Shut In

The department store elevator shuts down on the way to the fourth floor, with you and ten other people in it. You remain calm, but other people begin to panic. Write this scene and the dialogue between characters.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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520 thoughts on “Shut In

  1. smalone008

    The elevator is going up to the top of a twenty-five-story building. My friend Daryl is near the door in front of eighteen other people, I’m stuck in back. We’re going all the way to the top. We reach the twenty-fourth story, when suddenly, the elevator stops. The doors won’t open! Daryl keeps pushing button number twenty-five, but the door still won’t open! “What’s going on Daryl?” I ask.
    “The friggin’ elevator’s stuck.”
    A teenage girl gasps, “Oh, what the heck!” “Oh this is terrible,” says one woman, not losing her cool. I take a deep breath, “OK, nobody panic.”

    “How high up are we?”
    “Twenty-four stories up!”
    Everyone screams.

    “Please. Calm. Down.” I tell the people. Daryl tries ringing the bell.
    “It’s not working! I need someone to call 911.” One man takes the emergency phone, “This crappy machine isn’t working either!” The girl starts freaking out again and shouts, “Then what are we going to do?!” Suddenly, and without warning, two guys pick her up! They start using her as a human battering ram to break down the doors! A slightly older girl start screaming at the punks, “WAIT! WAIT STOP!!” It’s no use.

    Finally another dude punches out both punks’ faces four times each. He then tries pulling the doors open with his bare hands. With half of the elevator gone wild, Daryl finally pulls out his cell phone and calls 911. Unfortunately, they don’t believe him. Turns out he’s made four non-emergency calls to 911 in the past. I yell at him, “Daryl, you’ve abused 911 four times in the past?! What’s been going through your head?!”
    “Yeah try to help us understand,” says one man sarcastically.

    One of the punks regains consciousness. He’s heard what’s going on.
    “So there’s no way out?!”
    I try to calm him down, “Sir, don’t freak…”

    He tears off the ceiling vent and starts to climb out. All the people start screaming.
    “NO! NO! DON’T DO THAT!”
    “STOP! STOP!”

    Before anyone can do anything, the elevator starts working again! We’re all relieved, but also uncomfortable with the intense screaming from above. Me, Daryl, and everyone else get off the elevator OK; everyone except for that other punk who is still unconscious. I can’t help wondering if he’s still alive.

  2. kahmillesdgva

    ” Is everyone okay ?” said the man.
    ” No i want to get off!” said a little boy.
    (People freaking out in the background!!!!!!!!!!!)
    “you all are big babies!” said a teen.
    Shed wish shed never say that.
    #Their dead!!!!!!!!

  3. franciscosdgva

    ”Stop the elevator”
    ”Thank you I am in a big hurry I am so late to my meeting” ”man”
    It has been a rough day all I can think about is me being late to this meeting.If i do not make it to the meeting it could mean the future in my job. There is about 10 people in the elevator that I could see I look at what floor we are on I gasp because we have only gone 5 floors up and at this rate I could be late. A phone rings I check my phone but it is the guys phone next to me. Its his wife. ”Yes honey I will stop by the grocery store to get the milk i will be home by 9:00 love you bye.The guys call remind me that I have to tell mark that I will be late.I check my phone once I do the elevator stops everybody falls to the ground. The man next to me helps me up.” Thank you.” He just nodes okay to me.The lights then go off it is pitch black some guy gets his phone out he turns it on next thing I know he is drooped to the floor and dragged to the darkness. There is a nun next to me and she screams but hen starts to prey. I tell her to calm down and she does the lights come on and five more people were on the floor people yell and start to pound the walls.” Its no use there is just a wall if we get the door open. I stare at the numbers they start to switch rapidly everyone looks but then it stops on the 6 it blinks three times then stops then again it does it three times then it stops. The lights go off again a guy pushes me to the floor I hit my head on the bar handle.I fall on the floor I force my self to open my eyes I see a man in the air getting choked I look at what is choking him before I can it races to me I see its eyes then it brakes my neck. I think to my self why didn’t I take the stairs?

  4. jamalsdgva

    “Oh My Gosh , the elevator stops working”,I think.
    “Ahhhhhhhhh, the elevator stopped help please.
    I get tired of hearing the screaming. I then try to shut them out. It doesn’t work
    “Shut up”,I scream
    Everyone gets quiet for about 30 seconds then again I hear hyperventilating,screaming, and praying. All I can think is why me then suddenly the light goes out. There enough screaming make a light bulb break. I now hear people falling on the floor repeatedly I sharpen my guard. Then the lights come on and at that moment I realized that i knocked out ten people.
    The elevator starts moving again and at the stop a bunch of people are working on the elevator.
    “What happend”, the worker exclaimed.
    “They all fainted”, I lied.

  5. zhanesdgva

    Here I am hoping that it just dream, but I am positive it is not.
    It all started when I came to the doctors to get a check up. After hearing that I am all healthy, I rushed to the elavator just in time to get on. When I stepped inside, a women who looked like she was the same age as me, asked me what floor I am going to.I said,”2.” After that we started talking about the weather. Then all of a sudden there is a shake and when I look up a piece of the ceiling hits me. That is when I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock!

  6. leandresdgva

    I was walking to the elevator to go down to my car. I am lucky to even find a parking spot in Miami, Florida. I was so happy to get out of the mall and a crowd of people came in the elevator with me. There was a guy next to the button that looked suspicious and had a trench coat on. He pressed the stop button and pressed the emergency button. I said ” whoa there buddy” what are you doing. He was silent until he pulled his micro sub machine guns with extended clips out of his coat pocket. Everyone was so scared but I wasn’t. I sneaked past him and pressed the non emergency button. The elevator was starting the move again. When the elevator doors opened the Florida police department was surrounding the mall. There was no way for him to escape now. The police cuffed him and he was off to the prison. If I have not pressed that non emergency button we could have been killed.

  7. PromptPrincess13


    This is why I always take the stairs, I thought to myself, as I pushed against the steel doors of the elevator. They didn’t budge. I glanced up to see the number four staring straight at me, glowing orange with an urgency that belied the slow pace it was taking to rescue us. By us, I mean the ten strangers around me that were slowly becoming insane. Some faster than others. There was a mother-daughter pair sitting in the corner, listlessly braiding each other’s hair as a middle-aged man, dressed in the way of a priest leaned against the wall in silent meditation. There was a little girl, in the corner by herself, who kept clicking her ruby-red shoes together and saying “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” I was starting to agree with her.

    And yet those weren’t the worse. A little to my right was a teen who was dressed in head-to-toe Goth, metal spikes jutting from his shoulders, a blue Mohawk shooting defiance at everyone who looked his way. But still, he wasn’t the worse. That prestigious title went to the man and women sitting back-to-back in the middle of the suspended elevator car. He was wearing a formal, visibly cheap suit while the girl, probably not older than 20 was wearing a knee-high, ill-fitting wedding dress, beaded across the bodice with pearls that looked like milky tears. A veil shrouded thin shoulders, and on bony knees rested a head with red curls done up like a crown. She was sobbing softly, mascara dripping along pale skin. The man reached for the girl’s hand and she gave it to him, but only for a moment, for the next she tore it away from him with a badly suppressed cry. Everyone in the elevator shifted uncomfortably. I watched as the woman’s sobs softened again and she laid her delicate head upon the suited man’s back. I glanced at his face, and saw there a glow that was immediately recognizable and fiercer than any fire I’d ever seen before; the light of true love.

    I kneeled close to the woman and reached what I hoped was a steady, gentle hand to her arm. Her head snapped up, eyes burning with surprise, and one gloved hand slapped me on the cheek. The man was up in a moment, the woman behind him as I blinked, puzzled, and got to my feet.

    “I’m sorry, I just wanted to see if you both were alright.” I apologized, as profusely as I could. The man’s shoulders slumped, and he looked around the elevator with a sheepish grin. He held the girl’s hand as she, too, gathered her courage and stepped out from behind him. “We’ve just had a bad day.” She said and the elevator’s occupants murmured in sympathy.

    “You were getting married?” I ventured, my cheek still smarting. I locked eyes with the priest I’d seen before. At his nod, I couldn’t help the whisper of excitement that echoed through my insides.

    The couple looked incredulous at my guess, then looked down at their attire. “We were eloping, yes, but…we couldn’t afford it at the last minute. We’re here to return the dress and suit.” The man looked at his would-be-wife with shame, and nodded in agreement.
    That made sense. I smiled. “Do you still want to?” I asked

    The nods were immediate.

    “Alright, then. Father?”

    The priest came forward and took his place in front of the doors, not waiting for orders, or asking unnecessary questions, just diving straight in to the most beautiful ceremony I’d ever seen.

    A few minutes later, as the ceremony came to a close and the couple leaned towards one another for the kiss, the elevator lifted up. As they locked lips, the doors opened to the hubbub of the busy mall, the distant ding of the elevator sounding like a lone church-bell.

  8. NoMonsterHere

    We have been in the elevator for hours when I finally start speaking.
    My provocation comes from a very loud noise.

    Nine heads swivel towards the direction of the disturbance, and eighteen eyes come to rest on the multicolored broken wire and heavily dented metal that used to be the elevator panel.
    One man, the skinny, balding one with the tie that did not match his wrinkly dress shirt, the one who had been giving out commands since this whole ordeal started, speaks up.”
    The man who was responsible for the damage, the one with the sledge hammer (where on Earth did he get a sledge hammer?), looks quite taken aback by this reaction.
    “Well, nothing else we were doing was working, so…”
    “So you decide to smash the elevator panel! Because that will totally work!” Sarcasm dripped from his voice like poison.
    “I’m sorry! You don’t have to get so mad, it’s not like it matters anyway.”
    “It doesn’t matter?! Who do you think is gonna pay for that replacement when we get out?!”
    “You mean if we get out.”
    “We are getting out! I’m absolutely positive!
    I am getting tired of their middle-school level competence. I decide now is as good a time as any to make an appearance. I step up behind them, clear my throat and voice my humble and honest opinion.
    “You are both complete idiots.”
    The pair of nincompoops turns around to face me, the surprise pouring off their faces.
    The balding, skinny one speaks first.
    “Well, whadaya know, you can talk.”
    I sigh and shake my head. “I reserve my opinion for important matters only. Your worthless bickering and thoughtless decision-making are not worth my vocal contribution, yet I realize that now I must step in and take matters into my own hands, or we will not experience progress in our goal-fulfillment.”
    The man who had smashed the elevator panel now looks at me like I am an extraterrestrial being. I highly doubt he was actually listening to what I was saying.
    It is the other man who speaks up, the one with the explicit vocabulary. He, on the other hand was listening to my monologue, and now his tight, mousy face draws back, insulted.
    “Why, you son of a bitch, who do you think you are? I knew I didn’t like you the moment you walked into this elevator, with your hat pulled down and your coat collar pulled up, like mister super spy, acting all superior to the rest of us. Here we are, stuck on a god-dammed elevator, having been here for hours trying to find a way out, and you just sit back and do absolutely nothing the entire time! And now, you come up here and personally insult me, acting like you have been the master behind the escape operation the entire time! You have no right to criticize anything I or even this god-damned fat ape over here-” he gestured to the one who had broken the elevator panel,
    “-have done to try to escape this hell hole, because you have done absolutely NOTHING!”
    Now the panel-breaker is listening.“I am not a fat ape-”
    I hold up my hand for the (now that I think about it, rather rotund) man to stop. The potty-mouthed rat-face is just on the brink of throwing a tantrum, which amuses me to no end. Now, what if I push him a little further…
    “I take your pithy argument as a grain of salt, seeing how you have proven yourself quite uneducated. Only an illiterate fool would use such unholy vocabulary as yourself.”
    That did it.
    For the sake of humanity, I sincerely hope that this guy does not have any children.
    At this point, I have almost forgotten my original matter of business. Heck, I almost forget that I am stuck on an elevator. I reach into my coat pocket and pull out a Marlboro and a lighter, before they are so rudely snatched from my grasp.
    It is a young woman. She has remained surprisingly silent for the multitude of the hour, but now she stands, her agitation finally overcoming her love of silence.
    “Sir, I would like to kindly remind you that this is a confined space, and smoking a cigarette will probably get us all killed.”
    “Oh, I had quite forgotten. Thank you, ma’am.”
    As you can see, I can be quite polite while dealing with people of a more intelligent stature.
    “Now, if this small quarrel between two inferior beings,” I paused to watch the balding rat seeth, “is complete, and my smoking habit has been hampered, I have come up with a few curious ideas to ensure our freedom from this elevator.”

  9. lori k

    I honestly can say that I felt bad for the women. They were only in the building to go to a photo shoot that was taking place on the eighteenth floor. The elevator had stopped at floor number two letting a business man out. It went up one more floor to allow a women dressed as a delivery person to exit.
    And that is when my stomach began to rumble.
    The women that surrounded me were no less than beautiful. They were all wearing form fitting dresses made out of spandex or something similar. Whoever had chosen them for the photo shoot really had a
    keen eye. The pictures would have turned out to be exquisite if they had ever made it to their appointment.
    Again, my stomach was doing flips.
    I knew when I had sat to have lunch with my literary agent that I should have gone for the fish. Fish is safe for me. No side effects to speak of. The fish goes in and the fish comes out…later, much later.
    Burrito’s loaded with beans was another story all together.

    The elevator had made it’s way to the fourth floor and the light that would normally glow as the doors opened did not shine it’s happy little face. The number four remained dark and the elevator doors did not open. At first the women didn’t even notice…models. They seemed to be so into themselves that nothing else mattered except powdering their nose’s in open compact mirrors.

    Again the stomach growls it’s angry roar which caused one of the ladies to look in my direction.

    “Fourth floor,” I said into her gorgeous blue eyes. “Anyone out?”
    I hoped they were all getting out because in less than twenty seconds something was going to be getting out of me and it wouldn’t be pretty, certainly not as pretty as any of them.

    The women turned toward the doors and noticed that not only were they not opening but the elevator had stopped it’s perpetual motion.

    Now, as I have said, I didn’t mean for what happened to happen. Who knew that I would finally get caught in a broken elevator with some of the most beautiful creatures on Earth?
    Unfortunately for them, I had some of the worst gas known to man and by the time the elevator doors did open, none of the lovely lookers were fit to be photo’d, filmed or fancied in any way.

    Gas can be a straight up gas my friend.

  10. mykidsareasleep

    I am not one to panic. I’ve always thought of myself as the “cool as a cucumber” sort, calm under pressure. I could give you examples, but maybe I’m kidding myself. You really never know who you are until your assumptions are under fire. I got on the elevator at the 18th floor. As people came in I smiled and asked, “what floor?” I like to be thought of as helpful. I pushed the buttons, a rare treat when you’ve got kids. Thank God they weren’t with me.
    The first to join me was a handsome man in a suit. I’m in the 35-45 age bracket and he fell in the “acceptable to date a woman my age” bracket. Not that I would, I’m married. But when I look, I keep to my bracket. I noticed him and sucked in my belly. Another man came on, he seemed too old, but I’m probably kidding myself if I see myself as too young for him. But he was balding, which says “Low Testosterone.” I try to be nicer, it’s not like I’m perfect any more, but low T? Anyway, I’m happily married. The last to come on were a young couple. Too young to keep their hands off of each other. My husband and I used to be like that. I’m a little embarrassed about that now. These kids were cute. They both had a lot of shaggy hair cramming into their faces. Kids and their hairstyles. When I was their age, my hair was shaved in the back. They seemed in love, I suppose. It’s really none of my business.
    The elevator gave a lurch. The girl half of the couple yelped and grabbed her boyfriend’s arm. The elevator did not fall, it just lurched for a second. The boyfriend said, “You know if the elevator goes down, I go down, too, right? Holding on to me isn’t going to save you.” It was funny, but I felt embarrassed for her. Everyone kind of looked down and chuckled, including her. I felt relieved when she smiled. I hate seeing a guy embarrass a young girl. I expected the elevator to resume it’s slow downward course, but it did not seem to move. I did what any person next to buttons would do: I pushed one. Again. Nothing happened. I finally went for the door open button. Nothing.
    “Well.” I said. “I guess we’re not going anywhere.” I smiled. I’m good at smiling and when I’m not smiling people tell me I look sad. I cultivate smiling as a habit. Also, I’m told my smile is pretty. Pretty diffuses tension, right? It makes me feel better anyway. I used to feel beautiful. I smile out of habit.
    We all stood around for a second and Low T said, “is there a phone in the call box? We should let them know we are stuck.” I felt silly. I had been kind of stalling with the phone thing- I mean, maybe a minute had passed, if that. I didn’t want to look like I was overreacting. Of course I should have taken charge and opened the phone box. “Yeah,” I said, still sounding chipper and holding in my belly. Instead of taking the phone out, I took a step back and let one of the men do it. I hate myself for that. I want to be the take charge sort that I believe myself to be. Instead, the person taking charge was the guy least likely to be able to get it up. I’m sorry. That’s not nice of me. Maybe I had him all wrong and he was the strong one. Judging books by their covers is really wrong.
    Anyway, there was a brief interaction between him and an operator on the phone who said she would get someone to fix this or something. He said, “they’re sending someone to fix it. We should be out quickly.” He might have been making that “out quickly” part up, but it’s the sort of thing an operator would say so that no one freaks out. I wonder if this stuff is scripted. During her receptionist orientation she was probably shown the paper which scripts this interaction in the “Emergency Elevator Protocol” she is required to say, “We will have you out in no time at all. Someone is on their way to fix it right now.” I’m not claustrophobic. But then, I’ve never been stuck in a small space. Who you are can really surprise you some times. I let my belly go. I can’t do this forever, and it seemed like now we were going to be too intimate for pretending.
    Shaggy hair wrapped his arm around his girlfriend and kissed her forehead. That was sweet. I kind of wanted to melt into Suit’s arm. Not really, I guess I wanted my husband there to wrap his arm around me, to lean into him. When I imagined that happening, I imagined myself being the 25 year old version of myself who had no belly to suck in. Why do I do that? He still loves me right now. I sometimes find that hard to believe, but he always does the dishes and puts away the laundry before he goes out of town. He washes my car, too. He doesn’t say anything about it, he just does it. He wouldn’t do things like that if he didn’t love me. It’s incredibly sweet.
    I leaned against the side of the elevator with my back and looked up. Looking up makes your eyes look bigger and there aren’t many places to look in an elevator. As my eyes travelled downward, they landed on the face of Suit and I smiled. Closed mouth. Not intimate, not interested, just a kind of obligatory but friendly smile. He made his eyes wide and raised his eyebrows in commisery and did not smile back. I looked at the ground and turned to face the front of the elevator.
    I noticed my shoulders were stiff. I don’t have much of a neck and I have large shoulder and neck muscles from years of childhood as a gymnast. I have to remember to relax my shoulders. Was I tense? I asked myself. Am I claustrophobic? I made an effort to breathe slowly. Not because I was afraid of running out of oxygen or anything, I just wanted to make sure I was relaxed. Guided imagery. I thought of sunshine on my skin, of riding my bicycle across the river walk in San Antonio, through the farmlands of central Texas. My husband and I take many bike-riding trips around Texas. I’m not in as good shape as him, but I could ride 30 miles in a day with no training, so that’s what we usually do. I love it. I love the feeling of moving through space fast enough to be afraid. I love doing it in the rain. Man, we used to do IT in the rain. Now we spend half of our vacations together just trying to remember who we are to each other. I wouldn’t pick another man. I love him. But we’re like car parts that need to be oiled and there’s a shortage of oil or something. I’m not good at analogies. He’s the writer. I used to think of myself as a talented writer. But writing is his passion, and I’m competitive. I let him have writing because what if one of us were to be successful and not the other? In a marriage you give up a lot of small parts of yourself so that you can build a bigger whole as a unit. It’s worth it.
    I could sense Suit behind me and to the left. I remember how when I was young this would have made my skin prickle. Those were fun feelings. I don’t go there now, it would feel all kinds of wrong. No longer leaning on the elevator, I did kind of want to slide into the crook of his arm. Maybe Low T would be OK to be married to. Maybe he’s amazing.
    How much time had passed? Maybe 4 minutes? I like things to be tidied up in about 4 minutes. Waiting 5 minutes seems like poor customer service. I don’t mean for elevators specifically, I mean for customer service situations in general. We were probably approaching 5 minutes. Were people panicking? Mr. and Ms. Shaggy Hair were whispering about where they have to be next, still physically connected to each other as if letting go would mean that they might fall into the abyss of the elevator shaft. In school dances when I was young the nuns used to say, “Leave room for the Holy Spirit.” I smiled to myself at the thought. I remembered a dance in 7th grade where a 9th grade boy kept grabbing random girls, dipping them and kissing them passionately. My mom was chaperoning that dance, but she didn’t see this. Good thing. She would have freaked out. I wanted to casually walk past him, hoping he’d grab and kiss me, too, but I couldn’t risk being barred from ever attending another dance. But he probably wouldn’t have picked me anyway. I checked my shoulders and my breathing. So far, I was proud to document my lack of claustrophobia. It’s like a validation of who I think I am. I am not claustrophobic. So far.
    “Do you know how to get to the parking garage from here?” asked Ms. Shaggy to Suit. “Yes, just take a left when you get off the elevator,” he spoke. “If we get off,” he quipped. We all chuckled and looked down. I wished we were all talking to each other. This was getting awkward. His voice wasn’t low or high. It was about 40. I could have gone to high school with him. What did he look like in high school? I looked away.
    The elevator doors swung open. The temperature in the little cabin cooled a couple of degrees immediately. The smell of industrial carpet replaced the musty elevator shaft smell.. I sucked my belly in as I held the “Open Elevator” button down as everyone exited. For good measure I also held my hand on the door. If I had written the Emergency Elevator Protocol, I would have had someone standing there at the 18th floor door to greet us when we came out. Not a receptionist, but a technician in a blue uniform with an electrical supply tool belt. Suit walked off the elevator before me and waited to make sure I got off OK. I got off. He walked away. I stood there wondering why I got off. I needed to get down to the first floor. So I pressed the down button and waited.

  11. mykidsareasleep

    (Hey everyone, this is about twice as long as it should be, but I’d love to hear your thoughts)

    I am not one to panic. I’ve always thought of myself as the “cool as a cucumber” sort, calm under pressure. I could give you examples, but maybe I’m kidding myself. You really never know who you are until your assumptions are under fire.

    I got on the elevator at the 18th floor. As people came in I smiled and asked, “what floor?” I like to be thought of as helpful. I pushed the buttons, a rare treat when you’ve got kids. Thank God they weren’t with me.

    The first to join me was a handsome man in a suit. I’m in the 35-45 age bracket and he fell in the “acceptable to date a woman my age” bracket. Not that I would, I’m married. But when I look, I keep to my bracket. I noticed him and sucked in my belly. Another man came on, he seemed too old, but I’m probably kidding myself if I see myself as too young for him. But he was balding, which says “Low Testosterone.” I try to be nicer, it’s not like I’m perfect any more, but low T? Anyway, I’m happily married. The last to come on were a young couple. Too young to keep their hands off of each other. My husband and I used to be like that. I’m a little embarrassed about that now. These kids were cute. They both had a lot of shaggy hair cramming into their faces. Kids and their hairstyles. When I was their age, my hair was shaved in the back. They seemed in love, I suppose. It’s really none of my business.

    The elevator gave a lurch. The girl half of the couple yelped and grabbed her boyfriend’s arm. The elevator did not fall, it just lurched for a second. The boyfriend said, “You know if the elevator goes down, I go down, too, right? Holding on to me isn’t going to save you.” It was funny, but I felt embarrassed for her. Everyone kind of looked down and chuckled, including her. I felt relieved when she smiled. I hate seeing a guy embarrass a young girl. I expected the elevator to resume it’s slow downward course, but it did not seem to move. I did what any person next to buttons would do: I pushed one. Again. Nothing happened. I finally went for the door open button. Nothing.

    “Well.” I said. “I guess we’re not going anywhere.” I smiled. I’m good at smiling and when I’m not smiling people tell me I look sad. I cultivate smiling as a habit. Also, I’m told my smile is pretty. Pretty diffuses tension, right? It makes me feel better anyway. I used to feel beautiful. I smile out of habit.
    We all stood around for a second and Low T said, “is there a phone in the call box? We should let them know we are stuck.” I felt silly. I had been kind of stalling with the phone thing- I mean, maybe a minute had passed, if that. I didn’t want to look like I was overreacting. Of course I should have taken charge and opened the phone box. “Yeah,” I said, still sounding chipper and holding in my belly. Instead of taking the phone out, I took a step back and let one of the men do it. I hate myself for that. I want to be the take charge sort that I believe myself to be. Instead, the person taking charge was the guy least likely to be able to get it up. I’m sorry. That’s not nice of me. Maybe I had him all wrong and he was the strong one. Judging books by their covers is really wrong.

    Anyway, there was a brief interaction between him and an operator on the phone who said she would get someone to fix this or something. He said, “they’re sending someone to fix it. We should be out quickly.” He might have been making that “out quickly” part up, but it’s the sort of thing an operator would say so that no one freaks out. I wonder if this stuff is scripted. During her receptionist orientation she was probably shown the paper which scripts this interaction in the “Emergency Elevator Protocol” she is required to say, “We will have you out in no time at all. Someone is on their way to fix it right now.” I’m not claustrophobic. But then, I’ve never been stuck in a small space. Who you are can really surprise you some times. I let my belly go. I can’t do this forever, and it seemed like now we were going to be too intimate for pretending.
    Shaggy hair wrapped his arm around his girlfriend and kissed her forehead. That was sweet. I kind of wanted to melt into Suit’s arm. Not really, I guess I wanted my husband there to wrap his arm around me, to lean into him. When I imagined that happening, I imagined myself being the 25 year old version of myself who had no belly to suck in. Why do I do that? He still loves me right now. I sometimes find that hard to believe, but he always does the dishes and puts away the laundry before he goes out of town. He washes my car, too. He doesn’t say anything about it, he just does it. He wouldn’t do things like that if he didn’t love me. It’s incredibly sweet.

    I leaned against the side of the elevator with my back and looked up. Looking up makes your eyes look bigger and there aren’t many places to look in an elevator. As my eyes traveled downward, they landed on the face of Suit and I smiled. Closed mouth. Not intimate, not interested, just a kind of obligatory but friendly smile. He made his eyes wide and raised his eyebrows in commisery and did not smile back. I looked at the ground and turned to face the front of the elevator.

    I noticed my shoulders were stiff. I don’t have much of a neck and I have large shoulder and neck muscles from years of childhood as a gymnast. I have to remember to relax my shoulders. Was I tense? I asked myself. Am I claustrophobic? I made an effort to breathe slowly. Not because I was afraid of running out of oxygen or anything, I just wanted to make sure I was relaxed. Guided imagery. I thought of sunshine on my skin, of riding my bicycle across the river walk in San Antonio, through the farmlands of central Texas. My husband and I take many bike-riding trips around Texas. I’m not in as good shape as him, but I could ride 30 miles in a day with no training, so that’s what we usually do. I love it. I love the feeling of moving through space fast enough to be afraid. I love doing it in the rain. Man, we used to do IT in the rain. Now we spend half of our vacations together just trying to remember who we are to each other. I wouldn’t pick another man. I love him. But we’re like car parts that need to be oiled and there’s a shortage of oil or something. I’m not good at analogies. He’s the writer. I used to think of myself as a talented writer. But writing is his passion, and I’m competitive. I let him have writing because what if one of us were to be successful and not the other? In a marriage you give up a lot of small parts of yourself so that you can build a bigger whole as a unit. It’s worth it.

    I could sense Suit behind me and to the left. I remember how when I was young this would have made my skin prickle. Those were fun feelings. I don’t go there now, it would feel all kinds of wrong. No longer leaning on the elevator, I did kind of want to slide into the crook of his arm. Maybe Low T would be OK to be married to. Maybe he’s amazing.

    How much time had passed? Maybe 4 minutes? I like things to be tidied up in about 4 minutes. Waiting 5 minutes seems like poor customer service. I don’t mean for elevators specifically, I mean for customer service situations in general. We were probably approaching 5 minutes. Were people panicking? Mr. and Ms. Shaggy Hair were whispering about where they have to be next, still physically connected to each other as if letting go would mean that they might fall into the abyss of the elevator shaft. In school dances when I was young the nuns used to say, “Leave room for the Holy Spirit.” I smiled to myself at the thought. I remembered a dance in 7th grade where a 9th grade boy kept grabbing random girls, dipping them and kissing them passionately. My mom was chaperoning that dance, but she didn’t see this. Good thing. She would have freaked out. I wanted to casually walk past him, hoping he’d grab and kiss me, too, but I couldn’t risk being barred from ever attending another dance. But he probably wouldn’t have picked me anyway. I checked my shoulders and my breathing. So far, I was proud to document my lack of claustrophobia. It’s like a validation of who I think I am. I am not claustrophobic. So far.

    “Do you know how to get to the parking garage from here?” asked Ms. Shaggy to Suit. “Yes, just take a left when you get off the elevator,” he spoke. “If we get off,” he quipped. We all chuckled and looked down. I wished we were all talking to each other. This was getting awkward. His voice wasn’t low or high. It was about 40. I could have gone to high school with him. What did he look like in high school? I looked away.

    The elevator doors swung open. The temperature in the little cabin cooled a couple of degrees immediately. The smell of industrial carpet replaced the musty elevator shaft smell.. I sucked my belly in as I held the “Open Elevator” button down as everyone exited. For good measure I also held my hand on the door. If I had written the Emergency Elevator Protocol, I would have had someone standing there at the 18th floor door to greet us when we came out. Not a receptionist, but a technician in a blue uniform with an electrical supply tool belt. Suit walked off the elevator before me and waited to make sure I got off OK. I got off. He walked away. I stood there wondering why I got off. I needed to get down to the first floor. So I pressed the down button and waited.

