Roadside Attraction: Part 3
Suzie stood to the side and extended an arm to the open door. “Come and see what Wella’s Spire offers you!” Her delivery was vaudevillian and rang ominously in Scott’s head.
[Come and see Scottie, at the end of all things, what the Conaltradh will offer you.]
Tony clapped and rubbed his hands together. “Let’s take a look, Scottie.”
Scott forced a smile and said, “Might as well I guess.” He looked ahead into the base of the Spire while trying to keep Suzie’s eyes in his peripheral vision. Gooseflesh rose on the back of his neck as he imagined her eye lazily rolling back over of its own volition to keep him in her sight.
They walked into a dizzying room that spread out in a way that defied the structure’s appearance from the outside. The walls leaned in and outwards in chaotic fashion around them as sunlight bled in from what Scott assumed was an unseen window above. The light was a sickly yellow, bleeding into rotten orange, and the air felt stale and abandoned as if no one had been inside for years. The room seemed to bend and swell slowly as they moved, and Scott could feel his stomach turn as vertigo set in. He doubled over as he felt his lunch trying to work its way up and closed his eyes against the disorienting display. After a moment, he opened his eyes again and saw an odd seam on the floor a few feet from him.
Mirrors. The inside is mirrored.
He slowly stood up and saw that the room was indeed as small as physics demanded it to be. The highly reflective walls were canted back and forth as they rose, giving the illusion that the space they were in was nigh infinite.
“This is awesome!” Tony stood enraptured by the admittedly wondrous display of light bouncing off of itself throughout the spire above them. “How do they clean the mirrors at the top?”
Suzie placed her hands on her hips still chewing and smiling. “Couldn’t tell ya.”
Tony gave a perplexed look but moved on without a second thought. He walked over to one of the walls and slowly reached out his hand. As his fingers passed into the view of the warped reflection, it showed them as elongated and bent at odd angles. The pit in Scott’s stomach grew at the sight of it. The reflection was clean, lacking any of the uncanny valleys a normal funhouse mirror might offer in its warped images.
I need to leave.
“What’s this?” Tony walked over to the far corner of the room inspecting something on the floor.
I need to leave right now.
“Yeah!” Suzie walked excitedly to where Tony was knelt down, next to some sort of wrought iron railing.
Scott followed hesitantly. Sudden movement made his stomach sink lower as the room swirled in its mad dance in the mirrors around him. He felt like a man longing for water in the desert, desperate to get out of the Spire, out of the stagnation he felt inside of it.
“This is actually the most remarkable part of the Spire,” Suzie said, putting on a Disney-like faux enthusiasm. “A majority of it is actually underground.”
As Scott neared the square hole, the dawning horror that it was a small staircase stole over him. Only the first few steps were visible as the light bouncing around the room did little to touch the dark. It sat as a thick puddle of shadow in front of their feet, so in contrast with the rest of the room that it looked to be something corporeal rather than a lack of light.
[Down here in Donesville, Scottie. Reggie bit the bullet to get here, but you’re just gonna waltz right in.]
Before Scott could voice any kind of want to leave, Suzie had produced two small flashlights (from where Scott wasn’t quite sure) and was handing one to Tony. He took without hesitation and set to shining it down into the open hatch.
“You can’t be serious,” Scott said to him.
Tony looked up at him with a hint of surprise. “What? This is awesome.” He took a step towards Scott and lowered his voice. “Plus, she’s kind of cute.” He nodded not so subtly towards Suzie, who stood patiently for them, smiling and chewing.
“Come on, man. Put your dick away and think about this. There’s no way going down there is a good idea.”
“Well not to mention there’s no way that’s not a serious safety hazard to only have a flashlight while looking around an underground maze,” Scott paused and glanced at Suzie again, checking to see her eyes were in place, “I’ve got a really bad feeling from this whole thing. Are you not weirded out by this at all?”
Tony looked around the room and shrugged. “A little, but isn’t that the point? It’s some backwoods town that had a crazy guy build an underground monument. That’s weird, yeah. But how can you not want to see that?”
For a moment Scott considered trying to tell him what he had seen with her eyes. The date on the flyer matching Reggie’s suicide. But he would also have to convince him these things were not just coincidence or a trick of the light. That the Dark was growing stronger inside of the Conaltradh. That this was Donesville for them.
Instead, he simply opted for, “Yeah I guess so.”
Suzie winked at him. “Don’t worry, Scottie. There’s not too much that’ll bite you down there.”
