My name is Jackie and, it's not so bad here. Not really. I don't think so,
anyway, but I guess it's hard to say. I've never really been anywhere else.
I've never been below Floor Twelve. My parents won't let me. They say things
get bad down there, so I have to stay up here, on the higher levels.
I wish I didn't have to. Things get kind of boring, walking the same halls
every day. I'm always trying to find something new to do, but it gets hard.
Sometimes I'll wander up to the Rooftop level, where we have the gardens.
That's where all of our food comes from, so we all take turns planting and
harvesting. I don't mind, actually, unless it's the carrots. Those are really
hard to yank out of the dirt. It’s kind of a pain to get to the Rooftop, actually.
The top of the tower is Floor 1. None of us are allowed on Floor 1, so every
time we go up the stairs we’re forced to stare at that big, golden number. The
number “1”. I really wish I knew what was in there. Nobody’s allowed though, so
we just pass it by every few days when it’s our turn to work the gardens.
You can't just pick vegetables, though. That gets boring quick. Most of the
time, I'm in school. Well, school's probably too much of a word for it. We meet
most days of the week in the library room on Floor 6. Our teacher, Mrs. Bloom,
teaches us the best she can. It's too bad our books aren't great. A lot of them
are about to fall apart, and most of them were scavenged from the lower floors.
I'm not talking about something like Floors 13 or 14. I'm not even talking
about Floor 21. I mean the books were taken from way down below... like, Floor
I know right? I can't believe it myself. That's what we have the Scavenger
Teams for, though. Without them we'd never get new books, or supplies. They're
really brave. They say that most of the people in those teams used to be
soldiers or even just polices officers. I mean, that makes sense. They wear all
that riot gear and it looks like they know how to fight. Every once in a while
we lose one of them, though. That just goes with the territory of being a
Sometimes I sit around in the lobby with the other kids and watch movies on
the Blu-Ray player, but that doesn't always work out. If it's a really cloudy
day, the solar panels on the roof die out. That always sucks, and it's bad for
all of us. If we want light we have to burn candles, and we don't have much of
those. Then again, we don't have many light bulbs either. Want to take a guess
where we get those from? Yeah. Scavengers.
I kinda’ always wanted to be one. Who wouldn’t want to be? They get to see
stuff from a long time ago, before we had to live on the top of the tower. Nobody
really talks about The Before, and I'm not even sure how much anyone knows
about it. I guess it makes sense to think that once upon a time we lived on the
lower floors. Maybe even the ground... if there is a ground. I've never met
anyone that's seen it, not even the Scavengers.
When I stop and think about it, none of this makes sense. We couldn't have
always lived up here, could we? I get pretty antsy when I think about it
because, this is a tower, right? We had to have come up the tower at some
point. That only makes sense. I don’t know, thinking about it gets me
frustrated. When I'm in this kind of mood I go to the rooftop and look out. You
can see other towers, rising up in the distance. Some aren't even that far from
ours. Then I look down, trying to see how far beneath I can stare. Thing is,
it's impossible to see too far. The tower vanishes into the Darkness. Nobody,
and I mean nobody, even knows why. It’s just blackness down there.
Oh, about Floor 12. Yeah, that's where the Creep starts. The Creep? It's
this... stuff. You shouldn't touch it, because it makes you feel weird, and the
lower down the tower you go, the more you see it. It starts to cover the walls
and it's kinda gross. It's really slick, like saliva, and it looks like it's
muscley. Almost alive. Good thing you don't have to worry about that from Floor
11 and higher. Still, I wonder what it is. We all do. I know that when you
touch it, you can start hallucinating. I did once. I touched it a few times
when I'd head to Floor 12, which is why my parents made the rule that I
couldn't head down there anymore. I get why. The Creep makes you see....
things. Shadowy things. Sometimes they're right in front of you, but most of
the time they're in the corner of your eye. They say that by Floor 21 you don't
even have to touch the Creep to hallucinate. Must suck to live down there.
Still, I wonder. I wonder about it all the time, actually. I just want to
know what's beyond Floor 21.
Um, mom told me I should start recording my thoughts when I’m in these kind
of moods so, this one might be short. It’s my first one. Guess I’ll try to keep
this up. I’m supposed to meet with Allison tonight. Don’t know what we’ll do.
Try to find a new movie in the Blu-Ray collection, I guess. I think one of the
boys said the Scavengers had hauled up a game system. I haven’t seen one since
I was a kid. The last one we had broke when I was like, ten. That’s what? Seven
years. Dang. I’d really like to play a videogame again.
Should I say Second Recording, or Recording Two? I don’t know. I guess
nobody’s going to care how I document myself. I mean, who’s going to listen to
this, right? I probably won’t. Why would I? I’m just recording this because if
I don’t I feel like I’m going to go crazy.
I’m not crazy, right? I feel like ever since I turned 17, life is just…
About turning 17. Wow, yeah. I’m getting old. That’s depressing. The oldest
person I know is Mr. McCauley. He lives in Apartment 8 -12. Uh, should I
explain that? Everyone knows that the apartments are labelled by floor and
room, right? Eighth floor, room twelve. Yeah, anyway, that’s Mr. McCauley’s
place. Guy’s 84 years old. Eight. Four.