  12. JMinniker

    The first one to scream was the woman with the baby. I suppose that makes sense because babies can be rather needy and I doubted an upset baby would make the wait any more tolerable.
    “Oh for God’s sake. You’d think a store open this long would have their shit together! You’d think after all the money I put into this place; they could at least have functioning elevators”.
    “With service!” responded the man beside her. He was nervously pushing back his greasy hair that drooped sloppily against his eyebrows. He began reaching his arm up repetitively. He would wave his phone around in the air and every now and then he would slam his elbow into the face of this young girl’s eye. The first couple of times she huffed and attempted to show her dismay through a series of evil eyes and grimaces. After the fourth attempt to catch his attention, she shifted away from him and took a seat on the floor of the elevator.
    “Really, I don’t think that’s clean”. The woman with the child was obviously disturbed by the young girl’s actions.
    “Well, chances are pretty good we will be here for a while. Might as well make the best of it”.
    “Has anyone tried pressing the emergency button?” I asked.
    “Of course we did” I hear from the front of the elevator, but I am not sure who said it.
    It smelled kind of like pot. In retrospect it was very amusing because I couldn’t imagine any of the people in the elevator smoking pot. Maybe it was the little old lady holding the three large embroidered pillows. I could only imagine the rebellion that must rile up in her every now and then.
    Or maybe it was the business man. He was sweating rather profusely after all. The two little girls standing with their father were definitely not an option. They were too engaged in each other’s braids and their newly purchased dolls. One had pink hair and a small tattoo on its neck. Since when were rebellious Barbies cool? Their father however, still looked rather suspicious, shifting his gaze from his children to the elevator ceiling then finally resting on the faces of those around him.
    I looked at my watch. Five minutes had passed, maybe seven. Everyone was being pretty civil. Still no response from the help button. I’m not even sure if there was a way for the help button to respond.
    It still kind of smells like pot.
    The girl who had sat down is now passed out against a wall. She’s drooling a bit and her hair is tattering up as she rolls her head. It’s kind of funny.
    This entire situation is kind of funny. It’s even funnier because now I am laughing, and everyone else is simply fuming with disbelief.

  13. Weathie

    I feel a wave of relief as I realise my shopping is done.
    I’m more of an online shopping sorta gal, not one of these who find any excuse for an excursion.
    The elevator is hot and stuffy.
    The scent of mint gum, sweat and warm bodies fill my nostrils but I tell myself I’ll be home in less than half an hour; feet up, a hot cup of tea and Breaking Bad to look forward to.
    I find myself trapped in the left corner, close to the grimy mirrored wall and surrounded by 10 strangers when we hear an odd mechanical clunk and the elevator stops abruptly, tipping it’s passengers forward and causing me to collide with the man in front.
    “Sorry,” I manage, swiping my bangs out of my eyes and smiling at him apologetically; he glances at me disapprovingly before turning away and I feel a sense of inadequacy wash over me.
    The murmuring which ensues starts off as a low drone and gradually builds in volume until I feel as though I’m trapped and surrounded by a swarm of angry hornets.
    “What’s going on mummy?” a young girl asks, blue eyes wide.
    “Don’t worry honey,” her mother replies, “We’ll be out of here soon.” she’s trying to sound soothing but sounds worried.
    “What the hell’s going on?” a guy who can’t be much older than myself protests, his trainers scuff the floor as he pushes his way through the complaining passengers and begins jabbing pointlessly at the keypad.
    “I don’t think that’s helping,” I manage determined not to panic.
    “What the fuck would you know?” the guy turns to me and I regret having spoken.
    “Please mind your language,” an elderly man gestures towards the little girl.
    “Pfft,” trainer guy snorts and punches the keypad.
    “Mummy I’m scared,” the little girl whispers.
    “Let us the fuck out!” trainer guy yells.
    I glance at the elderly gentleman who sighs at his wife.
    “I feel sick,” a teenage girl says to her friend.
    “Don’t be such a wuss.”
    “I’m supposed to be meeting Robbie…”
    “We know,” says another of her friends rolling her eyes, “You’ve told us, like, fifty times already.”
    The air grows thick with tension, I can feel my blouse sticking to my skin with perspiration.
    Trainer guy is now pummelling the doors – shouting, the little girl cries as her mother holds her close and the teenager is panting whilst her friends check their phones.
    “I have no signal,” one girl whines and her friend concurs.
    I try to take a deep breath but feel as though there’s no air.
    It’s in that moment that the lift creaks to the left in a pendulous motion and I’m squashed into the corner.
    As we steady ourselves and murmur our apologies I hear the noise – metal being shredded.
    “They’re trying to get us out!” someone exclaims.
    There’s an inhuman howl.
    I daren’t say that I’m certain that it’s someone, something trying to get in.

    1. daynasdgva

      ohhh, noo!!! were shut in with no food or water, were going to die. Everyone started to panic and yell “WERE DOOM, I TELL YOU”. Except for one his name was jack, he was diffrent from the rest he knew exactly what to do, he said to everyone in a LOAD voice take out anything you have in your pockets. But the bad part was they were going to have to eat off of gum, floss, and mints. It was getting late and the lights of the elevator turned of, everyone was saying were going to die in this rotten place, some started to say prayers and would say to themselves why did i have to use an elevator i could have took the stairs. Jack started to smile he noticed that no one was fighting or arguing. as the skies were getting darker and darker people started to douse off, soon jack was even asleep. In the morning a boy appereared and the people were scared the first thing that came out of jacks mouth was “how did you get here”, the boy looked suspicious he had one red eye that looked lumpy and he was forgetting how to speak english. He pointed at the vent Jack was the first to get in then the rest of the people went in, the little boy was last. As they kept climbing up the boy was getting worst and worst he looked like he was infected with something. when they got to the top there was another elevator that also was shut there was people inside they looked like the little boy, except these people were dead. they kept climbing up when they found another vent again and again there was many elevators that were shut but now they were empty. Jack finally stopped and said “there is no way out, were shut in” for the first time in years jack was scared, this caused everyone to be scared. all the little boy did was change and look at the people, the boy skin was turning rotten people were scared.

      1. daynasdgva

        they finally decided to kill the little boy but they had nothing to comit the crime, so they just had to leave the boy they decided to this when the little boy went to sleep, they quitly climbed up the vent and went to another elevator. when they woke up the little boy was in the elevator again they all screamed, even jack, they had to do something so that evening jack said we have to take him to an elevator, but someone has to stay with him, an old lady that was already having a hard time volunteered to go, jack said “In the morning you can come back down but leave the boy there”. That night everyone went up and left the old lady and the boy in the top elevator then went back down two elevators and went to sleep. In the morning the boy wasn’t there neither the old lady, which was weird because we told her that she can come back down in the morning. So of course jack had to go look for her when they went to the elevator the lady was there but dead but the boy wasn’t. As they kept going up trying to get out of the place that’s keeping them here trapped they found the boy but he was normal he had no red or rotten skin and can remeber how to speak english . He politly said who are, and what did you to my parents”. Jack said ” we dont know

        1. daynasdgva

          CONTINUE TO ABOVE “and what did you do to the old lady”. the boy said what old lady and what happen to me.Jack said well were trapped an a elevator and you had a red eye and rotten skin.The boy said my name is timothy green; all i remember is running away from something the being attacked but i never remember how i got in here.Do you know how to get out? no,that’s sort of the hole problem we been trying to get out for two days. Do you have any food? jack said. No, timothy said.They went back down to the original room they were in the beggining, a big suprise happened the door was ……OPEN!!!!!. They ran out like they just saw a pot of gold, they went to go look for food toegether, keeping out for the thing that was chasing timothy. As they kept running they ran into ………. The beast he was tall rotten flesh and both of his eyes were red and sticking out. They ran and ran and then they found way more of there kind soon they all died one by one except Jack .Jack was really one of them but in disguise, he promised his people that they will get enough for to stuff themselves and that’s exactly what he did. THE END

  14. mirandame

    Well, this is just not my day. First, my crappy computer crashes with all my work on it, Lisa cancelled on our lunch date and now this. Great.

    “What’s going on? Is the elevator stuck?” asked a dark haired girl who appeared to be in her late teens.

    “Oh my God. Don’t tell me we’re trapped in an elevator. What are we going to do?” asked her friend semingly worried.

    “Oh, they should get it running again in a minute,” I said camly. I hope they do. What’s more annoying then being stuck in an elevator witha a bunch of panicky strangers.

    “That’s why I hate elevators. I never ride in them. I-I always knew these things weren’t safe.” A short stout guy wearing dark rimmed glasses was really starting to panic. I could see little beads of sweat developing on his forehead.

    “Mommy, I need to go potty.” said a bright eyed little girl as she looked to her mother. She looked to be around four years old. I hope she can hold it. It’s bad enough to be stuck in an elevator but to be stuck in a n elevator with the stench of a urine soaked kid was just going to be torture.

    “Okay, just hold on a minute baby. I hope they hurry up and get this thing fixed soon.”

    “Do they know we’re in here?” asked a slender woman standing in the corner of the elevator. “What if they don’t know we’re stuck?”

    There’s a button, isn’t there? A button you push. Where’s the button? another said.

    “Help!” the short stout man begin to yell. “Help, we’re stuck in here! Get us out!”

    I searched for the elevator button and pushed as more and more people started to yell help and beat on the elevator doors.
    “Everyone we need to just calm down a bit.” I said

    “Calm down? We need to get out of here!” A woman yelled with her hair already beginning to stick to her face.. “There’s no telling how long we’ll be stuck in here.”

    Was I the only person on this elevator who was not freaking out? I glanced around the elevator at people yelling, banging, and worrying. Then, I noticed this one guy in the back of the elevator. He seemed pretty calm. Well, thank God. As he caught my glance, he let out a little smile. It almost looked like a smirk.

    He was very clean cut with a low fade hair cut wearing khaki’s and a crisp baby blue button down. My kind of guy. He had a single black shopping bag in his hand with a store name I didn’t recognize. It was probably some fancy designer I counln’t afford.

    I started to turn away, but then the man reached down into his shopping bag. I couldn’t help but watch. We were in such close quarters anyway. Besides, it’s always interesting to see what people buy.

    He pulled out a small shiny black box about the size of a book and opened it.

    What was in there? Maybe some gadget to distract him from the fact that he was stuck in an elevator with 10 other people.

    He reached into the box and pulled out a small handgun.

    My eyes widened in horror. He looked at me and smiled. No smirked. Now all of a sudden, I was no longer calm. No longer annoyed by the fact I was stuck in an elevator. I was all of sudden struck with fear and shock.

    Oh, my God. Remain calm Tonya. I had to remain calm for me and for everyone else stuck in this elevator.

    “Mommy, I need to go potty.” said the little girl again. Soon, baby. Soon. We’ll be out of here soon the mom said with a nervous but reassuring smile that would soon surely fade away..

  15. stoland1999

    Ten percent of Americans wait to shop until Christmas Eve. I wonder how many of those get stuck in an elevator? Thirty-seven minutes and counting. Nerves are starting to fray.
    “God if you get me out of this I swear I’ll start my shopping for next year online the minute I get home.”
    “What mommy?”
    “Nothing sweetie.”
    “Sweet boy,” the elderly woman managed a wan smile at the toddler, “how old?”
    “Nine months.”
    “I’m four!”
    “And aren’t you adorable?” Her voice shook as she rubbed at her shoulder.
    I felt a hard slap on my shoulder. That would be my co-worker, Eddie.
    “You hiding? Damn stores so crowded, things breaking down,” he swiped at his sweaty brow, “You get those numbers I sent? We need those crunched ASAP.”
    “Sure, Eddie. First thing when I get back.”
    “Jeffrey it’s taking too long.”
    “Everything’s fine, Sandra.”
    Eddie jerked his thumb towards the other two people in the back that we knew.
    “Get a load of Mr. AVP and his honey back there. Wife don’t know about the banging,” his laugh was strained as he loosened his tie.
    “Everyone just calm down,” the man failed to sound reassuring, “We’ll be out soon.” His name tag read Bob, Sales Manager. “Here, take some ten percent off coupons.”
    “Ten percent, how about one hundred percent Bobby boy?”
    “I can’t believe I’m going to die on Christmas Eve as a mistress. You said you’d leave her!”
    “Sandra no one is going to die. Please, let’s talk somewhere else!”
    “Mommy, is the old lady going to die? Oh, look! Elves!”
    “Ma’am are you all right?”
    “My chest hurts.”
    “What are you two doing in here? You’re supposed to help Santa!”
    “He knows where we are.”
    “We never go far.”
    “Suzie wanted an iPad and Billy wanted a guitar.”
    “I want a Barbie!”
    “Cindy Lou Baker, 234 Walnut Street, good.”
    “Stop babbling! The minute we get off here you’re both fired!”
    “Mommy, he fired the elves!”
    “Bob Croegos, 105 Rinch Ave, apartment G, bad.”
    “Stealing from his store. His boss is going to be mad.”
    “How did you…?”
    “Five years for nothing, Jeffrey!”
    “Oh, shut up, I could have been a pro ball player if not for her!”
    “Hey! I think she’s having a heart attack!”
    “Stay calm ma’am, help is on the way.”
    “Emily Smith, 2913 Lakeview Drive, 81 years of good.”
    “He would approve.”
    “I think we should.”
    “Richardson, do you smell… snickerdoodles?”
    “Please everyone take one. They are warm and yummy.”
    “They’ve been known to fix everything from your heart to your tummy.”
    “My chest doesn’t hurt!”
    “Mommy, can we cook these?”
    “Of course, sweetie.”
    “Jeff, go home to your family.”
    “Sandra, I’m sorry.”
    “I’m going to donate the money I’ve embezzled!”
    “Richardson, forget about those numbers, they can wait.”
    Five minutes later, the repairmen found an elevator full of healthy people singing carols and smelling of cookies.
    “Mommy, where did the elves go?”
    “What elves?”
    Merry Christmas everyone. Next year… I shop online.


    Ten of Rosie’s cronies eye fucked me as I entered the elevator. Ignoring them, I pressed five and looked straight ahead. Typical elevator behavior.
    “Good morn-. “ Rose said as the elevator came to a jerking stop. The shaking felt like someone yanked the floor from under me then I realized we were stuck between the third and fourth floors.
    “We gon’ die!” Eileen said.
    “If Tracy hadn’t got on we wouldn’t have stopped!? “ Erica barked.
    I said nothing and stared ahead.
    “CALM DOWN!” Rose screamed.
    Mary started crying while she text on her phone furiously.
    Call 911! Neale said.
    She’s deaf.” Rose said.
    “I can’t a get a signal.” Carl ranted.
    “We’re gonna die!”
    “STOP saying that!” Rose hollered.
    “Let us pray.” Reverend Raymond said.
    Try the emergency phone.” I said.
    “I always said you were a thinker Tracy.” Rose said.
    “Among other things!” Floyd blurted out.
    I looked at him but kept my thoughts to myself.
    “Phone’s dead.” Neale said placing it back in its cabinet.
    “Ain’t that a b-!” Carl started to say.
    “We gon die!”
    “Our Father…”
    “Eileen PLEASE!” Rose yelled.
    I looked at the ceiling and thought.
    “Mike if you give a hand, I’ll crawl up on top and see if I can get a phone signal or reach another floor.”
    “Why should you be first one to leave Tracy?”
    “Then you do it Rose.” I asserted.
    “Thy kingdom come,”
    “I’m not going up there!” Rose hollered.
    “HELP! Eileen screamed.
    “Calm down Heather.” Heather said to herself.
    “Mike you want-“
    “Oh God I’m going to be sick.”
    “Eileen, are you claustrophobic?”
    “No I’m a Sagittarian.”
    Heather vomited on Rose’s Navy colored business suit and she was pissed.
    “Is that cabbage?”
    “Brussels sprouts.”
    “Same thing.”
    Mike held his hands for me and I drowned out the elevator chatter as I pulled the lightweight ceiling grate inside. It fell hitting Eileen in the head.
    “Sorry.” I said.
    “She’s bleeding.”
    “I’ma die.”
    “Through the valley of death…”
    I thought about the times Rose and I butted heads as I tried pulling myself up.
    “Push me up.” I called out to no one in particular. Suddenly I felt groping rather than the push I asked for. I said nothing and was sorry for the group of losers below me. Twin sisters Eileen and Erica were hired by sleeping with Mike the head of Personnel. Rose and Carl have been lovers since he knew he could tap Rose’s ass and get favors. Father Raymond is a newly ordained mail order reverend. Mike has had the hots for me since day one but was still afraid of rejection which is why he groped me.
    “The bleeding stopped.”
    I heard someone say just as I’d got my legs planted firmly on the platform for the fourth floor. I steadied my balance and heard a loud snap behind me. The elevator began to fall and Rose and I eye fucked each other through the ceiling opening of the elevator. Typical elevator behavior.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Hey you… Long time no hear/see/read indeed but actually I’ve been here each and every week reading. I miss you guys something terrible because this is the one place I can come and I’m guaranteed to get a laugh. I’m almost finish with a project so I’ll still chime in when time allows. I promise it won’t be long. Tell everybody I said Hi and I’ll read them soon. Lol.

  17. Prairie Dog


    As the elevator doors began to close I allowed myself to think I’d finally lost her. The door was almost shut when a woman’s hand caused the security mechanism to throw the doors back open. There she stood.

    “Sorry,” she said to the other passengers as she pointed at me, “I’m with him.”

    The other passengers shifted their places as she stepped into the elevator. Three men in business suits moved closer to the left wall and continued their small talk. Two women scrunched themselves and their shopping bags closer to the back wall. Three teenagers shuffled up against the right wall opposite the suits. She and I stood in the center in front of the door. The elevator began its upward journey

    “What are you doing?” she asked, barely hiding her panic. “You know we are scheduled to jump in, what….a few minutes? Hello? You want to do this right here? With all these people around? Really? What are you thinking?”

    The other passengers stared at her for a moment, glanced at one another in puzzlement, then looked to me for my response.

    “I’m not going” I said. “It’s as simple as that. I’m just not going to do it anymore. I’m tired of hopping around in time and space looking for…what? We lived in the past to decode our mysteries, we lived in the future to satisfy our curiosity, and what did we find? I’ll tell you what I found. I found that jumping around in time and space is just tiresome and confusing so I’m going to sit still for a while. As far as I can tell, we all come to the same end anyhow, no matter how much we jump around before we hit it.”

    Perfect silence followed my outburst. My fellow passengers glanced at one another in search of a sign that one of them understood what they had all just heard. The silence was ended by a screeching sound as the elevator jolted to a stop between the third and fourth floor.

    “You know our gate opens about one minute from now don’t you?” she said to me.

    “Yes,” I replied, “I couldn’t cancel my jump but I reset my coordinates. I’m set to jump forward to this same location in a little more than one minute, so I’ll appear to have not gone anywhere.” As I said this she and I began to glow with a green aura and then, in a bright green flash, she was gone. I appeared to remain in place, but no longer glowed.

    My elevator companions stood in silent wonderment. No conversation, no exclamation, just dumb struck awe. The elevator jolted and resumed its upward journey. The doors opened to the fourth floor.

    As my fellow passengers stood and stared, I stepped out of the elevator, turned to them and said, “You know, if you tell others about this they will never believe you. The only thing more tiresome and confusing than time travel is the ridiculous stories people tell about it.”

    Then I walked away to look for a place to spend some quiet time.

  18. moscoboy

    Going Down
    Ernest Espinosa

    “Meet you at the bar,” laughed Dawn as the elevator doors shut on floor 5 on the way to the mezzanine level.

    There was a high whined pitch as the elevator descended, and a metallic thump as the crowded elevator came to an unplanned halt. The elevator’s lights flickered and died.

    “My name is Bob and I’ll take command of the elevator. I’m putting the bottle blond in charge of calling 911 from her cell.” He surveyed the dark box, “Let’s save our cell batteries. Everyone is allowed one cell call to a loved one and then power down your cells. We’ll handle all outside communications through the blonde.”

    “The name is Dawn Dawkins, asshole.”

    A Stephen King look-alike asked, “Who put you in charge Mr. Asshole?”

    “The Army Officer Candidate School, plus I’m next to the elevator controls. I apologize I didn’t catch you name.”

    “Dave Cage and my genre is Poetry.”

    Cell conversations hummed. In the background people spoke to loved ones, bosses and friends in tones that ranged from total confidence to controlled hysteria.

    “Why don’t we go around and introduce ourselves,” said Bob. “I assume since we all exited the Writer’s Digest seminar we are all published authors or aspiring to be published.”

    “Dixie Newman, nonfiction, I’m in the back corner and I think that Brian guy that writes the blog was checking me out. All he did was stare at my boobs when I tried my best elevator pitch.”

    “So true, I’m Helen Choy, YA and I got the same looks from him. I’m going to ask for a refund. The speakers were weak and the agents I pitched were too busy eating sandwiches and texting. Does anyone have a tissue? This was such a painful exercise in emotional abuse.”

    “I’m Frank Sims, Steampunk and I got mixed reviews. I smell something reminiscent of bodily gas?”

    “Frank Garza, I’m submitting a historical memoir and I guess that was my burrito, sorry.”

    “Alice Fairbanks, 19th century romance. What language did you write your memoir Mr. Garza?”

    “What a condescending stereotypical bitch. Just because I have a Hispanic last name does not mean I wrote my work in Spanish, or were you implying it might be in Aztec?”

    “Please calm your selves,” said Bob the Asshole. “I’m sure Ms. Fairbanks meant no disrespect. I’m sure we’ll be out of here in a few minutes.

    “I see,” said Garza, “so it’s the Whites against the Latinos.”

    “Please put a sock in it Mr. Garza. I’m Eloise Harmon, Commercial Fiction. My fro is melting and I’m about to have a panic attack. Does anyone have a paper bag? I’m beginning to hyperventilate.”

    Dawn’s cell chirped. “Thanks. The caller said that they are prying the doors open right now.”

    “I have an extra large condom you can use if no one has a paper bag,” said Frank.

    The elevator doors opened and light, fresh air and freedom poured into the elevator.

  19. jakoo

    I glared at the eleven that was frozen in its place atop the elevators doors. I could tell that everyone else in the elevator was doing the same.
    The middle aged women standing next to me was the first to speak up, “Do you think there was a black out?” Her voice quivered slightly as she finished her question. The middle aged man next to her grabbed her hand and gave it a tight squeeze. I checked my watch and audibly sighed. I wasn’t going anywhere, but the idea of being stuck in a cramped elevator with nine other people wasn’t my favorite way to spend the afternoon. A pitiful sob broke my train of thought and I turned slightly to my left to see a blond young woman holding a younger version of herself in her arms.
    “Mommy, why did it stop?” The girl couldn’t be any older then four or five and I could barely make out a word she was saying between her sobs that were gradually getting louder.
    The mother shushed her daughter and started rocking the girl back and forth in her arm “It will only be for a minute, sweetheart. The elevator will start up again any minute.” The woman looked around the elevator with a frighten look on her face that proved that she didn’t fully believe in her words either.
    The man standing next to her, who towered over everyone else in the elevator by at least a foot, turned to them and began to reassure them both, “You shouldn’t worry miss, this happens all the time. The elevator will start up again any minute.” This seemed to calm the blond woman down, but the cries from the little girl continued to get louder.
    “C’mon, it’s bad enough that I’m stuck in here with a bunch of strangers, I rather not have to listen to some brat cry.” I turned to my right and saw a heavily tattooed lady leaning against the side of the elevator.
    The young blond woman venomously glared at her, “Well, I can’t really step outside, can I?”
    The tattooed lady was about to respond, but was by a man in a suit, who pushed his way into the middle of their glaring contest. “It’s bad enough that we’re stuck in here; so let’s not make it worse by fighting.” The tattooed lady glared at him before shrugging carelessly, while the young blond woman began shushing her daughter again.
    A rather large man who was standing next to me began to breathe heavily and sweat quite a bit. “Why is this taking so long? It should be moving by now, shouldn’t it? Why isn’t it moving?”
    A woman wearing glasses that I hadn’t noticed before shoved past me to stand next to the large man. “Are you okay? You’re not looking so good.” She asked him while placing a hand on his back to steady him. Just as suddenly as it stopped, the numbers began to move again. I let out a sigh of relief and waited while the elevator made its way to the first floor.

  20. thatbillguy

    The smell of stinking, humid body heat and aging underarm deodorant dominated the barely moving air in the elevator. There were ten of us, divided into two groups: five on one side and five on the other.

    The elevator wobbled as it shifted on singing cables. Desperate for the small comfort of doing something, we spread out along our respective walls, unsure if we were improving the balance of it or making it worse.

    “One of us should climb up,” Carol said. Her sweat-matted hair stuck to her slender neck and face, her blue eyes worry-filled.

    “What if it shifts again?” I said. “Whoever went up could fall.”

    “We have to do something!” Donald Brumbaugh said. He had shed his fine wool business suit hours ago. His sweat-soaked tee shirt and boxers clung unflatteringly to him.

    “We all heard the alarms. Help must be on the way.” I said.

    “But the power went out,” Connor Davis said. His matted dread locks showed no signs of sweat or stickiness (which told me everything I needed to know about dread locks), had been tied back in a ponytail with a twisted braid of hair. “For all we know, there isn’t even anybody in the building!”

    The crowd mumbled a nervous agreement. I leaned back against my wall. The elevator car swung like a pendulum. It crashed into the wall of the elevator shaft. Panicked gasps-mine among them-followed the cacophonous echo in the empty space above us. The car jolted hard dropping a few inches, as it settled against the wire rope holding us in place.

    “God Damnit!” Marcus Price yelled in a thick French accent. His pale skin literally ran with rivulets of sweat. He smelled vaguely of cabbage and weed. “You going to kill us all!”

    “The rail guides must be broken off,” I said. I was maintaining my cool, but it was becoming increasingly difficult in the face of mob panic.

    “We don’t care about your appraisal of the elevator’s condition,” Jenny Léopold said, barely louder than a whisper. “We just want out, not a play-by-play… Just out.”

    Bobby Finnegan opened his cell phone. It beeped, alerting him to a low battery condition. He moved it carefully in front of him trying to get a signal. He looked at me with despair and absent-mindedly shook his head.

    “I’m so thirsty,” Avery Smith said in a voice as tiny as she was. Everyone moaned as if mentioning thirst made them remember they were thirsty too.

    Jennifer Lewis collapsed to the floor. Tom Michaels and Linda Bush knelt to help her.

    There was another crash, followed by us gasping and grabbing for some part of the death-box to hold onto. Suddenly, a thin light appeared in the seam of the elevator doors. The tip of a crow-bar worked back-and-forth as the doors were forced open. Light spilled in, blinding us. Our eyes adjusted. The hands of rescuers met us, as they helped us out and into the lobby.

    1. Silver Sister

      Whew, I can smell Marcus Price from here! :) I also liked the detail about Donald’s underclothes clinging unflatteringly to him. This was an interesting group of people; your descriptive powers made them clear for me.

  21. Bilbo Baggins


    I leaned back in my faded red chair, my co-workers around me peering with laser intensity at the screens.

    “They’ve cleared the second floor,” a seemingly disembodied voice muttered from behind me.

    I rubbed my hands together.

    “Is the upper floor screened?”

    “Only VIPs,” Ted said next to me. He tapped a few buttons.

    “Open doors in three, two—“

    The screens turned to a sudden grey static, and our ten passengers were lost from view. I nearly overturned my coffee cup.

    “Get security, now! Ted, keep watch!”

    Two black shirts ran out in front of me, feet like thunder in the hall outside. The intercom buzzed.

    “Attention, what is wrong?”

    “Our passengers, we- we lost them between floors three and four! Get security to force the door open!”

    “Roger that. Three custodians are on the way.”

    I waited tensely for a few moments. Ted shook his head.

    “Still no signal.”

    “Then do bloody something, something!”

    “I’m trying!”

    He furiously clicked.

    The screens flickered back on, and the hairs on my limbs exploded out as if individually struck by lightning. There were nine bodies, blood smeared all over the rail, glazed pupils.

    Only nine.

    “Holy—where in the world is security?!”

    Ted recoiled and was holding his head with a shuddering look.

    “I—I don’t know, somewhere…”

    I reached for a spot on my belt.

    “I’m going down there now . . . see what I find.”

    I tightened my grip on my pistol that I had only used once. Whatever was happening, it wasn’t good at all. Yet it was my duty.

    The doors slid open, and I went down the plush hall. I could imagine my own blood mingling into the red carpet. It was completely silent; Ted felt a million miles away.

    “Anyone?!” The lights flickered.

    I heard footsteps, cold, metallic. I fingered the black stock, rubbing it in hopes of purchasing some luck.

    “Thank goodness, Leo!”

    It was just one of the bodyguards with a double-barrel. He nodded gruffly, and I quieted. He was dead serious.

    “Let’s head down towards the shaft area.” It felt weird listening to the big man whisper.

    We reached it without incident. I whirled around and checked the stairs. No one.

    Turning a corner, we saw the elevator and the doors leading to the reception. The doors were open, and my mouth draped open when I recognized the bodies.

    Leo came back from the elevator with a concerned look reverberating down his thick-rope spine.

    “Whoever he is must’ve gone within the last five minutes. Blood’s still fresh.”

    “I wonder if the other guests are aware of this…” I trailed.

    I turned and opened one door into the ballroom, and icicles entered my bloodstream. It was completely empty. No tables, no waiters, nothing, just the hardwood floor and the chandeliers, hanging like the last beautiful decorations on my gravestone.

    “Leo, are you seeing this?”

    A slight pause.


    I turned around to see his dead body gracing the carpet, his gun having vanished.

    And then there was a slight wind behind me before the black bag came down and I crumpled.

    1. snuzcook

      Very intense, Bilbo, and incredibly entertaining. Smoothly written.
      I was curious, tho, what it was about the narrator that made him worthy of kidnapping rather than termination.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks a lot, Snuzcook. As for your question, it is mostly up to the reader to decide, since I had no clue whatsoever myself. There definitely seems to be a large conspiracy at work, one that even Ted might be involved in, though.

    2. jmcody

      I’m not sure, but you may be the only one who took the perspective of someone outside the elevator (couldn’t keep up on reading them all this week!). This was, as usual, very well written, and as others have said, it felt like it was part of a much larger drama. I enjoyed the description of the chandelier as the last decoration on his gravestone. Awesome, Bilbo!

  22. agnesjack

    It was just my luck to be stuck in an elevator at Macy’s with about ten other people. One guy had this loud, adenoidal breathing, and when it was clear that help was not coming soon, he started to huff and snort and cross and uncross his arms, elbowing those around him in the process.

    Annoying, too, was the woman who pretended not to notice that her little girl was pressing the alarm button about every ten seconds. The poor security guy had to respond each time.

    “Please be patient. We’re still working on it.”

    Finally, I parked myself in front of the panel so the little darling couldn’t get to the button. That’s when she decided to lie down on her stomach and absent-mindedly kick, the side wall with the toes of her snow boots, while singing a one note song to herself. Mom remained oblivious.

