“The Tower” by Marghanita Laski (England)

There is the known world; that is, the world we think we know, the world we perceive with our senses. And then there is the unknown, a world conceived, if at all, only by the mind. In this gap between the reach of our senses and the reach of our mind, arise all of our dreams and all of our nightmares. Does my family tree, my unusual name, my singular appearance, my sudden attraction to, or repulsion from, this person, object, or place mean that I am singled out for some specific fate? “Yes,” say the writers of fantasy: H. G. Wells, “The Green Door,” C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. And “yes,” too, say many of the writers of horror.

“The Tower” is based on two of these sources of horror: the sense that some people are fated for certain experiences, and the sense that some people—in certain places—can pass through doorways into other worlds or, as here, into the domain of another power.

But Laski makes her story different by eschewing the usual roller coaster of horror and maintaining the possibility of normalcy right up to the final words. How many more steps are there? Is there any end to this ghastly descent? Who or what is waiting for Caroline?

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