Think about that. He’s that old and even he doesn’t really know about what
happened before The Before. He claims that a long time ago, there was no
Darkness and no Creep. Duh, everyone says that, so it’s not like he’s some
fountain of secret wisdom or anything.
But he does say interesting stuff, like, this tower was old even when the
Darkness came. Like, super old. He says this place used to be for poor people
who couldn’t live in nicer towers, but when I ask him where the nicer towers
were or what they were like, he just kind of mumbles and trails off. Weird old
guy, but I like him. Still, I don’t think he actually lived before The Before.
Unless someone wiped his memory or something. The reason I say that is because
if he’d lived before the Darkness came, he’d have, I dunno’, more details or
something. He doesn’t know when the Scavenging started, and he doesn’t know
what it was like to be outside the tower. He can’t even tell me what the ground
was like. Honestly I get the feeling he’s just telling me stories he heard from
other people. Maybe from people that came before him. That would mean we’ve
been living at the top of this tower for more than 84 years, at least. I can’t
How did I even start talking about that? I was going to talk about my
birthday. That’s right, I was going to be talking about how depressing that
was. Yeah, mom was trying her best to keep it all together. Dad was… working. I
don’t exactly know what he does, but I know he gets to work on Floor 3. That’s
where they do science stuff. Anyway, my birthday was going good enough, I
guess. There’s a conference room on Floor 4, where I live, and every kids
birthday gets celebrated there. Except Tommy’s, but his mom’s a nutter, so he
had his on the rooftop. That was more depressing than mine, having to stare at
dark clouds all day.
Actually, no, mine was more depressing. A lot more. Things were going fine
enough until the alarms went off. You’ve got a dozen kids my age trying to
enjoy cake, and can we please remember that cake isn’t exactly something we can
cook easily here? Anyway, we’re just trying to eat our cake when the alarm
sirens go off. Yeah, exactly, right in the middle of eating something you can
literally only order for yourself once a year.
I never exactly found out what happened, but I got an idea. I had a chance
to talk with the other kids about this. Turns out Allison’s dad is in Security.
Man, what a bad end of the straw. I’d hate to be picked for Security. It’s like
having the risks of being a Scavenger but never being allowed to go beneath a
certain floor, so what’s the point?
Anyway, Allison says there was a Creep infestation. It doesn’t happen too
often, but when it does, just… damn. The entire tower feels like a hornet’s
nest. Everyone gets antsy, starts buzzing around, and then Lockdown kicks in
and we’re all forced to our rooms.
Maybe I should explain that a bit more. See, the Creep doesn’t stay put. The
people down on the lower floors are in charge of pushing it back whenever it
starts to move but, they don’t always get the job done. Then the Creep gets
into something and starts making its way up. Maybe it gets into an old elevator
shaft, or maybe it finds its way up some old piping. That’s okay. When that
happens, it’s easy enough to get rid off. I hear fire normally does the job.
Once in a while though… it just gets up into the halls. Fast. I never got
the full story but if I hear right, it crawled straight up the stairwell.
That’s bad. Real bad. The stairwell’s our only way of moving between floors.
It’s blocked up after Floor 21 specifically to keep the Creep from pushing up
into the higher levels. Like I’ve said, though, Creep’s kinda’ in a lot of
places from Floor 12 downward. Nothing too intense, but, bad enough.
There are days when the Creep gets angry though. Sounds weird, right? How
does something like that get angry? I don’t know, all I know is that it does.
It starts to pulse and grow real fast. If it were ever to choke up the
stairwell it’d be impossible for us to travel up or down the tower. When it
gets angry, we all have to go to our rooms. That’ s Lockdown. They bring down
these iron shutters in front of our doors and the only people allowed in the
halls are Security. They track down the source of the Creep growth and do whatever
they have to to get rid of it. Most of the time that means flamethrowers. I
heard guns that day, though. Lots of them. I don’t know how firing bullets at
the Creep helps, but I don’t know what else they could have been firing at. It
kept going all night and Lockdown didn’t end until noon the next day. I was
never able to fall asleep. I kept staring out of my window, looking out at the
other towers in the distance. Dad wasn’t able to get home that night, and mom
pretended as if she couldn’t hear anything. She just read a book all night. I
don’t blame her. That night sucked though. You could hear screaming now and
again, and the next day there were a few missing. I guess they must have been
part of Security. They’re gone now.
I don’t know. I’m not in a mood for recording today. Kind of defeats the
point of recording in the first place, I guess. Now, it’s not like I’m in a bad
mood. Actually, things aren’t that bad. Allison found a CD somewhere. It’s got
some real wicked crazy dance music on it. Good stuff. You don’t hear a lot of
music like that because the music on our computers is limited. We network and
share it but, still, it’s not like we have a lot of musicians producing new
music these days.