    At least five of my fellow prisoners were texting on their cell phones, one of whom had not turned off the keyboard click. Click, Click, Kick, Kick, Snort, Snort. It was enough to drive one mad.

    I closed my eyes and started my yoga breathing.

    “You’re not going to faint, are you lady?” a very tall, thin young man with greasy hair said. I didn’t realize he was talking to me until he reached over and tapped me on the top of my head.

    “I’m sorry. No.” I said. “I’m just breathing.”

    “Well, you’re using up all the oxygen with all that breathing, so stop it, O.K.?” he said.

    “The elevator has vents. I’m not going to use up the oxygen,” I said, and resumed my breathing.

    “She’s using up the air! She’s using up the air!” he screamed and moved toward me, stepping on the little girl’s hair causing her to scream bloody murder. Her mother finally noticed.

    “Stop crying, Jenna,” she said. “You’re getting on my last nerve.”

    At that point, an elderly woman who had been quietly standing in the back corner, gently pushed forward and said to the mother, “She needs a hug.”

    “What?” the mother said.

    “The poor thing needs a hug.”

    “Then you give it to her.” the mother said, but when the elderly woman reached down to help the girl to her feet, the little monster kicked her in the shin.

    “Do you think we could take turns sitting down,” Mr. Adenoids said.

    “Sounds good to me,” Ms. Click Click said and sat down.

    “I think we should vote on who gets to go first,” he said, meaning him.

    I looked at my watch. It had only been about five minutes. I would certainly go mad if it lasted five minutes more, so I took out my gun and shot everyone.

    Actually, no. I didn’t do that. As a matter-of-fact, none of the above happened. In reality, we all stood there for the duration staring at our signal-less cell phones and iPads, pretending to connect to our virtual reality so that we wouldn’t have to connect to each other. Sad, isn’t it?

    1. jmcody

      Sad, yes, but I’m glad no one got shot! You had me for a second there. I was thinking, gee this is not like Agnesjack… Glad you haven’t gone all Rambo on us. ;). Thanks for the laugh.

    2. snuzcook

      You story, agnesjack, portrayed the elevator passengers in such an entertainingly exaggerated way that I was completely with you when you pulled back the curtain to reveal it all as a moment of fantasy. Nice response to the prompt. And good ‘moral of the story’ observation at the end.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        One horrible step toward the end , left me reeling, Nancy. Them you came back with the imaginary images in the MC’s mind. Highly entertaining descriptions of the various going ons, left the reader relaxed and laughing till you pulled the gun. Shock therapy for the evening!

        1. agnesjack

          Thanks, Kerry. I’ve been so busy the last two weeks that I’m barely having time to write the prompts and comment on others, so I’m glad this made you laugh in the end.

      2. agnesjack

        Thanks, snuzcook. Actually, as the characters developed, they became so annoying to me, I had no choice but to “do away” with them, so to speak. ;-) Then the ending just seemed to write itself.

    3. Reaper

      I wish I could write reality this well. You definitely had me with the pulling out the gun. My annoyance with the other passengers, especially the guy convinced the MC was using up the oxygen was so intense that for a moment my mind insisted it was the only sane and reasonable reaction. Then you gave your reveal and my mind flashed to a time out at lunch with some friends, watching a guy at a table of eight people. He was the only one not on his device from the moment they sat down until we left. He kept looking to our table when we were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. So I would say your real ending was sad and far too realistic. Amazing job.

      1. agnesjack

        That is such a nice compliment, Reaper. Thank you.

        I, too, have been in restaurants where people are more into their devices than their present, physical company. It astounds me because they just seem so oblivious to how rude it is. But, I’m of a different generation, I guess.

    4. Silver Sister

      This made me think of the book, Bowling Alone. People are lonely and searching for connection, yet don’t want to be bothered by actual people. Your story touched on that truth in a highly readable way.

  23. Kate24

    Elevator Party

    Sudden jolt. Total darkness. Yells of surprise. It didn’t take long for us to figure out what was going on. We were aware of the storm outside, we all were soaked from bringing in instruments from the bus. And now, here we were. In an unfamiliar country stuck in an elevator due to a power outage.

    “Emergency button, does the emergency button really not work?” The edge to Joeys voice was clear.

    “Powers out. And I don’t have reception, we can’t call Dr. Adams.” Dan said.

    I immediately checked my phone and saw that Dan was right, no reception. In the dim light of my cell phone, I looked around at the nine others in the elevator. Ten people, two cellos, a string bass, a tuba and various other instruments.

    “But how long will we be stuck?” Maria asked, as she started plucking chords on her violin. “We have a performance in an hour!”

    “That’s an uplifting thought,” came Liams cheerful voice.

    “Joey, why are you pressing all of the buttons? You know we don’t have power.”

    “Something has to work. What the heck do we do?”

    “We relax,” I said. Luckily, I was able to lean into the wall without bumping into anyone. I reached down into my bag and by the light of my cellphone, pulled out a bag of chips. “Chips anyone?”

    “Sure!” Hannah said. She reached over and grabbed a handful of chips.

    “Party!” Eric yelled. He blew into his trumpet, which echoed.

    “Eric, do you have to play trumpet now?” Lisas exasperated voice came, trying to make herself heard over Erics trumpet. Eric decided to play louder in response. Lisa tried again. “I don’t think now is the time for a party of any kind.”

    “Well what else is there to do?” Amy asked, few musical notes came from a flute that I’m assuming was hers. Notes from a cello added in and Eric’s nonsensical notes changed to fit with the piece being played. I laughed, quickly recognizing Aaron Coplands Hoedown

    “First we’re stuck on a bus when the bus breaks down, now we’re stuck in an elevator. Great, what next?” Susan grumbled next to me.

    “The elevator falls!” Eric yelled. Liam and Dan both laughed, but Joey shouted “NO!” fear was clear in his voice.

    “We’re not going to fall,” I said, trying to not imagine the scene in my head. I said the words to try and comfort Joey just as much as myself.

    “What if we all tried to jump to get the elevator to go back down?” Richard asked suddenly.

    “Yes!” Came Liams voice. I couldn’t see him, but felt the elevator shake slightly.

    “No,” I said at the same time as Liam, putting my hand up against the wall, half hoping to steady it. I felt my fingers make contact with a head, and Dan suddenly yelled “Ouch!” I apologized.

    Just as suddenly as the lights went out, the lights were back on. We all cheered as the elevator began to move up to the next floor. When the door opened, most hurried quickly out to tell our adventure to the rest of the orchestra. I took a moment to gather my bag and looked up when Eric spoke to Liam.

    “Aww, the party’s over.”

    “I know man. It’s ok, we’ll have an elevator party again another time.”

    I had to laugh, and I knew that this would be a very memorable moment from our trip.

    1. jmcody

      This one made me smile. When you’re in a situation, why not make the best of it, right? Your story flowed smoothly and was believable. I thought they were going to start playing music by the end, but I guess that would be ear splitting in such a confined space.

      1. Kate24

        Thanks! My first thought when seeing this prompt was being stuck in an elevator of musicians. As a musician myself, I can easily imagine a number of things happening in a situation like this one. I think that worked out for a first time writing one of these posts.

  24. frankd1100

    Having sprinted through the downpour, Wilson doffed his rain soaked cap and pushed through the door under the green ‘OBRIEN’S’ sign in time for the 7:05 meeting. Shirt stuck to his back, the dank odor of wet wool wafting from his suit, he eased into the crowded service elevator that ran express to the employee lounge on Four.

    Behind him a giant, with ‘Frankie’ stenciled over the pocket of his blue shirt ducked into the car, doors bouncing off his massive frame. Frankie offered an apologetic smile to the murmured complaints as the doors closed and the elevator began its noisy ascent. Between the third and fourth floor it died. Worried voices groaned as the lights faded and flickering, emergency lights snapped on.

    ‘Give me a friggin’ break,’ snarled the short, blonde guy in the rear corner who Wilson recognized as a clerk from Lady’s Shoes.

    A heavy set woman from appliances, jammed between Frankie and the metal control panel, looked back and said, ‘What do you expect? We’re well over the limit in here.’

    Wilson counted six, including himself on the elevator, probably close to the weight limit as posted to the left of the doors. A timid woman in the back said, ‘Maybe we should hit the alarm button?’

    ‘No shit, genius,‘ brayed the angry voice from the rear.

    ‘I tried it,’ said Frankie.

    An older guy against the wall to Wilson’s right said, ‘I’m sure they’ve noticed it’s not working and have called for help by…’

    ‘Oh right,’ interrupted the appliance woman. ‘Like everything around here, I’m sure they’re right on top of it.’ Looking up at Frankie, she shook her head and said, ‘I knew we were in trouble when King Kong crashed the doors.’

    ‘Look, I’m really sorry,’ said Frankie turning, careful to avoid bumping those next to him. ‘It’s my first day in this department…I should have waited.’

    ‘Oh, that’s so sweet,’ said the whiner. ‘I feel much better now, ya freakin’ meathead! Just be glad I’m stuck back here or I’d…’

    He stopped mid sentence. Wilson, shaking his head, looked up in time to catch the steely glint in Frankie’s eye boring into the suddenly silent shoe guy.

    ‘You’ll have to move back a step,’ Frankie said to the appliance woman as he stretched to peak through the security lens at the top of the door.

    ‘Well, who the …,’

    ‘Step back Ellen!’

    ‘Mr. Wilson! I’m sorry sir, I didn’t see…’ She stepped back, her face glowing scarlet through the dim.

    ‘We’re stopped midway between three and four,’ Frankie said, talking to himself. He got his hands into the seam between the doors. Straining, he growled and pulled until with a clang the doors sprang apart.

    Twenty minutes later Frankie had lifted everyone up and onto the fourth floor. As last rescued, Wilson turned and helped him out of the hole. He clambered up onto his feet, and whispered, ‘Thanks Mr. Wilson.’ Wilson smiled and said, ‘Thank you, Mr. O’Brien.’

    1. Silver Sister

      You’ve just tapped into a fantasy of mine. Whenever someone is being a jerk I sometimes imagine being able to reveal myself as secretly someone in higher authority. It’s a satisfying (if somewhat immature -I can admit it) exercise. Hooray for Frankie!

    2. gamingtheblues

      Making a point to attempt responding to as many of these as possible becomes like a second job and before I started tonight I felt very very lack luster about it (Sorry Jm…I know I need to respond to yours, its on the back of my mind never fear, I have let it percolate a day) Your story has revitalized my ambition. I loved this, if it wasn’t such a one shot secret, I would love to hear about Frankie O’brien catching all sorts of people by surprise. Awesome surprise ending.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Right on the mark, Frank. Dialogue was written with care and realizism. And the punck at the end felt like a large glove wraping the story up. If you’re in the business world long enough it happens to all of us. Many years back, my father-in-law introduced me to a friend of his we ran into in a shoe store.

        I wasn’t sure about his name and asked him what business he was in.

        His answer, “You mean beside being the mayor of Houston?”i

    3. Reaper

      I actually had to read this a second time. On first read through I thought Mr. Wilson was Mr. O’Brien and kept imagining Frankie as an intelligent Lennie Small. On second read through this became a much sweeter story still. Amazing all the way through your attention to detail in the opening paragraph really dialed this one up while setting a beautiful stage.

  25. jmcody

    My name is Arden Veronica Price and I am going to die today.

    For my crimes against the United States Provisional Government of the Occupation, I am scheduled to die by lethal injection at precisely noon today.

    I hadn’t meant to do it, but when they took my Rowan from me, my only child, something gave way, some door opened in my mind that led me to where I am today.

    They struck in the night, as they always do, sedating him and dragging him away unconscious, bound for one of their containment centers where they would no doubt turn him into a weapon against his own people.

    The hunt for mindbenders has become a national priority. Since the occupation began, the number of mindbenders has grown exponentially, as if by mutation, by some kind of adaptation that happens in the presence of abject, lethal despair and rage.

    They knew about Rowan; he was in their database. But they didn’t know about me.

    I didn’t know about me.

    As the car sped away in the dark, it happened. White hot rage boiled over, consuming me, consuming everything, bending metal, melting glass and jamming pistons, until gasoline flowed and the car became a fireball. Rowan was gone. My boy. My baby. And so were three occupation peacekeepers and a government armored vehicle.

    The doors open and I am ushered onto the elevator by a small contingent that includes my executioner, several peacekeepers, an eyewitness, and members of the press. The execution will be televised.

    Here in the containment center, they have kept me on a regimen of sedatives meant to prevent me from focusing my thoughts or concentrating my rage. But today, I feel strong, focused, clearheaded. Maybe it’s the adrenaline, or maybe it’s the proximity of death that has so effectively sharpened my senses.

    The elevator doors close and as we begin our ascent, the friction begins to build. A shrill, earsplitting screech of metal on metal fills first my head and then the elevator. We jam to a halt.

    “What the…???” My captors whip out cell phones and two way radios, their emissions temporarily scrambling my thoughts. I struggle to focus. As confusion reigns around me, I stand stone still and stare straight ahead, focusing my will.

    “Wait… what’s she doing?’ someone shouts.

    Tension fills every synapse in my body, and my nerves begin to fray like a cable stretched too tight.

    “Someone stop her!” another voice yells. “Shoot her!”

    But its too late. Something snaps in me. A feeling of release floods my body and my brain, and as the elevator cage plunges downward, I smile. I am free. They are all free.

    My name is Arden Veronica Price and I am going to die today. But I will not die in vain. And I will not die alone.

    1. pinkbamboo

      i can just picture the smile at the end – the sinister smile. I also like the last line – very direct to the point about what’s to happen next. like!

    2. don potter

      How Arden did it I don’t know, but she turned the tables on her captives. They obviously did not share her feelings about dying to be free.

    3. gamingtheblues

      Well well… I found this to be a very surprising piece of writing Jm, and one that I was not expecting. I had to go back and double check that yes, you did indeed not only post twice but also one was a sci fi thriller! Now, I am a huge fan of good (and bad) sci fi and could not have been more pleased with this. Your last line especially is inspired and begs for perhaps more from this world of mindbenders. I don’t know if this a side of your writing I just not have seen before or if you are stepping outside of your box but I think its awesome and would really like to see more of the diversity that you have hidden.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks, G. I have no idea where this came from, and yes, it is way outside my box. But then all of this is way outside my box. I keep reminding everyone that I am a complete and utter fraud who has never written fiction before coming to this forum. I have to admit, though, that I keep surprising myself, and it is exhilarating. I think this forum has turned out to be the perfect place to take a risk and try something new. The people here (such as yourself) are incredibly supportive and helpful. Now I really want to figure out the nuts and bolts, dials and levers of the craft instead of flying with no instruments all the time.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Oh, jm, fly with the wind. You have such a powerful voice. Do not restrain it by rules and regulations, for it is a pure writer’s voice. In latin there a phrase that describes you, “In Hoc Signo Vinces”. The meaning,

          “In this sign we conquer.” Twist it a little, “In this voice we conquer.”

          1. jmcody

            Thanks Kerry. That is very inspiring. I came here seeking fiction techniques for a piece of nonfiction that I have been working on for a long time, but now I think I’ve been bitten by the bug. It’s all about telling stories, though, in a way that connects to people’s emotions. I don’t think sci fi is my thing, but that sure was fun!

  26. Whom

    What was that? I think we stopped. Yeah we stopped. Are we stuck? Are we gonna fall? We’re not gonna fall are we? No, no, we’re defenitely not going to fall, they have safety features to prevent accidents like that from happening. Definately? How you know? Know what? How you know we ain’t falling. I just figure that the designers would put in safety features to avoid accidents. But you don’t really know, right, i mean you aint no designer or elevator builder or nothing like that. Right? No. I mean you’re right, I’m not an engineer or mechanic, I just think that people who design and build elevators would them as safe as possible.

    Well I just think you shoudn’t be telling her that this elevator ‘definately’ isn’t gonna fall if you really don’t know anything bout it. Well just what is it that you think this young man should be telling her? Yes, this elevator is going to fall three and a half stories? Don’t get loud with me dude! I’m not your ‘dude’, dude. Oh really? Is that right? Hey! Come on you two, I think everyone here just needs to relax a little and try to stay calm. Yes! I agree with the lady. We need to stay calm. Yeah, thanks alot gramps, but she already said that. Will you just stop being rude? Sure lady, whatever.

    I’d still like to know if we’re safe or are we gonna fall? Does anyone think that they even know this elevator is stuck. I’m sure that store security staff are well aware that our elevator is stuck. You like work here or something, I mean you kinda look like you work here. Yes I work here. Where? I work in the small appliances department. So you sell like blenders and stuff? Yes, blenders, ‘and stuff’ Dang, I didn’t me nothing by it, i was just making conversation. Dude, really? What? Hey don’t jump on him. Oh you want to start this up again dude? What do you think? ‘dude’. What is wrong with the two of you? Don’t you have any manners? My children are in here, this is a tight space, will you please stop it. They’re already scared enough. I’m sorry mam. I will definately stop. You really like that word dude. Excuse me? Yeah, sure lady, I’ll stop.

    She’s right, just stop already. I’m sure that security and maintenance are working on the problem right now. We just have to be patient. Someone will be coming. You know I saw this news report once where an elevator fell to the basement and… Dang Kid! Really? He’s right, we’re in danger. Honey, we’ll be fine. I am not your honey, you don’t know me. Hey! We’re moving! Yeah we’re moving! Alright! Just in time. We’re going up. Fourth floor.

    I stood in the corner of the elevator for the entire fifteen or so minutes we were stuck, and watched this whole senario play out. I didn’t say a word. Not one word. I just stood there, and watched, and then. As we got to the fourth floor and door opened. Security guards were there to make sure everyone was okay. Everyone was releaved. Do you know they were laughing and joking about it and high fiving each other. There were even a few hugs. I just went on and bought my blender. Yeah, I was actually there to buy a blender. I took the stairs when I left. Ya know, I figured once was enough, why chance it.

    1. jmcody

      Hmmm… I read this one a couple of times and I think you have some very distinct voices in there, along with some good tension and realistic dialogue. It would help the reader immensely if you would add some punctuation — quotation marks and maybe a few dialogue tags so we can know who’s saying what. I did like the give and take of your characters, and the barely restrained tension.

  27. jmcody


    Carina squeezed her swollen body into the elevator and pressed the fourth floor button. The other passengers politely shuffled aside to accommodate her girth.

    “Looks like any day now…” said an elderly woman, smiling and nodding knowingly at Carina’s middle.

    “Yes, next Tuesday,” said Carina. She just needed to pick up a few more things for the sweet, pastel-colored nursery at home, and everything would be perfect. She smiled contentedly.

    “Good luck!” called the woman as she and several others got off on the third floor.

    No sooner had the elevator begun its ascent, when it lurched to an abrupt halt. Carina stumbled but managed to steady herself.

    “Are you alright?” said a woman with a smooth blonde bob. Next to her stood a miniature version of herself, wearing a sparkly pink tutu and leotards

    “Well this is just fabulous,” said the woman, pressing a manicured finger to the red emergency button. “Now we’re going to be late for Ainsley Rose’s dance recital. I knew we shouldn’t have come here,” she sighed, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day…”

    Another mother nodded in agreement. Beside her stood a teenage boy who was defending the universe on an iPad, and girl of about eight.

    A voice came over the loudspeaker: “Is everybody okay in there? Just hold tight, we’ll have you out in a jiffy.”

    “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom,” said Ainsley Rose.

    “Oh no! It’s Mikey’s feeding time!” gasped a woman with a baby in a stroller who was beginning to whimper. “We’ve got to get off!”

    “Oh what a cute baby!” squealed the eight year old. The baby began to whine with greater intensity.

    “I know, I’ll sing to him! Do you like Katy Perry, baby? I’ve got the eye of the tiger…” the little girl began in an off-key screech.

    “Caitlin, we talked about this…” said the mother.

    “… and you’re gonna hear me roaaaar…ro-o-o-o-o-oaaar.”

    “Caitlin! It’s not polite to sing in public.”

    “Okay, okay…” said Caitlin, and then to Carina: “I’m going to be a pop diva!”

    Carina smiled indulgently.

    “Mom, Kevin’s had the iPad all morning. It’s my turn.” Caitlin began swiping at the iPad.

    “Quit it!” growled Kevin, holding it just out Caitlin’s reach.

    “Ainsley Rose, let’s use OUR time productively. We can work on your French vocabulary,” said the blonde woman, producing a deck of flashcards from the pocket of her trench coat.

    “But Mommy, I’m hungry.”

    “I have some cookies,” offered the mother of Kevin and Caitlin, digging in her tote bag.

    “No, thank you. Ainsley Rose does not eat sugar,” said the blonde, narrowing her eyes at the two kids who were now fighting over the iPad.

    “Leave me alone Caitlin,” growled Kevin

    “Give it!”

    Baring his teeth, and in a voice that seemed to emanate from the bowels of hell, Kevin roared “I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL, LITTLE GIRL!!!”

    Caitlin and Ainsley Rose began shrieking in unison, just as baby Mikey went into full meltdown mode.

    “STOP IT!” bellowed Kevin’s mother. “No one is eating anyone’s soul! Kevin, give me that!” she yelled, grabbing the iPad out of Kevin’s hand.

    “Fine, whatever,” said Kevin, whipping an iphone out of his pocket.

    “Mommy, I don’t feel so good” moaned Ainsley Rose.

    Over the continuing shrieks of Baby Mikey, Caitlin began to sing again: “I kissed a girl and I liked it…”

    “CAITLIN! What did I tell you! Where on earth you hear that song??”

    “I really don’t feel well,” said Ainsley Rose

    “Anyone wanna see me dance like Miley Cyrus?” asked Caitlin.

    “NOOO!!!” shrieked all the adults and Kevin at once.

    Ainsley Rose doubled over, and to the accompaniment of Mikey’s shrieks, retched the remnants of her lunch onto Carina’s shoes.

    Just then, the elevator doors opened. The others began to file out around her.

    Caitlin’s mother turned back to Carina. “Well… good luck…” She faltered for a moment, and then shaking her head, got off the elevator.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      It’s no wonder women outlive us guys by five to seven. I never would have survived in your elevator. If you were looking for realism, you sure pulled it offf, JM. I got a real kick out of your music dialogue. You put that part together nicely. All and all, a fun romp through the prompt/.

      1. jmcody

        Thanks, Kerry. This is what comes of trying to write with the little darlings around. Oh well, maybe when they’re grown up I will be able to think straight.

    2. Critique

      Realistic characters in your story – I enjoyed reading it. Your story reveals a few issues about the lack of supervision versus scheduling the childhood-life out of the little ones.

    3. pinkbamboo

      i was half expecting the story to take a turn when kevin said he will eat her soul.. poor carina ! i can only imagine the screams and mess going on in the elevator … i would have lose my mind lol

      1. jmcody

        Well, I shouldn’t admit this, but my teenage son has been known to threaten to eat my eight year old daughter’s soul on occasion, but usually she has it coming. Not to say these are my actual children — more like gross exaggerations of some of their less endearing traits!

    4. don potter

      Thanks to your tale, I will never, N-E-V-E-R, enter an elevator before counting the number of small children in the car. Of course, just one such as Catlin could be enough to make me crazy.

      1. Silver Sister

        I got a huge kick out of this. The extreme versions of pop culture parenting and cultured parenting made me giggle. Even your choice if the kids’ names revealed a lot. Heaven help the misguided soul who calls her ‘Ainsley’ instead of ‘Ainsley Rose’ in front of her mother. I loved the mother’s ‘No one is eating anyone’s soul.’ The difference between Ainsley Rose’s ballet and Caitlin’s twerking really says it all.

    5. gamingtheblues

      A wonderfully in your face slice of life pie. (speaking of which…cinnamon buns in the oven!!!) I particularly love the depictions of the different extremes of stereotypical “now” generational kids, they were instantly relate-able and gave a nice…momentum to the story. As a single father with three kids running hereabouts at any given time between the ages of 2 and 12 there are absolutely moments JUST as….. say sticky, in the rearing of the little hellions. Heck…in terms of attitude I think you were being very generous to the younger generations ;) Your writing was, as always spot on, and I gave the anecdote in my “review” to illustrate that quite contrary to the idea of your story as exaggerated extremes, I find it quite grounded in reality….though a reality that most parents do not share with others because oh kids are PERFECT……….. Nicely done.

    6. snuzcook

      I thoroughly enjoyed this! You made so many adept observations about other people’s kids in this short piece, and setting them against each other was fun. Too late for Carina to consider changing that cute little pastel nursery into a sewing room, I suppose.

  28. Suzelhead

    Just as I realized that my bladder was full and my stomach was empty, the elevator came to an abrupt, unscheduled stop. The lights went out, and there was an eerie, dead silence.

    That wouldn’t last long.

    The dim “emergency” lights came on within a few seconds and a man’s voice called out from the back right corner of the elevator, “Uh, can someone reach the phone up there?”

    “O.M.G! I can’t believe it! We are stuck!” cried a teenage girl to her friend. “OMGaaaaa! They said joining hands and half giggling, half crying. I could smell their watermelon bubblegum and thought it definitely had the potential to nauseate me if we were in fact “stuck.”

    “Yes. I’m getting the phone,” said the portly middle-aged woman in a red blouse closest to the panel. “Do I need to push anything?” she said as she slid her black-framed glasses up her nose.

    “No, I don’t think so,” said her friend. Actually, they looked so much alike, they could have been sisters. “I think it calls for help as soon as you pick up. Turning to the teenagers in the center of the car she said, “Girls, girls, calm down. It’s going to be fine.”

    “Well, I don’t hear anything, said red blouse after a few seconds. “OH! Hello? Yes. Yes. The elevator has stopped. Uh, I don’t think so, let me see.” She turned her head to the left and looked behind her as she asked, “No one pulled the emergency stop, right?”

    “Noooooooooo,” we all replied in unicen.

    “What kind of moronic question is that?” said an elderly man irritated. “You just tell them to get us the hell out! This is all ‘cause of the damn computers! This never happened when they had elevator operators.”

    “Settle down, Harold,” said his petite, thin wife. “We’ll be out soon enough.” She looked down and rubbed her left forearm with her right hand as if she was applying invisible lotion. I wondered how many times she had applied that soothing “lotion” over the years.

    “Well, what are they saying?” asked the man from the right corner. I could see him now as I peered between the other passengers. He was about 50, had dirty blonde, curly hair, gold-rimmed glasses and a white shirt and tie. His neck poured over his shirt a bit as he tilted his head foreword, and his face looked a little flushed.

    “SHHHHHHHHH!” sprayed red blouse with all her might. “Uh-huh.”

    With the exception of a few low inaudible conversations, the elevator stayed quiet as we watched red shirt listen to the phone. Some sat down after this went on a while, then we FINALLY heard. “Uh-huh.”

    This was followed by an even longer interval of silence that was broken by white shirt. “This is ridiculous! It’s getting VERY hot in here VERY fast. Do you want ME to take the phone?” he asked glaring at red shirt.

    “They’re doing stuff on the computer to try and get us moving,” said red shirt. “I REALLY don’t think there’s anything YOU can do!” she sassed back.

    “Well, I didn’t hear YOU tell them that there are 11 people in here, two of whom are elderly, and that we are hot and sweating, and that someone is gonna’ pass out soon. Did you tell them all of that?

    “NO! I didn’t! Stop been an ass, and be quie–!”

    The lights came on, and we started moving; it was down, not up, but we didn’t care. I think we would have cheered, but the heated exchange has quieted us down.

    Red shirt hung up the phone and as everyone stood up and straightened their clothing, the elevator stopped. Again.

    1. gamingtheblues

      One of the worst elevators to be in by far!! I can take some psychosis, blood tears, even the occasional ghost elevator…but in a sweltering one with average, annoying Americans?????? (I can say that as I am one) Bloody count me out. Loved the last line.

  29. Silver Sister

    The picture Cydni posted jolted my world to a herky-jerky halt. Only once the mutters and curses filtered through did I realize the elevator – not the world – had stopped. I pulled my gaze from my phone. The panel’s 3 and 4 lights blinked like a carnival ride.

    A high maintenance woman on my left huffed. “This is the worst thing that could possibly happen!”

    If this was her worst thing, I was jealous.

    A man wearing clothes too young for him threatened to contact his attorney. A redhead in a Kentucky hoodie exchanged ‘whatever, dude’ glances with me. On cue, one of the toddlers in the double stroller started fussing. His ponytailed mother placated him with Cheerios. On my right, a big-haired brunette shook her head. “My psychic warned me about this. She said I was due for a fall.” She flapped her hands. “We’re gonna crash to our deaths!”

    I heard a little boy gasp. He hugged the arm of the older gentleman beside him. “Papaw!”

    I glared at the big-haired bigmouth. “We’re not going to fall.” I wanted to sound assertive, but I only sounded bored. A bigger disaster occupied my mind.

    “How do you know?”

    “Because this isn’t 1952. Modern elevators have safety features to prevent things like that.” My voice gentled as I glanced at the little boy. “We’re not going to die. Or even get hurt.” I shed my jacket and dropped it to the floor. “All we’re going to get is a little inconvenienced.” I sunk cross-legged onto my makeshift pallet.

    Ignoring the voice crackling through speakers, I returned to my phone. My friend had posted a pic of just her left hand with the caption, “Guess what?!” Cydni had a new manicure. And a new ring.

    Seth proposed.

    Heat seared my throat. My inner critic mocked me. ‘What did you expect? You had chance after chance to show Seth how you feel. You took none of ‘em. That’s whatcha git, chicken shit.’

    I blinked to subdue the threatening tears. Thank God for technology. I sent Cydni effusive congratulations. She’d never know what it cost me.

    One of the stroller babies cried. I envied her the luxury. Mama started singing The Wheels on the Bus. Not a bad voice.

    The bride-to-be messaged me. Friends planned to meet at Icon to toast the happy couple. I explained my predicament – being stuck in the elevator, not her marrying the love of my life. Seth’s smiling face materialized on my phone. The ringtone was excruciating loud in the elevator. Even though he couldn’t see me, I faked a smile. “Hey! I hear congrat-”

    “You’re trapped in an elevator? Are you okay?”

    “Sure. We’ll be out soon.”

    Too-Old-For-His-Clothes Guy snorted. I was painfully aware of my audience. I felt like a sucky actress in a play I never wanted to he in. “I’ll tell you all about it at Icon.”

    “Your vodka tonic’s on me.”

    “Unless I’m still here.”

    “I’ll break in and get you.”