They descended into a suffocating dark beneath the Spire. Scott’s flashlight felt nigh useless in his hand as it made pathetic attempts at cutting through abyss surrounding them. Scott’s breath puffed from his mouth into the harsh beam of light. He could feel the temperature drop significantly the further down the went. Walls roughly hewn from the stone base of the mountain’s terrain above them left only enough room for one of them at a time on the steps. Water trickled down the cold stone and over what looked to be faded runes or series of hieroglyphs faded beyond recognition. They looked to be far older than what the Spire [Conaltradh] was supposed to be; eons older.
“This is insane, right man?” Tony chimed from ahead of him.
“Couldn’t’ve said it better,” Scott muttered. Insane was the perfect descriptor for following Susie into the dark below the Spire. More so was the sudden and overwhelming urge he felt to reach out and run his fingers over the strange markings on the walls. He clenched his fists and jaw. Hold it together, Scottie.
Susie’s voice rang against the walls. “You two holdin’ up ok back there? Just a little farther now.”
“To what, exactly?” Scott asked, unsure if he wanted the answer.
“Oh, you’ll see.” Her voice sounded menacing as it danced around him in the dark stairway. “Don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
For a moment he felt her breath on the back of his neck. “It sees, ya know?”
He whirled around, nearly losing his footing on the steps. Though the beam shook in his hands he clearly saw nothing behind him. Only more steps leading back to the surface. To the sanity of light.
[Holding it together great. A real champ you are.]
“Hey, you ok?” Tony asked.
A chill ran up Scott’s back and over his scalp. Just tell him. It’s stupid not to. Just talk. “Yeah, all good.” He shook out the goosebumps crawling over his neck and turned back to the dark below them.
They continued down. More steps emerged, as if they materialized moments before their feet found them. There was a soft veer to the right, then left, then left again.
Scott was sure they were now miles below the surface. How far could one travel into the earth before they found the hells of magma flowing? He wished he had paid a bit more attention in geology. He wished he had paid more attention to a lot of things. Like how the Spire made him feel so maybe they wouldn’t have gone inside of the damn thing. Like how Reggie had acted in the months and weeks leading up to that night.
Then they were on flat ground again. Scott nearly bumped into Tony and was about to protest when he saw why they had stopped. They were in a short hall that widened only enough to fit two people in its width. At its end stood Suzie before a massive wooden door with deep grooves carved into its face.
Scott noticed the soft glow of candles along the walls. They were red and dripping strands of fresh wax onto the dusty floor. Tony motioned towards a cluster of them by his feet with his flashlight. “I mean…that’s kind of weird, right?”
Suzie turned and smiled. “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” She turned her back to them again. For a moment Scott could see her right eye linger on them in the dancing light.
“That’s it,” Scott yelled to Tony, “did you see it?” He grabbed Tony’s shoulder and pointed at her.
Tony stood with his mouth agape. “I…I’m not sure…”
Suzie placed her hand on the door and began to whisper. Scott couldn’t make out the words her wheezing voice uttered.
“Hey! Hey, what are you doing?” Scott took a shaky step forward. “I said, what-”
There was a sudden clack from behind the door, and it swung open. The hinges creaked under its heavy weight. Warmth, and the smell of abandon, washed over them from the darkness beyond. Suzie twirled around to face them, smiling. “C’mon in!”
Tony shook his head. “I, uh…I don’t know about this. What’s in there?”
She let out a shrill giggle. “Nothing too bad.” Then she turned and skipped through the door and into the shadows.
Tony shined the flashlight into the room ahead of them. The beam struck across more dirt floor. Beyond the door, they could see large objects covered in tarp. Deep shadows hid the rest from their view. They looked at each other for a moment.
“I mean, should we go?” Tony asked.
“There’s no possible way that’s a good idea. You need to really think about this right now.”
Tony shrugged. “What’s gonna happen? You don’t think this is cool at all?”
“No, no I really don’t. Now can we just go?”
“We will.” Tony placed a hand on Scott’s shoulder. “Let just poke our heads in and then we’re out.”
Scott continued to protest, but Tony ignored him and walked into the shadowy room. In the candlelit hallway alone, Scott fidgeted. He held little desire to be caught in a room alone with that woman miles below the ground, but he felt himself longing to be around anyone in the dancing orange light. He scanned the steps behind him with his light. The hatch they had entered from sat in the darkness above him. It almost looked to have moved further away, like a star shooting into the void of space. Suddenly his throat was very dry. We gotta go. He marched into the room, determined to grab Tony and smack some sense into him, if need be, to leave. Right away.