“They said I was mad,” he said. “They said it would never work.” I wondered who ‘they’ were.
”Do you know,” he continued, not waiting for me to respond. “What a ‘Space Elevator’ is?”
“Of course. It’s a way of breaching the upper atmosphere without rocket propuls-“ he waved his hand to shut down my expository dialogue. One finger on his lips, he pulled a large, slightly rickety, lever. Steam hissed. Gears clanked and skipped into place. Music began. “Is that a calliope?”
“It’s all part of the process,” he said, staring upwards. I followed his gaze. “Behold the great elevator!”
It was impressive. A giant tower rose from the ground, grey and featureless. It began to rotate, causing the ground to shift and quake beneath my feet. Steam hissed from gaps in the external plating, which cracked open and began to fall away as the tower thrust skyward, putting me into its vast shadow.
Beneath the grey exterior plates, the tower was gaily decorated in the style of an Edwardian funfair. I blinked and looked around. He was still staring at his creation, wet eyes gathering dust. His smile grew. I looked up to see why, and from the head of the monstrous space elevator came small chairs, on chains. My stomach churned to see people sat in them.
“YOU’RE NOT MAD!” I bellowed over the rumbling, over the shrill of the pipe organ. “YOU’RE A MONSTER!”