    Funny how painful friendly banter can become. After we said goodbye, I leaned my head back. If only I could stay safely tucked away here. Not for long. Just . . . ’til I die. The voice broadcast from the speakers again. It promised freedom in thirty seconds. Everybody cheered but me. I just could not catch a break.

    Now I had to rush home, change, find my highest stilettos, and apply a protective mask of smoky eyes and long-last lipstick. All I wanted was to watch junk TV and eat a pint of rocky road using a mint Milano cookie as a spoon. “Grow up,” I muttered as the doors opened. You can’t always get what you want.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I just fell into your story and spread my mind around it like warm syrup on a pancake. Somewhere in your future, a Pulitzer awaits you. Please take the advise from an old man and pursue this writing dream you have. Don’t let anything stop you, and I’ll hang around long enough to know you got there. Kerry

      1. Silver Sister

        Wow, Kerry. This is such a generous comment. I won’t lie; I got a little teary reading it. Good thing I’m wearing waterproof mascara. :) Seriously, though, thank you.

    2. jmcody

      I thnk this is my favorite entry this week. “She’d never know what it cost me.” — you sure made us know. I really felt this one. Beautiful, Silver Sister.

      1. Silver Sister

        That is high praise coming from a writer like you! It’s sometimes hard for me to judge when emotion veers into melodrama. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      1. Silver Sister

        Thanks! If it makes you feel any better, my MCs usually have a bit of pluck to them. I’m confident she’ll mend just fine in her own time.

    3. don potter

      There were several nice touches throughout the story. After being stuck in the elevator and hearing news of the engagement, the rocky road ice cream with a Milano cookie as a spoon seemed like the proper reward.

    4. frankd1100

      the complexity of your story leaves one feeling the necessity to carry on despite the numbing futility of lost love. For the young, ironically, it’s llkely the prideful self, wielding the blade that pierces the heart. And as we grow older the memories gleam, regret fades, an irrelevant device of the past.

      Cool, sophisticated, revealing.

      1. Silver Sister

        Thank you for your gracious remarks. I like your point about pride. Pride is a complicated thing. Mostly it’s destructive, but sometimes it can carry you through. In my mind’s eye, it is pride that will help the MC behave like a proper social butterfly at the bar. I’m glad you derived a ‘carry on’ message here. Despite her momentary devastation, I feel certain the MC will do just that.

    5. gamingtheblues

      Le sigh. I have avoided commenting on this piece, specifically because it touched far too close to home,though of course that shows just how……. just how…. well crafted? Resonating? It is both of those things but more… beyond writing a nicely structured story, you have tapped into a true “voice” of someone’s heart and mind. We understand, sympathize and capitulate with your MC. Her thoughts are our thoughts, her actions the same. Especially with unrequited love. Sterling… (we have to start using your new nick!) you make me think sad thoughts this week, but in doing so, touch that elusive moment that we as writers strive for where the secret hearts of our thoughts open themselves onto a page.

      That being said, I do see the pluck in your MC, in the almost tongue in cheek, wry humor that you allow us the reader to feel. ie… her envying the baby’s ability to cry where ever he/she wishes. Sad..but a little funny at the same time.

      1. Silver Sister

        I knew this story was a little heavy, so I’m glad the humor I tried to inject didn’t fall flat. I believe that even dark humor can be a hopeful thing. Although this is a dark moment in her life, I wanted readers to feel there is hope for her.

        It’s still amazing to me to think the little characters and tales I imagine actually resonate with people. So your kind comments both humble me and give me confidence. For that, I thank you.

    6. Bilbo Baggins

      Another gem under your belt, Silver Sister! One of the things I love best about writing is how strong emotions can just jump off the page. And this is certainly a good example. I have to agree with Kerry that a bright future is in store. And I will be sincerely happy for you.

      1. Silver Sister

        I think y’all are each vying for The Nicest Person Ever Award! :) I do appreciate the wonderful words. It’s always nice to have your work liked. But when it comes from talented writers, it makes it even sweeter. Thank you.

    7. snuzcook

      I tend to use the word heart when I comment on your stories, Silver Sister. There is a way that you reach inside and find a place that resonates with your reader in such a way that it creates a mirror that is not horrific or flattering, simply honest. I find myself nodding my head as I recognize myself in your MC no matter how different that character may be from the outward me. This is another very enjoyable piece–well done!

    8. agnesjack

      Loved the opening line, which had the literal and figurative meaning. This was a very nice realization story. I liked how the characters in the elevator each gave her something to think about at this crossroad in her life.

    9. Critique

      A realistic take on matters of the heart. My ♥ ached for the MC but I was cheering her on too – she’ll do fine with the attitude that comes out in your last sentence. Nice work!

  30. Marc

    I always doubted whether my mother loved me. I was certain that she never like me. My personality and perspective were frequently abrasive to her old-money, Hamptons caste.

    I formalized the schism when I moved to LA to pursue a career in animation and married a hairstylist. She didn’t come to the wedding. She sent no card or gift, but she did have her attorney send notice that I had been stricken from her will.

    Surprisingly, she was fond of my daughter. Whatever traits my mother found appealing must have skipped a generation. Every birthday, my mother sent Abigail something my mother would call a “nice” gift. Every summer since her eighth birthday, my mother had Abigail spend two weeks at her Quogue, Southhampton condo. My sisters, Bethany and Emma, often visited at the same time.

    I wasn’t surprised that I learned of my mother’s death indirectly through Abigail. Bethany sent a telegram to Abigail that she would buy her a plane ticket to attend the wake. She also enclosed two 100-dollar bills and suggested it would be nice if she picket out something nice for Grandma. There was no mention of my attendance or discussion of the fact that I would have to take Abigail shopping.

    That evening, Abigail and I arrived at Dufton’s, an upscale department store in southern California. It appeared to be a venue of which my mother would approve. I had never stepped foot in the place. It was a multi-story structure with women’s apparel on the fourth floor.

    The elevator ride was suffocating. My daughter and I were pressed into the corner by eight mindless passengers, heads down, souls draining into their varied electronic devices. The spiritless creatures never said a word or made eye-contact until fierce vibrations started as we reached the fourth floor.

    I was calm, but I could see a greying fear creep into the faces of the other passengers. It was cold inside the car, and now that everyone was looking up, I could see their breath. One heavyset man in a grey suit said, “What the hell is going on?”

    I looked down at Abigail. Her eyes were dilated with fear. “It’s OK sweetheart,” I said.

    The lit number 4 button started to blink. Sudden weightlessness was answered with screams and sobs. The grey-suited man covered his head with his arms and whimpered, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die.”

    The car lurched three times and stopped. All but my daughter were crumpled in a stunned mass on the floor. Abigail stood quiet and motionless looking at the door. Opening slowly, the doors revealed only darkness. I couldn’t move. It was freezing. I couldn’t speak.

    Slowly, a female image came into focus at the door. It was my mother. She said nothing as she took Abigail’s hand and led her out into the black. The doors closed. The lights flickered and went out.

    Sitting in darkness, I heard my mother whisper, “She is better off with me.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A bitter-sweet story of real life. I loved the entry of the dead mother who took her grand child away but couldn’t resist one last painful stab in the heart to her own child. There was so much to imagine in your story. Not only was it written with intensity but the pain of the writer clearly is woven through this piece. I don’t mean to intrude but I can’t help but believe a lot of personal pain has been revealed in your writing. I’m glad I had a chance to take a trip through your tale. Thank you.

      1. Marc

        Thanks for the comments. Fortunately, the pain was the character’s. I tried to feel and communicate it for him. I appreciate that you took the time to read and leave a note.

    2. jmcody

      How fitting that your controlling, Hamptons doyenne made her post-morten appearance in a swanky department store. Some people never change, even after death. This was a sad and haunting tale. Thanks, Marc.

  31. Doug Langille


    “Hold the elevator, please,” said Trudy. I stuck my arm in the closing doors and they bounced open, to much irritation judging by the disgruntled huff behind me.

    “Thanks, Keith,” said the clerk from Infant-wear as she darted inside, smiling. I worked in Shoes and despite being twice her age, I found her company intoxicating.

    “No problem,” I mumbled, returning her smile. An older woman flashed a dirty look our way and hit the close button as if it should pay for the delay.

    The elevator went from 4 to 3 and another woman wanted on, this one with a stroller and squawking kid. Seeing the crowd, the young mother picked her baby up and folded the contraption while the elevator doors repeatedly chomped my arm like a hungry hippo. Once, twice, three times, done.

    The elevator descended once more and opened at 2 for no good reason. We all looked around for the offender: me with my loaded dolly, Trudy, mom and her cargo, the old battle-axe, some punk with his pants halfway down his ass, the chick at his side, and of course Clarence from Store-standards, complete with his mop and bucket. The door closed once more and the motor whirred for its final descent.

    We heard a loud bang followed by a sudden drop and a jolt as the brake cable kicked in. The lights went out, disorienting us for a moment before the emergency lights flicked on. I reached in front of the old woman and pressed the intercom. No power.

    “Fuck, Denise” said the punk as he swung his phone above his head like a divining rod. “No signal.”

    “What do we do now, Rodney?” whined the teenage girl.

    “We wait, deary” said the old bat without even a pinch of sincerity.

    Clarence and I took turns yelling for help, but no one came. We sat on the floor with our backs to the cool metal wall.

    “It’s quiet. The store’s closed until tomorrow,” said Trudy.

    “That’s just perfect,” said Denise and kicked the wall of our prison.

    The air thickened and grew hot with sweat. The baby woke up soiled and as cranky as the rest if us. Clarence started yelling again, more panicked this time. The baby wailed along with him. Trudy buried her face in my chest against the stink and noise.

    A couple hours passed and the old woman slid to the floor, cold and stiff. We don’t know when she croaked. Seemingly out of respect, one of the lights went out, dimming the space.

    The baby slept in its stroller and the rest of us dozed. I dreamed of Trudy and woke up with her curled next to me. My head ached with dehydration. Rodney and Denise were arguing and things got heated.

    The baby’s mother, Janet was her name, joined the fray. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.”

    Rodney said, “you shut up, bitch,” pushing her roughly. She tripped over the stroller and tumbled into the corpse of the old woman.

    Clarence rose in furious motion and I heard a wet thump and gurgle. “That’ll be your last punch, asshole,” said Clarence to Rodney as he dropped awkwardly with a mop handle protruding from his throat.

    To be continued…

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Doug. I liked it, a lot, especially the descriptions of the passengers. But why did you have to bring Trudy back into my memories? Best lookin’ girl in my high school. She never gave me a thought. Anyway, I’m glad your MC got to cuddle with her even in a deadly elevator.

        If you don’t mind, I’ll borrow Trudy for the next prompt, even if it makes you jealous. And I hope it does. A brunette who had Lauren Bacall’s looks.

    1. don potter

      Talk about a flash fight breaking out. This has the potential of no one left standing. I’ve been in elevators where thge tension was so thick you could cut it with the proverial knife. Please finish this tale, Doug.

      1. Doug Langille

        Denise screamed as she rocked Rodney’s body, his blood spreading in a thick pool beneath her. Trudy ducked under the mop handle, knelt by him and checked for a pulse. Janet huddled in the corner by the door, using the old woman as a makeshift stool, and held her squawking brat. Her eyes were as big as saucers.

        “Jesus, Clarence,” I said.

        The janitor yanked his mop out of Rodney’s throat, releasing a fresh gush of blood, soaking the young women. He swung it in a high arc, spraying the walls, and aimed it my way. Uncertain if he planned to stab or strike, I grabbed the slick shaft and twisted it away from him. A dumbfounded Clarence sat on his bucket and put his head in his hands.

        “That son-of-bitch deserved it,” he said. He looked up at me. “Didn’t he, Keith? Didn’t he?”

        “You bastard”, rumbled Denise as skirted around Trudy, clambered over her dead boyfriend and lunged at Clarence. She pounded on him with her small fists. He tucked his head into his arms and let her strike him. None of us spoke or moved to stop her. She kept hitting him and yelling, “Why”, over and over again. Denise’s onslaught slowed as her voice weakened and fatigue overwhelmed her. She stopped and and sat on the floor, legs splayed, and stared emptily in front of her. Spittle drooled from Clarence’s mouth as his head hung limply. Whether the girl killed him or he simply gave up remained a mystery.

        The heat and stench of the stuffy elevator made me ill and I could taste the blood and other things in the air, making my mouth salivate despite my thirst. I spent the night in and out of consciousness. We were numbed by the madness.

        Close to morning, Trudy muttered “Oh no,” stood and went over to Janet, still rocking her baby. She reached out to touch the mother who shrugged her off and squeezed her bundle tighter.

        “I just want to see how the little guy is doing?” pleaded Trudy.

        “Leave me and Nicky alone,” said Janet, low and dangerous, reminding me of a cornered animal.

        Trudy looked over to me and I understood. The baby wasn’t crying. In fact, he didn’t make any noise at all. My stomach sank as I scrambled over.

        “Shhh, It’s okay, Janet,” I said as I slowly touched her shoulder. She looked at me, crazed, and flinched her already tight muscles. The smell of sweat, shit and spoiled milk made my eyes water. “Let us check on Nicky. It’s okay.”

        I held her gaze, kept nodding and reassuring her as Trudy slipped Nicky from his mother’s arms.

        “He’s cold,” said Trudy as she felt his face. She smothered him, I thought. God forgive her.

        “Give him back,” said Janet. Trudy looked at me, I nodded and she returned the baby.

        She shook as she sobbed and cuddled Nicky. “He’s not dead. He’s not dead. He’s not dead.”

        I looked around at the gore and wondered if he wasn’t better off.

        The lights came back on and the elevator’s piped-in music filled the space with surreal absurdity, as the car started moving again. The ground floor light above the door blinked and the door chimed as it opened.

        We sat and waited for the world to redeem us.

  32. Poeeop

    Nathan Can’t Help Himself

    When the elevator door opened I wedged the stroller and all its baggage inside. I had a diaper bag hanging to one side, my four year old’s day trip bag off of the other and heaped on top of the fold down canopy top was everything my wife Janice had asked me to pick up today.

    Being a stay at home dad sure sounded like a cake walk when I agreed to this arrangement.

    “Go ahead Brian push the number two button for daddy.” The other folks smiled politely at me and an old woman against the wall commented on what a good little helper Brian was. Nathan our nine month old was fast asleep in the stroller, he always slept well, I don’t think a meteor strike would wake this kid.

    Just as the elevator passed the third floor it jolted to a stop and flung everything I had so neatly stacked and hung on the stroller, to the floor, into the back of a very large man and down on top of Nathan, which of course he DID NOT SLEEP THROUGH!



    “Damn it.”


    “No, no, no, no. Shh shh shh.” I said as I picked up Nathan and began to rock him and pat his back.

    “Come on, come on, you’re kidding me.” A well suited gentleman said as he punched random buttons with his thumb. “God I hate kids.” He whispered just loud enough, then slumped his head against the elevator door.

    “Brian, could you find Nathan’s bottle for daddy?”

    “You want me to hold him?” the old lady asked. “I just love the little ones.”

    “Sure, thanks.”

    The woman really had a way with kids, Nathan was an angel. I took the hands free opportunity to straighten up my caravan once more, I had just about put everything back together when I heard a familiar tot sized grunt.

    I looked over at Nathan, sure enough. I recognized that red face.

    The old woman I think realized something was happening as well, her nose twitched, she shuffled her feet and looked in the direction of the large man.

    “I think that’s Nathan actually.” I said, “I’ll take him back. Sorry.”

    “Daddy, Nathan made a poop?”

    “What?! Not now.”

    “Oh come on, what’s up with this elevator?”
    “Sorry. Sorry everybody. Hopefully this, uuhh whew. Uh, this elevator, will uh, whew. Oh boy it’s a blowout.”

    “Oh my god, can you do something with that please?” A young lady asked with her shirt over her nose.

    “Like what, we’re stuck in an elevator.”

    “Pry the door open and throw it out.”

    Several helpful folks tried with all their might to do so, but the door did not budge.

    “Look I’ve got to change him and clean him up, so I’ll take this corner and be as fast as I can.”

    I took Nathan’s diaper off, and he did what little boys do when you take their diaper off. You would swear he had drunk fifteen gallons of juice. I think he hit the ceiling.


    “Oh man, put something over it!”

    Now, what to do with the diaper. As I slumped against the wall in despair, I looked up for inspiration and saw it. The emergency hatch in the ceiling.

    Others had noticed me looking at it and saw the wheels turning.

    “I won’t tell if you don’t.” Said the well suited man.

    1. Silver Sister

      This story made me laugh. My heart always goes out to parents when people are being jerks to them simply because their kids have the audacity to be little. Your MC handled himself very well. :)

  33. greenparrot

    Five o’clock and I had just finished my shift on the cosmetics counter. I had taken the wobbly old
    elevator up to the fourth floor to make a payment on my lay-by, an addition to my Wedgwood tea-

    At ten past five I entered the same elevator to go down to the Carpark level in the basement. Ten
    people of various ages and sizes entered the elevator on Level 4. Some were carrying shopping-bags, some
    had trolleys and there were a couple of mothers manoeuvering strollers out of the way against the

    The doors refused to close. Someone pushed the Close button but still nothing happened. Then
    after a man moved to the side the doors closed, re-opened and closed again.

    ‘Poor old thing – it must have Mondayitis,’ a man in a hi-vis vest said.

    ‘On its last legs I’d say,’ I said with a smile. I felt happy that I’d bought that pink Estee Lauder lipstick which

    I had in my bag. I couldn’t wait to get home to try it.

    Suddenly the elevator shuddered to a halt between the third and fourth floors. The lights went out.

    ‘Hell, what’s happened?’ said the man in the hi-vis vest.

    ‘Your guess is as good as mine, mate,’ said a wizened elderly man who looked as if he’d been
    up a few dry gullies in his day.

    ‘We’re stuck,’ said a mother with a toddler in a stroller.

    ‘Can someone please press the emergency button if you can see it in the dark?’

    A teenage girl with tattoos held her phone up. ‘I’ve got no reception but I can see the
    button.’ She pressed the button, but there was no response.

    Then she pressed all the buttons below Level Four. The elevator began to descend agonizingly


    ‘I’m scared. I want to go home,’ said a girl of about five. I could just make out that she was

    clutching her mother’s skirt and anxiously twisting her hair.

    Then there was a groan and a thud. The man in the hi-vis vest was on the floor, thrashing and

    contorting his limbs and face.

    ‘Looks like he’s having a seizure,’ I said. ‘Everyone please keep calm. ‘Is there a doctor or

    nurse or paramedic here? There was no-one medical in the elevator. I turned the man on his side

    while people stepped out of the way. He had a pool of saliva under his chin.

    A woman wailed in the darkness. Another woman sobbed, while another hummed.

    ‘It’ll be okay,’ I said. ‘This gentleman has had an epileptic seizure, probably triggered by the

    lack of air in here, or the shock. ‘It’ll all be okay for us.’

    ‘No it WON’T,’ screamed the wailing woman.

    The man’s convulsions vibrated throughout the elevator and it started moving again.

    ‘I can see light,’ shouted the tattoed girl. There was a sliver of light just above floor level.

    ‘How about we all jump to make it go down some more?’ I said.

    Several people jumped hard. There was a screech and the elevator moved down more. We were nearly at

    Level Three.

    ‘Someone please press Open,’ I said. The tattooed girl pressed the Open button and the doors

    opened. We were now staring down at the bright lights and merchandise of Level Three. Above us

    was the elevator well and darkness.

    ‘OH MY GOD, we’re moving again,’ screamed the wailing woman.

    ‘Perhaps some of you can jump out now,’ I said.

    ‘No, I can’t,’ said the mother with the stroller.

    ‘Let’s just all scream for help then,’ I said.

    ‘HELP…!’ The cry alerted an emergency signal and we were rescued.

    That was my first day working at Clovelly’s Department Store.

    Now I take the escalator.

      1. greenparrot

        Thanks for your comment. I’m a newbie here, so it boosted my confidence a little. It wasn’t a true story. I’ve never been stuck in an elevator but certainly wouldn’t like to be. I’m rather afraid of them. I’m more afraid of losing a limb in the doors or being decapitated than being stuck.

  34. john godfrey

    Pandora’s Manila Folder

    Pandora (Dora to her friends) Steffen had never considered herself a calm person; in fact, in the eight years she had been working for the government as a secretary for the WHO, her superiors often criticized her for her lack of calm. According to the official evaluation she had read, she was “passionate” about her work, which she knew meant she was actually just the opposite, and not calm at all. The crowded elevator she was in now, though, was a different story. She had come to the mall to relax and unwind, and ate some lunch. When one of her associates from the World Health Organization mysteriously approached her mid-egg roll with an important file in a manila folder, with clear instructions to deliver to her boss and not read, she complied and began to leave the mall immediately. Dora went to the side of the mall where she had parked, by the department store where she frequented, and began to take the elevator up, to the parking garage floor where she parked.

    It never completed its journey, and stopped in between the third and fourth floor. She was stuck, she realized, with ten strangers and a manila folder with something mysterious inside she wasn’t allowed to read. The large man behind her with the handlebar mustache and considerable girth shifted his weight and impatiently sighed. The old woman next to her began fidgeting with her purse strap, and the strong scent of lilac hit Dora’s nose: the woman’s perfume. The manila folder sat in her hands.

    “Are we stuck, Mommy?” a chunky little boy with a Spiderman shirt and gracious snot bubble asked. His mother, who was equally a wreck, just wiped his nose and told him to hush. The manila folder stayed in her hands, closed, its secrets contained. A little man in the back corner started coughing. A nervous-looking man with a comb-over and frayed sweater started humming loudly. A teenager with gold chains, a pair of Beats headphones and sideways LA Lakers hat glanced at the sweater man dismissively. His girlfriend giggled rudely.

    “I knew this was going to happen, Dave. I told you Ramirez didn’t fix this damn elevator. We should have taken the stairs.” one mall policeman said to the other, completing the group of ten. He began radioing the eponymous Ramirez, who Dora took to be a maintenance man. The small man launched into another coughing fit. Dora knew her instructions, but the folder began to taunt her with its secrets.

    The first policeman’s radio buzzed and the voice of a Hispanic man speaking broken English rang out. The policeman replied.

    “Ramirez, we’ve been stuck for ten minutes. Something’s obviously wrong…” the cop was saying, but Dora was watching as the small man began coughing up blood. Some got on the teenager’s shoes. He attacked the small man, the second cop intervened. The large man was pushed into the mother, who fell into the older woman.

    Dora bent down to help her up and the folder fell. Its classified contents spilled everywhere. Dora lived up to her namesake, and her curiosity got the best of her. She read the documents.

    She just got snippets of the document in her shocked state, phrases like: “new disease” and “airborne” and “contact with others could spread the disease” and “kills within one hour of contact”. The coughing man fell to the floor. The elevator was still stuck.

    Then she heard the voice of Ramirez, the maintenance man, clear as day over the cop’s radio: “I need two hours to fix it, Wilson. Two hours.”

    1. greenparrot

      Hello John Godfrey,

      I loved your descriptions of the characters, particularly the boy in the Spiderman shirt and the snot bubble. The ending was full of suspense, with time running out. It made me want to read much more.

    2. gamingtheblues

      Unique take on the prompt bringing in pandora, who even though did not release the epidemic at the very least will suffer its effects. Felt like I was reading a chapter from the stand. At first thought it was a tiny bit wordy in the first paragraph but it his a smoother stride by the end. Enjoyed it.

  35. Nalo

    Already being on the elevator Max stood leaning against the corner. This was the best part of his day. The elevator stopping on ever few floors he knew this was gonna be a ride that took a good 10 minutes. The doors slid open and in walked three people. The lift was getting pretty full now. Max shook his head as he noticed the girl who stepped on push a button for a floor higher than they were. She was in for a long ride. Moments after she pushed the button the elevator stopped dead, and the lights went out. There came a cracking sound from near the doors and the soft glow of some glow sticks lite the interior of the box Max was in. The three people that walked in dropped the glow sticks and turned to look at everyone in the elevator.
    “Well folks sorry for the delay in your normal slow and pointless lifes. We just need to use this for a moment. You will all be sitting around in your sweat pants in no time at all.” The woman looked at each of the 7 people in the lift and smiled at each one as she talked. Meanwhile behind them the two men where busy at work. One leaned down, the other stood with one foot on the wall and the other on the first guys back. He popped down a light and then popped the trap door on top open. He bounced up and pulled his frame through the hole. The first man held up some metal frame thing that Max had no idea how it worked. There was some flashing lights on it and the metal had a weird sheen. After the the second man pulled the device up into the darkness that was the trap door. An arm came down and the man was pulled up into the hole.
    The woman then reached down grabbed the bag that was left on the floor and held her arms up much like Max had seen show girls do on his trip to Vegas. “We return you to your previously programed show.” Just then the two men up top each took a hold of her up stretched arms. They hauled her little frame up and through the hole. A hand reached into the car and grabbed the light panel swinging it up and closed and a moment later the bang of the door on the top of the elevator slamming shut.
    “What just happened?” Asked a man just moments after the elevators lights blinked on and then car started it’s ride to the bottom as if it never stopped.

    1. gamingtheblues

      I can’t believe no one commented yet!! This is a very fun and interesting take on the prompt. I loved the plot premise. I mean seriously…. I pictured this happening in my head and it was a surreal, whimsical little adventure. This puts me in mind of the book sideways stories from wayside school. If you have not read it…shame shame shame.

      A children’s book but brilliant in its own way. A bit of advice Nalo, separate your paragraphs a bit more, even if it makes not 100% literary sense (and it might, I am not an editor) it will be easier for some people to take in and approach your story. As is, big blocks of text can be a deterrent.

    2. jmcody

      GTB is right — this deserves a comment. It was like some surreal, flash-mob circus act that left me grinnng. Kooky and mysterious at the same time — that’s a winning combination.

  36. klhawaii12

    “Push the alarm button, sonny!”. An elderly lady with hunched shoulders barks as she taps a young man in the ankle with her cane. “I can’t be in here all day.”

    ‘Ma’am, there is no need to speak to me like that and please keep your cane to yourself. I’ve pushed the alarm button.” The young man responds calmly.

    A moment passes, and there is no decipherable alarm sound or response. People are looking around at each other nervously.

    The elderly lady audibly huffs and pushes her way to the right side of the elevator where the buttons are. “Let me in here, sonny. I’ll take a look at these buttons. You probably did it wrong.” She leans toward the control panel apparently unable to see clearly from a distance and proceeds to push all the buttons multiple times until they are lit up. She repeatedly pushes the alarm button to no avail. “Well, you probably messed it up.” She grumbles at the young man.

    “Why are you blaming me, ma’am?” I’m merely here to go to the third floor and pick up a present for my wife. I’ve used this elevator multiple times and never had a problem. I’m sure they will realize we are here soon and then we will be out shortly thereafter.”

    “Oh that sounds like a real plan.” Pipes up a man from the far left corner of the elevator. “You think we should just wait here indefinitely? I need to get back to work. I’m only on my lunch break!”

    The young man remains nonplussed. “I’m open to hearing any alternative plans.”

    An audible gasp can be heard from the middle of the elevator as a middle aged woman tries to push toward the front and in doing so, she pushes into several other people who look at her irritably. The woman looks behind her to see a younger woman who was probably in her early twenties with a bright red face, obviously embarrassed.
    “Umm… I’m sorry, I, uh, had an accident. I was on my way to the bathroom. I’m homeless and haven’t had a chance to use the bathroom since this morning.” There was urine spreading all over the elevator at this point.

    The elderly lady exasperatedly says “For the love of god! What is wrong with people nowadays? My oh my. Well, get that cleaned up, will you? Somebody lay their shopping bags on the ground or something.”

    People shuffle around trying to cover the urine and avoid letting their stomachs become upset.

    The young lady is crying in the back of the elevator repeatedly saying she is sorry. The young man makes his way to her. “It’s okay. We are going to be okay and we will be out of here soon.” You can go to the bathroom and clean up, and I’ll get you some new things to wear. I can even get you some lunch.”

    Suddenly, there is a jarring noise and a wrench comes through the doors. “Stand back, everyone!” They all stand back as the ederly woman falls to the floor, her coat ripping. It becomes obvious that he coat was caught in the doors the whole time causing the elevator to jam. She is helped to her feet by the middle aged woman.
    The elderly lady grunts and smooths her torn coat. “Hmmf. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” She hobbles off of the elevator without looking back.

    “I led the young woman out of the elevator and buy her a set of sweats to wear. She changes, and we go to lunch. I fell in love with her, and we’ve been married for 20 years today.”

    There is a resounding “cheers!” as our friends and family clink glasses at our twenty year anniversary party. What a funny day that was indeed.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was an exceedingly sweet story, You especially get props because I ADORE the idea of finding love despite adverse situations. A homeless man or women happening to find both their soulmate and a better life because of a broken elevator and a random act of kindness. I want to go and find someone to hold hands with right now =) A mild suggestion:

      Some of your dialogue felt a little forced. I would strongly suggest (as someone who struggles with every line of dialogue and re-writes it at least seven times) that you read your dialogue out loud and either play the different characters yourself or find a helper. I find my characters feel less wooden and more naturally flowing, it sounds more like how people really speak and not how I imagine they should speak. Still… your little story hit just the right spot.

    2. Silver Sister

      I love stories about how couples meet, so you hit my soft spot with this one! I just got confused on one part. Doesn’t the young man say he’s in the elevator because he’s buying a present for his wife? That is the same man who takes the homeless girl to lunch and marries her, right?

      1. klhawaii12

        Thank you for your compliment. I honestly wrote in a rush and didn’t proofread well enough. The young man wouldn’t have been cheating on his wife if I had caught that!

