Hey! It's the second story I've written here so be sure to criticise it a lot so I can write better. It's loosely based on a dream I had.
Each of the residents will explore a failing of the protagonist in his personal life. I might at some point explore more of the history and workings of the place in a modern day fic but for now it's more of an allegorical tale I guess.
The blinding sun, hard sand, and the crashing of waves.
The shipwrecked awakes.
He pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and shielded them from the sun.
God it was bright.
The terror of the night before washed over him, then receded back. They'd hit something and the ship split apart into the yawning ocean.
Now he was here.
The gulls soared overhead, calling to one another as he sat alone on the beach, gazing out beyond the horizon.
Tonnes of water, as far as the eye could see.
He knocked at the door. The door of the palace that spanned the entirety of the small island. The palace that rivalled anything he'd seen in his journeys across the empire.
It was built of solid white marble and nothing but for the first few floors, beyond which it became punctuated with delicate French arched windows and eventually sprawled into towers, balconies, bridges… like a city, stacked on top of itself.
There wasn't a response from behind the doors at the foot of the tower but as he went to touch the handle they flew open of their own accord.
Where he expected a vast open space he found none.
Instead it was a bizarre little room: a sofa facing a blank wall.
He stepped in, because the palace had but one entrance and this was it.
Immediately the doors slammed shut, leaving him in darkness.
A small white beam appeared and he wondered faintly if this was the afterlife.
A crackling sound came from the wall behind him.
The beam spread out as a projector illuminated a slide of the very island he'd come to find himself. He got to his feet to find the source of the noise when the slide changed – they pyramids of Giza. He pressed his ear against the floral wallpaper and could hear a man narrating from behind the gauze of the static. The slide changed again to another black and white scene but he was too focussed on trying to distinguish the words, until-
"Welcome to the Edge."
He jumped back, the clarity and volume of the last statement so unexpected, whirling round to find the projector dead and the opposite walls rolling open, revealing a great sunlit hall beyond.
Glass arched over the spotless marble floor and now Jones – for that was his name – could see that he had travelled a great vertical distance without noticing as he now looked down upon the glittering, jewelled sea from 30 storeys high.
Suddenly he started.
This too, had escaped his notice but demanded to be witnessed when it stirred.
A figure – for it could not be called a man - dressed immaculately in white, was crouched in the corner.
It began scratching its head with its foot, upon which it wore tasselled loafers (also white).
Something felt very wrong but if anything could be inferred from the three chevrons on Jones' damp jacket it was that he was used to showing bravery when he certainly did not feel it.
"Sir," his voice echoed across the room.
Immediately it turned, making on all fours then standing, rising dreadfully to an impossible height of 8 feet. The gentleman's clothes it wore only served to exaggerate the unnaturalness of its body as it lurched towards to him, hunched over.
Worse than this, its face; entirely blank, like a mannequin - limbs, thin and porcelain, wrapped in formal white tie uniform.
Jones backed away until he stumbled over the sofa but it advanced swiftly and mercilessly, producing a thick book.
And a pen.
Jones took the pen.
And the book.
The white one waited patiently and wordlessly.
So Jones opened the book. Inside were a great deal of names written in many hands – they appeared to be the names of historical figures, or mythical creatures - some constellations.
Were it not for the terror the giant had instilled in him just moments prior he may have asked for an explanation. But in want of one, he simply signed "Jones."
This pleased the figure, who took back the book and led him across the hall; there was only one door on the other side of the glass hallway so this did feel somewhat unnecessary.
Upon reaching it Jones remembered the pen and threw it for the man to catch, who promptly jerked his head reflexively, knocking it across the room where it scattered on the tiles.
Before he left Jones retrieved it and placed it in the thing's mechanical hand, who now seemed somewhat downhearted and returned to its position in the corner of the room; the tails of its coat wrapped around it.
And while a great many questions were raised by this he understood innately that now was not the time, so on he went.
The heat hit him first - beyond the double doors was a garden of immeasurable beauty. It reached up towards the glass ceiling of the vaulted atrium with a grandeur the likes of which Jones had never known. Vivid and rich colours were shown in the ubiquitous and varied flowers which made the air heavy and close with their scent. Thick, verdant vines wound their way among carefully maintained trees and the floor was carpeted with lush knee-high grasses. The representation of flora, only few of which Jones could recognise, was beyond count.
"Close the door darling," A lady asked from deep within the jungle.
Jones did as he was bid and picked his way through lavish blooms, towards the voice.
"It's a terrarium. Do you know what that means?"
