The Islanders Week 11: Seevl (Dead Tower) THE GLASS
- This weeks lone entry is composed of a short story called THE GLASS, which is the first-person account of Torm, a native of Goorn who has returned to the island to settle the affairs of his suddenly-deceased parents.
- He had been away at a southern university, studying the manufacture of glass, and in particular been involved in a laboratory work placement, working on a new type of borophosphosilicate glass (BPSG).
- Having settled his parents affairs, we was planning to leave when he ran into an old school friend, Alvasund Raudeberg, a theatre arts professional. He found his interest in her re-ignited, and when she invited him to come to Orsknes on the north coast, he accepted.
- They drive north to Orsknes and eventually settle into a hotel. Torm's sexual tension has been building, and when their new room has one double bed, his anticipation mounts. But that night, Alva lays a bolster down the middle of the bed to separate them. She tells him they are just friends. He can see her naked, but can't (and shouldn't expect to) touch her. She tells him to imagine there's a sheet of glass between them.
- The next day, they visit an unfinished JORDENN YO tunnel. She is moved by the experience. Him, not so much.
- On their walk walk back, they run into an old friend of Alva's - a man named Marse. Marse's behavior is oddly standoffish. We learn that he's the source of a job that Alva is investigating, but instead of being helpful, he is alienating. Alva carelessly refers to Torm as 'her ride' and he takes offence. Seeing the writing on the wall, he decides to leave.
- When they return to the rental house, Torm's frustration simmers to the surface and they argue for a time, then reconcile. Alva reveals more about the mysterious job.
- Her job prospect is actually on the island of Seevl, working for 'The Intercession Authority'. The post has something to do with the 3D imaging of an old tower - something her theatre arts skills are uniquely suited for. She's to 'audition' for this post by showing what she can do with a similar tower located here in Orsknes.
- That evening, the bolster is back in the bed, but Alva removes the barrier between them and they cuddle, and later make love in the night.
- The next day, they go to the local tower together so she can image it. Torm helps Alva with her high tech equipment. Both feel an oppressive sense of unease and can't wait for the task to be done before they leave.
- Once the scan is done, she compiles the data. It reveals that there's a living entity inside the tower, coiled and writhing, filling the tower. When they look through a gap in the rocks, they see nothing. But the equipment, which 'picks up traces of viability' , reveal it.
- Suddenly, she is inside the tower and screaming at him. He sees her through the hole in the rock. A glass-like barrier seals her inside. She seems to be screaming, and against all logic, he witnesses her age and approach the end of her life. He runs to the laptop and starts to pull cables out. Suddenly, she is out again.
- They return to the car and sit together for a time, shaken. She reveals that her experience was the equal and opposite of his - that he was the one in the tower, and she witnessed him approach death. Disturbed, they return to town.
- Six days pass in a sort of fugue before The Intercession Authority confirms Alva's position on a probationary basis. She is to form part of a team studying more towers on Seevl. The job offer acknowledges risk, but offers assurances.
- They read through the documents, one of which is an illustrated history of the towers. Not much is known about them, but the locals have obviously tried to tear them down over the centuries.
- Alva accepts the job, and Torm agrees to go with her to Seevl. After a number of bureaucratic delays involving inscrutable customs officials and poorly driven ferries, they make it to Jethra where they run into Marse again, who is much changed - apparently affected by psychosis after holding the same position for the last year that Alva is about to take. Alva is once again assured there are new protections in place, and is determined to go through with the contract.
- After more douanier scares, they arrive of Seevl by boat. They notice that Seevl town is surrounded by these towers, which vary in shape - round, square, or octagon in footprint. The feeling of oppression returns.
- Alva and Torm head to their appointed apartment and are pleased to find that it's shielded from the psychic energy of the towers. Shielded by BPSG, Torm notes. The next day, Alva tries on her protective gear and the visor is similarly made of BPSG.
- They settle into a routine - she goes to work with the team on 'deconstruction' projects. Torm takes to having long walks, and eventually gets used to the oppressive feeling so it no longer bothers him. He walks frequently to one of the deconstructed towers.
- Alva and her teammates have not gotten used to the oppression, and seem some R&R off island. Torm stays behind.
- Torm revisits the tower and slowly starts building it again by reassembling the un-broken stones. Sitting inside, he imagines being able to look out. He heads to the Intercession Authority's lockup and takes a pieces of BPSG back up to the tower, where he makes a window. Then he sits inside and waits for Alva's return.
- We have many familiar elements in this story - the use of glass, the north coast of Goorn, and a theatre arts graduate. But the context is entirely different from that of the murder of Commis the Mime. How is their use different?
- Presumably, at some point you expected this story to re-visit the Commis murder. Were you surprised when it didn't?
- Any thoughts on what might be within the towers?
- Sheets of glass as see-through barriers are a big feature of this story. What is being separated? Is it the same thing each time? How does this relate to the theme of permeable barriers?
- How did the incidental events contribute to the story? The behavior of customs agents, or of Marse, or Alva's and Torm's educational background, for example?