  37. Amyithist

    Before I could turn around and get out of the elevator, the doors slid closed. My breath caught as the man in the back flashed his eyes up to meet mine. I recognized him immediately. The fear that followed was so overwhelming I nearly passed out right there. I sucked in a mouthful of stale air and steeled myself. Just a few seconds and you’ll be off, I thought.
    I found myself praying that he didn’t recognize me; that the years of drug abuse and vagrancy had erased all of his memories. My eyes darted up to the panel as the number three lit up. One more floor… Suddenly, the car lurched and screeched to a halt. The sound of the cables and gears groaning was as ominous as a death sentence. I closed my eyes as another wave of panic washed over me.
    I tried to remember that there were other people here; I wasn’t alone with the monster, but I suddenly felt like a little girl again. Alone. Afraid. I laced my hands together and tried to control my breath. Don’t pass out, I pleaded with myself Don’t give him that satisfaction…
    “We’re trapped between the third and fourth floors,” another man’s voice broke through the panicked thoughts. “How long will it take?” I turned and watched the man as he listened to the other voice on the line. “Okay, thank you.” I watched as the stranger placed the phone back onto the hook. His face read like a tombstone.
    “One of the cables snapped,” he announced. “They said they’re doing everything they can to get to us…but…”
    A woman standing next to the monster gasped and cried out, “We’re going to die, aren’t we?”
    The man shook his head and sighed. “I don’t know.”
    For a long time, we were quiet. I’d managed to calm myself down; though, my magical little yellow pill may have had something to do with that. I watched placidly as everyone else seemed to grow in agitation. The hours seemed to crawl by. Somewhere above us, clanks and bangs echoed through the concrete vestibule. I felt utterly helpless. Trapped in an elevator…with a man who had been an everyday nightmare for me throughout my childhood. My ex-stepfather. The man who called me horrible names, fought with me as though I were his spouse, and molested me on two occasions… How could this be happening?
    “Katie?” His voice sent shivers over my spine. I didn’t look up. “Katie, I can’t believe you’re in here,” he said. “How are you?”
    I didn’t respond. Tears welled in my eyes. The man next to the phone studied me, waiting. But this wasn’t going to be some silly reunion between long lost family members. This man was the last person I ever wanted to see. “Katie, I understand you not wanting to talk to me,” he said lowly. “But maybe there’s a reason we’re both here.”
    I flicked my eyes up to meet his. I could see the evil simmering just beneath the surface. He’d always be a monster to me. He’d always be a haunting memory; the boogeyman lurking in the dark; the evil etched into my own heart.
    “I am sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry for hurting you. I’m sorry for touching you. I’m sorry for all of the horrible things I’ve put you through…” He stopped. His eyes searched mine; looking for anything that said I would forgive him. He found nothing.
    “Wait,” the man across from me interjected, “he hurt you?”
    I nodded, wiping the tears now falling freely from my eyes. The man turned to him and glared at him.
    “You hurt this young lady when she was a little girl?”
    The monster frowned and waved him off. “This is none of your business,” he spat.
    The man reached into his waistband and pulled out a revolver. He pointed it at my monster and grinned. “I’m making it my business,” he said. And without hesitation… he pulled the trigger.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Jm.. after you read the message I sent you, I would like to direct your attention to this story. THIS is an emotionally connected story. Very very VERY well done Amyithist. I strive for the resonance that you accomplished with this piece. It was so difficult to read that I hit the spot where she nods when the man asks if her step-father hurt her and I couldn’t go on. I had to start at the beginning to really allow the story to sink in, before I could read the conclusion. I am going to have to make a point to go back and re-read your other prompts. This was brilliant. I wanted to get in there and protect Kate myself.

    2. Silver Sister

      Hooray for the gunman! That’s not a sentiment I usually express, but today I’ll make an exception. The nerve of the ex-stepfather to ask how she is as if everything was normal between them. Some people just have no concept of the damage they cause. Even his attempt to apologize is self-centered. He’s so focused on what he wants to say to her that he doesn’t stop to consider Katie might not want this extremely private dirty laundry aired in front of a elevator full of strangers. Ugh. I want to shoot that guy myself. Fantastic job triggering strong emotions!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        If more people reacted that way, a quick and sure death to the offender, our children and grandchildren could sleep easier. Thee’s so much power and emotion here, I need a walk around the block. Chilling story told in an awesome way.

    3. Reaper

      Amyithist, you have a way of making me feel like a beginner. Your ability to produce two amazing stories to a prompt like this. I feel like one of those guys that puts out a book a year and barely feeds himself looking at an author that publishes two or three best sellers in a year. Well done, and so powerful.

      I am going to be honest that the power in this story for me is not in a hero with a gun. A man with a gun can be a hero only when he shows up in the moment to save someone in distress. When Katie was a child this man could have been a hero. Of course he could have also been an avenging angel by waiting until later and finding a dark alley, then I would have loved him. What makes this powerful to me is the true heroine of the piece is caught between monsters. The monster of her childhood, who you humanized enough, that yes he’s still selfish but maybe he got clean and really is sorry but that is for only her to decide. Then you showed his true colors with this is none of your business when he chose the venue. And to top it off you put another monster in her life, one with good intentions and a cold heart. I was with the crowd at first, thinking go Dirty Harry, but then I rethought it. Katie was facing a demon and this other man took her power away. His actions said you’re still a little girl that needs protecting so let the big scary man and mister nine millimeter solve the problem for you. Then with no concern over the guilt she may or may not feel about a man’s life ending because of her when she did not have the choice, he ended the situation. Do I agree that the original monster needed killing? Probably. However the true power of this tale comes from one guy thinking he is doing the right thing causing so much trauma to not only Katie but the other passengers who now have to live with what they saw, making the world a little darker for all of them. This is a Greek tragedy to me.

      Short version of all of that this is emotionally connected, and it sang to me as well but on a very different level. I lament for your MC and what she will now have to struggle with and hope she finds the strength to forget both evil men that have touched her life. That is how I am going to assume she carries on.

      Now I have written more words than you told the story in most likely. This is an inspired piece, please keep them coming, you words are always a gift to read.

  38. bk78

    A scraping sound, and a jolt followed by CLUNK.


    The heavyset, sweating Italian man next to the glowing elevator buttons bellowed his angst loudly enough for his voice to reverberate around the tiny metal box that held us captive between floors two and three. A mother, with shimmering lipstick and bleaching peroxide carefully striped through her stiff caramel colored bob, covered the ears of her now crying daughter, shooting the man a filthy look. For a brief moment there was silence as the eleven of us meditated on what was going to happen.

    “It’s time,” said the woman who stood in front of me. Her voice was quiet, but crisp and shrill.
    A deafening BANG, and a mutual shudder from everyone, whipping their heads around as though something over their shoulder would reveal the source of the noise.

    She started to scream—the woman in the middle whose back was to me. It wasn’t a panicked shriek of claustrophobic terror; it was the sound of total madness. The noise seemed to echo off the hidden walls of the elevator shaft, growing and growing to the entire size of the seven story building where we hovered in the air of downtown Chicago.

    Her voice shifted seamlessly from screams to bursts of laughter. We stood in the torrent of horrible, terrible cackling wails, while the man next to me caught my eye and immediately nodded toward the carpeted floor.
    Her feet didn’t touch it. She was levitating. Slowly rising higher and higher until the heels of her shoes could have touched my knees. The overhead fluorescents were flickering and grew dim. It was like the sound of her voice was lifting her upwards in a magic parachute blocking the sky from our view.

    One by one they joined her. The sweating Italian continued to swear as he tried to pry open the doors of the elevator. The mother and daughter were clawing the walls, as though they were desperately attempting to climb through the ceiling and see the light again. The trio of teenaged girls to my left hugged each other in tears, the victoria’s secret shopping bags on their forearms beginning to rise into the air, trembling like the rest of their bodies. The elderly couple in front of the banshee were impossible to hear over the ruckus. The husband was stroking his wife’s white hair, shielding her body from the frantic Italian.

    The man to my right who had shared my gaze was bleeding and broken on the floor. The river of red was punctuated by islands of steel and broken glass. It spread across the carpet into the other growing pools of blood that flowed from the bodies of the people around me.

    A gentle ding and a scraping noise.

    The doors parted and I stepped over the devastation into Macy’s, leaving a trail of red behind me. Realizing my rudeness as the janitor followed, I made a beeline for the shoe section.

    1. gamingtheblues

      A dark and rather harrowing take on this weeks prompt. What saved the MC from the similar fate? I did not quite get whether he/she was part of the destruction or not. This might be tied into the fate of the banshee? And was the janitor following the trail of blood on the MC’s shoes? A few questions that might do with answering but interesting none the less.

  39. Observer Tim

    Just like clockwork, the overweight indicator for Number Seven came on. It was stuck halfway between the third and fourth floors. I hit the intercom and adopted my best professional voice. “Hello, is anyone there?”

    “Yeah, we’re in here. The elevator’s stuck.”

    “I know. How many people are in there?”

    “Ummm … ten.”

    “That elevator is only rated for eight. It must be pretty crowded. I’ll get Steve to manually lower it back to three. Just hang tight, you’ll be out soon.”

    I left the receiver open so I could hear if something went wrong. Of course their tinny little voices all sounded alike through the ancient speaker system.

    “Perfect. Just perfect.”

    “Did you tell him we’re overloaded?”

    “Yes, he knows.”

    “Thursday night.”

    “This can’t be happening!”

    “And the lights are flickering?”

    “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.”

    “No, but it doesn’t matter.”


    “Keep away from me!”

    “I can’t. There’s too many people in here.”

    “So you’re an elevator expert now?”

    “Hey, something touched my leg. Eew gross! What’s wrong, lady?”

    “Have you got the emergency phone?”


    “It’s time!”

    “Time for … aaugh!”


    “I don’t care. Just keep away from me.”

    “What is this stuff? Trevor, help me up.”

    “But he doesn’t know about the light!”

    “I can’t keep away from you!”

    “Ugh! What’s on your hands?”


    “He does now! Stay calm, mother.”

    “Right up front if you can.”

    “Did you try the doors?”

    “Change of plans. Trevor, grab her!”

    “Grab who?”

    “You just touched me!”

    “What’s he saying?”

    “Bear down!”

    “No I didn’t! It was that pervy guy behind you.”

    “Of course I tried the doors.”


    “Don’t bring me into this!”

    “Grrrah! Aaaaugh!”

    “How soon until we get out?”

    “What about the escape hatch?”

    “Now PUSH!”

    “Do I look that tall, mother?”

    “You touched me!”

    “She’ll be eating out of my pants if this works.”



    “Ow! What’s your problem, lady?”

    “Aaaagh! Owwwww!”

    “One more!”

    “What’s that smell? I’m going to barf!”

    “Is that blood? Get me out of here!”

    “Stop shouting in my ear!”

    “Here lady, get behind me.”



    “So you can grope me in the corner?”

    “Thanks, Sid.”


    “I have a meeting at 1:00.”

    “No! So you can get away from the blood.”

    “Okay. Thank you.”


    “Hi there, cutie!”

    “Don’t come near me, pervert!”

    “I’m the store detective!”

    “Get me out of here! I’ll pay you!”

    “What the hell’s going on? What was that bump?”

    “Like I haven’t heard that before.”


    “Cut me some slack, lady.”

    “Hey Don, it’s Steve! I got her open! Yuck; wet clean-up in Elevator Seven.”

    Later Steve and I compared notes. He let eleven out: a couple of busiensessmen, one still on his cell phone; Pete Simmons, the store dick; two nervous shopper ladies, a middle-aged guy and his whiny mother; two college kids, one covered in blood; and a formerly pregnant lady with her newborn daughter. I won the bet.

    1. gamingtheblues

      Exceedingly Clever. I went back and re-read the story after I knew what was going on and appreciated it that much more. Light hearted, enjoyable read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Up to your elbows in funny, Tim. Dialogue is priceless. I’m going back myself for another read. I think the expression should be,” Bear down on the bare.”

    2. Silver Sister

      I don’t know why, but the line ‘ She’ll be eating out if my pants if this works’ struck my funny bone. I have a feeling that’s going to stick with me awhile. :)

    3. snuzcook

      This was a very clever idea, O.Tim. I found my brain switching into puzzle mode, as I tried to mentally unscramble the dialogue elements. The two lines referenced already by other commenters also stuck with me, as well as the call for “wet clean-up in Elevator Seven.”
      Very fun story!

  40. TEMiranda

    If you’ve ever been stuck in a New York City elevator with a animal party troupe, people dressed in full-body animal costumes, with molded heads and ears that brush against the ceiling, then you know exactly what I’m going through right now.

    A giraffe… yes a giraffe… turns to talk a a pink bunny, through the black netting in its neck. “Can you believe this crap, Jim? We’re going to be late.”

    The green alligator turns and unknowingly bumps me with his foam tail. “We have a few minutes. He said his wife doesn’t get off until five.”

    “It’s two minutes to five,” the brown turtle to my right says to his partners. “We’re supposed to be there before she leaves. We’re going to miss our window.”

    A gorilla lifts and drops his arms. “Great. Now we’re not going to get paid.” He tilts his gorilla head upwards as best he could and begins shouting. “Hello up there? Can anyone hear me? We’re stuck in here.”

    “I don’t think anyone can hear us,” a brown moose with orange antlers says to the gorilla. “Maybe we should scream louder.

    As if on cue, the giraffe, bunny, turtle, alligator, gorilla, moose, two toucans with a colorful snouts, and a porcupine start shouting up towards the ceiling. After a few seconds of roars and pleas, the large-headed lion waves his hands in a crisscross fashion and everyone shuts up. The elevator gets quiet as if someone just turned off the volume, and Cindy releases a loud chortle.

    All at once, each giant animal foam head turns to face us. The elevator cords squeak and moan from the strain of the full elevator being stuck between the third and fourth floor. Sweat begins to bead down my neck.

    Cindy snorts and turns to face the wall to hide her laughter.

    “Stop it,” I whisper back to her, and then shrug my shoulders apologetically at the actors; hopefully they’ll think she’s just crazy.

    “You think this is funny?” The lion says to me in a low rough voice, like he’s had one too many cigarettes. Suddenly it feels like the Sahara Desert in here.

    “N-no.” I elbow Cindy who seems to have lost all mental capacity as she fails to control her outburst. Another snort escapes her, and she whispers a halfhearted apology.

    “We’re all stuck here in these costumes…do you have any idea how hot these costumes are?”

    “And the heads,” the giraffe says, “these freaking heads are all zipped up to the backs, so we can’t take them off in here. And most of us are practically naked under these things.” He scratches the side of his arm.

    Cindy blows slow streams of air through pursed lips and stares up at the ceiling, a feeble attempt to control her laughter. She fans herself with her right hand.

    The short toucan steps in front of the lion and says in high-pitched voice, “If she laughs one more time, I’m going to smack her.”

    Cindy releases another chortle. I can’t believe I’m going to have to fight off these giant stuffed animals.

    Just as the toucan lifts her wing, the black corded phone in the glass case behind me rings. All the heads turn to face me once more. Cindy is beet red. She presses her lips together to hold in her chuckles.

    The phone rings again. The animals turn to look at each other and then look back at me.

    The phone rings a third time and I slowly turn around to pick it up.

    “Hello, this is Elizabeth Jameson, the building supervisor. Can you please tell me how many people you have there with you?”

    I clear my throat. “We have twelve people here. It’s getting kind of hot. They all have heavy costumes on.”

    The lion, apparently having heard the woman through the receiver, shouts, “Is that Elizabeth Jameson, wife of Patrick Jameson.”

    I nod back to the lion once she says, “Yes.”

    The lion turns around and immediately lifts his arms like a conductor standing in front of an orchestra. At once, all the animals begin to sing Lost That Loving Feeling by the Righteous Brothers.

    I look at Cindy as the animals all sway side to side and sing in tune. Why the animal costumes? It doesn’t matter. The costumes only add to the sentiment. I kiss Cindy and allow myself to smile and laugh at the whole situation.

    Once the serenade is over, the lion says, “Happy Tenth Anniversary, from Patrick.”

    Everyone hears Elizabeth cry over the receiver and the animals slap each other’s paws in victory. I can almost see them smile under their costumes.

    “We nailed it,” one of them whispers.

    The lion shushes everyone down with a hand gesture and shouts towards me, “Ok, can you get us out of the elevator now Mrs. Jameson? It’s hot as balls in here.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      Hey! One of my last prompts with the Dear john letter featured furies too!! er…. *cough* anyway…

      I thought this was awesome. Fun and inventive. The piece is really made with the ending.

      “We nailed it,” one of them whispers.

      The lion shushes everyone down with a hand gesture and shouts towards me, “Ok, can you get us out of the elevator now Mrs. Jameson? It’s hot as balls in here.” .

      … are you kidding???? Its wholly crap hilarious… the we nailed it line and the hot as balls? I have a weird sense of humor and this tickled all the right spots.

      1. TEMiranda

        Thanks gamingtheblues! I’ve been wanting to use the “hot as balls” remark for a long time and never found the right opportunity, until now. :-)

    2. Silver Sister

      I was right there in that elevator. Loved it. The switch from crooning a love song to the last sentence is awesome. I really liked this one.

  41. swatchcat

    Phillipa, stuck in the glass elevator, began to think about Towering Inferno, they always seemed to do that to her. She and the other riders were now stuck between floors and there was no logical escape to think of like a normal elevator.

    There was no foreseeable natural disaster to break the elevator from the building, no fire, but the inhabitants still began to loose their patience, and panic. A fight ensued. Characters came into question. As the people stood waiting for several hours, secrets began to unfold, and a fight, until the glass broke.

    Phillipa watched as nine people in the elevator went through a pile of emotions. Relationships fell apart while she, a psychopathic closterphobic sat against the wall orchestrating it, one planned word at a time. She sat on the floor closest to the door and said things that she knew would start little problems. She waited for clues to set off bad habits and watched through the mirrored doors as each person picked the other off.

    As the scene comes to a close and the police recover the elevator and psycho within, a young woman sits at a café table in the courtyard of the grand department store staring at the glass elevator as customers slide from floor to floor. While sipping an espresso, and tapping her Tablet she plans the demise of nine co-workers and a few shoppers while riding the glass elevator. They are to be driven mad and argumentative until several fall to their death, another clutches his chest dying of a heart attack, and shards of glass impale at least one. Phillipa envisions sitting on the carpeted floor of the elevator leaning forward, her forehead touching a cold mirrored wall. She smiles at her reflection.

    As several riders push and fly through the railing and toward the floor below, Phillipa says in a sing-song voice, “No more monkeys jumping on the bed.”

    The bell for the fifth floor rings and the doors open. A police officer steps in crunching broken glass. “Miss, are you alright? Are you hurt?”

    1. jhowe

      Cool concept. Loved the monkeys on the bed line. Was the coffee house part a flashback? Or, I thought maybe Phillipa was alone on the elevator and imagined the killings.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I agree completely with jhowe. Phillipa set the whole scenerio in her mind to keep from becoming ballistic, stuck by herself, alone in the elevator. An imagined play within her head, within your story Very inventive, swatchcat.

        I myself, have been caught in an eight hour deposition and plotted to kill both attorneys in a devilish fashion, while the questions came, hour after hour.

  42. suyidavies


    Immediately the lights went out, I swore the devil had a hand in it.

    There I was, starting out what I thought would be a great day after getting my new MontBlanc watch at 10% off. Franklin Mills wasn’t too far from my residence off of Knights Road in Philly. As an immigrant from Nigeria, I mostly kept to myself and my wife between work and a random night out. But, this weekend, my quest for a new watch found me at JCPenny’s.

    The escalators were being serviced, so I headed for the elevator after my purchase. The doors opened and I stepped into the tiny cubicle, punching the ground floor and examining my new timepiece with a sheepish grin when she galloped over. Gallop was the right word to capture the manner in which her body fat moved within her billowing clothes. A jutting forehead lay above her ever-present fat lady smile, but I knew it was all a smokescreen. That beneath the chubby, cherubic face, there lay a very ill-tempered middle-aged woman with some real people issues.

    In line at the jewellery store, I had thought her eyes suggested trouble. Her lips moved to a side and her nostrils flared whenever the queue stalled. I was confused as to why she gave me quite a wide berth then. Now I saw the expression of disgust again as she stood at the open doors, clutching her TCP-embroidered bags for oh-so-long before deciding to step inside and set her back against the opposite wall, eyes on me the whole time.

    As the doors shut, I concluded she was no problem. That didn’t last, since I didn’t expect the elevator music to suddenly cease and darkness swallow us both as our descent came to an abrupt halt.

    “Damn!” I cursed. “This can’t be good.”

    The blob of adipose began to whimper uncontrollably, the bags slipping from her fingers and clunking to the floor. I could feel her shaking.

    “Ma’am?” I ventured. “You okay?”

    She said nothing, crumpling into the corner and increasing her whines. My brain made a few deductions, and I knew it could only be one thing.


    No wonder she had been reluctant to get in. I felt sympathetic now.

    “Ma’am, take it easy. It’ll be all over soon.”

    She still didn’t reply, trembling even more. I felt compelled to console her in some manner, but I should never have placed my hand on her shoulder.

    “Breathe easy, ma’am. Brea-“

    Her piercing scream rendered me temporarily deaf in my left ear. I jumped back, prepared to defend myself in the dim light. I peered around the best I could and saw no attacker.

    “Don’t you touch me, you lousy filthy negro!”

    My eyes widened.

    Negro? You’ve got to be kidding me!

    As if on cue, the lights came back on and the elevator jerked downward. I returned to my position, eyes fixed on my MontBlanc and humming to the music, but all the while wondering how in the world there were still racists in Philly in 2014.

    1. lionetravail

      Nicely written! The opening paragraphs were with nicely economical language, but very descriptive. And yes, unfortunately no surprise that there are still racists- not only is it just wrong, but it’s cruel and unfair, as well.

      Thank you for sharing this!

    2. Silver Sister

      Choosing Philly as the city was a great choice. It packs more punch. Anyplace below the Mason Dixon is already going to have a certain connotation to it. But place this in a Northern city and the scene carries an even sharper sting.

    3. gamingtheblues

      This is the first time I have seen a prompt use racism as its central plot theme and I thought it was nicely written. I find racism and other conscious discrimination to be one of the single most repugnant, ridiculous and vile tendencies in people to date, regardless of the originators own race, creed, nationality or color.

      Its a charged subject, one fraught with indignation on both sides of the aisle and few writers have the balls to tackle it even as a side periphery, never mind head on like this story. I give you a ton of props for that and I found it very interesting? Admirable? sad? that the MC did not take it as offensively as he could have. I would have been beside myself with indignation and contempt for such attitude. I feel that a bit of author has come through in this piece. Well done.

    4. suyidavies

      Thanks all of y’all @swatchcat, @Poeeop, @lionetravail, @Silver Sister and @gamingtheblues for your comments. I really appreciate them. You guys give me the confidence too post on here often, and I’ll ensure I work towards putting up more posts. Thanks.

  43. a.bennett2

    The doors of the ageing elevator opened tentatively as if it were debating whether or not to allow me in. The elevator was crammed with people, their shopping and a couple of shopping-trolleys. The man behind me attempted to push his way in by waving his arm between the closing doors but the doors began to close against his arm. The man leapt back and then the doors slammed shut, preventing him from entering. It was as if the elevator had made its final decision and rejected the man. I glimpsed the look of frustration and disappointment on his face as it disappeared behind the metal doors.

    I looked for the floor buttons but saw that Level B Carpark was already pressed.
    The elevator started its descent from Level 5, slowly creaking its way down.

    “The air-con’s not too good in here is it,” said a plump, sweaty man from behind a trolley laden with pillows. He seemed to be addressing no-one in particular.
    “It’s terrible,” said a blonde woman, wiping her forehead. “It’s not working at all.”
    The creaking got louder until the noise became a screech. Then there was a loud thud. The elevator groaned to a halt and the lights went out.
    “Bloody hell. What’s up with it now?” someone said. “Can someone please press the red emergency button?”
    A man standing closest to the various buttons tried to find it in the dark. He pressed every button in the elevator but nothing happened.
    A toddler began to cry and another older child said: “Mummy, what’s happening? I want to get out of here.” Her mother murmured words of comfort.
    “Has anyone got a flashlight?” I asked.
    “I’ve got one on my key-ring,” said a young female. “But I can’t find my keys. Damn, damn. Where ARE they?” She rummaged in her bag in the darkness.
    The elevator suddenly lurched. It was now sitting at a frightening angle.
    “I don’t want to frighten any of you, but I think one of the cables could be broken,” said a tall man standing beside one of the shopping-trolleys. “Is anyone here a mechanic or engineer or electrician, or is there anyone else who can help?” The silence was palpable.
    “OH MY GOD! I’m going to die. So this is what it’s like!” said a woman clutching her shopping bags.
    Another woman’s shriek pierced the tiny space.
    The tall man said: “Look, we WILL get out of here.”
    “It’s going to be okay. Someone will help us,” I said.
    “No, we’re going to die here,” said the man with the pillows.
    There was a bang and a creak and the elevator started to move. Everyone clapped and cheered. But the elevator started to freefall and scream like a plane before crashing.
    “So this is what it’s like,” I thought.

    1. gamingtheblues

      So many many prompts this week.. is it me or is this place getting more popular???? I hope so. We can turn this into a special corner of the web for blossoming writers. Everyone… Jm, Sterling, Jerry, Amythist, the hobbit and more! Come on in jump into the elevator going up to the fourth floor of publishing and writing relevancy!!! Guys??? Anyone coming into the elevator with me?? no? …… maybe Frankie O’brien will…..

      *cough* sorry Bennett.. Mild thread hijacking for a minute..As for your piece… You were able to convey an elevator full of normal people, some a bit nutty, melodramatic..ect.. in such a few short lines. And then kill them off ;) But seriously, I found your use of the line “so this is what it’s like” to be interesting in the different way that the two people said it in your story. Its a “little” self aware but that is not necessarily a bad thing. In such a short piece, it allows the reader to step back and examine their own feelings in such a situation. This one put me in a bit of a reflective mood. I liked it.

  44. lacigb

    ’Oh, that annoying music, I wish it would stop!’

    I had been standing in the elevator for some time, trying to make my way down from the top of the store to the ground, but the damm elevator kept stopping at every floor and more people crowded into the already cramped space. I was now in the back right corner with both my hands holding bags squashed against the walls – my own piece of heaven!

    Then, to make my day even brighter: the elevator suddenly stopped in-between floors. Some people gasped, one woman screamed and the guy next to me swallowed his chewing gum. I just rolled my eyes – now I’m stuck in a corner, stuck in an elevator – then the lights started to flicker, and went out.
    Now, I always try to stay positive and believe that there is positive in every sitaution, and then it hit me: when the lights went off, at least the music also stopped playing!

    ’Somebody help us, we’re stuck’ shouted a middle-aged woman near the front, not realising the futility of her efforts. Another guy tried the intercom on the control panel, but got no reply, so he just kept his thumb on the alarm button. Others just stood in their places, some fidgeting, some trying to call or text for help on their cell phones, and some just seemed to meditate.

    As I studied everyone’s faces in the dim light of the emergency lighting, my eyes caught the stare of the little girl standing not far from me – I hadn’t noticed her before, although I admit I hadn’t really looked around too much. She must have been around 10-11, and as far as I could tell, she had long brown hair worn in a pony-tail, nice clear features and wore a grey or green dress. She was looking straight at me, and I had the strangest feeling that she’d been staring at me for some time.

    She beckoned with her finger for me to lean closer, presumably so she could wisper something to me – I guessed she was scared and I looked tall and reassuring to her. As I leant closer, I could feel her aura – the scent of her hair and and coolness to her breath. Ever so quietly, she wispered to me:

    ’Their life is in your hands, choose wisely’.

    Needless to say I was speechless, and wanted to shake this off as a joke or something, but for some reason I was paralysed in-place. She continued:

    ’Do you hate the music so much, you would sacrifice these souls?’

    I couldn’t imagine what she meant, until I remembered what I’d been thinking of before this whole thing started: ’Oh, that annoying music, I wish it would stop’.

    Trying not to sound terrified, I replied: ’What do you meam? The elevator music? What does that have to do with anything?’

    ’The music is the way I reach the souls who ride in this elevator. No one comes in here by accident, they need to hear my music at that precise moment in time. You however have sincerely wished for it to stop, and I have been instructed to offer you the choice. So choose wisely, because this will affect hundreds and thousands of lives and souls’. The little girl seemed to be much more mature and serios then her age.

    Before I realised, almost by instinct I made the decision: I love that music! Maybe out fo fear, or of self-preservation, or just pure instinct… but the instant this thought crossed my mind, the elevator began moving again and the lights came on and….

    To signify the return to „normality”, the music started up again amd everyone collectively heaved a sigh of relief, but the little girl…. there was no sign of her anywhere amogst the people in the elevator.

    1. Reaper

      I was thinking, Oh no a creepy child! You did a good job with defying my expectations here. I loved the turn into the universal element of music. This was beautiful.

    2. gamingtheblues

      I found this one incredibly amusing one second and sort of harrowing the next. Amusing because now we all know WHY the music in elevators had to be there. (to be honest I have not been in an elevator with music in years…oh wait…. DUH…… these generations have no more souls!!!! I see the link!!)

      I too wish I had thought to use the music as an element. Very inventive

  45. snuzcook

    Sorry for the excess wordage. I’ve been under the weather, and didn’t want to miss another prompt after last week. After struggling with this story for longer than I should, I figured I better just post it in order to keep my toe in. I’m finding it hard to keep up with the sheer volume of posts, and feel I am neglecting you all by not commenting very much, so I beg your forbearance.

    REDOLENCE (625 wds)

    “Mommy, I smell smoke.”


    The little girl wrinkled her nose at her mother’s abrupt dismissal and looked around the elevator. She noticed me in the back corner and gave a shy smile.

    There were nearly a dozen people crowded into the antiquated store elevator, carefully trying not to touch each other with their plump shopping bags. Some of them sniffed the air to test the girl’s comment, and a shudder of anxiety rippled through the passengers. A dozen pairs of eyes turned to watch the lighted numbers counting down from Eight. Next was Four, my floor.

    The car bounced to a stop and the overhead went out, leaving just the red glow of the emergency panel. A middle-aged woman yelped with surprise. Several people laughed nervously.

    “Mommy,” the little girl whined.

    “Don’t worry,” said a young woman with a pleasant, reassuring voice. I had seen her before; she was a new employee on Four. “It’ll probably start back up in just a minute.”

    “I hope so,” another young woman said. “My lunch break’s almost over and it’s three blocks back to the office.”

    Another young woman laughed. “Me, too. My supervisor will kill me if I’m late again.”

    The darkened car bounced again. This time several voices joined the middle-aged woman’s gasp of alarm. A young man slapped the heel of his hand against the doors. “Hey, someone! We’re stuck here!”

    An older man in a suit stabbed at the control buttons with his index finger.

    “That’s not going to help,” a young man said. The older man ignored him.

    “Mommy, I still smell smoke.”

    “I think I smell smoke, too” a woman whispered to her silent husband.

    “So do I,” said the middle-aged woman in voice a half-octave too high.

