The High Tower

“Let’s build the tower high again!” the newly crowned king shouted as he rode his tall steed through the kingdom’s cobblestone roads for his coronation parade.

The subjects cheered, “Rebuild the High Tower! Rebuild the High Tower!”

Stupidity echoes loudly off the walls of stopped ears.

The High Tower, symbol of the kingdom’s former glory, spiraled to a height never before achieved in any other nation. Chiseled stone on chiseled stone, long ago carried on the whipped backs of imported slaves, rose into the clouds. Along the lines of human chains each brick was painstakingly laid. The mortar mixed with blood displayed a uniquely rusty hue. The subjects of the kingdom exported the excess stones at great profit. That was long ago.

The High Tower was built among the Emerald Hills, a verdant, rolling paradise selected after the native population had been culled, its survivors driven off to desolate grounds on the outer edge of the world. Cleared of its original inhabitants, the garden variety slaves were free to dig, plant, weed and harvest an abundant and varied crop of produce, watering the ground with their sweat and tears as they toiled. The subjects of the kingdom grew fat with joy and exported the excess produce at great profit. That was long ago.

“The slaves won their freedom. The native inhabitants won the freedom to live on ‘their own lands’.” That’s what the history books read. (In truth, the slaves won the right to no longer be slaves, and the native inhabitants lost everything important to them; but, if you tell this to the now cheering subjects of the kingdom, it will fall on stopped ears, lost in the continuing reverberations of stupidity. I digress.)

The Emerald Hills rotted, first with overuse, then with neglect. Decaying foliage filled all its stagnant pools. The High Tower cracked and crumbled. The stone steps that spiraled to its peak, providing a view all the world’s kingdoms, was no longer safe to climb. The subjects were embarrassed but not enough to become stone workers or gardeners. They coveted their own sweat and blood, and labor in brick or dirt brings a meager pay. This is now.

“Let’s build the tower high again!” the newly crowned king shouted.

The subjects cheered, “Rebuild the High Tower!”

Stupidity echoes loudly.


Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories & satire. Bookmark the permalink.


28 thoughts on “The High Tower

  1. A very good story to use as a vehicle to tell of man’s pride, strife, wickedness, and shortsightedness. Yet we tend to repeat such things…

    Nice work, Tanya!


    Liked by 1 person

      1. I read somewhere that good writing is in the re-writing. First we get things down in rough form. Then we use the tools of language and grammar to tap and tinker with things until they seem to fit better and better.

        Then, when we are pleased with it, we present it to people and hope they like what we’ve produced. In your case, the tools you use are very sharp and do the job very well. (And don’t blush…)!


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol…Thank you, Steve! My first drafts are barely legible. My real writing comes after the initial thoughts. Editing is critical. I try to read for different elements. One read through is for how the words sound together and the rhythm and pacing. Another is grammar…and so on. First drafts are just the places for ideas to gather on the page.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I understand your writing system, I share it. I used to write a paragraph, read it, and rewrite it. But now I get the entire thought on paper and then go back for fluency and then grammar and so on.


        Liked by 1 person

      4. I wonder if the same “system” of writing one finds to work can apply to all kinds of work. What if someone is trying to slant their work for a certain publication? Does the kind of writing require a change in your system?

        Does this make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Allegory lends itself to multiple interpretations and that also leads easily into satire. You can never control readers’ responses, but you can most certainly shape them and push them. I’d leave the interpretation to the readers, though: never tell them what you’re doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Allegory is a traditional way in which one satirize and criticize while maintaining a safe distance in which denial is still possible. “That’s not what I meant at all!” The multiplicity of meaning is a traditional defense against, for example, the rigid interpretations of the Spanish Inquisition.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The best writing is almost always achieved in similar environments because we are afraid to say exactly what we mean. Therefore we use allegory, symbols, and metaphors that are open to multiple interpretations, rather than straight speech that has a single, specific meaning. That’s what makes your ‘tower’ so nice.

        Liked by 1 person

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