0135: The Tower

Ziggurat #43

“Short of a dense meteor shower or some such thing, this structure could have been standing here for a million years without being disturbed in any way. Until we came along, that is.”

Having excused himself from the apparently vexed Abner Wade and his flock of chickens, Lamont finally turned in for a few hours of mercifully dreamless sleep. He returned to the command deck late in the morning showered, shaved, and bracing himself to settle for an inferior cup of coffee. His fears were well-founded; it was a busy day, and the limited supply of homegrown coffee had probably been exhausted within an hour of first shift’s beginning. He unhappily gulped down a half-cup of the instant variety before joining Captain Carter where he stood, leaning straight-backed on his cane, in front of the control console.

“Remarkable, isn’t it?” Carter asked without taking his eyes from the view outside. Nothing in his tone suggested that he still remembered his previous night’s heated exchange with the newspaperman.

Gazing through the window, Lamont could only nod in agreement. Westward was now close enough to the moon-based structure that details could be seen. The ship appeared, relatively speaking, to be positioned almost directly in front and a little overhead of the tower, making it ideally visible from the bottom of the ship where the command deck was situated. It was oddly foreshortened, with most of the tower appearing to recede into needle-like thinness before disappearing into what appeared to be a dense, milky fog on the moon below. It seemed to be quite uniform in appearance, with a smooth-looking surface of silvery metal. The tube-like monotony of the structure was broken somewhat at the top with some arms or poles, at the tip of which were metallic spheres that brightly reflected Westward’s spotlights. The structural details near the top were reminiscent to Lamont of a Tesla coil that he had seen at the Crystal Palace years earlier. At the very tip of the tower was a globe or dome topped with a beacon or window that was amber in color and glowing brightly. This, Lamont guessed, was probably the source of the light that had answered their mathematical hail. It had the shape of two almonds crossed over one another, or four leaves, with a similar shape placed in black relief against it.

“A star-shaped eye?” Lamont whispered.

“What’s that?” Francis asked, leaning closer.

Lamont shook his head. “Just talking to myself. How close are we to the structure now?”

He turned his head toward Lazarus, who double-checked his instruments. “A couple hundred miles,” The pilot reported.

“Blimey,” Muttered the newspaperman. “I would have thought we were right on top of it.”

“Astronomically speaking, we are,” Explained Francis.

“It doesn’t look old,” Lamont observed.

“Looks can be deceiving,” Shrugged the captain. “Short of a dense meteor shower or some such thing, this structure could have been standing here for a million years without being disturbed in any way. Until we came along, that is.”

“Exactly how much are we planning to disturb it?” Lamont asked.

The captain smiled and returned his attention to the window, leaning forward on his cane. “Well, Lamont, the lights are on. Don’t you want to know if somebody’s home?”


Author’s Note: Schedule pressures have limited my writing time recently, so I am going to be giving Page of Pulp a one or two-week break while I catch up. In the meantime, I hope you’ll let me know what you think of the story so far. Be seeing you! -ETT