    “Calm down,” said the young man. “It’s probably just smoke from the restaurant grill downstairs.”

    “But what if it’s not?” one of the young women said.

    The elevator bounced again. Someone started moaning in a frightened voice. Several voices yelled over each other: “Help!” “We’re in here!” “Fire!”

    The man with the suit pounded the side of his fist against the control panel. The young man and the husband grabbed at his arms to stop him. The scuffle made the elevator sway. A woman screamed; the lights flickered.

    Then abruptly the overhead lights came on. The elevator resumed its downward movement, passing Four and continuing down to One. The doors slid open.

    The new young sales clerk exited first and held the door open as everyone else hurried out. She looked around the empty elevator. One of the older sales women from Four approached her.

    “Are you okay?”

    “There’s something wrong with this elevator. It just got stuck between floors.”

    “Oh, that’s just Jerry. Didn’t anyone tell you? This elevator car is haunted.” The young clerk looked at her, wide eyed. “Oh, sure. Ever since the fire back in, what was it, ’66? There was a fire in the shaft, and a young man named Jerry who worked on Four was stuck on the elevator. Poor guy suffocated from the smoke.”

    “That’s terrible!”

    “Yeah, we’ve been complaining about the elevator for years, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Just every now and then Jerry acts out.” The older clerk got on the elevator. “I’ll see you back upstairs after lunch.”

    Cool air from the outside wafted into the car as it filled with people on their way up. I savored the sweet, fresh air. The doors closed, and I relived again that fateful moment nearly fifty years ago when I dropped my cigarette into dark, oily, litter-filled void between the elevator car and the floor. The passengers would be oblivious to the inevitable unfolding for my eyes alone of what would come next.

    1. lacigb


      Great story, I did not expect that ending – I really liked it. Great way to capture people’s reactions in a stressful situation, and how quickly civilised people can change when gripped by fear and panic..

      Hope to read more from you soon!

    2. Reaper

      Snuzcook, I saw your post and had to come read it. I will have to catch up on the others tomorrow. Once again you caught me by surprise with this ending. I especially enjoy looking back at the bait for your switch of the child seeing Jerry. I have been waiting for you to post again to respond to something you said two weeks ago, since I assume most people don’t often go back to previous prompts though that might just be me. I personally say don’t ever worry that you’re pushing the envelope, that’s what envelopes lay on tables for. The fact that you wrote this sick or at least recovering makes you even more amazing.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Reaper! You caught the clue that the child ‘saw’ the narrator. In addition, the ‘empty’ elevator that still contained the narrator, the savoring of the cool, fresh air, the replay of the past that would unfold only to the narrator in the midst of the crowded elevator. I confess I struggled with the last paragraph like beaver working a metal light pole, and knew even as I posted it that it fell a tad short the big reveal, tho not of words.

        1. snuzcook

          PS: In the original, even longer version, the narrator inexplicably knew the stories of each of the riders at a glance, which entered into his narrative and, I had intended, created another subtle rear-view-mirror clue to the supernatural. I hated cutting those humanizing, descriptive elements, but that concept will have to go into the file for a future story.

    3. Kerry Charlton

      Welcome back snuzcook. This is a great story you’ve written with a tremendous twist at the end. 50m years of carrying guilt and not telling anybody is still not enough punishment for the old clerk. He needs to take one last ride with Jerry, a one way trip to the dark place where’s he’ll have a thousand years to think about, You stirred me up with this one.

      1. snuzcook

        Ah, Kerry, you have read a story with a more intriguing level of mystery than the one I wrote! I love your interpretation, and wish I had intended it. My story had Jerry as the narrator.

    4. gamingtheblues

      Very well written. I did not see the end, I was expecting a real fire because I had considered doing a fire prompt. I thought that the narrator “was” Jerry, so any author comment on whether that’s the case? Nicely done.

    5. Critique

      A great take on the prompt. The twist at the end was unexpected. I thought the narrator returned to the scene to relive how he caused Jerry’s death and planned to repeat the deadly performance.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Critique!
        You are not alone in your interpretation, so I am thinking I missed the boat with what could have been an even more interesting story.

    6. Silver Sister

      I heartily enjoyed this, as I do all your tales. Great job providing little clues, but nothing too heavy-handed to spoil the big reveal. I had briefly toyed with the idea of doing a haunted elevator, but now I’m glad I didn’t. This one was awesome.

    7. agnesjack

      What a wonderful double-twist at the end. The unexpected ghost and the tragedy of her carelessness so long ago. Very intriguing last line, too. I’m not sure I get what the “inevitable unfolding … of what would come next” is, though.

      p.s. I know what you mean about getting behind in commenting on the prompts, snuzcook, so don’t worry. You always manage to comment on way more than I do, and your comments are always thoughtful.

  46. don potter

    The crowded elevator came to an abrupt stop between the third and fourth floor. It was the last day of shopping before the old department store was going to be demolished and a new structure erected in its place. Guess the creepy elevator was one of the reasons the store owners elected to get with the times by rebuilding.

    Since the lights were still burning bright, as bright as old neon bulbs can be, I assumed the problem had something to do with the elevator system rather than a general power outage. Just as I had that thought, the car jerked and seemed to settle.

    “What was that?” a young woman shouted in a shrill voice.

    “Nothing to worry about,” I said without offering a reason why.

    “What makes you so sure?” a middle-aged male passenger asked.

    “These things have balancers,” I replied as if I knew. My decision to take charge was made immediately upon surveying the ten people riding with me on this stalled journey.

    “Is there a way out of here?” the large man with a seventies style afro asked.

    “Best if we just stand still,” I stated.

    “Are we safer that way?” queried a silvered-haired lady in an expensive looking outfit.

    “I’m sure you’re not ready to climb through the hatch.” I pointed to the ceiling. “Or shimmy up the wall to get to the next floor.”

    A kid dressed in a Goth outfit from twenty years ago said, “You saying there ain’t no use trying?”
    “The store security knows we’re stuck. Help is on the way.”

    “I’m not waiting for them. Do you think they don’t care about us?” the young man in the tie-dyed shirt and shabby jeans stated.

    “Do you intend to leave me alone?” his pregnant wife asked.

    “Ring the alarm again.” I instructed the old man with a cane to take some action.

    “How do we know they’ll hear it?” he asked.

    “If we can hear the bell so can they. Too bad this old car doesn’t have an intercom.”

    “Isn’t that illegal?” a man in his forties and carrying a brief case asked.

    “This is not the time to be thinking about a law suit,” was my reply.

    “They should have come for us by now, right?” the last of the ten passengers asked, an overweight fifty-something women with messy hair.

    The elevator lurched again. We heard a snap as if a cable broke.

    “There’s a backup cable you know,” I said with authority even though my confidence was waning. “But a little prayer couldn’t hurt.”

    Another cable snapped and the car plummeted.

    The lights went out, and rather than screams, I heard the rustling of feathers and the flapping of wings. Hands supported me as the host of angels lifted me out of the falling car, up through the top of the building and into a never ending sky.

    “Do not look back,” an angel said as the sound of a loud crash rose from the building. Another promised, “You will soon be home.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Don, I love this story. I love the line….”I head the rustling of feathers and the flapping of wings.” It sent chill bumps through my system to hear the host from somewhere beside my own mind. This is one fine, uplifting prose you’ve written here. From an old Baptist who was taught by a Lutheran Minister, my grandfather, we both thank you. Temple Lutheran Church in Brookline.

    2. Silver Sister

      This was beautiful, indeed. Kerry’s favorite line was mine, too. You created a very likeable MC. Just from his actions in the elevator, he seems like the type who will get to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    3. snuzcook

      A gentle, comforting image of transition. Don’t we all want to face ultimate adversity with courage and leave it without a scratch? Thanks, Don!

    4. Reaper

      This is a beautiful tale Don. There is something wonderful about a story that paints death as calm and accepting rather than a thing to be feared. Hard to do but you showed mastery here. Thank you for this. Though I do have to disagree with wanting your MC with me if I get trapped in an elevator. I think he might be bad luck.

  47. lionetravail

    “Socially Awkward”

    It was about 3 pm when I got on the elevator with the nine beautiful women and the one burly guy with a moustache and a hand-dolly. I had to crowd in, getting really close to a statuesque blonde, but she didn’t complain. I looked over at the guy, and saw the name “Earl” on a patch on his coveralls, and nodded at him, cautiously.

    He hawked up some phlegm, but thankfully swallowed it and said nothing.

    I turned to the blonde in front of me. “Sorry to get in your personal space,” I mumbled to her.

    “It’s no problem,” she said in a melodious and pleasant voice which absolutely went with her chiseled features.

    “What was that?” Earl asked.

    “Nothing,” I said to him.

    A leggy brunette with a pert nose to my right said: “Oh, don’t mind him, he’s just giving us a little tour.”

    I raised an eyebrow.

    A redhead in the back, with beautiful, sculpted eyebrows, threw me a flirty wink. “Earl’s got no interest in us, he plays for the other team.”

    At that moment, the elevator jerked to a sudden stop and went to emergency lighting only, which saved me from having to explain my sudden blush.

    “What’s happening?” said a lovely and petite Asian woman with some alarm, her chin jutting forward as she seemed to have her head tilted slightly to the side but was looking forward.

    “Elevator’s, um, stopped,” I said. I was anything but smooth, and days like this just proved it.

    A tall woman with auburn hair in a pageboy cut towards the back seemed to reach out to me. “I’m scared,” she said.

    “Don’t be,” I said. Earl looked over at me curiously. “Afraid,” I clarified for him.

    “Why would I be afraid?” he said gruffly. “This sucker freezes up every coupla days. I keep telling ‘em they gotta really fix it, but they keep just patching it and whatever they done just keeps falling apart.”

    I made a little motion with my head towards the ladies, trying to explain to him without looking like even more of a dork to them. He clearly didn’t get it, and just leaned back and closed his eyes.
    I turned back to the group of ladies who seemed to me to be getting restless. I heard quickened breathing, and in the dim glow within the elevator, I felt their panic. “It’s okay,” I said to them. “Really, we’ll be okay- Earl says this happens all the time.”

    “Buddy,” Earl said, “you are starting to really creep me out with this talking to yourself stuff. Relax, the elevator’s going to start moving again any minute.”

    The lights came on, and the women all froze in position as the elevator started to move upwards.

    I blinked in the better light.

    The doors opened behind me.

    “Buddy,” Earl said matter-of-factly, “you’re gonna have to back out for a few minutes ‘til I can get these ladies unloaded and over to the showroom.”

    I nodded, and did.

    I really needed to get out more.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh, cool story. A guy goes dork over nine perfect bodies only they’re only mannequins. Perfect companions for the average dork. Beautiful women who can’t talk. Wow, Have I just gotten all the ladies on this forum mad at me. You know I don’t mean it. I have five daughters to keep me on the right pathway. Oh, I almost forgot the “Twilight Zone”. They come alive at nine at night and they do talk. I’m tempted to erase the line, “Beautiful women who can’t talk but in the spirit of this forum, I’m going to let it fly.

    2. Critique

      My antennas were up from the first sentence – nine beautiful women on one elevator? with Earl, who ‘hawked’ in their presence. I enjoyed your imaginative take on the prompt very much.

    3. lionetravail

      Thanks everyone! And yeah, Silver Sister’s bang on with real women being ‘the other team’ :)

      (Oh, and I tried a very subtle set of fun pokes at describing these ‘women’ as ‘statuesque’, and with ‘chiseled features’ and ‘sculpted eyebrows’- mea culpa, but I love a good pun!)

    4. gamingtheblues

      I am such a dork myself… I didn’t even get the whole its not real thing until right near the end. I even thought they were far too much of a caricature of a real person and it never hit me!! Nice surprise ending

  48. Bilbo Baggins


    My mission had the bad luck of involving nine people in one of the dirtiest hotel elevators on this infernal planet. I looked around with my eyes. A businessman with a downcast face, an old gent with a cane who sneezed every five seconds and adjusted his suspenders, two moms, one snotty-nosed kid, a burly man who looked like he’d just ran fifteen miles, two shadows behind them, and a hippie leaning against the rail with the trademark ponytail and thin-rimmed glasses.

    We were halfway up to the fourth floor when, on cue, the cables jerked to a halt.
    “What happened, man?” The hippie was the first to notice their predicament.

    “Oh, hell, we got stuck!” the workaholic said. “Well, forget these papers.” He looked too tired to look over them anyway. The whole elevator was suddenly cast into disappointment.

    “They gotta get us out sometime,” the old guy wheezed. “Need my medications.” Cough. Sneeze.
    “It usually just takes a few minutes,” a mother chimed in.

    We waited. The hippie looked just a little scared. I cleared my throat.

    “Attention, everyone.” They all looked over, noticing me for the first time.
    “I have halted the elevator with my superior knowledge,” I announced.

    I saw their almost cringed faces and smiled slyly at their assumptions. Mothers held their children in close, and I saw the man grip his briefcase tighter.

    “Look at this crackpot,” I heard whispered between the two chubby guys in the back.

    “Do not think I cannot hear any of you.”
    They stopped and looked ahead, hands on rolls of shirt.

    “Yeah, we know you can hear us, wise guy.”
    “Though he isn’t very wise or smart . . .”

    “Get this guy off of here! Yeah!” The briefcase guy waved it towards the entrance.
    Some were just too scared to speak and remained rigid as if poured into a cement mold.

    “Silly humans,” I responded to no one in particular. “Don’t you know what you’re up against?”

    I slowly peeled off my human ‘face’ to reveal my blue swinging tentacles. The inhabitants of the small elevator somehow pressed even further back, some holding their hands to their mouths.

    “Sick!” the little kid said with huge eyes, gripping at his mom’s arm.
    “Just stay quiet, little Noah, and maybe Mr. Alien here will let us go.” Her voice was shaking.

    The burly guy in front spread his tree trunks from one side of the cabin to the other.

    “If you harm them, you gotta get past me!” His slits glared at me, but I wickedly snapped.
    “Not a problem,” and he instantly vaporized into thin air.

    “What the—“

    Without warning, the roof of the elevator hinged open, revealing the starry sky above. A green beam flew down from a bulky shadow above into the box, casting everyone into a glow.
    “Now you shall come with me, you hostages!”

    The incredulous looks on their faces were the last ones I saw on them as, one by one, they were slowly carried up. Some didn’t even react, the briefcase guy wept as he went up and actually kissed his briefcase goodbye, and the hippie was looking up with an awe-filled face like this was cooler than any lava lamp. Last to go were the two well-endowed gents near the back, who were holding onto the bar, their hands white.

    “I don’t think I can hold on any longer!”
    “Bob! Nooooooo . . . . . .”

    They traveled up, doing big somersaults. Gradually they were sucked up into the ship’s large cargo area underneath and disappeared. I rode up last, winking at the cameras.

    Once I saw to it that they were secured with duct tape, I teleported to my cabin, got changed, and went along the dim-lit hallways. I shook Admiral Jiux’s tentacle heartily up in the control room.

    “Mission accomplished.” Cheers rose from my colleagues.
    “We may just have to promote you after all,” he said in his slimy voice.

    Our ship sped silently away on our engines, our live cargo watching their home blur and fade.

    -In the Security Room-
    “Hey Max, can you come look at this? Now?”

    (Extremely sorry for the length this time. Let’s just say I got ‘carried away’ too. Go hobbits!)

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Carried away Bilbo Baggins? Not in my mind, I think it’s great. A giant space bug kidnaps nine humans, probably for sexual experimentation. Sounds perfectly normal to me. You did a nice job on this, made it believable. I even liked the MC even if he was a bug. One question, what did you have to eat today?

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, Kerry. Let’s see: for breakfast cereal, whole milk, orange juice, for lunch a simple sandwich, more milk, water, and for dinner some chicken, milk, ketchup, beans, and a potato. Well, not to mention the twelve Reese’s cups I got in the afternoon, but let’s stay quiet about that, shall we? As far as I know, none of it was poisoned. It’s just me throwing my loopy ideas out there. My dad’s a big fan of the Twilight Zone, so… that kind of explains it all right there.

        1. swatchcat

          In good humor, I find this more of a cheesy alien story. It was good though. As a side note, I would like to thank you for using double prepositional phrases. I spotted a few and thought wow, that doesn’t sound correct and went on a research spree on conjunctions and prepositions to see which you used and if my eyes were deceiving me. All be darned, although not a suggested normal habit to get into with either, your okay and I am just jumping to conclusions. Good job.

    2. snuzcook

      That was a lot of fun! I especially liked the image of the two big bruisers doing somersaults as they flew up toward the ship. Gotta say, tho, that I was amazed that duct tape was so ‘universally’ used!
      Cute ending with the security monitors…

    3. gamingtheblues

      Sci Fi + possible probing + a mischievous hobbit and two security men? I think we have the next big movie from Hollywood.. I thought this was fun and unpredictable. Very well written and aware of its own humor, this never fell into camp or too silly, just the right mix. Well done sir halfling.

  49. Violet Hayes


    I had always been scared of elevators.

    Everyone told me it was stupid, but I hated small spaces, and I hated the thought of plummeting to my death in such a tiny space even more. If I had to be in an elevator at all, I went by myself. No one else. I was not going to be cramped into a small tin box as the death machine rattled up cords that, in just about every movie I’d seen, had snapped.

    I was paranoid. Everyone told me so. My sister laughed at me. Once, I went in an elevator with my best friend, and she purposely jumped up and down while I screamed for her to stop. They thought it was funny.

    But they aren’t laughing now.

    Then again, neither am I.

    I remembered standing there, my sister, Abby’s, fingers clutching tightly at my arm to keep me from bolting. “Nuh-uh!” she said. “We have to meet the boys in ten minutes. We’ll never make it on the stairs.”

    “B-But…” I watched with growing unease as four more people stepped into the elevator. There was already four, including me and Abby. Making this eight. “They can wait.”

    “Don’t be such a sissy.” Abby rolled her eyes at me. “You’re twenty-four. When are you going to get over this stupid little fear?”

    I didn’t answer her, focusing on keeping myself calm as two more girls pushed their way in and the doors slid shut with an ominous whoosh. “…ten seconds,” Abby was saying. “I swear, that’s how long it’ll take. C’mon, we’re in a fancy hotel; we must experience everything!”

    But already something felt wrong. Since I rarely rode an elevator, it took me a minute to realize what it was. “Abby,” I said, my voice sounding strangely strangled, “why isn’t the elevator moving?”

    “You’re paranoid, Jess—”

    “Push a button already!” snapped an impatient-looking man in a suit, crushed against the back wall by the two whispering, giggling girls.

    One of the girls blinked confusedly up at him. “We did,” she insisted. “Didn’t y’all?” She turned her wide eyes to the rest of the group. A couple murmurs of “Yes,” and “I’m pretty sure.”

    “Then why aren’t we moving?” The man looked down at his watch and huffed. “I’m gonna be late,” he grumbled to the clock’s face.

    My hands were sweating; my mouth felt dry as I, the one closest to the variety of buttons, peered closely at them. Floors one, four, five, and seven were all lit up, meaning they had been pressed. Yet the elevator remained stubbornly at floor six. “Abby…”

    My sister squeezed my arm and pushed past me to look at the buttons herself. She jabbed one, then pressed it again, her glossed lips twisting into a frown. She looked up to many expectant—and frustrated—glances. “The doors won’t open,” she relayed, her tone concerned.

    “We’re stuck?” screeched one of the teenage girls, and it was like a trigger had been pulled. The other girl shrieked, too, and anxious, panicked chatter filled the elevator. It assaulted my ears, bouncing off the metal walls and resonating back through my brain. People shuffled, bumping into one another. One woman stumbled against the wall, and I swear I felt the elevator tremble. My heart felt lodged in my throat. Every nightmare I’d had was coming true.

    Even Abby seemed unnerved. Her hand found mine and squeezed my fingers until I felt like she was breaking them. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she repeated, but each time she said it, she sounded less and less okay and more like she was getting infected by the panic spreading like wildfire throughout each passenger. “It’s okay…”

    One of the teenage girls had their phone out, tapping away furiously at the screen. “No service!” she cried. “It’s like hell!”

    I felt like I couldn’t breathe. They were all jumbling about, shouting now, anxious, panicked, tripping and shaking the elevator…

    “Everybody shut up!” I screamed, and it reverberated off the walls until everyone had stopped and spun to look at me. My face felt red, flushed with fear. My free hand was balled into a fist. My heart thudded. But my mouth worked on its own. “Panicking is not helping,” I snapped at them. “You’re just making everything worse. Get a hold on yourselves and freaking think!”

    And the elevator doors opened.

    A concerned hotel worker poked their head in. “Everyone all right?”

    I still hate elevators.

    (I went a little over…sorry, I kind of got into it…)

    1. gamingtheblues

      I like the mc taking over when she was the one who was more frightened than anyone before hand. Your writing was smooth and held my attention, which means there was nothing I could find to fault. Nice job

    2. Silver Sister

      Your MC’s outburst feels authentic. Meaning, the dialogue is realistic and I do believe this character would behave this way. She strikes me a a reasonable person despite her unreasonable fear. So I believe she’d be the voice of reason.

    3. Reaper

      You captured the cell phone thing well. One thing I love seeing through some of these stories is that often it is the lack of reception and not the stuck in a box of death that starts causing the panic. It is a believable spark of real life. Your MC is brilliant. My mind related her, I assume her, to a character in an older story with a bomb shelter when an alarm goes off, but instead of I told you so I don’t have room, took the shut up, you should have prepared now come in here with me type. Which made her very likable.

  50. qwertywriter


    The elevator stuck on the way up. After a minute of foot-tapping, I asked the elderly man who smelt of lemon sherbets next to me;
    “Excuse me, sir, but when will the elevator be unstuck?”
    He turned around to face me, with a somewhat surprised look on his face, and he grinned. He bent over slightly and said with his almost ethereal, grey-tinged face next to mine,
    “Don’t worry, child. It will be fine.”
    But it wasn’t fine. I knew it wasn’t fine. Because if it was fine then the elevator wouldn’t be stuck, would it?
    I frowned.
    “Excuse me, ma’am,” I asked the next person, “but when will the elevator be unstuck?”
    And the next. And the next.
    I received the same so-called answers no matter who I asked. Everyone patronises me just because I’m a kid. They call me ‘child’ and ‘little one’ instead of Anna, my name.
    I gave up speaking, and it was all calm for a while. We stayed in the elevator in silence, without the pitter-patter of my sole this time. But then, all of a sudden, the elderly man’s face dropped into panic and confusion.
    “Where am I? Who am I?” he asked desperately.
    Minutes passed and one by one, everyone in our little metal box began to dissolve into a hopeless desperation.
    I then realised why grown-ups said silly answers that didn’t really tackle the question: it’s because they didn’t know. They were scared themselves.
    The old man dropped to his knees and grasped my arms tightly.
    “What is happening?”
    I don’t know. “Don’t worry, it will be fine.”
    His eyes, although still frightened, softened a little.
    It will be fine. It will be fine.
    The comfort bled out from his expression once more. He stood up, startled, and hobbled away trying to clutch at shreds of his memory. A different person wandered up to me. A middle-aged woman, this time.
    “Who are you?” she asked, almost pleading.
    I don’t know.
    “Who am I?”
    I forgot. I don’t know.
    No, no, no. Stay calm.
    “It will be alright.” I stated as I wrapped my arms around her shaking body.
    “It will be alright.” She muttered in return.
    She stood suddenly, and, as if enlightened, went from person to person shouting with glee,
    “It will be alright! It will!”
    And slowly but surely all of us, unknown to even ourselves, stood up straight; quietly, intently, calmly.
    Because it would be alright. It would.
    The elevator unstuck.
    And as we reached our destination, and as the grey doors slid open, our purpose, our being, became clear.
    I reached out to the old man’s hand and squeezed it, just before our souls drifted out together into the clouds. Into heaven.

    1. gamingtheblues

      You had me wondering what was going on until the end, which is a feat enough in itself. Most of the elevator to hell stories you can get a feel for whats going on before hand. I like this optimistic take on the prompt.

      1. qwertywriter

        Thank you! I’m glad I could keep the suspense. This was my first post, and I was nervous about the responses so I’m really happy you enjoyed it.

    2. pinkbamboo

      I like this since it kept me in suspence until the last part. At first I thought the girl was a ghost herself cause she was seemingly ignored.

          1. qwertywriter

            I really appreciate all those who comment on here, it is very helpful and encouraging. “Enthralling” is definitely something worth aiming for consistently. Thanks!

    3. jmcody

      This felt surreal throughout so I was expecting something supernatural, but still your ending surprised me. Thank you, I enjoyed this interesting little story.

      1. qwertywriter

        Thank you. I wasn’t sure if the ending would be too obvious (the man with his ‘ethereal’ face, for example) so I’m happy that I could keep it a surprise.

    4. Reaper

      I recognized a supernatural element with the loss of memory but did not see this ending coming. That was beautiful. I loved the realism of the child’s point of view and the adults telling lies to keep her calm. The transition of her into the adult role was brilliantly done. While the story was very uplifting I found the loss of memory very scary. You made it beautiful with the ascent to heaven and still spoke to the fear or death for not knowing what lies beyond. This was great because you told the story simply but tackled and included so many complex ideas.

      1. qwertywriter

        Thank you, you’re being extremely generous! I am glad that you liked the age-transition. As a teenager myself, I tried to do it as if it was me (ie. I act differently around my siblings as I would with my mother). And, I was going to post on your story but I might as well do it here (I don’t know if that’s unorthodox, I hope you don’t mind), I have to say your story’s great to – I especially liked the countdown which added to the suspense. It definitely showed the more grisly side to human nature. And thanks once again for your kind words.

        1. Reaper

          I don’t mind. Thank you for those kind words. I do tend to focus on the uglier side of human nature, which is why I love a story like yours, uplifting is something I find difficult.

    5. don potter

      The MC as a child worked well, because it allowed for innocent questioning and the responses adults often give to the young. Yours was a sweet tale with a happy ending. I, too, saw the elevator setting as a way to look up rather than down. Nicely done.

  51. Critique

    On Black Friday downtown Manhattan was jam-packed. The store elevator doors opened and people jostled to get in and out. Three teenage girls squeezed and the door closed. I pressed against a wall to make room.

    “Number four please.” A large woman commanded.

    A girl with multiple piercings punched the button.

    I held my handbag like a shield from the corpulent youth invading my personal space.

    I counted ten heads besides mine. Did we exceed the limit?

    There was a violent lurch and the lights went out. We were thrown – crushing those closest to the doors.

    The screams were deafening. Someone groaned.

    “Elise? Are you okay?”

    “I think I broke my arm.” Hysterical crying ensued.

    “Back up!” A woman hollered. “We can’t move.”

    Chaos reigned as we scrabbled to regain our footing.

    “Nadine is that you.” A hand patted my head.

    “No.” I jerked back. I opened my cellphone – no reception.

    “Push the emergency button.” The overweight boy wheezed. “I need to get out.”

    “I’m trying.” A youthful voice wobbled. “It’s not working.”

    “Keep trying.” A male voice trumpeted over the cries.

    “Could everyone please be quiet?”

    “This could be a terrorist attack.”

    “Oh that’s helpful.”

    “Shut up.”

    “There should be a phone in here.”

    The lights stuttered back on.

    “Hey! Did you find an emergency phone?”

    “There isn’t one.”

    “Here, let me see.” A woman pushed through the bodies.

    “Hey! Watch it.” An older man shouted.

    “Oh for heavens sake.” She elbowed the girl with piercings aside and started punching all the buttons.

    We were sweltering. The proximity of the boy’s body odour paired with someone’s exuberant use of perfume had me breathing shallowly.

    I heard an agonized whimper and a pungent smell pervaded the air. His bladder had burst.

    I thought I would suffocate.

    “I’m going to throw up.” An elegantly dressed woman began retching.

    “We should all shout for help?”

    “I can’t breathe!”

    “What’s that smell?”

    “Come on people on the count of three.” The panel sergeant bellowed.

    A cacophony of hollering resulted with several pounding on the walls. The elevator shook ominously.

    Fearful cries rang out.

    “Stop!” The woman next to me shrieked. “We’ll break the cables.”

    “There’s no reception.” I quietly told the adolescent boy dialling incessantly.

    “Is everybody okay in there?” The voice came from outside.

    “Get us out of here.”

    “Help!” The trio of girls screamed.

    “Stay calm.” The voice ordered. “We’ll have you out in five minutes.”

    When the doors opened the girl holding her broken arm tottered out supported by weeping friends. The boy with drenched pants exited last – he too was crying.

    We made the news. The department store is taking full responsibility. I can imagine the lawsuits.

    I admit I entertained the possibility of a terrorist attack but I don’t want fear to dictate my life. New York, I’ll be back.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You put the reader smack in the middle of the elevator. It’s not an easy task to do so. The dialogue was the trick to accomplish this feat. I even began to sweat a little. So much sympathy for the girl with the broken arm. Can you imagine the pain in a crowded elevator?

      If I read many more elevator stories, I’ll be taking the stairs thank you. You answer to the prompt was dead on. I’m not sure I could have carried the dialogue as well as did. Second thought, I know I couldn’t.

      1. Critique

        Thank you Kerry for your kind words. To make dialogue sound realistic is tough – I’m working on it. I’ve no doubt you would do an awesome job on dialogue.
        After reading all the wonderful imaginative stories here, I’m favoring stairs too ;)

    2. gamingtheblues

      This truly captured the essence of what it would “actually” feel like stuck in an elevator. Tons of points for realism. Kerry is right your dialogue carried the day here and its the hardest part to write in a story. Well done.

    3. Silver Sister

      This really goes to show how our experiences shape our reactions. If you were to stand me in a large department store elevator in, say, St. Louis, I probably would think ‘terrorist attack’. But put me in New York (especially if I’d been around on 9/11) and the reaction changes. Brilliant.

    4. qwertywriter

      I can’t add much more to what the other comments have mentioned, apart from that I really enjoyed reading this. The writing was believable yet fast-paced and it put you, as Kerry commented, right in the middle of the action. A great piece of writing.

    5. Reaper

      I have to echo the compliments for the dialogue here. One of the hardest things is to write dialogue where you do not have to point out who is speaking. You used this to your advantage here. There were different and distinct voices, but the lack of recognizing who was speaking added to the claustrophobic feel. It was a stroke of genius. I also enjoyed the take on everything, feeling the fear but not giving into it, in your last line.

