Citylights & Tea #3

Curtis has no idea what to call the ninth floor, not that it is in any real need of a name. Lately, though, he’s been spending an awful lot of time thinking about the place. In his mind, he’s come to refer to it as The Temple, sometimes, The Asylum. He knows of a few people who visit on occasion, to offer their assistance. Many go there to pray. The most terrifying ones are those of the variety that kneel in the pews, spitting out their endless litanies of helplessness, or blind fury, until the feeling seems to drain from their thighs and they prostrate themselves on the ground, clawing at the bare concrete floor. He shudders inwardly, recalling the sight of two distraught women, wailing and leaving bloody handprints on everything they touched. The metallic stench of blood hung in the air; tangible evidence was just as apparent to the passing visitors that day, especially so on the hem of the robes belonging to the tall, stately woman he’s dubbed Priestess. Sometimes he entertains himself with thoughts of entering the room with an immense, sweeping cloak and declaring himself a hierophant.

The ninth floor has no windows. The ninth floor has no clocks. Enter without a timepiece on your person, stay a minute too long, and the sense of despair which pervades the room will haunt you for days after. Curtis once found that out for himself, after he’d willed himself to stay and watch, stay and observe, breathing in far too much stale air, bitter with tears and insincere condolences. The effect was not something he ever wished to experience again. Two nights in a row, he’d jerked upright in bed, woken from a sleep that he felt he didn’t rightfully deserve, a sleep that some unseen force seemed to be trying to reclaim. No amount of staring out of the window had given him relief. No amount of cigarettes. No amount of tea. Not that he could ever get enough of tea. There wasn’t enough of it to go around.

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