Especially dance music. I hate dancing, because I’m terrible at it, but it’s
nice to pretend as if I can dance once in a while. So yeah, me and Allison had
a dance off. The thing is, I’ve seen this happen in some of those terribly
cheesy movies about ‘besties’ I’ve watched on Blu- Ray. I didn’ think it was
real but… somehow it felt okay to let off some steam and just… dance. Like an
God. How typical. I’m too ashamed of my own silliness to even keep
Have I talked much about Floor 3? I don’t think so. Anyway, one of the solar
panels on the roof cracked today. We really can’t afford that. This tower
doesn’t have the materials to fix solar panels, or at least not enough to fix
many of them, so that’s why there are a lot of rules about how to behave when
you’re on the Rooftop. Danny was goofing around today and he accidentally
launched his spade off through the air. It’d have been okay if the thing had
gone flying over the edge, but instead it almost had a mind of its own and went
straight for that solar panel.
The thing cracked, and you just knew, just
knew, how bad the situation was the moment you heard the glass splintering
on the ground. Might as well have thrown a kid over the edge by the way we all
just… stared. It took Security exactly one minute to get to the roof and haul
Danny off. I don’t know when we’ll see him again. I mean, he’ll be back. These
things happen. But, one of Security’s jobs is to ‘reinforce’ the rules to you
whenever you break them. They make sure you really know how important it is to
follow the rules of the tower. Glad I’ve never had to go in for Reinforcement.
Anyway, dad showed up on the roof with them. Guy’s funny, you know? Still
looks like he’s in his twenties when I know he’s like, closing in on fifty.
Those glasses he wears are way too big for his head and his hair is kinda’, I
don’t know, uncombed. It works for him though. Some girls think he’s handsome.
Allison’s actually told me she has a crush on him. Yeah. That’s gross.
Well, him and his team scraped up all the pieces. Somehow they’ll figure a
way to repair the panel. That’s what Floor 3 ‘s all about. Story goes that
Floor 3 was one of the first floors created in the tower. Makes sense, really.
People couldn’t live here if guys like my dad weren’t there. We’d have no solar
panels for power, so, no movies, lights, stuff like that. Not to mention it’d
be impossible to maintain the garden. The vegetables we grow up there are from
seeds created on Floor 3. Dad says that once upon a time, vegetables needed a
lot more light and rain to stay alive. These vegetables can survive on less,
and last longer. That’s cool. We’d have no food without them.
Oh. Allison’s here. I think she brought the dance music again. God.
Can I just state, for the record, that Mrs. Bloom has no frickin’ idea about
what happened before The Before? I’d rather someone just tell me they don’t
know something instead of pretending like they do.
That’s the thing, though. Everyone in the tower pretends like they know
something about the world before The Darkness. Mr. McCauley at least sounds
like he knows something, but Mrs. Bloom tried to convince me today that we had
flying cars and cities above the cloud. I’ve seen movies, Mrs. Bloom. Whatever
happened before The Before, we didn’t have any of those. Cars? Sure. Plenty of
those. Trains? Okay, I’ve seen those. But cities that fly in the sky? Give me
Someone was filming a long time ago, that’s why we have these movies in the
first place, and none of the movies have flying cities.
Anyway, I got really frustrated with that conversation, but I get really
frustrated with everyone these days.
Did I mention that Tommy tried to ask me out? I nearly decked him across the
face. He knows I think he’s a toolbag.
About yesterday. I mean, what’s his idea of a date, anyway? He doesn’t like
to read. All he does all day is work out in the gymnasium on Floor 9, and every
other word out of his mouth is wrestling, basketball, blah blah blah.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to play those too. Not that I’m great but, I’m in
shape, you know? Got a little muscle. Kinda’.
That’s not the point anyway. My point is that a date for Tommy means working
out, playing video games or… I dunno’, kissing. Nothing wrong with any of those
but it’s not everything I want to do. I need to be able to talk to someone.
Because I feel like my head is cracking open the more I think about what’s
below Floor 21.
Urrrrrgh. Why is this bothering me so much today. Maybe because Tommy just
really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe because I don’t know what I’m supposed to
do with my life. It’s not like there are a ton of other boys to date, at least
not this high up the tower, and mom and dad would never let me date someone
from beneath Floor 11.
I mean, how would that even work? People from the lower floors aren’t
allowed up here. Safety reasons, they say. I get it. It’s not fair, but I get
it. Someone from the lower floors could be really crazy from the Creep. They
might even have some sort of Creep on them. Can that happen? I’ve never seen
it, but I’ve heard it can happen. Maybe. I dunno’, people say lots of things
about the Creep.
When I think about it, it really must suck living on the lower floors.
People from higher up can go down there, even if they rarely do. People from
the lower floors can’t go above Floor 12, though. There’s a constant Security
checkpoint on the exit to Floor 12 and they make sure everyone going in and out
has the right identification.
Oh yeah, identification. I get pretty tired of having to wear this thing
around my neck all day. I mean, it’s not a huge pain, but it’s just not my
style. It’s this glowing electronic card. Security guys have these scanners
they use on your card whenever you’re on your way up. You either get cleared to
go up the stairwell, or you get turned around. If you make a scene, then you
get taken in for Reinforcement.
Did I mention that Danny won’t be back for another week? Damn. That’s a lot
“And on the Seventh Day, the Tower Rests.”