He parted a clutch of hanging flowers.
"It means it regulates itself. It is its own complete ecosystem."
As Jones felt his way around the solid trunk of a tree he found himself in a clearing.
"So when you open the door you put us all in peril."
She lay in the grass on a gingham blanket, under a parasol and straw bonnet. Her lace gloves felt around the curves of the impassive china mask fixed to her face. She seemed perfectly at is with the humidity, despite her modest attire.
"I'm sorry to do so," Jones said.
She looked at him slowly but entirely surely before blinking, as if finishing her impression of him.
"Go on," she made room for him on the blanket.
"I'm a sergeant in the Navy," he said, taking her side.
This struck Jones as an odd question.
"The British Empire's."
She only made a sound to suggest she was thinking so he continued.
"And the ship was lost in a storm. I'd be very grateful to use your telegraph."
Her eyes behind the mask were blue.
"You do have one?"
"Perhaps, how should I know?"
Jones furrowed his brow.
"You live here, yes?"
She laughed, and it insulted him.
"You think- you think I own The Edge!"
Jones said nothing.
"Darling—dear. I merely have a vanity room in this fine establishment. And this now, I suppose. I'll see what I might do about this telegraph if you would just stay a little."
"Of course, thank you."
The clearing was perfectly circular at the exact centre of the room, below the glass dome, where no trees extended their canopies. The short and tame grass stretched out in a disk from where the most magnificent and colossal flower lay. It was greater than Jones' armspan and vaguely resembled a lotus, however its leathery petals and striking pattern indisputably far apart. It produced a sweet and enduring honeyed scent which emanated from a pool of syrupy liquid at its heart and Jones fancied it quivered when he first set foot near it.
While all around them was a carnival of beautiful wildlife the two were transfixed with this terror.
"Do you have a favourite plant, Mr-"
She pretended to consider.
"Besides this, and my own creations? Love lies bleeding."
"What is this?"
She was glad he asked.
"This is undoubtedly my masterpiece. It is a plant with the will of an animal. And the mind, too, I'd venture."
"How do you mean?"
She blinked slowly. Her white lips were still.
"Have you noticed there are no animals in this once-vivarium? I believe it found a cat once, and its flower became more beautiful than before."
Jones shook his head.
"I don't believe it."
She turned her parasol. Its arms disappeared in a blur.
"I don't believe you fathom where you are."
Silence descended heavily, like the water vapour that hung in the air.
She stood, her blonde curls shaking.
"Take my arm; we will find your telegraph."
So he did, and they walked towards the languid thing.
"Step in," she commanded.
Where Jones was not frightened of a mere plant, the pink and flaccid thing gazed at him with a hunger that instilled in him a primal fear – he would not be any closer to it than he might a wild animal.
She tugged him a little.
"If you don't believe me, step in."
"Whether I believe you or not I have nothing to gain."
"And everything to lose."
She took his arm with her hand now, her delicate fingers seizing him. He became tense.
"Just smell it."
The sudden change in tone was undeniable. Jones was fighting for his life.
With one arm she pulled with the force of a man twice her size, while still holding her parasol in the other.
"Do it," She spat, as she compelled him with all her power.
Jones very nearly lost his footing.
He had hit a woman before. He had hit his wife on several occasions. While he didn't consider himself a cruel man it was not beneath him – so when he struck the anonymous girl with the back of his fist he was not shocked by himself, but by what happened next.
Her mask slipped from her face and into the gaping mouth of the flower, wherein it began to melt.
After it she plunged her hands, only to retract them as they hissed and blistered.
Already a dense mist rose from the belly of the plant, filling the air, stinging his eyes.
With cold blue eyes flashing with an absolute and terrifying rage, the woman's grotesque and eaten face showed nothing but ferocity and a lipless set of sharp teeth.
Jones recoiled and kicked out at the screaming woman. As soon as she took one single step back he fled, crashing blindly through the plenteous growth, destroying anything in his path.
Despite the shroud the jungle was now covered in, soon enough he found the smooth marble walls of the chamber and felt desperately along them for a door.
"You son of a bitch!" she shrieked "I will find you, trespasser! You know nothing of this place!"
Polished wooden doors.
He escaped, and only the mist followed.
And that does it for chapter 1! Thinking there'll be only 3 chapters or so and they'll be posted over the course of a few days since they're already written! I already have a few points of improvement for this but if you leave a criticism or any review of any length it makes me glad to know you've read it. Take care, don't get eaten by carnivorous plants.