Here we are in the suddenly cold Burg, where the windchill has pushed the current temps to 32 F/0 C and it was necessary to break out the winter coat. At the moment I’m drinking hot cocoa and writing–
There’s still some running to do today, mostly of a “I need to ship something, so get a box” variety. Then come back to the apartment and relax until it’s time to head out to the local Transgender Day of Remembrance event, where I hope to once more read. Then back to watch The Walking Dead—
Oh, and maybe get some writing in as well.
The kids are on their way to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower and it’s a beautiful night. Annie’s the one calling the tune on this dance, so could it be possible she’s something in mind? By now you should know Annie’s always thinking ahead–
(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)
People were still milling about the second floor when they arrived, though the crowds were nowhere near as large as they would have found had they come twelve hours earlier.
They headed to the viewing platform and looked out upon Paris, now fully enclosed in darkness and illuminated by light as far as they could see.
Anna caught her breath as she took in the view. “This is so beautiful.”
Elisha stepped up next to her. “I’ve never really seen anything like this before.”
“It’s quite incredible.” Annie moved closer and left her voice to drop slightly. “But I know where there’s a better view.” It didn’t take long to get everyone’s attention. “Did everyone bring their student IDs?”
Nearly everyone nodded and Penny decided to speak in case there were any questions. “Sure. We were told to never go anywhere without them.”
“Good.” Annie’s smile broadened. “Follow me.”
The view on the second floor is pretty nice. I mean, you are one hundred and fifteen meters up, so you know you can see a lot.
That’s looking slightly westward with the Seine flowing past. The view is relatively unobstructed and being almost four hundred feet up allows one some nice views.
That’s looking off toward the southeast and if you enlarge this photo, near the top center you’ll see the hill of Montmartre and the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Yes, I’ve been there, too, and from the Sacré-Cœur it’s a short walk to the Moulin Rouge, which I’ve also visited but did not sing Come What May in front as I wanted.
Now, you may ask, “But Cassie, what do it look like up there at night?” And I have an answer:
That’s looking south towards the Champ de Mars and if you look closely in the left-center area of the photo you’ll see the two towers of Notre Dame. Of course is a time exposure, but you get the idea: it’s beautiful. One of the things I hope to do before I die is return to Paris and head up the tower at night and see some of these same views. I didn’t do it the last time and I certainly wouldn’t miss it the next time there.
But Annie has another viewing location in mind. And where would that be?
They left the crowds and headed toward the central lifts. Annie ignored the signs saying the last lift had departed at twenty-three hours and were now closed and headed directly for the guard in the lift alcove. She cleared her throat as she stopped directly before him. “Excuse me?”
The guard regarded the young people before him before addressing Annie. “I am sorry, Mademoiselle, but the lifts are closed for the evening.”
“Yes, but—” She stared directly at the guard and spoke in an unwavering tone. “We are all disciples of Gustave Eiffel and we wish to pay our respects.” She reached inside her purse and removed her wallet. “Would you like to see my identification?” She located her student ID and handed it to the guard.
The guards spent a moment checking the identification before returning it to Annie. “And the others?”
She turned to the others. “Please show your ID.” Everyone pulled out their identification and held it up so it was visible. Annie turned back to the guard. “All of us attend the same school.”
Once again the guard nodded, but rather than speak to Annie it half turned away and spoke into a hidden microphone. Ten seconds later he opened the rope barrier and motioned everyone through. “A lift should be here within the next minute.”
“Thank you for this courtesy.” Annie walked through followed by Kerry; everyone followed quickly. They moved all the way to the far end of the alcove and waited among the shadows, out of sight of the rest of the tourists.
Penny was barely unable to contain her excitement. “What the hell, man? How did you manage that?”
First off, this scene is playing out right in this area, where normally tourist queue up to take the lifts to the top–
Most of the times it takes an hour to get up there, but when I went I noticed they’d just opened up a second queue and as no one was savvy to this fact, I entered the queue with my family and entered a lift about three minutes later. It pays to be observant.
Two things to notice. One, there’s a yellow railing up ahead and on the right. That’s the opening to the stairs that you can take to the first floor as well as ground level. Once my family and I were finished at the top we took the stairs to the first floor, had lunch, then walked the rest of the way to the base. If you ever visit the tower I suggest taking the stairs at some point ’cause it’s pretty spectacular.
And two, hiding just behind these girders you can just make out a canopy with “Le” on it. That’s another entrance for Le Jules Verne, the place where Annie and Kerry dined. That’s for people who want to finish off their dinner with a little sightseeing before heading home, and if they had wanted Annie could have told the others to meet them on the second floor before heading up to the top. If she’d done that, however, they might not have been seen leaving the restaurant entrance at ground level. One might say they were showing off just a little, but we know Annie doesn’t like to do that–right?
Speaking of showing off, Annie’s about to spill what she knows about getting this far:
Anna huddled in close with the others. “Are you going to tell us The Foundation had something to do with the construction of the Eiffel Tower?”
Annie kept her tone low and confidential. “The Foundation didn’t help build the Eiffel Tower directly, but at the time they used a portion of their financial power to help fund the construction. Gustave Eiffel was only marginally connected to The Foundation, but he benefited from their generosity.”
Elisha look back over her shoulder at the guard. “What is all this? How are we getting up to the top?”
Annie was ready with the answer that question as well. “The Foundation oversees some of security for the tower: given that their headquarters is in Paris and the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of the city, it makes sense they wanted safe. Because of this, they have people in place—” She nodded toward the security guard who now had his back turned to them. “—who allow Foundation members to visit the top floor after hours.”
Penny looked toward the lift. “So that thing you said to him, about being disciples of Gustave Eiffel—that’s some kind of code?”
She nodded. “I’ve been here with my parents at night and that’s what they said every time we went to the top. They also were required to show some form of identification: all Foundation members carry an ID once they are out in the general public.”
Elisha cocked her head slightly to the right. “You’ve been here before?”
“How many times?”
“Three times. Once not long after I turned seven; once again before my tenth birthday; and the last time was—” Annie turned slightly toward Kerry. “—the summer after my A Levels, at the end of June.” A soft ding echoed throughout the alcove. “Ah, the lift is here.”
So even more truth: The Foundation didn’t build the tower, but in their own way they helped. And they have people who keep an eye on it because, well, it’s right in their back yard, so to speak. And because of that watching they let their own members have access to the upper levels after hours–sort of like an ultimate after hours club. And in case you’re wondering: yes, they do this at other famous places as well.
Annie was a little hesitant about her visits because that last one happened after Kerry and she were confirmed as totally a couple, the OTP with the PDAs. Why didn’t she say something to Kerry about the visit? She’ll mention why in the next excerpt, but let’s just say it had to do with feelings–
But that’s for tomorrow.