God. I get so tired of hearing that. Every seventh day is Food Day, the day
that everyone gets to have a day off from working. Well, everyone except
Security. We kind of need those guys, but they get most Sevenths Day off. They
have a rotation so that that only work one of them each month.
So even though I hate the public announcement, since it wakes me up when I’m
trying to sleep in late on Sevenths Day, I do like the food. We get our weekly
supply of food delivered to our door in crates, and the only thing we have to
do is unpack it, store it, and set the crates back out. I’m lucky. Living on
Floor 4, we get a little more food than everyone else. I think that has to do
with the type of work my dad does. He’s really in demand as a scientist, so we
get extra food rations. We also get other stuff, too. Sugar, for one thing, and
salt. Man, you can’t have good soup without some salt. I feel bad for everyone
that doesn’t get any.
Although I was thinking about this today, too. My family gets a decent
amount of food. Allison’s told me she doesn’t get as much, and she definitely
doesn’t get nearly as much salt. You can’t grow salt, after all. We get that
from the Scavengers, who have to bring it back from… well, from wherever they
go when they go on the Scavenging. The lower floors, I guess.
But so, think about this. I get this much food because I like on Floor 3.
That should mean the people living on Floor 1 get more food. I know for sure
Allison gets a little less food, since she’s told me. She lives on Floor 5. I’m
guessing they do it this way since there’s only so much food from the gardens
to go around. Well, I got to thinking. What happens when you get to Floor 11? I
guess they get even less food. So, what happens on Floor 12? Floor 15? I know
people live down there. How much food are those guys getting every week? It
can’t be much, and they can’t come up here to get more.
So where are they getting their food from? The tower authorities? I don’t
know how. Just about all the food’s already getting eaten up here. Look, I work
those gardens on the roof like everyone else. I know we’re not getting enough
to feed everyone past, like, maybe Level 15. If that.
If you’re wondering why I’m thinking about this, well, of course I am. Don’t
forget that on Sevenths Day we have to go Reception. It’s not like I hate
Reception. It’s actually kind of fun, afterward. You get to hang with the other
kids. Reception’s really the only day when the top floors all get together at
once. I’m not just talking about kids my age. I mean everyone. Parents, old
people, just about everyone. So we have to go, and sit, and listen to Receiver
Garry talk for an hour.
I’ve never liked the Reception Hall. There’s a lot of really creepy stuff
they’ve got pinned on the walls, the sort of stuff you don’t see anywhere else
in the tower. There’s this one in particular, it’s a wooden carving of a man
hung on a cross. Well, maybe that’s not the right word to describe. I mean he’s
literally bleeding out of his hands and feet. I mean, what the heck is that
supposed to be? It’s pinned up there in Reception Hall, and nobody can even tell me why. Then you’ve
got this other stuff hanging around. Some six pointed star, and a few rugs laid
out on the floor. There’s a book on the back table written in some squiggly
language I can’t read. Oh, there is one statue I do like, though. It’s this
big, fat guy that’s laughing. He’s got like, his whole belly out there for the
world to see. You rock it, fat man.
Anyway, when we get together we’re pretty much packed shoulder to shoulder.
Nearly packed that close together, anyway. Receiver Garry will go on, and on,
and on about how we need to remember that working together is what keeps us
healthy and happy here in the tower. He’s also real fond of reminding us why we
should keep our thoughts on the skies.
See, there’s this story. It’s not told every Sevenths Day, but every now and
again we’re reminded of it. It’s really important, apparently. Story goes that
the Darkness came to the tower. When the Darkness came, so did the Creep.
Nobody’s sure why, but the way Receiver Garry tells it, the Darkness was a
punishment. I don’t know why, neither does he, but apparently there used to be
a lot more of us people and a lot less Darkness. He says we did… something, and
whatever it was brought the Darkness.
And according to him, the shadows you see when you touch the creep are
the souls of people the Darkness punished. They’re trapped with it, forever.
So, it’s a sin to think about going to the lower levels. Never mind trying.
That’s like saying you want to go back to the things that got us punished in
the first place. Instead, Receiver Garry says it’s important to look to the
skies. I mean, the skies are pretty cloudy and dark most of the time, but he
says they’ll open one day. Some of us, people I mean, were taken out of the
Darkness. I don’t mean they came to the tower. I mean they went elsewhere,
above the clouds. Saved from all of this, I suppose. Meanwhile, the rest of us
were left here. So who took them? How’d they get up there? Kinda’ reminds me of
what Mrs. Bloom said about flying cities.
Some story. I still don’t know what it has to do with that creepy statue in
Reception Hall. Anyway, I got to go. Tonight’s my last day to spend with dad.
He’s going to be gone for a week, preparing weapons for a big operation. Yeah, I
can’t believe it’s that time of the year again. Time seems to be really racing
by me the older I get.
So yeah. I’ll probably be busy for a while. Next week is the Scavenging.
“Good luck out there,” I told him. He just smiled back at me before he
walked off. For a second I felt weak, like my legs were two jelly sticks. It’s
not ‘cause I have a crush on him or anything. Seriously, it’s not. He’s just…
cool, you know? Not just him, I mean. All of them.