  52. amsecre

    Figures. The one time I take a chance and venture into the behemoth that is Macy’s on State street, I find exactly what I was looking for – a new serving platter for the wedding this weekend, on sale, solid silver. But there’s no way I’m taking a chance with this thing on the stairs, plus it weighs about a hundred pounds, so into the elevator I go.

    It’s busy today, shoppers are all out enjoying the balmy Chicago spring. I cram myself into the elevator next to a woman wearing a pink sundress and a man in a three piece suit and tie. As I awkwardly shift the package in my hands to reach for the call button, the man in the suit turns to me.

    “Which floor?” he inquires, and his eyes are a striking shade of grey, perfectly accented by the blue of his tie. It takes me a moment to find my words. “Um, first please.”

    As we descend, I forget about the weight in my hands, and try control the goofy, wide grin that is trying to spread on my face. I cough to get my mouth under control, and notice that the sound of the descending elevator car has gone from a whir to a whisper, and then very smoothly stops all together. The only sounds I can hear are the breathing of my fellow travelers.

    “Great.” The woman in the pink dress sighs. A twenty-something girl in the back pulls out her cell phone, frowning at the screen as she irritably jabs at it. Sighing, she shakes her head and places it back in her purse.

    “Well…shouldn’t there be an emergency button, or something?” I say. I can’t really see around the box in my hands, so I try to turn my body a bit. The man beside me in the suit touches my arm.

    “Just stay calm. I’m sure it will be over soon.” He says. I am once again arrested by his eyes. The authority in his voice automatically calms me. Resigned to wait, I try to heft the weight in my arms to a more comfortable position. He must have pushed it.

    “I can’t imagine they could not notice a stuck elevator. I mean, aren’t there, like, monitors?” says a teenage boy to my right. There are murmurs of agreement.

    “I imagine the monitors are very busy at the moment.” The man in the suit says with a small smile.

    “Oh? Lots of shoplifters hanging around Macys?” I quip. I’m flirting. Shamelessly.

    “No. I imagine they may be distracted by the armed men who are probably by now swarming all of the floors. Busy day for everyone.” He says. The air stills. I am frozen in place, trying to process his words. “Just remain calm everyone. I am sure this will end soon. Better to be in here at the moment anyways.”

    The box slips from my hands and falls to the floor. I can hear the ding of the metal inside, probably denting it, probably ruined. The man with the grey eyes turns to me.

    “Oh. What a shame.” He says softly.

    I try to breathe. My voice shakes. “It wasn’t what I was looking for anyway.”

    1. gamingtheblues

      Oh my all sorts of things going on in here. Your Mc’s captivation with the man in the suit is very intriguing and its so genuine I feel like I am intruding upon their private moment by reading it. At the same time…is he a bad guy? Is he being factitious when he says armed men or does he have intimate knowledge of whats going on… I liked this one alot.

    2. jmcody

      Ominous. Things are not always what they seem to be, and the thing you thought you wanted may turn out t be completely wrong after all. I love this kind of subtle, nuanced story.

  53. gamingtheblues

    Waiting for Tomorrow

    John, never Jonathan, Samuelson woke up to the most important day of his life. Still, when the phone rings at 5:30 in the morning its hard to recognize a good day when it starts.

    “John? Wake up! This is Doctor Mizkowi, we have a donor. The heart is being flown over as we speak and is being kept in an organ care system. I need you here in 20 minutes.

    John woke up instantly.

    “A donor?? I can’t believe it… I’ll be there in ten. Thank you so much Dr.”

    “Your welcome John, and… congratulations.”

    John and his wife Jean had been married for thirty amazing years of both love and loss.

    After three children and two grand children, they were ready to settle down and enjoy each others company. Then John came down with pneumonia and he had been lucky to survive; his heart had been damaged, and was slowly dying.

    Ten minutes later, he was hugging her tightly. “Sweetie stop. I’m only going to pre-op right now. I’ll see you again before the procedure. Alright?”

    The elevator was packed with people but he paid little attention to them, he was in his own world, waiting for the 11th floor. Halfway between nine and ten, the elevator lurched to a halt, jarring all the passengers. No time estimate from the emergency phone, the hospital had bigger problems.

    An hour later John had occasion to question ever going to doctor again after this. For people who held life and death in their hands, they were remarkably fragile.

    “I gotta Get outta here! This is a death trap!”

    “Why won’t it move??? The generator is on!”

    “Bill, the generator runs the lights and the essential medical equipment, not the elevators.”

    And so on.

    Suddenly, he felt a tug on his jacket. Looking down he noticed a young girl, maybe 13 or so looking up at him expectantly. Clutched in her hands was a packet of flowers, the white ones with the thin petals and yellow centers.

    “Excuse me mister… I’m not supposed to talk to strangers but… Ms. Penelope is going to start wondering where I am. How long are we going to be stuck?”

    “And who is Ms. Penelope? Is she your teacher?”

    “Oh no! Ms Penelope works at the orphanage. And I’m Kaylee!”

    “Well nice to meet you Kaylee, my name is John, never Jonathan! I’m sorry sweetie but I have no idea how long we are going to be stuck in here. What are you doing all by yourself in the hospital?”

    “I’m not alone! Ms. Penelope lets me go and give flowers to the other sick kids on the different floors. There are tons of sick kids here… they always look so sad. And Ms. Penelope says that flowers make her feel better when she is sad. I grow these ones myself! So I go to all the floors where I can and give everyone a flower. Like this.”

    She passed John one of the flowers, who bemused, took it and watched as she went to around the elevator. Some were close to hyper ventilating but each person received a flower. The adults slowly looked at each other and now all was silent, and amazingly everyone began smiling.

    “OK! Now that you all have a flower, we have to sing! Ms. Penelope says that music helps us not be scared anymore no matter what!”

    And these doctors, a cleaning lady and a visiting grandmother, a leather bomber jacket with a get well card, even the lady in the power suit, all started singing songs with little Kaylee, the singing echoing through the elevator shaft.

    Finally, just when they were running out of songs to sing, with a flash the lights brightened and the elevator started with a jerk.

    “Oh good! Though I’m out of flowers! I’ll have to pick more after I see the doctor.”

    “Doctor? I thought you were here to deliver flowers with Ms. Penelope?”

    “Nooooo, I sing and bring flowers to the other kids while I’m here. I was born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome! That means I have half a heart, and I’ve already had three surgeries!”

    She said this very matter of factly, pronouncing the big word carefully and not without some small trace of pride.

    “But…the surgeries didn’t work as well as they were supposed to, so I wait every day to see Dr. M. Well, this is my floor. G’bye!”

    She smiled at him, waved and ran off onto floor eleven. He saw her approach his own doctor, Dr. Miskowi who smiled sadly and shook his head. She pulled the doctor’s sleeve and gave him a kiss on the cheek when he bent over. Dr. Miskowi looked grave as he watched Kaylee run around to all the nurses and give them hugs. Then the doctor noticed John and waved him over.

    John didn’t move. He was watching Kaylee who was reading to a little girl. He watched her, looked down at the white flower with the yellow center in his hand, and then back up at Dr. Miskowi…

    John, never Jonathan, Samuelson died holding the hand of the woman he loved and who needed him so desperately.

    Daisies surrounded his coffin, each one placed carefully. Kaylee walked up and gave John a kiss on his forehead and hugged him. She turned facing everyone and sang.

    “Sometimes it’s hard to, don’t want to look over your shoulder
    ‘Cause you don’t want to remember where you’ve been
    There’ll come a time you die, if you could only hold him
    ‘Cause I know that’s where I am

    So listen with all your heart, hold it inside forever
    You may find all your dreams have already come true
    Look inside and find the part that’s leading you
    ‘Cause that’s the beat of a heart”

    At the end of the service, Jean took Kaylee’s hand and they left together. Tomorrow would be a better day.

    (Lyrical Credits go to “The Warren Brothers and their song “That’s the beat of the heart” I highly reccomend it.)

      1. gamingtheblues

        Thank you Jerrittanne. I strive to take each prompt as a chance to explore who I am. This may sound silly but I cried a little while writing it. I tend to put myself deep in the minds of my characters. I am very pleased that you enjoyed it.

    1. pinkbamboo

      Wow this is powerful. I love how selfless john is, must have taken lots of courage to do so. The most impacting line was when he looked up at the little girl again and made that decision. Nice turn of event from the elevator.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Inspired writing, gamingthe blues. Could this be a true story? I like to think so. Poignant isn’t a strong enough word for your story. Sometimes the mind of a child, can surpass all wisdom. You brought that out perfectly. After perfect, what else is there?

        1. gamingtheblues

          I would like to think this could be a true story as well Kerry. Thank you for your comments. As for perfection… its something I think we all should strive for and while I always have things I want to change or add to my writing to make it better, I truly appreciate the sentiment.

      2. gamingtheblues

        Thank you for taking the time to comment on my story pinkbamboo. As you are newer member to our prompt family, I was looking forward to hearing your take on my writing. Selflessness is not easy, especially when its something important. This story came very close to having a far different ending. That was one of my favorite moments of the story myself ;)

    2. jmcody

      This is so many kinds of beautiful, from the message of selflessness and courage in the face of suffering, to some quietly elegant sentences and simple, yet powerful language. This is a nice side of you, G. I forgive you for scaring the crap out of me last week.

      1. jmcody

        Also, I will listen to your song when I get home. I like how your pieces sometimes come with these little extra credit assignments, like translating Latin. Keeps it interesting!

        1. gamingtheblues

          Welllll I won’t lie, I wrote this with my promise to you from last week to turn the leaf so to speak in my mind the entire time. This was actually DOUBLE the length…. had more back story on John and his family, I pared it down to reach more simplicity as you said. I think it clocked in at over 2500 words before first edit.

          This is also the first piece I have posted here that went through any edit process =) I did a word count and thought…uh oh… Thank you for the encouragement as always and I am sincerely looking forward to your take.

          1. jmcody

            Well I better start writing then…

            I tried one more time to send you that response, and the WD messaging system is telling me you don’t exist. Are you a figment of my imagination???

    3. Silver Sister

      I think we as a society get so bogged down with the negative that we forget that there really are ‘John’s in the world. And we can choose to be more like them. Thanks for the reminder.

    4. Reaper

      Just wow, gamingtheblues. I’m not even going to try for more because your story leaves me speechless and gasping for breath. You have some range.

        1. Amyithist

          I am in awe. This was so touching and so sad. It made me hurt. It made me feel so in touch with my own mortality and, at the same time, hurt for the loved ones I know I’ll lose one day. I walk away from this story with a renewed determination to love my husband more, to talk to my mom as often as I can and to love every person I love now as hard as I can. Life isn’t a guarantee. It’s a glimmer in our eyes. I appreciate you bringing these emotions out of me. WELL DONE!!

          1. gamingtheblues

            I write for the opportunity to connect with people this way. You have given me the highest compliment possible and feel very humbled that my story would invoke such awesome and possibly even life changing emotions in someone. Thank you so much.

  54. Poeeop

    I Know Why They Cry

    Bonjour my name is Vincent Boucher, and the story of which I am about to divulge is one of the most strange and eerie tales Paris has known. Please do not mistake this scene for one of fiction like you may read about in your books. It is a Parisian legend from the early twentieth century that even now has no explanation, and most souls who witnessed it still do not wish to speak of the incident. The following is an account of the occurrence given by the lift concierge, the only witness who cared to speak, as printed in the La Croix newspaper in the winter of 1937. Up for debate is which was odder, the event itself or the account given by the lift concierge.

    I came on my shift at two o’clock p.m. as usual. Nothing was out of the ordinary; shoppers were bustling about, merrily carrying their bags and holding hands with their lovers.

    I had ascended and descended the lift with passengers a dozen or so times when on our next descent I picked up a full lift, ten passengers and myself. It was I think in between the fourth and third floor, that a malfunction happened with the lift and I think with the air inside the lift as well. The lights that were a bright white colour, for a small instant went completely dark and then illuminated once again, only now the lights radiated a menacing red glow. The red lights alone were unsettling, but the woman’s high pitched scream could’ve curdled the iciest of blood.

    I turned to investigate and saw a scene before me that is burned into my memory. In three corners of the lift stood new passengers, where they had come from and the means by which they entered the lift, I cannot say. Before us were three mannequins each donning a white wedding dress with a transparent veil, enough so that you could easily see blood tears streaming from their eyes and running down their dresses.

    The lot of my passengers all huddled tightly in the center of the lift, some were crying, others screamed at me to do something.

    I reached out to push the recall button, upon making contact with the button something peculiar occurred. The usually cold, metallic feel of the button was now warm and had the familiar touch of flesh. The lift responded to my touch with a short shudder, as if it were alive and telling me to keep my hands off.

    One elderly woman clearly losing her grip, repeated a question over and over, she asked “why are they crying?”

    Well I think I know, I know why they cry sir.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m joining with the others. Perfect horror aka “Twilight Zone.”
        I especially like the set up you wrote prior to the lift’s concierge.

    1. jmcody

      You managed to maintain a convincing French accent throughout the entire piece, which I thought added some wonderful flavor and atmosphere. The voice of the narrator was very believable and compelling. Now I really, really want know, why do they cry, Poe?

  55. Jerrittanne

    I pulled at the tie, neatly knotted in a double windsor at my neck, expecting it to help. The elevator was small enough but just 15 seconds in, it had unexpectedly shutdown between floors and the walls seemed to close in with me with each passing moment.

    Beads of sweat had started to form on my forehead and upper lip as I tried to swallow my panic, not letting the others in the elevator know of my fear – claustrophobia. I hadn’t looked around before, but now as I felt the tiny space dwindling in size, I took the opportunity to distract myself by watching the others. There were 11 of us altogether, varying in gender and ages. Trying to focus on the back of the head that was directly in front of me, a low voice broke into my thoughts.

    “Well, this seems to be an awkward situation we’ve found ourselves in.” The statement made by the elder gentleman standing off to my right, was made to break the tension but as a small chuckle only escaped the mouths of a few of us, I couldn’t help but notice my breathing had become irregular and sight darkening around the corners. I tried to laugh, anything really, to help with the ever-shrinking space, but nothing helped.

    “Have we tried the emergency button? You know, the one used for instances like this?” asked a young girl, not much older than 19. She stood toward the back of the elevator, so her question was lost amongst the conversation of the others. I guess I was the only one who had heard her. I cleared my throat, trying to repeat her question, but the only thing I could manage was tiny gasps of air. The woman to my left, must’ve heard me struggling to breathe, as she had turned toward me and cautiously placed her hand on the small of my back.

    “Are you okay, hon?”

    I nodded, closing my eyes, trying to pass it off but everything began to spin and I immediately shrank to my knees, cradling my head in my lap.

    “No, no you’re not. Watch out guys – can you spread out as much as possible? Give him a little room to breathe?” The woman had started pushing at the people close to me, trying to give me room but there really wasn’t anywhere they could move to.

    “Hey lady, he’s not the only one stuck in here, you know?” A man, roughly 40ish, growled as she turned back toward me. She whipped her head around, hands on her hips.

    “And you’re not the one having a panic attack so back the fuck off, yeah?” She stared at him, daring him to comment again, but he just shook his head and turned away. The woman turned back toward me and squatted so that she was eye-level. “I have a bottle of water in my purse. Do you want it?” All I could manage was a gurgled yes, not sure if she understood but when I opened my eyes for a brief second, she was already digging around in her purse. Just as she was handing me the bottle, a small, static voice came over a speaker, hidden in a corner of the elevator roof.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patience. We’ve monitored the activity on your elevator and while it seems like a technical glitch, I’m happy to say that if you can all bear with us for just a few more minutes, we will have you all out.”

    A few snorts came from a few faces in the crowd, while others clapped.

    “Due to the terrible inconvenience that this may have created for some of you, on behalf of Golden Resorts, we would like to offer a free meal and cocktail in our 5-star restaurant on the first floor. Please consider this as compensation for your time lost,” the voice said. “Again, just a few more minutes and we will have everything in working order. Golden Resorts apologizes for this inconvenience.”

    The speaker went quiet and immediately everyone began talking at once, some excited to get out, others grumbling about lawsuits, and I still sat there, cradling my head, on the verge of tears now. Even the bottle of water didn’t help, and just as I felt all of my sanity beginning to dwindle, a small jangle chimed and the doors to the elevator opened.

    Not waiting for the others, I immediately pushed my way out, gasping for air as if I had been holding my breath underwater. As my breathing slowly returned to normal and the others had all stepped out, I started to feel better. Until I realized that I had left my briefcase in my hotel room, seven floors up.

    1. gamingtheblues

      That was tightly written, with a good eye for what it feels like to have a panic attack. I have known MANY people who have this affliction for various things and you nailed it. The ending was hilarious and an interesting counterpoint to the tension of the rest of the piece.

      1. Jerrittanne

        Thank you so much! I have a terrible habit of banging an idea out in five minutes and not revising before publishing (hence my last submission on the mystery writer). From the look of things, I have a lot of growing to do as a writer – which I’ll admit, I’m rusty. I used to write all the time before I started as a journalist and that killed any and all creativity I had. I’ve only recently started writing again and hoping to find my niche again.

        Thank you for being supportive!

    2. Critique

      Thank goodness for the kindness of an understanding stranger! The last sentence wrapped up the story perfectly. It made me laugh… sorry MC ;)

    3. jmcody

      I’m guessing he’ll just take the stairs. Being a tad claustrophobic myself, I think you portrayed well the feeling of breathlessness that it brings. I’m not as bad as this guy, but I could fully feel his panic from the way you described it. (Elevators don’t bother me so much as really small spaces like MRI machines and other things I won’t mention …). Well done, Jerritanne.

  56. PeterW

    I’m in the elevator, it’s packed, and, of course, it stops. This is the Marriot too. I sprung 300 dollars a night for this and I could be at a Red Roof Inn with a room on the second floor which opens to the highway, smoking a cigarette on the balcony walkway. This elevator is glass and opens to Marriot’s stupid atrium. It’s filled with trees and this horrible humidity. The glass starts to fog.

    I check on the others occupants who I had not really been interested in when I got on. All are men, ages 50-75 in ties, white. They all smell real funky. They all got patches that say Limburger Cheese and Dark Beer Festival. “Man, I should’ve eaten all that cheese,” says one guy, rubbing his portly tum.
    “Yeah, I got some major diarrhea,” says another with a saucy burp.

    “I think it’s worth it though: the top of the line Limburger, the stouts so thick they could be syrup,” says another who is way too scholarly.

    The elevator is certainly starting to fog. Flatulence is everywhere. Burps explode like little strings of firecrackers. The elevator is turgid with intestinal gas and pretty soon it’s gonna condense and flow down the walls. I get out my phone and try to text my boss. All the men start to sit down, groaning or complaining about stiffness, and eventually I’m the only one standing, still trying to get my phone to work.

    Pretty soon someone has whipped out a plate of neatly arranged cheese and someone else gets out a 12-pack of oatmeal stout. They obviously don’t care that the elevator has stopped. The elevator is filled with the sounds of juicy mastication, energetic swallowing, and gulping while chewing. The cheese plate comes by me and I nearly gag. Its smells like a dead cow. Ummms and ahhhhs of satisfaction resound.

    I dial 911. I start banging on the glass hoping someone in the forested atrium will see me. No responses. I turned to the seated men. “A little help here please.”

    They look up at me curiously. One says, “Have some cheese, sonny boy.”

    “Fuck no,” I say, “I want the fuck out of here.”

    The nod and grumble and exchange glances; then they continue to eat. The air is so thick with gastricity and awful cheese stench my eyes water. I start to gag, and I’m tipping; dizzy; tottering; ‘oh shit;’ I topple onto a sofa or a bean bag chair of a man.

    I wake up. I’m now looking up at the seated Limburger/Beer fiends. In a very sated voice, one says, “I think he killed Greg.”

    I realize there is still a mushy object beneath me. I push off into the fleshy arms of, um, men.

    “Yep, Greg is dead,” says other, taking the squashed man’s pulse.

    “Oh fuck,” I yell, aware that my elbow had just put a crater in another man’s face. “Oh fucking God.”

    The arms that have caught me start to pat me gently. The others nod slowly in acceptance of their friend’s death. The scholarly guy says, “Greg loved Limburger and died in Limburger as we like to say it,” then to me, he said, “Limburger instead of Limbo, get it,” and he smiles, he fucking smiles.

    I am about to protest, scream, vomit, but someone stuffs a piece of cheese into my mouth and washes it down with dark, chocolaty beer. Someone gets out another plate of cheese. Another 12 pack of beer appears. 16 hours later, when the fire-fighters bust in, I’m just like them, drinking and eating, farting and burping; the essence of cheese just oozing out of my pores with the sweat, my breath heavy, my clothes stain with cheese and beer; the elevator darkened to night time by a thick coat of moisture on the glass, and I am gloriously fat and juicy; and aaahhing and umming— fucking A—I’m in Limburger.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I couldn’t help laughing through all of this, Peter W. I have a lot of memories flowing through my brain, due to your witty piece. My Father loved limburger but Mother wouldn’t let him eat it in the house, so he went to the garage to eat. Memories rushing back to when I was a kid. Thanks, Peter W.

    2. gamingtheblues

      I found this weirdly compelling. I do not know fortunately? the reputation of mr. limburger but I am not sure if I wish to make his acquaintance now. This reminded me forcefully of Monty Python’s The meaning of life restaurant scene for some reason. If I hated smelly cheese and beer before now, I sure has heck am not going to be indulging any time soon. Thank you sir.

    3. jmcody

      True story: Very early in my career, I had to give a presentation on “the market for cheese” at a dairy convention in Wisconsin. It was a lot like this (shudder), right down to the steamy Marriott and the drunken cheese farmers. Were you there??? Thanks for the memories, Peter W. I agree that this was awesome in a Monty Python kind of way (which I love, by the way.)

    4. snuzcook

      Somehow your fun story puts me in mind of Night of the Living Dead meets Blazing Saddles.
      Once again, PeterW, you put hilarous images into my head that will ride around with me for a long time, threatening spit takes at unguarded moments when they bubble to the surface.

  57. pinkbamboo

    My second piece :)

    Hopefully it’s likable. I went a little overboard with word count on this.


    I walked into the elevator and took a deep breath. Stupid heels. Why did I let Gail talk me into this blind date? The elevator door was closing when I heard someone shouted ‘Hold the door’. I pressed the open button and this man rushed in, his hand holding a folder. He smiled at me and I nodded politely. I glanced at the indicator, one more floor to go. Suddenly the elevator stopped. I looked at the others with concern and their expressions mirrored mine.

    “Mummy, are we there yet?” a small voice was heard from the back.

    There was a woman carrying a baby in her arm while holding on to a little girl. She looked anxious but smiled at her daughter. Next to her was a pair of senior citizens, the wife clutching her husband’s arm and he was patting it reassuringly. Three teenage girls were huddled in the corner, two of them looked worried, the other one annoyed. The boy standing next to me was holding a huge plastic bag – purchases from an art shop. He was hugging the bag then. Right across from me was the man who rushed in just now, tapping his folder against his thigh as he glanced up impatiently.

    “Harold, I don’t feel so good” the old lady gripped his arm tighter.

    “Now now Betty, let’s just sit if you’re feeling dizzy” her husband sat her down and looked at us apologetically.

    Most of us smiled and nodded except for miss sour face who rolled her eyes. Silence in the elevator. I couldn’t even get a signal to call Gail. The mother with her children also sat down.

    “All the cute clothes are being sold out right this moment” one of the girls whispered.

    I tried to hide a smile, not sure whether to be amused or annoyed. Suddenly the elevator jolted and I fell to the side, almost knocking over art boy. I felt a sharp pain on my hand and noticed there was a cut. Blood was oozing and I looked to see art boy’s scissors had poked through the bag.

    “I’m so sorry” he kept repeating nervously.

    The girls cringed and I heard Betty went “Oh my ..”

    The man in front of me took off his tie and bandaged my hand without saying a word. I just mumbled thanks.

    “It will have to do for now” he nodded with a quick smile.

    I looked at the blue and red bandage on my hand and prayed for a quick rescue. Few minutes has passed before our door was opened slightly. The elevator was stuck between levels and two fireman were holding out their hands to pull us up. The mother with her children went first as she mumbled her thank you repeatedly to everyone. I let Harold and Betty up and the girls pushed themselves to the top. Art boy went up and there were two of us. He gestured with his hand.

    “Ladies first”

    When I came up, art boy was by the side. Actually, all of them were standing nearby. It felt like those trapped moments forged a comradeship between us. I turned around as the elevator creaked and one of the girls screamed.


    That was five years ago and I still remembered the day vividly. I have my 2 inch scar to remind me.

    “Honey, I got to go. You stay in bed until you feel better okay?” he came in and gave me a kiss before planting one on the sleeping child next to me.

    “Daddy loves you” then he left the room.

    “Honey?” I called out.

    “Yeah, I forgot this. Important meeting today” he came back in and grabbed his blue tie with the red stripes from the nightstand.

    1. jmcody

      Hi Pinkbamboo,

      Welcome to the forum. I’ve only been here about a month myself. This is a really wonderful group of writers who will not only welcome you but will inspire you, impress you, teach you, make you laugh and make you cry.

      I enjoyed your story. Talk about a blind date! I’ve always thought that you never really know someone until you’ve been through a crisis together. That’s when people show what they’re made of. There should be an elevator test for all new boyfriends!

      Sweet story!

      1. Ahsuniv

        Totally agree with your comment ^ the story gave a wonderful example of how people take off their masks and become one as human beings during a crisis. The characterization and the description felt very genuine and the end really touched my heart.

      2. pinkbamboo

        thank you for your kind words. I wanted to write more but was controlled by word count. so far so good, i love visualizing the scenes to pen down. :)

      1. pinkbamboo

        initially i wanted to make a horror story out of it but decided to give it that little twist instead to have a happy ending. i’m always more inclined to romance XD

    2. Reaper

      It took me a while to think of what I wanted to say to this. I love the story. I can’t remember where it is but in a book somewhere there is a section about the good Samaritan. It retells the story twice and instead of ending with the let he who is without sin cast the first stone both have dark endings. The point made is that the story of the good Samaritan is not unusual, we only remember it because the ending is so unusual. This is how this story reads to me. It is a reminder that sometimes good things happen. It is beautiful and emotional in all the right ways. Often I feel that happy endings feel forced. This feels like the story flowed through you. The instances of kindness and community feel so real that this deserved the ending you got to. I can’t wait to see more of what you write.

    3. Bilbo Baggins

      Nice story! I’ve only been here around a few weeks longer than jmcody, and this is the best writer’s community I’ve ever been in. New people are always welcome. It’s kind of funny that you said that you’re inclined to romance, because that’s what I don’t like to do! Well, we have our own tastes, that’s for sure. So, welcome! (By the way, jmcody is extremely good. His story last prompt blew my socks off. But don’t tell him I said that.)

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Let me get in on this. Both of you are tremendous writers. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way! How in hell do I add a smiley?

    4. gamingtheblues

      You know, its weird. Elevators seemed to make most people (including myself) here think of religion, morality, death. I personally struggled desperately to do this weeks prompt, and yours feels natural and warm. This was a sweet and well written tale of how love comes from the strangest of places and when you least expect it. Welcome to the forums as my… colleagues? have already said. We have some truly talented writers creeping around here and you appear to be a welcome addition to the ranks.

      1. jmcody

        GTB, my response to your sci-fi story seems to be stuck in my outbox. Not sure what to do about that. I tried twice already. (Apologies Pink Bamboo for hijacking the thread.) Anyway, it was awesome! Congrats!

        1. pinkbamboo

          Hey no worries. It’s kinda amusing to see you guys going back and forth. I hope to improve myself here, still exploring this place. I’m going to post an intro in the forum now.

          And yes those were the themes that came into my head when I thought of elevator too but I’m sure we have some fine dark stories here, I just want something light and .. Romantic? Lol ..

    5. Silver Sister

      You got to me with this one. I adore hearing how couples meet. Doesn’t matter if the couples are real or imagined. I blame my parents. Their story is so cute it got me hooked. Anyway, I like that you took something potentially awful and morphed it into something good. It really drives home the fact that things can change at any moment – not just for the worse, either.

  58. natashazena

    “I can’t be stuck in here,” the woman behind me snaps.

    It’s only been mere seconds since the elevator halted and already the air feels palpable and crowded. I am aware of Derek more beside me than ever.

    “Try the emergency button,” the silver-haired gentleman to my right urges the teen in front of him. She jams her finger into the button. We wait. Nothing happens.

    “I knew I should have taken the escalator,” the woman behind me blurts again. I can feel my face growing hot with frustration. It’s only seconds before the other people surrounding me in the cramped elevator begin to join her with their own murmurings of annoyance.

    “Remain calm,” I say, and repeat louder so my voice carries above theirs. “We all don’t want to be in here, but it’s worse if we panic.”

    I feel Derek’s eyes on me so I lift my head to look up at him. As I guessed his eyes laser off hate and I return to looking at the jammed elevator doors before me.

    “I’m calling 911,” a middle-aged black man in the front says as he whips out his cellphone.

    “Cheap ass store,” a lady to the rear gripes. I hear the shuffling of shopping bags, feet shifting, voices groaning and the man telling the 911 operator that we are “stuck in the elevator.” He tells her the name of the store, the address and that there is a pregnant woman in here, as if that might make them come quicker.

    I look to my protruding belly and unconsciously put a protective hand to it. Sofia is what I will call her. I have not told Derek that. He thinks we should wait to name her and I think we should wait to get married.

    “Don’t you love me?” He asked as we boarded the elevator seconds ago.

    I didn’t answer. I avoided the question and rushed on the elevator with the swaying group and now wonder if my energy willed the elevator to stop, to suspend the inevitable answer that I do not want to give him.

    Yes, I love him. I love him and the baby, my Sofia, who is not his. I do not want to tell him this. So I welcome the pause. I do not want to push play on the pain and suffering that will be his once we exit the elevator, the limbo between his happiness and his soon-to-be despair.

    1. jmcody

      What a perfect package you created here — the stuck elevator as a metaphor for the question that hangs suspended in the air, and the lives in limbo that may come crashing down at any moment. Very satisfying and affecting. Beautiful job!

    2. Reaper

      You packed a lot of emotion in here. Starting with the feeling of entitlement and rush of the world with everyone being in such a hurry that a few seconds are just too long to wait. I was feeling bad for your MC with the lasers of hate from Derek and then I turned to disliking her for the baby not being his. I am amazed you packed all that in with so few words.

