by Ms. Penguin
Six strangers find themselves trapped in an elevator. Then things get worse!
|Ralph waited impatiently for the elevator to reach the lobby. He was already late for an appointment with his podiatrist on the eleventh floor of the Professional Arts Building.
The lady next to him was fidgeting nervously and constantly glancing at her gold wristwatch. She was dressed elegantly in a black pantsuit and black open-toed sandals with a low heel. She looked to be in her early to mid-forties.
If I was twenty years younger, Ralph mused. Shaking his head, he laughed at himself. At seventy-two years old he was still ogling women.
A young couple joined them in front of the elevator. The girl had long, blonde hair and sparkling green eyes. She was slender, but not skinny, wearing a plain white t-shirt and tight black jeans. The boy had short brown hair, blue eyes, and was of average build. Ralph guessed him at about 5'8" tall and around 150 pounds. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black jeans. They looked to be in their early twenties.
"Damn, this elevator is slow," the boy muttered, impatiently.
"Are you really in that big of a hurry?" the girl snapped. She looked worried, like maybe she really didn't want to be here.
"This wasn't my idea, remember."
Ralph looked away, embarrassed. He never did like to hear people argue in public.
"Excuse me, sir," a low voice spoke from behind him, causing Ralph to start. He turned around to see a man wearing black with a white collar.
"Can I help you, Father?" Ralph asked politely. He wasn't a Catholic, but he tried to always show respect to members of the clergy.
"Do you happen to know the time? My young friend and I have an appointment on the twelfth floor at two p.m."
Ralph glanced at his cheap imitation Rolex. "It's about ten minutes to."
"You're welcome, Father."
The young girl clinging to the priest looked frightened, shivering and hiding her face against his back. She appeared to be about thirteen years old, with short, uneven dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. She was very skinny and was wearing a blue blouse and faded blue jeans.
Finally, the elevator doors opened and the seven strangers entered one at a time.
"What floor?" Ralph asked, politely, positioning himself in front of the panel of buttons.
"Twelve," the priest replied.
Ralph pushed the eleven and twelve buttons and then glanced at the other passengers.
"Fourteen, please," the elegant lady said.
"Sixteen," the couple said at the same time, then laughed.
"Jinx!" the girl giggled.
"Grow up, Jenny," the boy grumbled.
"Lighten up, John," she snapped back.
The passengers lapsed into an uncomfortable silence as the elevator slowly began to rise. Ralph watched the numbers above the door light up as they rose. He noticed that the elegant lady was still glancing at her watch every few seconds as if by keeping an eye on it she might be able to speed up time. Or, maybe, slow it down.
As the elevator neared the tenth floor, it began to slow down. Ralph frowned and glanced at the panel. No, no one had lit the number ten button. Maybe someone on the tenth floor would be getting on, he mused. The elevator jolted to a stop.
"What the hell!" John exclaimed, "We're between floors!"
"Calm down, I'm sure it will be fine," the priest spoke calmly and softly.
"Bullshit," John grumbled.
"Shut up, John," his girlfriend snapped, giving him a dirty look.
Ralph opened the phone box, but it was empty.
"I don't believe this," the elegant lady sighed. "I'm already late for my appointment with my attorney."
"I'm sure someone will notice the elevator is stuck and rescue us soon enough," the priest reassured her.
"I sure hope so," the lady snapped. "I just want to get this damned divorce done and over with."
The passengers stood in stony silence for a few minutes that seemed to last an eternity.
"I don't think anyone's coming," the young girl that had boarded with the priest spoke up timidly.
"Don't worry, honey," the priest patted her head, gently. "I'm sure it will be fine."
"I want to go home," her voice trembled, tears filling her eyes.
"Shhhh, it will all be over soon, Amanda. Don't fret."
"This is all your fault," John snapped at Jenny. "We wouldn't be here if you hadn't gotten yourself knocked up!"
"Oh right, John. I did it all by myself!"
"How do I know it's even mine?" The venom in his voice hit home, her eyes welled with tears and she turned away, sobbing softly.
"I'm sorry, honey, I didn't mean it," his voice softened as he tentatively touched her shoulder.
She shrugged him off and refused to respond, still crying quietly, face to the wall.
"Try to stay calm, everyone. The Lord will not give us trials that we cannot handle," the priest began.
"Oh shut up with your silly superstitions," the elegant lady sniffed. "Save your myths and fables for the children."
The priest opened his mouth as if he was going to respond, but shut it again and put his arm around his young charge who was visibly shaking now.
They spent the next five minutes in very uncomfortable silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Ralph wanted to strike up a conversation with the beautiful lady, but found her quite intimidating. Taking a deep breath, he turned toward her.
"Ma'am, my name is Ralph Carver. I just thought we should introduce ourselves, seeing as we may be here awhile."
The old fart is hitting on me. she thought, contemptuously. "Nice to meet you, Ralph. My name is Ellie." Her voice was polite, but cool.
"Nice to meet you," he mumbled, feeling quite silly. He could tell she wasn't even remotely interested in getting to know him.
