very thing we had built to tie us together, to tie lands, countries, worlds together was destroyed.

I can still recall the heft and weight of the small device I carried for so long. We thought we were so connected. You, you so young and new won’t understand now what I mean if I call it by name, call all of them by name, but understand we were convinced they were vital. You could write and send it to someone in an instant; they could read it within seconds if they wanted. Yet, I remember how that grew too; and how, inside of all that noise, we learned to ignore each other better than we had before.  It was as if we were all talking at once. Everyone stopped listening.

Afterward, the silence was strange and unfamiliar.

Some of us, quietly, had prepared for this day. We met up, counted what we had, found others, younger and stronger, and then we left. You had to leave in the night and take only what you had ready.  For years we traveled, nomadic and struggling. More joined us taking shelter with our group. We became close, a cobbled together family.  Every loss was felt.

This is when we began to remember how to listen.

No one was here. This land was waiting for us to live off her. She still breathed, miraculously untouched by all that had occurred. Our farms grow and give us food. Our wells spill forth fresh water. Our horses thrive. We spread out. Here and in the surrounding mountains. Never so far we cannot find each other. The land is beautiful and this place protects us. I am in awe of all I did not know before, of how much I missed for it was here all along. I have grown used to not only the silence of us, but also the music of the wind and the sea. It has become easy to delight in simple instruments, for a few of us saved what we had and brought that talent too. I have remembered how to listen.

We have remembered how to listen.

No one has come for us yet, we watch for ships but the horizon is blue and quiet. We rebuild with those we have. I write this down now so you can understand, so we can tell our story and try to learn. Many have come before me and told the same tale. I dare say they told it better. I will continue to write, to record all I can.

But you must not forget how to listen.

The Forest Keeper

Inspired by "de Maria, de Mariana, de Madalena…" by Meilo Minotaur and CapCat Ragu

I crouched in the cool water and whispered, “Hello. What do you do here?”

Her eyes followed the sound to meet mine. “I am the forest keeper, and there is no need to whisper. Our voices often cannot be heard above the din of the machines and the ticking of time.”

I stood slowly and let my eyes stray across the curves of the landscape that stretched widely beyond the small collection of trees she called “forest”.  She stood as well, mimicking my actions but with outstretched limbs of beating hearts.

“What is your name?”, I asked abruptly and without realizing that I’d taken a threateningly large step forward. She swayed in response, as if my breath was a gale swirling about her. She steadied and stared until her gaze reached the bottom of my soul, then spoke her answer to the trees. “I am Mariana. I am a tree that grows hearts, one for each you take …” her voice trailed off and the rest flew away with a passing flock of birds.

I watched the black birds strut across the orange sky, dipping and flitting together in a fitful flight that dared the edges of sky and land. I stared until my eyes became dark from the sunlight and I turned to find the forest keeper, but she was gone and so was the gentle thumping of her hearts.

I felt strangely safe and vulnerable at the same time. Instinctively, I pressed my hand to my neck to see if my own heart was beating and tried not to panic when the pulse was not there. I stood as still as I could and heard a distant steady beat, not my heart, but like the mechanical sweep of a second hand.

How long had it been? Forever.

I’ve been trapped here in this skin as long as I can remember.  The beat of the second hands grew louder.

What do I do here?  I do everything.

Everything that is expected of me, every role that must be filled, every part that must be played. I am an entire company for the theater of my life, spread out against this landscape that is not my own.

I am the forest keeper.

I feed the birds.

I wind the clocks.

I grow hearts.

I am Mother, Wife, Lover, Friend …

I am all of this, and more.

__________________________________________


“de Maria, de Mariana, de Madalena…” is a project conceived for the fifth edition of All My Independent Women which, more than an exhibition that occurs irregularly across Portugal, is a platform for feminist thinking. While most projects are on display in Coimbra at Casa da Esquina, between May 21st and June 18th of 2010, others find their place elsewhere in the city. Our project takes form in the virtual environment of Second Life.
This year’s edition of AMIW revolves around the collective reading of the book “Novas Cartas Portuguesas” by Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Velho da Costa, first published in 1972 and banned by the dictatorship that lingered in Portugal until April 25th of 1974, a mark in the history of feminism in our country.

Welcome Travelers

Welcome to the “Lucky Motel”, but if you ask me, there ain’t nothin’ lucky about it. This place’s always dealin’ in somethin’ shady. I’m smart enough to keep my head down, check people in and out as needed and I don’t ask no questions. When you leave, if you leave, then I clean the rooms as told (there ain’t much to that either unless it’s a real mess of a deal) and then I wait for the next one. It’s better than workin’ at the factory or the theatre and Momma won’t let me work at the bars. If she only knew what really went on around these parts; hey, did ya’ll say you needed a room? Let me see what we got.

Ya’ll ain’t from around here is you? Our one general store and gas station is over on Friday Street and ya’ll might want to hit that while it’s daylight. Don’t go too far though or you’ll end up at the swamp; ain’t nobody seen Sally Huchins in 40 years but she used to live there, so they say. Me? Oh yeah, I been here all my life. Got my learnin’ right there in the school house before I quit to work. Just down Violin Road is the hobo shacks. If you ask me, ya’ll try not to go near ‘em; see, a girl learns when she is little it’s better to come down Bliss Blvd. or Freedom Street.

How long was you thinkin’ a stayin’? If ya’ll is here for a couple of nights there is probably an old movie playin’ in the theatre but I couldn’t tell you all what. Mostly old man Victor, he shows them horror movies from the 1960’s. I ain’t much into that, enough horror all around me, but you ain’t gonna want to stay in your room all day. Could get messy. We have a couple of bars, if you goes on down Main Avenue, if that’s more your way. I wouldn’t drink too much if I was you though.

Here is your key, could you sign right here for me please? I’m guessin’ you all is hungry, there is King of Pizza King of Taco just down where K Smith Steet dead ends. I wouldn’t stay out after dark though. Everybody knows most everybody in a place like this but they don’t take much to strangers. Kind of funny when we got this motel right here, if you ask me. That’s why I work here; I don’t mind a stranger or two.

Ya’ll is just outside, room number 9, and there’s a soda machine up the stairs on the outside. What did you just ask? Naw, I ain’t goin’ no where, I figure if I work here long enough I might one day own this here motel. I can fix it up real nice, ya know? So that people enjoy their stay here in Missing Mile, NC. Why would I leave when I got everything here I need? Besides, if you ask me, this is the kind of place you just can’t leave.

It’s been real nice talking to ya’ll, just come get me if you need anything else. Ya’ll seem like right nice folks. I do hope to see you in the mornin’. Remember what I told you. Good evenin’!

Inspired by Missing Mile, Soap built by Loch Newchurch