Frank stood motionless, eyes transfixed on the stainless steel doors. Waiting. He watched the numbers count down – 52, 51, 50. He hated the word – E-L-E-V-A-T-O-R. It was too symmetrical – same number of consonants as vowels – unnatural. He had been trapped in an elevator for three hours when he was 7. The old man he was trapped with spent the time doing unnatural things to him. That was another word he hated – P-E-D-O-P-H-I-L-E.
He had managed to avoid this moment for nearly 40 years. He took the stairs, good for the heart – at first he would stop every 10 floors, but now he stopped every 5, burning legs, heaving chest. Wasn’t exercise good for high cholesterol? Dr. Smith said “you need more cardio, I don’t like these numbers”. What was that medicine he had refused to take?
As he stared, dread began to climb up his ankles, his legs, his buttocks and groin. It slithered over his hips and wound it’s way around his spine. Sweat trickled down his back. His neck and cheeks flushed.
Karma. It was karma that had written this comedy of errors. He had never cheated on his wife. 10 years of marriage, 2 beautiful children. Straight arrow all the way. But today he had broken his vows. The new paralegal was just too willing, too persistent and too hot. And now, there was Karma, grinning, laughing. Karma had hired the crew to repaint the stairwells today – stretching that yellow tape across the doorways. Karma had arranged his first trip in the metal box on a wire – the Otis death trap. Karma was conducting this horrendous atonal symphony.
Dread was now holding Frank’s head in both hands, jamming it’s tongue down his throat like the paralegal had done 2 hours ago in his office. He swallowed hard. Dread was now swirling around in his stomach, making his head spin. And then “ding! – the elevator opened it’s jaws wide, an empty stainless steel and faux wood grain crypt.
“Grow up, be a man” he scolded himself. He mustered every ounce of courage and stepped across the threshold. He closed his eyes and the doors slid shut behind him. He was alone in the box. How many elevator accidents were there every year?
“There, you’re in. Was that so horrible?” He opened his eyes and watched the numbers count down. 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, and then BAM! It happened. First there was a loud pop and then the sound of the cable whipping around in the elevator shaft. The lights flickered and then went out – plunging the universe into darkness. Emergency power clacked on and an eerie red light flickered to life – bathing the interior with a hellish glow. Metal groaned, the floor shuddered and then another “BANG” and the elevator went into free fall.
“I’ll come clean if I survive this” he pleaded in his head. “I’ll tell her the whole story and we’ll get past it all. Just let me survive this – please!” The floor dropped and a sickening weightlessness filled his chest. A flurry of images swirled in his head – his mother, smiling, sending him alone to the corner grocery, the firm breasts of the paralegal, the horrid grin of the elevator pedophile – thick, dirty fingers unzipping his fly.
His heart pounded in his throat, a lightening bolt of pain radiated through his shoulder and down his arm. He felt sick. His stomach spasmed and he vomited. It hung in the air for few seconds, victim to the same free fall and slowly draped itself across the walls. The fall seemed to last forever. How can four stories be such a long trip?
He remembered that someone somewhere said “if you jump just before impact, you will survive“. He had to time this just right. He watched the numbers dwindle – 40, 39, 38. He crouched, ready to spring. Down, down, the elevator plunged – 30, 29, 28, 27. Faster and faster, the smell of hot metal and burning paint flooded the chamber. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4.
The pain in his arm intensified and he felt an unbearable weight upon his chest. He couldn’t breath, he couldn’t move, his arm was on fire, his chest collapsing. Through a haze he saw the numbers – 3,2,1. The lights flickered and he tried to jump but his legs buckled. Suddenly…
…everything stopped. There was no crash, no twisted metal, no wrenching impact. The lights flickered and everything was still. The pain in his arm was gone. His chest felt light. His breathing was regular and he had stopped sweating. He blinked and wiped his eyes. He was OK. He had survived. “Ha! Karma my ass! I am alive!” He began to laugh. He slumped down against the back wall and laughed like a giddy schoolgirl. The lights flickered again and “ding” the doors opened.
He looked up and smiled. Through the yawning doors he could see a dark corridor. It was constructed from quarried stone blocks, each about 2 feet by 3 feet. They were scarred and stained by centuries of wear. Torches flickered a faint orange glow, intimidated by the darkness of the corridor. White objects littered the stone block floor of the corridor. He squinted and his smile disintegrated. Is this the sub basement? The smell of rotted meat and sulfur wafted into the elevator. He closed his eyes and opened them again.
A dark figure was now standing before him. Thick gloves covered meaty hands and he was dressed in a heavy coat and loose pants of a stiff fabric that appeared to be coated in soot. A long, dark object dangled from his left hand and trailed along the floor. His face was a mystery. It was as if the area where his face should have been was bending the light around it – an ocular dead spot. Must be an effect of the fall he thought.
Frank blinked again and rubbed his eyes. “Hey – you with the fire department?” He straightened up and brushed dust from his sport coat. “Man am I glad to see you!”
Silence. The figure did not move.
“Boy, I’ve always hated those damn things. I think I might need some medical assistance – that was quite a fall.”
The figure remained motionless and mute.
“Hell – o! I said I think I might need some kind of medical check up…”
With a lightening flick of his wrist, the figure whipped the rusted chain through the darkness. It struck Frank just below his jaw and wound around his neck 3 times.
He tried to scream, but his trachea was crushed by the chain. He dropped to his knees and grabbed the links that continued to tighten, mangling his airway. He sputtered and the warm thrill of blood painted his lips.
The figure jerked his arm and dropped his captive prone. Slowly, the dark stranger began to drag Frank into the darkness of the corridor.
Frank tried to scream, but managed only a gurgle. His writhing arms and legs disturbed the bits of bone and dried flesh strewn about on the floor.
He watched behind him as the elevator doors slowly closed, devouring all hope. Above the door, illuminated numbers flickered for a moment – an upside down 4, a backwards 3 and an 11. He heard the breath of his captor rasping – or was it a low, whispered laugh.
Copyright SkullDugFilms – 2013
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