Right, it’s been a while since I recorded. At least a week. A little more,
actually, but who’s counting. I’m the only one. Anyway, the guy’s name is Mike.
Just plain, ordinary Mike. Nothing fancy. Not a William or Maxwell. Just one
Okay, so, I do like Mike a little more than the rest of them. Sue me, I’ve
known the guy for about five years now. Since I was twelve, can you believe
that? Damn it’s been a long time. So yeah, Mike. He actually saved my butt
once, when I was down on Floor 14. Saved might be too strong of a word, but he
did help. A lot. That was the first time I’d ever touched the Creep. One of the
only times. I mean, it’s not something you want to keep doing. Anyway, Mike was
down there too, apparently. He was always kinda’ like me that way, I guess. You
know what I’m talking about. He’s curious. Not like Mike’s weird or anything.
No. He just wants to know more. So I guess he saw me heading down the stairwell
and decided to follow.
See even at twelve, I was a trouble maker. No wonder my mother started
getting gray hair early.
Well, so, there I am. Floor 14. You start to really see signs of the Creep
by that point. It doesn’t cover the walls but it does kinda’ come pushing out
of cracks and seams between the floorboards. If it’s creeping out of a seam
above you, sometimes it slides down the walls, or drips… I don’t know what to
call it. Let’s call it moisture. It’s not water. Anyway, it drips this moist,
clear liquid. Now, the liquid won’t make you hallucinate. It will make your
skin tingle. But, so, I’m staring at this stuff dripping down the walls and, I
dunno’, decide I should touch it. So I don’t just touch the moisture, I decide
to grab a handful of the Creep pushing out of the seams.
Note to anyone that might ever listen to this: Never grab a handful of the
Creep. That stuff will mess. You. Up. I was tripping balls. I don’t know what
other way to put it, because I was literally falling over myself, seeing shadow
things everywhere. I was about to scream but, Mike got to me first. Good thing
too. See, Security’s not peachy with people when they start wandering down to
the lower floors. They really don’t want you touching the Creep, but they know
it’s going to happen. It’s a public secret. Actually, there’s a bunch of people
that meet on the lower levels just to touch the stuff and freak out. Security
doesn’t care as long as you keep it under control, and keep it secret. Well,
screaming doesn’t help any one of those, so I’m pretty sure I would have landed
in Reinforcement. Thank God for Mike, poor guy practically had to tackle me to
keep me from running off like a maniac. Then he had to put up with me trying to
bite his fingers off so I could scream. I think I knew even back then that he
was a tough one, old Mike. He’ll practically put his hands at risk just to keep
you from landing in trouble.
That’s a real long story just to tell you why I like Mike more than the rest
of the Scavengers, and the point is that one of the reasons he even became one
is because he was a lot like me. He stuck around after that little adventure I
went on. I wouldn’t say we were ever friends but… I dunno’ . He didn’t ignore
me. He even started talking to me like a normal dude last year, when I turned
I’m kidding about that.
What was I talking about? Yeah, yeah I know what you’re saying, that I lose
track of what I’m talking about when it comes to Mike. Maybe I do crush on him
a bit. Who cares right? Whatever. Anyway, he’s a Scavenger now, so of course I
went out to say goodbye to him. That stuff’s dangerous work.
The Scavenging happens every three months. Technically, we’re all supposed
to say goodbye to the people from our floors chosen to be Scavengers, but
nobody from Floor 1 or Floor 4 get picked for it. It’s everyone beneath that
gets picked, and you can’t say no when you’re chosen to be a Scavenger. That’s
like saying you want your family to die. We depend on the Scavengers to go into
the lower parts of the tower and get new supplies. That could mean lightbulbs
or scrap metal, or even things like salt and sugar. There are two things that
people want from Scavengers more than anything else, though.
The first should be obvious: food. We live on a diet of pretty pathetic
vegetables. Most of the time, we get more of the same back from a Scavenging.
Vegetables. Which, I mean, you can’t complain. You need them to live. Other
times they bring back meat. Now, I don’t know where this meat comes from or
what gets killed to have it, but once in a while we get served straight up
hamburgers. What the heck right? Where do they even get this stuff? Well, they
do, and that’s all most people care about. Rarely, and I’m talking like, super
rare, the Scavengers bring back candy.
I can’t even tell you how rare sugar is. You might as well give kids the
kids drugs, especially the younger ones. They gobble sugar up. Why do you think
everyone looks forward to birthdays? It’s one of the only times you get to eat
something with sugar in it. Well, once in a while, one of the Scavengers will
come back with a haul of candy. They might be chocolate bars or small treats,
but they’re always delicious. Now remember we can’t just go grabbing this
stuff. The candy still gets taken up to Floor 1 first, so they can be
distributed later. Still makes your day when your food crate arrives at the
beginning of the week and you’ve got a candy bar inside as a surprise. Me and
mom share them sometimes, watching the clouds outside the window while we much
on chocolate. Those are the best days I have with her.
Oh, so like I was saying. Obviously everyone wants food, but there’s
actually one thing they want more than that. Want to take a guess? That’s
right. Information. Nobody knows how far down the tower goes, where it ends or
how we got up here in the first place. So, yeah, of course we want information.