"Hi, Ralph," the little girl was still hiding behind the priest, but she smiled up at him, shyly. "My name is Amanda."
"Hi, Amanda," Ralph smiled back. "It's a pleasure to meet you."
"I'm Father Tom," the priest spoke up. "I'm a priest at St. James' Catholic Church over on Blackberry and Vine."
The two men shook hands, as civilized people often do.
"How sweet," Ellie scoffed. "Now we know each other's names, what fucking good does it do? We're still trapped."
"I'm sure someone will come along any time now," Ralph replied, trying to remain polite. Her attitude was beginning to grate on his nerves. How had he ever found this bitch attractive?
Jenny turned away from the wall, her eyes red and puffy. "It sure seems awfully quiet," she spoke quietly, her voice quavering, her breath coming in short gasps from crying.
"It's a busy office building, Jenny," her boyfriend said, patiently. "Someone will notice the elevator is out of order."
"Then why is it so quiet? Shouldn't we hear people?"
No one said anything. She was right, the silence was overwhelming. Amanda started to cry.
"Shhh, sweetie," the priest comforted her. "It will be alright. The Lord will protect us."
Ellie snorted. "Right. The Lord will come down on a chariot of fire and rescue us all."
"Shut up, Ellie," Ralph snapped. "The child is upset enough."
Ellie shot him a dirty look, but shut up.
The elevator creaked ominously and everyone jumped.
"What was that!" Amanda shrieked.
The elevator shook slightly and then started to drop, quickly. They all screamed and dropped to the floor.
"Oh my God, we're going to die!" Ellie completely lost her composure, her eyes wild and frantic, she grabbed onto Ralph.
The elevator jolted to a stop.
The priest began to pray under his breath.
Jenny sat on the floor, her head between her knees, sobbing quietly. John sat down beside her and put his arms around her. This time she let him hold her. He whispered something in her ear and she looked up, eyes still red and filled with tears.
"Do you mean that?" she asked, a new found hope filling her voice.
"Yes, Jenny. I love you. Please, will you marry me?"
"If we get out of here alive, yes! Yes, I will." A radiant smile broke out on her face and she cuddled into his arms.
Ralph smiled. "Congratulations, Jenny."
"Thanks, Ralph. We were here to see the obstetrician. I'm three months pregnant."
"Typical," Ellie said, sarcastically. "Kids these days!"
"Shut up, Ellie!" Ralph and John yelled in unison.
Amanda tentatively approached Jenny and sat down next to her.
"What's wrong, Amanda?"
"I'm thirteen, and I'm pregnant too. Father Tom brought me here for an abortion."
Ellie started laughing. "Hypocrites! All fucking religious nuts are hypocrites. An abortion! That's hilarious."
The priest looked uncomfortable.
"She's only thirteen," he said, sternly. "She's too young for the responsibility. It's for the best, for her and the child."
"Would the Pope agree?" Ellie asked in a snotty voice.
"What the Pope doesn't know won't hurt him," the Father snapped. "I'm doing what I feel is best for one of my children.
"Hmmph," Ellie looked away.
Jenny put her arm around the young girl and they all sat in silence for a while.
The elevator shuddered again.
"I don't think anyone's coming," Jenny said in a low, quavery voice. "I think we're on our own."
"What about the hatch?" Ellie asked, suddenly. "Can't someone climb up through it and go for help?"
"Why don't you?" John snapped. "No one wants your miserable ass here anyway."
"I can't climb up the elevator shaft in sandals, moron," Ellie no longer seemed elegant to Ralph, in fact, she reminded him of his shrew of a first wife, Helen. He couldn't believe he had found her attractive and elegant just a short time earlier.
"I'll go," John stated, standing up. "I'm the youngest and strongest of the men here. I'll go for help."
"Don't leave me, please," Jenny begged, clinging to him.
"I have to, honey. I'm the only one who can," he gently extricated himself from her iron grip. "I'll come back with help. I promise!" He kissed her gently on the lips and reached up to open the trap door.
"I'll hoist you up," the priest offered, getting down on one knee.
"Thank you, Father."
John carefully climbed up onto the Father Tom's knee and pulled himself up through the trap door. They all looked up, nervously, watching him disappear into the dark elevator shaft.
"You okay, honey?" Jenny called.
"I'm fine," he replied. "I'll be back soon."
They listened as his footsteps clanged on the metal ladder. The echo had an eery, almost hollow sound to it. Ralph had the uneasy feeling that they'd never see the young man again. He shook his head, he was becoming paranoid in his old age.
They heard a distant scream and then silence.
"Johnny!" Jenny screamed, jumping to her feet.
The passengers looked at each other, no one knowing what to say.
"Johnny!" she called again. Silence. She looked around at the others. "Well? Someone has to go check on him, see if he's ok!" Her voice was high, panicked.
"Why don't you go?" Ellie snapped. "You're his fucking whore aren't you?"
"Shut up, you old bitch!" Jenny screamed, jumping at her, fingernails aiming for Ellie's eyes. Ralph stepped in between them and received a scratch on the cheek for his trouble.
