Writing exercise #13 – Clearly

In case you’re only now coming to this series of short writing exercises, here’s the explanation of what I’m doing.

This one’s a demonstration of why one of my English teachers – not the good one! – used to get so frustrated with me. She could set me any subject and I’d twist it around and produce an SF or fantasy story. It’s also a two parter, though even with the second part it’s once again only the start of something much longer. Second part to follow on Monday.


Being at the top of the Southern Tower always scared her, even now. Somehow it was more frightening being this far above ground but on a fixed surface she couldn’t control than it was being in her dart even higher up. Trust issues, Jared would no doubt say. Would have said… She took a deep breath and brushed away the moisture from her eyes. Up here it would be the wind, anyway.

A voice came from behind her. “Lieutenant Sanna.”

She turned, momentarily made dizzy by her own motion over the transparent material beneath her feet.

“Everything alright, Lieutenant?”

“Yes sir. Sorry sir. Just this…” And she gestured at the 2000 metre height of the tower beneath them, and the Colonel grimaced.

“Gets me every time too. But I thought you flyers were immune to this sort of thing.”

He gave her an arch look and she was suddenly sure he’d seen her tears and was just trying to distract her. After all, he must be well aware that the effect was by no means restricted to the land bound. She smiled gratefully.

“Well, you know how it is, sir. Us flyers just can’t count on you land dwellers to keep it still long enough for us to get away.”

He chuckled and looked down at his feet again, down through the two kilometres of almost perfectly clear building and right down to the ground.

Teej had never been able to understand why their ancestors had built the thing. There were plenty of other tall buildings in Valinq, but none of them made of this glassy material. Apparently it was possible – or would be if they had to power – to polarise the tower’s clear surfaces, providing apparently normal spaces for humans to occupy. But they barely had the power to run the lifts – and thankfully to keep them opaqued – so anyone who came up here had to have a pretty good head for heights, to say the least.

She looked over at the rest of her squad, all in black night issue coveralls with their dart harnesses over the top. One or two of them were finishing last minute equipment checks, but otherwise they were ready. Ready to launch the mission to find out why Jared had died.

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