Once in a while the Scavengers bring up new movies but, those only tell us so
much. A movie will kind of tell you what the world was like once, but it
doesn’t say anything about how we got here.
It doesn’t really matter. We all know when the Scavengers find something important,
and we all know that we’re never going to see it.
That probably deserves an explanation. A Scavenging wraps up based on a few
things. Obviously, if the team loses a
lot of Scavengers, they have to come back up and bring the supplies they were
able to get. If I understand right, the floors just below Floor 21 have been
picked dry. No food, no movies, nothing. So, Scavengers have had to go further
and further down over the years. The further down they go, the more dangerous
it gets. Why? Well now that’s a good question, isn’t it? I ask myself all the
time. Do the hallucinations get so bad that they, like, make the Scavengers
turn on each other?
I dunno’, but not all the people that go down make it back up. Facts is
facts, Jack. Anyway, the other reason why a team might come back early is
because of supplies. Scavengers have to eat food and drink water like anybody
else, so they can’t just stay gone forever. When their food supplies are up
it’s time to come marching home.
There’s a time limit on each Scavenging though. About… two weeks, I think. A
team has to be back within two weeks so they can drop off whatever they found.
That stuff has to get sorted and sent out to people like me, after all. God
knows I can’t live without my latest Blu-Ray movie. Lives are worth risking for
movies, aren’t they?
Again, I’m kidding.
When the Scavengers leave and when they come back, we’re all expected to
line up in the halls to celebrate the return of whoever went off to represent
our floor. Since my floor doesn’t have to worry about that, I usually line up
with Allison on Floor 5. She lives there, but so does Mike. Double your
pleasure, right? I get a chance to hang with the bestie and say goodbye to Mike
at the same time. Now, whenever the Scavengers get back, we always have this,
like, triumphant music that plays from the speaker system. Yeah, the same
speaker system that wakes me up on Sevenths Days. I’ve seen Mike come back from
a Scavenging almost every three months since I was 14 and he was 18. 18, by the
way, is when your career is chosen for you. I don’t want to think about next
Now here’s the thing. The reason I say ‘almost’ every three months is
because, once in a while, the Scavengers find something. We don’t know what,
all we know is that it’s important. The triumphant music is cancelled, the
Scavengers skip on the march through the hallway, and Security makes them head
straight up to Floor 1. Nobody sees them the rest of the day, normally not
until it’s time for bed. Sometimes you don’t even see them until the next day.
The only reason any of us know that the it’s because the Scavengers found
something is because… well, we just know. Everybody knows, it’s not a secret. I
don’t have any proof, really, but Allison’s mentioned that her dad… remember, he’s
in Security… her had has mentioned that the Scavengers came up with something
rare. Something the big wigs running things from Floor 1 had to know about. Not
the rest of the tower, mind you. Just the big guys.
Psh. What is this, a dictatorship?
Well. Yeah. Kinda’.
Almost been two weeks. I guess the Scavenging’s going well. Couldn’t really
tell you either way, since we don’t get updates. You know what we do get?
Announcements. Every few months when this is going on, we wake up to the speaker
saying “Day One of the Scavenging has begun” and then each night we hear “Day
One of the Scavenging has ended”. Well, I mean, obviously the day count changes
each day. You’re not dumb.
Who am I recording this for again?
So, uh, Danny’s back.
I say that in the loosest of terms.
I don’t know what goes on in Reinforcement exactly, and people that come out
of it don’t talk about it. One of the rules of the tower is that you don’t talk
about what happens in Reinforcement. So like, since the whole point of the
process is to make sure you obey the rules, of course nobody knows what goes on
during reinforcing! I swear to God everything in this tower is off limits or a
secret. What’s on Floor 1? The tower authority. Has anybody ever seen them?
Nope. What’s below Floor 21? Nobody
knows but the Scavengers, and they’re not saying. All they’ll tell you is that
it’s full of abandoned apartments and Creep. Not even Mike will say anything
else down there.
About Danny. Yeah. Whoever I knew before… that guy’s gone. This new Danny’s
lot quieter. Less goofy. I mean, old Danny could be a toolbox once in a while,
but at least he was funny. He made it easier to pass time when we were working
the gardens upon on the Rooftop. This new Danny
though? Well, let me just say
he works reaaaaal hard. Like, that’s all he wants to do. Single minded, focused
on the task. Yeah, a real toolshed. Old Danny might waste your time but you
didn’t feel like he was. Now I feel like I’m pulling teeth just trying to get
him to laugh at my jokes.
I decided to ask dad what it was they do in Reinforcement. I mean, where
does Reinforcement even happen? Guess I’ll never find out, ‘cause dad wasn’t
really saying much. All he’d say was that it was where they reinforced the
rules. Yeah, like putting a guy through a class on lessons makes him turn out
like Danny. Whatever. I’m willing to bet it happens on Floor 1, since that’s
where all the super secret stuff happens, but what room? When? What do they do?
I’ll never know.
