Callie Lorentson-Drageland


The lights flickered, and the comfortable drone of the Kenny G song abruptly stopped.  Kirsten's eyes strayed to the ceiling.  Somewhere above her, on the other side of those flourescent lights... she heard it.  A creaking, a gnawing, a sickening groan.  Kirsten's ears pricked and for a moment, she forgot to breathe.

The lights blew out, and the room became ink. Kirsten saw nothing but the orange glow of the "OPEN DOOR" button.  She kept hearing Susan's last words to her like a desperate chant, "Elevators give me the creeps, I'm taking the stairs... Elevators give me the creeps, I'm taking the stairs..."

Groping the walls, Kirsten discovered that the steel sides were hot, like the inside of a toaster.  "Why didn't I take the stairs?" she mumbled.

Then she heard the whiplash; a sound like a piano wire being sliced through.  Kirsten flung herself at the "OPEN DOOR" button and punched it.  It was too late.  The elevator fell.

Kirsten had heard women scream on TV before.  She thought they sounded too deliberate, too feminine.  She often wondered what a real, terrified scream would sound like.  At that moment, as the compartment dropped, a husky roar escaped to her throat from the painful pit of her stomach.  The noise was so great, it drowned out the thunder of the elevator tearing down the shaft. The scream was not deliberate.  It was not feminine.  It was anguish.  It hurt to scream like that.  But somehow, Kirsten felt like it would hurt worse not to.

As the elevator gained speed, Kirsten's feet left the floor.  She clutched the wheelchair accessible handrail.  She saw the concrete wall of the elevator shaft fly past the open doors.  It was as if she were on a vertical subway train... going down.

Kirsten felt drums pounding a migraine into her head when she sensed the temperature drop.  The air rushing into the elevator's gaping mouth became colder.  Now in the basement, the compartment was about to impact the floor. Kirsten lost her grip on the handrail.  The ceiling came towards her, she was falling up.  Her head smacked the flourescent lights.

The elevator slowed.  One last groan, and then it stopped altogether.

Kirsten collapsed to the floor.  Her body shook and shimmied and her teeth rattled.  As if uncertain whether to illuminate the sight, the lights flickered before shining steadily.

Kirsten tried to stand, but her knees buckled hard and she threw up on her shoes.  Clutching her forehead, she slowly picked herself up.  A concierge in a maroon uniform peeked in and barked, "Y 'Okay?"

"Unnnnh..." Kirsten stumbled out the door, as a robotic voice lisped through the speakers, saying, "Please exit to the right."

Outside, a snaky line of people waited impatiently for the elevator's floor to be cleansed of vomit.  Among them, and eight-year-old boy stood alertly by his father.  His eyes were as big as moons.  They were next in line.

"Wow, Dad, she looked scared.  Are we really going to ride this one?"

"Well, Joey, I guess so.  Hey, this ride's safe isn't it?"  The father directed this question to the concierge.

"Oh, yeah.  Absolutely."

"...'cause it looked like that girl was on the floor..."

"Probably just lost her contact lens."  The concierge ushered them into the compartment. "Just remember to keep your hands and feet inside the elevator at all times."
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Background by ArtGekko.