He gazed through the bars at an immense shaft on the other side, a colossal gap that ran from the penthouses aboe to the foundations below, reaching so far beyond him tat he couldn't see the ends. Light filled the chasm, bright and strong, intense enough to hide the opening's far side. Grates, pipes, ladders and hatches patterned the stupendous walls, curving away until they disappeared in the glare. Fitful winds howled through the structure and then died to a whisper only to rise again, carrying vapors that wrinkled his nose and stung his lungs.

The shaft is an enormous central open area that descends from the top of the Welltower to the bottom. It provides ventilation and garbage disposal to the structure. Air filters into the rest of the building through ventilation pipes and citizens toss unwanted things like trash and rocks into it. The Shaft was meant to be capped by a huge metal cover, but the cover had never been used.[1]

Early in his life Kaehl used a tiny ventilation pipe that leads from his apartment to the shaft to escape from Father. He repeatedly fails to force open the grate blocking the way to the shaft.

Since then Kaehl uses the shaft as a respite. He goes there in secret every morning while his family sleeps. He sometimes considers what it would be like to commit suicide by jumping into the Shaft.

  1. Bk. 1 Ch. Goodbye "An enormous metal cover, once meant to seal the Shaft, lay to one side, rusting and useless. It had never been used."