It rained today. Thank God for the plastic they use for the sides of the
greenhouse or we’d be screwed. The solar panels don’t take any damage, but
fresh rainwater is toxic. I’m not talking Creep toxic, I mean it will make you
sick and possibly kill you. You’re not supposed to be on the Rooftop when it
rains and if it weren’t for the greenhouse, or garden would be dead.
I hate rain. It’s all black and thick. It’s more like oil half the time. You
get to see it pooled up when the rain’s over and you head back up to the
rooftop, but nobody’s supposed to deal with it. Not us, anyway. That’s for
Cleanup. Those guys have the worst jobs. At least the life of a Scavenger is
exciting. Cleanup guys just… well they
do what they’re called: clean up. Bunch of charred Creep that Security’s gotten
done frying? Call Cleanup to wipe up the mess. Did someone lose their lunch
while playing too hard in the gymnasium? Cleanup gets to mop it up. Well, that
should tell you the story of what they do after it rains. It’s Cleanup’s job to
get that stuff soaked up.
I wasn’t there for this, but there’s a story that one of the kids once
stepped ankle deep into the stuff once. It wasn’t his fault, he’d just been
trying to stare over the edge of the roof. We all do it. Well, there was a pool
of rainwater just sitting there. He didn’t lose the foot but he wasn’t able to
walk straight after that. What a mess. That’s why the rain’s more dangerous
than the Creep. Creep won’t cripple you or poison you.
I mean, not normally. I still don’t know what happened that one night… on my
We need the rainwater, though. It might not seem like it, but we’d die
without it. Now, you shouldn’t go around just drinking the stuff. If it’ll
cripple you just by touching it then who knows what’d happen if you drank it.
That’s what the filters are for. The whole roof’s lined with them. Cool thing
is, when it rains, a lot of the Rooftop floor slides away. Underneath’s where
the filters are, and they collect all the rainwater they can get. Afterward
they just clean it up. Don’t ask me how they do it. Dad might know, but I’ve
never bothered asking about it. All I know is that without it I wouldn’t be
able to take a shower. God. That would suck. I’m not going to lie, I’m not the
most ‘feminine’ smelling of girls without my daily shower. Doesn’t help that I
like to workout. I might not be a jock but I like to keep in shape. You know?
Mom keeps telling me that the older I get, the easier it’ll be to gain
weight. Thanks for giving me another reason to look to the future, mom.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.
No. No. I’m not going to talk about this today.
Okay, look, I have to say something about it. I’m going to go nuts if I don’t,
and word is that Security’s cracking down on anyone talking about it, so I need
to at least record it.
I’m just saying. Alright, here’s how it happened.
No. You know what? Screw it. I’ll just say it.
Word is that someone on Floor 7 saw an Angel.
I can’t… I’m going to freak out man.
Everyone knows about the Creep and the Darkness. You can’t get away from
that stuff. Go down a few floors and bam, there you go. Creep. Take a turn on
Rooftop duty and look over the edge. What do you see? Darkness, everywhere you
go. Nobody in tower authority is trying to hide that stuff. They can’t. It’s
there. We all know that. They’re a little less tolerant when people talk about
Demons. I mean, what else are you supposed to call those things you see when
you’re hallucinating off the Creep? Shadow people? I don’t know, call them
whatever you want. Point is, you know why you see them, and it’s ‘cause the
Creep makes you see them. It’s toxic. It makes you trip. I can deal with that.
I can’t deal with Angels. I can’t. I can’t.
I’m freaking out man!
Okay. Context. Talk it out Jackie, you’re cool. You’re cool!
I am not cool.
I’ve never told anyone about this. You shouldn’t. You’re not supposed to.
You’re just supposed to bury it deep down. If someone tries to talk to you
about it, you ignore them. Security comes after anyone that says they saw an
Angel. They come after anyone that talks about them! Even if you weren’t the
one that saw one. You’re supposed to just ignore anyone that says they did.
I think I’m calming down a bit. Deep breath girl.
So, I’d just turned 16. I was on Floor 5. It was… late. Not after curfew, but
a lot of people’d already gone to bed.
Jackie, why are you lying to your recorder?
Okay. It was after curfew. Sue me.
See, lots of people like to think about the upper floors like they’re all super
secure, but I know better. There are plenty of vents that go all through the
tower. How far down they go, I don’t know. I’ve always been a little afraid to find
out. They go up, though. Anyway, I just thought I’d do some every day stalking.
You know, see what goes on after hours. So I get out of the vents on Floor 8.
Yeah. Floor 8. Not Floor 5. Fine. I admit it. I was creeping Mike. Sue me.
Anyway, I’m on Floor 8 and it’s dark. It’s always dark in the halls after
hours. Now, I expect if I see anyone, it’ll be security. They’re hard to miss.
I mean, we’re talking about guys walking around in bulky vests with helmets and
stuff. After hours, I mean. They leave the helmets off during normal hours.
That’s not the point. The point is I’m walking, there’s nobody around, no
security, no people. Nothing. I’m bored. I don’t really know where Mike’s
apartment is. I’m just searching, you know. Then I start walking farther and
farther down the halls.
