There is no tower. Never was. This isn't a tower; it's a pit, a mine, a hole in the earth, a well. The Founder hollowed out a depleted mine shaft, built some apartments into it, sealed the top, and called it his Tower. Then he spent a lot of time and effort convincing his followers they were being saved. And his followers bought into it."
Welltower is an enormous underground structure. Its space is dominated by a huge central shaft, the hallways that radiate from it and circle it, and a series of apartments. Various facilities make Welltower self-sustaining, including hydroponics gardens, farms, power stations, air circulation plants, and factories. There are three aquifers. At the bottom of Welltower lies the Penthouse.
Welltower is a sovereign nation.
Conditions within Welltower are extremely bad. Starvation, disease, and poverty are rampant. Gangs fill the hallways. The structure is almost too dark to see in. Education is rare; most of the inhabitants cannot read.
Loud booms periodically sound throughout the structure as a method of timekeeping. These are made by slamming huge logs together. One Clock is wake-up time. Two Clock is a second warning. Three Clock indicates that you're probably going to be late. When the Tower is in severe danger the booms sound continuously.
Welltower has existed for centuries (maybe 500 years or more). According to Mister Jolley it is 883 stories tall and over 2 miles deep, not including extra expansions. Jolley says that it was created by a man known as The Founder, who was a religious fanatic that built Welltower as a protection against the end of the world. After the Founder went insane his son took over and began the effort of brainwashing the people of Welltower.
According to Rec, Welltower was intended to house 1,800 people per floor, but population grew too quickly.
As the centuries passed and multiple generations grew old and died, the place became corrupted. Systems began failing and energy became scarce. The halls were no longer lighted correctly as light globes broke and were never replaced. Ignorance, illiteracy, and starvation were rampant. The people began to worship The Framers as gods.
The hallways used to be marked by signs, but those were taken down in an attempt to confuse the Packs; the Packs responded by marking the walls themselves. Only the ordinary citizens became confused.
They taught that the light was dark and dark was good.
The Welltower has historically been led by a tyrannical government. It sought to pacify the population by gradually reducing and changing their vocabularies and understanding of the world; that is why Kaehl did not know the meaning of the word "bright." It has made heavy use of propoganda over centuries to brainwash the people into believing a bunch of lies. Some of them are listed here.
- That Welltower is a tower rather than an underground structure
- That Welltower protects everyone from an apocalyptic wasteland outside
- That people were so desperate to enter Welltower that solders had to shoot them down
- That light is dark and dark is good
- That "up" and "down" have the reverse definitions when referring to the tower's ramps, confusing the language of the people
- Similarly, that "light" and "dark" have the reverse definitions
The stories (fabricated by the government) taught to Kaehl were that Welltower had been built by the Framers amidst great strife and that soldiers had to shoot down mobs seeking to force entry into it.
At the time the books take place, Welltower is led by Mister Jolley, whose title is Administrator.
Welltower is powered by a system of solar collectors positioned outside of its entrance. This light energy is used for cooking, heating, and light. This system was set up by the Founders when Welltower was in construction.
It also has a series of energy exchange globes that convert heat into electricity, serving dual purposes of cooling and energy provision. Many of these globes are destroyed during the flood.
These two power sources combine to make Welltower energy-independent.
Welltower gets hotter and more humid the deeper you descend.
Living quarters within Welltower consist mainly of apartments which are arranged in a series of quads. Each quad consists of a single central living area and four apartments. Each apartment has a central living area and rooms for cooking, storage, sleeping, and waste. One apartment was intended to accommodate four people (two parents, two children).
Each quad has a single access pipe to the shaft and a single corridor leading to the hallways outside the quads. This corridor is blocked by a thick wooden door, locked by leather straps. They have spy slits to permit listening and seeing outside the door. The doors were vital defenses against gangs.
As Welltower aged and the population decreased, many apartments became vacant. Kaehl's family have a full quad to themselves.
Somewhat surprisingly, hot water for bathing is available in Welltower apartments.
Welltower has three express ramps for rapid vertical traversal of the tower. These ramps have only five exits: levels 14, 208, 437, 634, and 879 (the base of the Shaft). The exits are hidden and guarded by the government. The bottom exit is considered unusable because of the trash at the bottom of the Shaft. Jolley extended one of the express ramps below the Shaft to the Penthouse to serve as an escape route in emergencies.
Food is in short supply within Welltower. Starvation is always a risk for its inhabitants.
Food consists mainly of various vegetables grown in underground gardens and farms, especially potatoes and other tubers. Potato beer is the popular, cheap alcohol.
Known foods eaten in Welltower include:
- Sugar (expensive)
- Meat (extremely expensive)
Welltower's levels are numbered with the numbers getting larger the deeper you go. Presumably the first level underground is level 1.
- 14: Security level. Has entrances to express ramps.
- 30: Storage and manufacture.
- 208: Residential. Has entrances to express ramp.
- 209: an Aer family globe research facility and storage location.
- 321: Kaehl's home
- 400: Tower alarm system.
- 437: An aquifer, Doctor Herstand. Entrances to express ramp.
- 634: Entrances to express ramps.
- 700: Tower alarm system. Secret globe cache. One of Jolley's trucks.
- 833: Has 24 energy exchangers.
- 879: Base of the Shaft. Entrances to express ramps. Filled with garbage.
- 883: Part of the Penthouse. Has Welltower's main armory.
- Bk. 1 Ch. "Truth"
- Bk. 1 Ch. Truth Jolley claims to be the framers' "twentieth great-grandchild or more."
- Bk. 1 Ch. 1
- Bk. 2 Ch. Factory