"Calm down!" Ralph ordered, ignoring the pain. "I'm sure he's ok. He probably just saw a rat or something."
"In an elevator shaft?" Jenny looked at him incredulously. "Please, someone go up and check on him."
"I'll go," the priest sighed. "It will be my atonement."
"Have you sinned, Father?" Ellie asked, snidely.
The priest ignored her. "Ralph, think you can boost me."
"Sure, Father. There's a little strength left in these old knees." Ralph laughed, nervously. He bent down slowly and the priest stepped onto his knee, gently, then raised himself up through the trap door.
"Can you see anything?" Jenny asked, hopefully.
"Not yet, dear," the priest called down. They listened as his footsteps retreated. Then, the eerie echoes of his shoes climbing the metal ladder caused them all to fall silent once again.
"Oh dear God!" his voice came to them as if from a great distance. "Our Father who art in...HELP! Oh Lord help me!" His voice was shrill, his screams becoming louder and then suddenly...Silence.
"What the hell is going on up there?" Jenny shrieked. "Somebody do something!"
"What do you want us to do?" Ellie snapped back. "I'm sure as hell not going up there."
Jenny sat back down, crying.
Amanda curled up next to her and patted her on the shoulder. "It'll be okay, Jenny. It has to be."
"Why's that?" Jenny sniffled.
"Father Tom said the Lord will always protect those who believe."
"It didn't sound like the Lord protected Father Tom," Ellie butted in.
"Father Tom sinned," Amanda whispered.
They all looked at her, their eyes full of questions none of them dared to ask.
"Yes, he is the father of my baby," Amanda lowered her eyes in shame. "He says I seduced him. I didn't mean to. I...I just wanted a friend, someone to talk to. My daddy left when I was a baby and Father Tom said I could come talk to him anytime. I..." she burst into tears.
"Shhh, it's okay," Jenny held the young girl. "It will be okay. It's not your fault."
"He said I was a sinner and couldn't help it. That I wore tight jeans to entice him. But I didn't mean to, really I didn't." The young girl began to sob, loudly.
"Oh for Christ's sake, shut up," Ellie snapped. "The old pedophile took advantage of you. Priests do it all the time. You have a boyish figure, it turned him on. That's how those priests are, don't you read the papers?"
"Shut up!" Ralph growled. "We're in trouble here and all you can do is be cruel and sarcastic? We need to think of a way to escape!"
"What exactly do you have in mind, old man?" Ellie shot back. "I don't think any of us want to risk climbing out now, do you? There's obviously something out there."
"I'll go," Jenny said with quiet determination. "I have to know what happened to John. I can't raise this baby on my own. I have to find him."
"No, Jenny. You can't go out there," Ralph argued. "It's too dangerous."
"Don't you understand? It doesn't matter now. Nothing matters without Johnny."
Ellie rolled her eyes. "Let her go, Ralph. If she wants to kill herself, who are we to argue? It's so Shakespearean," she laughed, sarcastically.
"Please, Ralph. Please boost me," Jenny pleaded.
"Are you sure?"
Ralph carefully boosted Jenny up through the trap door. "Be careful, honey," he called up after her.
"Can you see anything?" Amanda asked.
"No, it's pitch dark up here. Wait, I see someone! There's someone coming!!" Jenny's voice rose with excitement. "Hello? Over here! Please, we need help!"
The figure drew nearer, but Jenny still couldn't make out whether it was male or female, only that they were quite tall and on the stocky side.
"Hello? Can you hear me?" she called.
No answer. The figure continued to come closer, slowly, as if it was moving in slow motion.
"Jenny? Maybe you should come back down," Ralph yelled.
"No, it's okay, someone's coming! Hello? Sir?"
A low growl, echoed through the air. Jenny screamed.
"Jenny!" Ralph yelled. "Come back down!"
"Oh my god, what is it?" she shrieked. "No, don't come any..." Her voice cut off suddenly. Silence once again filled the air. A strange smell drifted down to the remaining passengers. A musty, mildewy smell. Like something old, ancient, was standing right above them. They could hear it breathing now, in short raspy breaths.
Something big and very heavy landed on the top of the elevator, shaking it hard. They heard a snap and the elevator suddenly tilted to the left, knocking them to the floor.
The elevator began to rock to and fro like a crazed yo-yo. Whatever had landed on the top was growling and snorting. The smell of must and mildew was becoming overwhelming. Ellie pulled a tissue from her small, black purse and held it over her nose. Amanda looked pale, as if she was about to vomit. Ralph just stood looking up at the open trap door, frightened, yet fascinated at the same time.
The lights in the elevator went out.
This time it was Ellie who screamed. Another snapping noise followed and the elevator began to plummet, faster and faster toward the bottom of the shaft. The creature, if that's what it was, howled. It sounded savage, yet gleeful, as if it had planned for this all along.
As the elevator raced toward the basement, the three remaining passengers lay on the floor, eyes closed. Too terrified even to scream, they awaited their deaths in silence. The creature waited too. He only fed once a century and soon he would have three more meals.