Thing is, the tower’s big, you know? Real big. Some of these halls go on a
long time, and it’s not too hard to get lost. Okay so yeah, I got lost. Real
lost. At that point I was just turning corners trying to make my way back. I’m
not sure how long this goes on, but I know I find my way into some real distant
parts of the floor. I’m talking about, nobody lived in that part of Floor 8
type of distant. You can always tell when someone lives in an apartment, ‘cause
they’ve got that green light on the outside keycard swipe. If nobody lives in
the apartment, the light’s red.
Well, I turn one hall, and all the lights are red. Every single one of them.
I try doubling back around, and at some point I make the wrong turn. Again,
lost. So I do what everyone knows you’re supposed to do, and I start just taking
every left I reach. Left, left, left left left. All red lights on the doors. No
noise. The lights are dim since it’s after hours. Then I turn one corner and I’m
at a dead end. The doors lead to a stop in the hall.
But I see someone there, dressed in all white. They’ve got their back to me,
and it looks like they’re messing with something in the wall. I froze and just
stared at them for what felt like an hour. Was really more of a second but,
damn, I don’t know. It was like forever. Whatever she’s wearing is skin tight,
but the worst part is when she suddenly looked up from whatever she was doing.
She’d noticed me. Then she turned.
I ran, or at least I tried to. I flipped around and started to haul out of
there just to see her standing at the opposite end of the hall. I hit the
juncture and made a left and there she
was again. I couldn’t do it, man. I couldn’t do it. I gave up.
I just looked at her for a second and blinked. Then she was gone.
I’m not going to talk about this again. Security’d come for me if they knew
I’d recorded this.
Angels don’t exist.
It’s been more than two weeks and the Scavengers still aren’t back. This
hasn’t happened before. They must be having to go deeper and deeper into the
tower to find supplies. A few days ago, for the first time in my life, I heard
the morning speaker announce “Day Fifteen of the Scavenging has begun”. That
was so weird. New things don’t happen in the tower.
But this? A Scavenging going on more than two weeks?
This is new.
I was talking to Allison today. Something’s not right. I don’t just mean
because the Scavenging’s been going on for almost three weeks now, which I
mean, what? That’s like, totally not supposed to happen. Seriously though, something’s up. I mean,
think about it.
One, dad’s been gone. A lot. I mean, he’s usually gone a lot during the
Scavenging, just because he’s responsible for making all the weapons and
repairing stuff. So, during the Scavenging, he’s usually off making replacement
weapons for Security to use. He’s been gone a lot more than usual, though, and
he’s been really tight about saying anything. Me and him normally get along
pretty well, but lately he’s being a real weirdo. He’ll barely say anything
about work. Mom’s been antsy about it, too. She’s always antsy, but it’s bene
worse than normal. It’s got to be because of something going on with dad.
That’s not the only thing, though. Allison mentioned that her father’s been gone a lot more than
normal, too, and not for usual stuff like hallway patrol. According to her,
they’ve been tightening up security on the lower levels. You know, below Floor
11. They’re making sure everyone’s in bed by curfew, and making it harder to
use the stairwell. I can back up that point. I tried going down to Floor 12 the
other day and they were being real tools about it, asking me why I was going
there and what business I had. Uh, excuse me, I know we’re supposed to follow
certain rules and as far as I knew, I wasn’t breaking any of them. So care to
back off, Mr. Cop?
It was irritating at the time, but now it’s scary. Increased security. Dad’s
been gone longer. Scavengers have been gone a lot more than usual. Allison also
told me that Security was thinking about going real deep into the tower. Like, Scavenger level deep. Below Floor
If they’re thinking about doing that then there has to be a reason. Maybe
they’re trying to push back the Creep and reclaim a few floors, or maybe they’re
considering going after the Scavengers. How should I know?
What I know is that this is all happening at the same time, and that creeps
me the hell out.
I’m worried about Mike. Yeah, I said it. So what? The sorry part is that he’s
three years into his term as a Scavenger. After three years they rotate you out
and into the reserves, that way they only use you if, like we lose a bunch of
Scavengers at once. Most people that hit three years ride out the last four
years of scavenging as backups that never go back down to the lower floors. A
few actually choose to stick with it, so they get bumped to commanders. There
aren’t a lot of commanders, but they get mad respect.
Actually, come to think of it, people from the lower levels do try to stick
it out on the active list for the entire seven years. Want to know why?
So, I’ve said before that people on the lower levels don’t get as much food
and they don’t get free access up here, the higher floors. Now, if you’re born
on the lower levels, sucks to be you. Right? Well, that’s where being a
Scavenger can help. If you do an entire seven years as one, you and everyone
living in your apartment is moved up to Floor 11. Talk about a perk, am I
Thing is, have you ever heard of anyone finishing seven years as an active
Scavenger and moving to the higher levels? I haven’t.
That’s because most people die before their first three years are up.
Which, for those of you keeping track at home, is why I’m worried about
Mike. People have a bad habit of dying
in their third year.
Dad didn’t come home today.
Mom’s going crazy.
I can’t cope, man. Nobody’s saying anything about what’s going on.
Mike’s gone. Dad’s gone. Security’s everywhere.
I need to get some answers.