    3. Ahsuniv

      I love how delicately you have woven the protagonist’s story into an annoying elevator scene. So many emotions playing out in such a short story.

    4. gamingtheblues

      Wow… just wow. There is so much undercurrent going on in this story its amazing. I was very sympathetic with your MC until that fateful line!! I find the idea of cheating fascinating in that I can not understand the motivation behind it, especially in this case. I want to know more of this story! Write a follow up please!

    5. Critique

      An emotionally charged story done so well in a few words. The MC leaves me with mixed emotions. She loves a man who looks at her with hate… and he’s not the father? YIkes.

  59. seliz

    We’re smashed together like animals to the slaughter. Shiny metal walls surround us, boxing us in. The heat is stifling.
    Why did a family of six have to cram into an elevator with four people already in it?
    I stop myself from glaring at the mother, who is ignoring everyone, including her son who is jamming all the buttons on the elevator.
    “Hey, stop that,” the man closest to the door says, his irritation palpable.
    The boy stops pressing buttons, a blush of red creeping up his neck and cheeks. His eyes overflow with tears, and he begins to wail. His mother snaps to attention, suddenly the angry mama bear.
    “How dare you,” she shrieks. “How dare you talk to my son that way!”
    The man looks embarrassed. Before he can reply, the lights flicker and the elevator comes to a grinding halt. I lean against the wall, my pulse quickening.
    Images swim before me of the handicapped boy at my high school who got stuck in the elevator. He had to leave his wheelchair behind to be pulled up by two firemen. I remember seeing the panic across his face, his pudgy hands grasping for dear life.
    Not to mention the horror movies with people climbing out of an elevator just as it slides down to the next floor and—splat—they get chopped in half.
    As if reading my mind, someone cries, “I don’t want to die this way!”
    I fidget uncomfortably as sweat pours down my neck. Did I put on enough deodorant? Do I stink of fear? Someone does. The elevator reeks of body odor.
    The man next to the door is punching the emergency button in frustration.
    “Are you trying to break it? Elevators are not a toy,” the mother says smartly. Her voice has the quality of nails on a chalkboard. The man’s face turns red, his eyes bulging in anger.
    “Are you kidding me? Are you fuc-”
    His words are cut short by static from the intercom, followed by a friendly voice.
    “Stay calm everybody. We’re here to help.”
    The words work like magic and the metal doors slide open. As feared, the elevator has stopped midway between levels. As person after person lines up to be rescued, I hang back.
    There is no way.
    There is no way in hell that I’m climbing out.
    Finally, it’s just me.
    The fireman grabs my shoulders and lifts me, my feet dangling wildly. I’m slick with sweat, slipping from his grasp. The elevator lurches and the images return. Bodies chopped in half. The screams. The blood.
    With a final tug, I’m on solid ground and happy to be alive. Onlookers surround the door. One person in particular catches my eye. It’s the handicapped boy from my school. His eyes lock onto mine and he gives me a knowing smile.

    1. Silver Sister

      You hit the nail on the head with that obnoxious mother. I had a real reaction to her which made your story come alive for me. I identified with the MC imagining scenes from horror movies, too. My memory has a bad habit of playing this trick on me, too, at the worst times. Good story.

    2. Reaper

      Nice mix of comedy with the mother, and horror with the MC’s mind. I saw my own mother with the that is not a toy line. The handicapped boy watching at the end was a perfect cherry.

    3. Critique

      The last paragraph had me holding my breath…’slick with sweat, slipping from his grasp’. I could feel the terror. Love the last sentence – the camaraderie between the two.

  60. swatchcat

    The essence of your story was fine, I would suggest another attempt at proofing. Also, spacing would be helpful especially with conversation. Curious, did you text this? I agree with Reaper but I saw the political jibs more than once.

  61. Amyithist

    I stuffed myself into the elevator. The remnants of the day still clung to me and I noticed a few noses twitch as I positioned myself in the little box. I hated working at the mall. I hated it even more that I spent the entire day spritzing snobby socialites with perfumes they’d never buy. Of course, on occassion, the polite shagrins turned out to be legitimate and I managed to rake some moderate commissions into my hungry little fingers. I managed to pay for my apartment and bills with a little to spare for fun. I guess it wasn’t so bad.
    The elevator doors slid shut and the ancient pullies and gears squeeled as it pulled us from the first floor up toward the fourth. I gripped my purse as it pulled further and further along. I hated elevators. They always managed to make me motion sick and claustrophobic at the same time. Suddenly, the car stalled and jerked violently. I cried out; my voice lost in the sea of those screaming around me. “What happened,” a woman called.
    “The car stopped,” a man said, shoving himself to the front of the box. He opened the small door to access the emergency phone and lifted the receiver. The conversation with whoever was on the other line was quietly intense. I could tell that something was wrong. This wasn’t just a simple malfunction. This was bad.
    The man lowered the phone back to the hook and turned to face us. His face was grim. “There’s been an earthquake. Emergency crews are responding, but they said it’s pretty bad out there. We could be in here for hours.”
    The news didn’t go over well. For a good thirty-minutes we panicked. Then we settled down and got to know one other. Dave was a manager at the game store. He had a little girl waiting for him at his mom’s house. The older lady I’d seen behind the book store’s counter’s name was Bev and she was a grandmother of four. Her husband had died six years prior and the meager salary she earned alloted her a little place of her own where she had two cats and a little dog she said she lived for. I found myself saddened at the loneliness I saw crying out behind her empty eyes.
    A woman I’d seen “gandering” at the makeup counter had her arm draped around her daughter. Emma was 13 and, according to her mother, impossible to communicate with. This, of course, prompted the teen to roll her eyes so far back in her head, I was certain she could read her own thoughts. Abby told us that her daughter was impossible because of the divorce and that they were “hanging in there.” I felt uncomfortable as I watched the woman dig her fingernails into her daughter’s upper arm and I wondered what happened behind closed doors.
    The last person in the elevator gave me the creeps. I’d seen him in the mall a handful of times and every time I saw him I felt a shiver race down my spine. Something about him… His name was Drew and he was what we who worked at the mall called a “rat.” But we found out that the mall was just a place he hung out when he couldn’t take the streets anymore. He was a fifteen year old orphan who ran away from the numerous foster homes he’d been placed in. I found myself feeling sad for his situation…and guilty that I’d judged so harshly before.
    “What about you,” Dave asked, taking a drink from his water bottle.
    I shrugged. “My name is Tabitha. I live alone. I don’t have a child, I don’t have a cat and I don’t have a dog. I read..” I stopped and looked at the people gaping back at me. I wondered if they felt the same pity or discomfort that I felt for them. How did they see me? Was I lonely spinster with a torrid past or was I a mysterious woman they watched pass through the mall with little interest? I realized at that moment that every person judges. Whether they want to or not and sometimes, we’re completely wrong about what we see on the outside.
    Just as that thought hit my mind, the elevator jarred back to life and lurched us back to the fourth floor. As I stepped off of the elevator, we each said our goodbyes. In that moment, we were like family; but I knew…come tomorrow morning, we’d be strangers again. Strangers with our own agendas and our own judgements. Such is life.

    1. gamingtheblues

      This was phenomenal. A chance to explore a slice of life instead of a tragedy. Held my attention from beginning to end. Very well done.

    2. Silver Sister

      We sometimes forget that the people we see around are not ‘extras’ in the movie of our life. You never can tell what’s going on in someone’s life just by looking at them. Your story is a beautiful illustration of this.

    3. gnatseyebrow

      I’m no expert when it comes to writing, but I know what I like to read. In my opinion, this is one of the best “prompt” stories I’ve read on this web site. I like the the way you bring out the idea of how we judge strangers based on their outward appearance. I also really like the ending, family one day and then strangers the next. Great job!

    4. Reaper

      Amyithist you hooked me again. The hating everything and saying maybe it is not so bad was an amazing intro into an exploration of the human condition that I felt throughout your story. Initially I felt a connection to the Randal character from Clerks but it didn’t stay. Amazing humanization, and even as she’s (I assume she) realizing we all judge she is still judging the mother. Beautiful contrasts and I also wonder what her fellow passengers thought of her. This touched me. At first I felt adding the work like to we were family at the end softened a blow that should have been a knockout punch, but as I struggled with a way to say that I realized… your MC was already slipping back to the humdrum life when she had that realization and it deepens the tone. Well done as always.

      1. Amyithist

        I have to say the feedback I received on this touched me greatly. Thank you to everyone who took the chance to read my prompt and offer me such great feedback. It’s hard to fit all of the things I wanted to with such a meager word allotment. I appreciate everyone saying such nice things. Thank you again.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I couldn’t believe what happened as I read this. I was emotionally pulled directly into the elevator. The more I read, the more nervous I became. I’m beholding to you, Amyithist. You got me out of there is one piece. Thank you.

    5. Critique

      Great read. I love how Tabitha’s criticism melted to compassion in light of everyone’s stories. My favorite part was where she realizes others may feel the same pity and discomfort towards her. Maya Angelou quote: “We are more alike than we are unalike.”

  62. jhowe

    The starkly decorated elevator car had been descending for quite some time. Greely Marshall was certain that the Metropolitan General Hospital was not a tall building, maybe eight floors at most. Though the speed of the elevator car seemed to be abnormally quick, it must have been an illusion.

    The other passengers were also becoming uneasy. “What’s going on here?” said a man with a salt and pepper beard that was obviously grown to hide the fact he had no chin.

    “Did someone press lobby?” said an attractive middle aged woman wearing a black suit. Most likely a sales rep.

    “I didn’t,” said an older man near the control buttons. “I assumed it was going to the lobby.”

    Greely moved to the control panel and saw that it was blank. No illuminated numbers, no indication of what floor they were on, yet the elevator continued to descend. He snatched the emergency phone handset from the wall but could not make it work.

    No Chin started punching buttons while Sales Rep Lady pulled the alarm switch. Nothing happened, nothing changed. The mood became panicked, crying ensued, a prayer was murmured.

    Abruptly the car stopped and the door opened. A man with a bulbous nose and a black trench coat stood there holding a clip board. “Who said that prayer?” he said.

    Nobody said anything. The site of the man was intimidating but not threatening. His gray eyes shone with contempt but also with a hint of hope. He moved to the old man, the one who had been praying and ushered him from the car into the dark hallway. The door closed and the elevator descended once again.

    The panicked murmurs continued. No Chin started praying and others followed, some quite loudly. Greely knew this ruse wouldn’t work. He was beginning to realize this was not a praying crowd. The car stopped again and a different man, this one with long blond hair wearing a similar trench coat waited. He also carried a clip board and read some names from a list, telling them to exit the car. They did, without preamble.

    The door closed and down they went, the temperature seemingly rising slightly. At the next stop, No Chin and a meek woman in a frumpy pant suit got off as directed. Greely and Sales Rep Lady, the last ones left, looked at each other as the door closed.

    This time the elevator went up. After a minute or two the door opened and they were at the lobby. The two riders quickly exited into the bustle of the crowd and walked briskly to the exit. Once outside they stared at each other before turning and waking away in opposite directions.

    Greely’s mind was reeling with uncertainty. After walking three blocks down Constitution Avenue he noticed a Presbyterian Church on the other side of the street. It was a brick structure with an impressive steeple and massive oaken front doors. The doors opened and the man with the bulbous nose stood, this time wearing a suit. He straightened his clerical collar and beckoned to Greely with his shining gray eyes.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I really liked this story, jhowe. It’s nicely written with all the unspoken answers for the reader. False prophet feel about the story. The moral, you better be upfront with God, for he knows evetrything, from the number of feathers on a swallow’s wing to the number of fish in the sea. Very thought provoking.

    2. Reaper

      The moral approach with social commentary is something I find hard to do. This is beautiful for that. There is a simple elegance that made me hesitant to comment but I have to give a compliment to this touching story.

    3. jmcody

      It came across to me like a fable. I feel like there must be a world of meaning in the fact that the man with the bulbous nose, who turned out to be minister, had eyes that were filled with contempt and hope. Does this reflect the story’s ambivalence toward faith and prayer? Also, was there any significance to the grey-haired man with the black trench coat vs. the blond-haired man in the white trenchcoat? So many questions… sorry, I have a compulsive need to assign meaning and make sense of things. Well, your story certainly got me thinking, which is a big thumbs up for me!

    4. Critique

      Intriguing tale that raised questions. Folks merrily going about life when suddenly confronted with their destiny. Is Greely given another chance? A good story for discussion.

  63. devsmess

    Mom always told me not to stereotype, but in Saks Fifth in the Big Apple, you can pretty much guarantee their money clips aren’t gold plated. And anyone with a gold clip for dirty money is a lying farce.

    I squeezed into the elite department store elevator with a dismissive smile and faced front, glancing at the glowing panel.

    Six floors down and then it’s the home stretch.

    Just get me out of this haughty hell.

    The doors closed, giving me a slightly distorted view of the passengers jammed together behind me in their reflection.

    Pink pant-suit lady. Hilary Clinton wannabe. Rapist in a suit and tie. Come on, you aren’t fooling anyone. Local college student with a brand name bag trying to belong, but probably stealing shit. The mom-hair blonde with beach ball tits. I’m going to go with ex-porn star, born-again Christian on that one. Her blouse comes up too high to still be doing splits for dollars.

    I turn my head to see the man next to me. When he catches my gaze, he turns away, but I see the slight scarring across his nose and squint.

    I’m about to speak up to him when the elevator grinds to a stop, jolting everyone inside, slinging their shopping bags into knees and hips.

    I sling my arms out instinctively for balance and hit rapist-man.

    “Sorry,” I say, raising my eyebrows and quickly glancing away.

    “What’s going on?” a voice barks in the back.

    I tilt my head to see the control panel. All the lights are out.

    Hilary Clinton sees me looking and pushes a few buttons. Nothing lights up, but the lights above us are still on.

    “No one’s claustrophobic, eh?” a tall man in the back corner asks.

    His query is met with vigorous shakes of the head, but in the back I hear a muffled sob.

    “This is ridiculous,” Hilary says.

    “I’m sure it’s just-“

    The zing of dying power echoes in the elevator shaft, stopping the humming motor. It’s silent.

    I hear a string of curses and sigh.

    So close to freedom.

    But then I hear something.

    Cell phones open as people chatter and begin to worry, but I close my eyes.

    What is that sound?

    Through a brief break in chatter, I hear it. A light, unassuming beep.

    “Hey, shut up,” I snap. “Is that anyone’s phone?”

    I can feel the tension immediately rise.

    Ex-porno lady pouts her Botox lips.

    Another beep, toward the back of the elevator.

    “That beep?” someone says.

    Then, my heart rate skyrockets.

    I can feel my pulse in my fingertips.

    I look to the man with the scarred nose. He’s the broadcaster who was getting hammered for slinging mud at the wrong group of radicals.

    My jaw went slack.

    I remembered the cropped blonde that glanced at me while I waited for the elevator, the way the make-up counter attendant shuffled his hands under the counter as I walked by.

    “Oh, god,” I whispered.

    Another beep.

    This time, everyone moved away, showing its source, the girl sobbing in the back corner.

    I shoved toward her and ripped open her rumpled blouse.

    Back over my shoulder, I found the journalist with eyes as round as moons, staring in disbelief.


    Forty words over… I tried to pare it down, though- I really did!
    Enjoy hump-day,


    1. Kerry Charlton

      Him Steph.

      This is a real winner, tense, observant and gritty at the same time. My take is the girl in the back is either a suicide bomber or was shoved into the elevator with a bomb trussed on her.I loved the descriptive romp through the passengers. Kerry

    2. jmcody

      This had a lot going for it in terms of tension and drama , but I think I would have been more drawn into it if the mc hadn’t been so instantly contemptuous and dismissive of everyone around him. (I will assume this is a guy because of the comments about the blonde.). This kind of made me dismiss him early on in the story. It would have worked better if he had been more of an astute observer, like he was with the broadcaster, and less narrow minded and knee-jerk judgmental. But then, he presumably ends up blown to bits by someone even more narrow minded and judgmental than himself, so maybe that was the point? In any case, this was an intriguing tale.

    3. Reaper

      The pace and description in this is intense. I for one loved the dismissive and derogatory assessment of people. It made the MC a jerk, but I felt it matched the mood you set for him walking into a store he didn’t like. I saw a him because of that instinctive hatred of shopping. Mostly it felt real to me because we all do that, though I hope to a lesser level. We try not to but we are always judging and categorizing, so maybe a bit over the top but very realistic.

    4. devsmess

      It’s funny that, in my mind, the MC is a female. ;)

      One of my weaknesses in fiction is writing action scenes, so I’ve been studying some James Rollins and trying get scenes flowing with a quick pace. Prompts are really helping me out, because it shows me how much I can actually make happen in 500 words.

      Thank you, everyone, for your feedback! It’s truly appreciated.

    5. gamingtheblues

      I find it very in interesting that this story began with mom and ends with a bomb. To me it drives home the thought that tragedy of this nature can happen any time to anyone in this day and age. This is the first prompt I read this week, though I was no ready to respond to any until I had written my own. It was a very thought provoking way to be introduced to the thoughts behind this weeks writings and I enjoyed it very much.

  64. peetaweet

    Twenty-two months of brain storming, test runs, and meticulous planning all jerked and wrenched to a halt somewhere between floors two and four.

    I shook my head, smiling at the odds. This was Karma’s heist now, not mine. Ten people stuck in a 27 square foot broiling tin box. Panic. Cell phones. Helplessness. And then the screaming, most of it from a sweaty fat man that was just begging for me to put him out of his misery.

    Rubbing elbows, the bickering soon reached the point of yelling. I spoke up. Slow and controlled, in an effort to build trust but get these idiots to listen. What’s funny—not haha funny—is that looking back, I still thought I had a chance to pull it off. Little did I know that Mitch was on the turnpike, halfway to Jersey..

    “Look, we’ll be on our way soon. Let’s just calm down and take a seat on the floor.”

    My nerves were keenly intact early on and they as they were told. I took a few deep breaths, checking the control panel when the pregnant woman let go with a primal moan. Karma’s second blow hit me right square in the balls.

    I delivered the baby. The kid was coming out either way an hour and a half later. The place stunk something awful afterwards, not to mention the mess. I wrapped up little Otis in soft cashmere scarf. Ten became eleven.

    Hour three brought more misery. I knew plans A and B were history by then. But the ride was far from over, the elevator lurched and swayed as Larry, the fat man, gagged and gurgled and fell to the floor like an industrial size bag of quikcrete. Without thinking, I jumped on him and started mouth to mouth, which was just oniontastic. We got him breathing, but things were bad. Real bad.

    Snapping my fingers, I ordered Jeff, the mousy accountant, to stand. I climbed up to check the shaft. His shoulders were like applesauce, but I could see that if we got those doors pried open, we’d have a chance, or at least some fresh air.

    I hopped down. Jeff crouched in the corner, rocking back and forth and mumbling. We had to act. Going on four hours I seized on Mary, the formidable woman with a Volkswagon-size mole on her chin.

    “Let’s try to pry the door.”

    She replied with a dense look and I motioned to the stainless steel doors. She took the bottom and I took the top. We pulled and yanked and finally the doors gave way a slab of concrete except for a foot wide wedge of concrete. I sucked my breath and scurried out, taking one last look at the refugees.

    “It’s been fun guys. I’ll send help.”

    Unfortunately help had come by way of NYPD’s finest. Karma wasn’t done with me yet, as my gun leapt from my waistline and onto the floor and discharged, leaving a bullet embedded itself three inches into the tile wall near the restrooms.

    The stampede was on then and I was taken to the floor, knees in the back. I tried to alert the officers of the new baby, Larry, Jeff, even Mary’s mole. They needed help. For my troubles I received a kick to the ribs and a police escort to my new home, a 27 square foot concrete box.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You’ve written a scren play for Murphy’s Law. I’m certain he appreciates. I only have a minor suggestion. Most elevators have 65 square feet, it’s code compliant that way. I loved and was amused by your descriptions of the passengers, especially the Volkwagon mole.

    2. Are You Dreaming?

      I dig the cynicism of the protagonist. Excellent narration and story flow. I didn’t quite understand how the first sentence of the story tied into rest of the story. Was he planning on robbing the place?

      1. Reaper

        This feeds into the question I had. Halfway through I came to the conclusion your MC had already robbed the place and the others were his hostages. Was that the intention or an invention of my mind? Which made him sympathetic with how he kept helping them. I love a bad guy that is three dimensional like that. I believe oniontastic needs to be added to the dictionary as the word made me laugh.

          1. Are You Dreaming?

            Okay, cool. Yeah that word count thing was a doozy for me, too. I found the story changing more than I liked when I started trimming the fat off of it. Great writing on your part anyways. Keep the ink a flowin’ my friend!

    3. jmcody

      To me it seemed like you scattered lots of hints throughout that your MC was up to something and it wasn’t good. There were also lots of interesting character traits sprinkled throughtout, like onion breath, applesauce shoulders and one terrifying mole. Good work, Peetaweet.

    4. gamingtheblues

      I agree, this one was extremely fun to read. To use an old expression, your MC is a real card, and I think it would be highly amusing to read a group of short stories based on his robberies and exploits.

    5. Critique

      A story that comes full circle only in different boxes ;) The MC had a good heart – bad decision to get caught up in a scheme with the likes of Mitch. Otis was a clever choice for the baby’s name :)

    6. don potter

      I like the way you set the size of the elevator and brought it back again as the cell size, although it’s a bit big by prison standards. I enjoyed the read.

  65. Kerry Charlton


    Jonathan stumbled through an ancient department store, guided by an invisible force he didn’t comprehend. He tried to stop his wandering but felt powerless to do so. He walked to the nearest counter and spoke to a young woman who seemed to work there,

    “Can you help me, miss? I seem to be lost.”

    “My name is Angelica,” she said. “Have you a moment for a consultation?”

    ‘She just wants to sell me something,’ Jonathan thought.

    “I’m sorry, I haven’t the time today, but thank you.”

    “Won’t t you spend a few minutes, Jonathan? It’s important to your welfare.”

    He wondered about the name and asked,

    “What store is this?”

    “The most popular in town. Please reconsider.”

    “I’m sorry, I’m sure you mean well but I’m late with an appointment.”

    “With whom?” she said.

    Jonathan started to walk away but glanced back,

    “I really don’t know.”

    He continued through the store and a lift appeared in his sight, a rusty pull gate covered the entrance. His hand wrapped on the old door behind the gate as he stepped back in bewilderment when the door separated horizontally like a freight elevalor. Ten souls stood inside the cramped elevator as the old operator spoke,

    “Welcome Mr. O’Reilly, to Aperio, Frustratio Ac Desperpo. Step in please.”

    Jonathan hesitated but a force pushed him forward into the crowd.

    “What floor please, Jonathan?”

    He struggled for an answer,

    “Fourth please.”

    The crowd in unison spoke,

    “W all want the fourth floor.”

    “My name is Mr. Poneros,” the operator said. “There is no fourth floor.”

    An elderly gentleman with vacant eyes spoke,

    “Any floor up is fine.”

    “You should have planned ahead,” Poneros snickered. “There are no up floors.”

    Jonathan understood and hit the old man with all his strength. From the crowd, a young woman said,

    “Thank God, we have a Savior.”

    Jonathan grabbed the elevator control and turned it clockwise and the lift started to rise. Two… three…four. It stopped and the wheel fought Jonathan’s strength and that of two men who had srepped from the crowd to help him.

    “Please God, save us,” the crowd said, again in unison.

    Jonathan had managed to steady the lift as Poneros had risen to his feet. His eyes had turned to fire and as his mouth had opened wide, a pair of black crow were revealed, who called out,

    “Go down to the depths. Go down to the depths.”

    Pneros pushed the three men aside and spun the wheel counter-clockwise. The floor fell in a free-fall as Jonathan’s body rose from lack of gravity, along with the screaming.

    ‘As God is my witness,’ he thought, ‘He will give me the strength.’ He grabbed a vertical bar on the side wall attached to the falling lift, swung his body and his feet crushed Poneros’s chest. The devil fell to the floor and Jonathan grabbed the wheel but it wouldn’t turn. He prayed to an answerless God. His mind flew to the rejection he had shown God as he released the wheel. The crowd stood in partial silence, some cursing while others prayed silently.

    The lift came ta a crashing stop. Lucifer walk among the dead and smiled,

    “Welcome to hell sinners.”

    1. devsmess

      A bit confusing at parts, but I loved the concept. I love me some heaven and hell thrillers and the idea of using the elevator metaphorically never gets old for me. Love it.
      Nice! :)

    2. jhowe

      Dang, I have a story with a similar theme. I’ll still post it. I’m trying to figure out Angelica’s role. I think she was trying to help Jonathon with her offer of a consultation. Very entertaining.

    3. jmcody

      That was a very imaginative take on how souls get divvied up in the afterlife. It didn’t seem like Jonathan was necessarily such a bad guy, just that he was too caught up in his own confusion to recognize his last chance for salvation. A cautionary tale for those who sleepwalk through life! The image of the rusty iron gates and the freight elevator with the horizontal opening was especially effective in conveying the idea that he was being swallowed up by something monstrous. Very interesting story!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, JM. I always look forward to your critique. You bring out things in my story that sometimes I don’t realize I’ve written. I used the department store as a substitute for a half-way station in the after-life, portraying a store clerk as an angel. This is just a fragment from a much larger story I’ve written called “A Travel To Redemption.” I’m glad you enjoyed it. I write for enjoyment and hope it transfers.

    4. Silver Sister

      Once again you managed to convey so much with so few words. I especially liked when Poneros tells them there are no up floors and should’ve planned ahead. It’s a simple statement rich with meaning. Thanks for the meaningful story.

    5. Reaper

      I love Angelica. As I realized what the elevator was my mind was drawn back to her. What you have her trying to do it sublime and the walking past without listening is poignant. I also had to look up Poneros, wonderful choice.

      Because this is you I have to ask. Was the fourth floor intentionally correlated to the Fourth Sphere in Dante’s Paradiso? Being the sphere of the wise and the lack of wisdom shown in passing Angelica by to follow an instinct that is not understood it felt like that might be a nod. I know you will add references like that to your stories so I had to ask.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you for the response, Reaper. I wasn’t thinking of Dante when I wrote this. I’m happy you picked it as a reference. I admire your thoughts and hitting the heart of my story. “The sphere of the wise and the lack of wisdom.”

        I’m very fond of Angelica myself and in the larger story, she leads Jonathan through hell and a personal, arm to arm battle with the devil himself, to save his sou,. a 4000 word story. This is a small clip from the original.

    6. Are You Dreaming?

      “He continued through the store and a lift appeared in his sight, a rusty pull gate covered the entrance. His hand wrapped on the old door behind the gate as he stepped back in bewilderment…” This is the flow of descriptive writing that leaves the rest to our imagination. Direct and akin to spandrels of the mind. Also, I enjoyed the scene description “…an ancient department store…”, which already has the reader scratching their head. And, “…guided by an invisible force he didn’t comprehend.” gives the story a dreamlike quality to start the reader out. Well written! Keep scribbling! BTW, thank you for post on my story. I always dig your praise and critique.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Are You Dreaming? I’ve worked this story back and forth for a year or so. It ended up at 4000 words. There’s a hand to hand combat with the devil, hosts of angels, minions of Satan wanting to take on the hosts, but they all stood by to watch the one on one. The devil doesn’t like one on one confrontations, especially choking holds.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Critique. In my longer story 4000 words or so, he does fight for his soul with a bare handed battle with the devil himself. So in that story he regains his faith in God.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Don. Boy, the writers are tearing this prompt up with the stories they’re posting. I’ve been writing here for almost a year and this forum is now rolling along like an eighteen wheeler and gaining more momentum every week. The prompts are inventive and unusual and I’m getting kick-ass fun out of this and so are you if I read you right. KC

    7. frankd1100

      Excellent, Kerry. Wisdom and experience, plunge on because one is able and ride through imperfection and doubt. I love the image … a warrior caring for those around him no matter the cost. Well done, Sir.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well, thank you Frank. It is frightening to me also. I figure I better start spreading the word around or I’m gonna fall into de big black hole if I don’t. I love devil stories and “host of angels” stories. I keep going back and writing about epic battles between them but haven’t found the right prompt to do battle in.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Easy, Nancy. I wake up at five every morning, climb the stairs and Miss Kitty and I start reading. There’s not much going on around here between five and dawn.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, Nancy. A clip from a larger story I had already written. I changed the ending to make readers think about the purpose of life. I’m glad you stopped by to read.

  66. Teatimeprose

    The elevator became crowded. As more people began to file in, we began to press against one another uncomfortably until ten stood in the small glass elevator. A mother, her teenage daughter, and her daughter’s friend all pressed the button to the fourth floor simultaneously and giggled.
    “Can you press three, please?”
    A timid, nervous man in the back piped up. Nobody moved. The elevator was filled with both awkward silence and loud conversations. He cleared his voice and asked again. Still nobody moved.
    “Oh, come on. Don’t pretend like you didn’t hear him.”
    I said and began lunging myself through the crowd until, finally, a business woman on the phone pressed three.
    “Thank you.”
    The elevator whirred and jerked. Floor one, two… The elevator jerked and gave a strange creak from somewhere above before coming to an abrupt stop.
    “What was that?”
    The two teenagers clung to each other and looked to the mom. Like most moms, she quickly explained that the elevator was stuck and should be working again very soon. I had been on too many elevator rides that have gotten stuck to count so worry was the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, all I could think about was the new show coming on tonight. If I couldn’t find a birthday present soon I would miss it and I forgot to press record…
    “I-is there a phone? Hey, maybe you should use the phone!”
    The timid man in the back became increasingly panicked and grasped the railing as if he was having a heart attack. Another woman who stood in the back stared out at the shoppers passing by.
    “What if we just suddenly dropped?”
    The entire elevator became silent.
    One of the teenagers mumbled. After five minutes the business woman on the phone finally hung up and sighed.
    “That’s it, I’m using the phone. This is taking far too long.”
    She called from the emergency phone and half-turned to the crowd assuring us that help was on its way. Ten minutes passed… Then Forty.
    “I-I can’t take it anymore! I’m suffocating!” The timid man had become hysterical as he pounded on the glass.
    This set everyone in a frenzy as they writhed their way to the sides and began banging on the glass and begging onlookers to help us. The elevator began rocking and creaking under the strain of fears. It was too much, even I began to worry that we’d crash. I placed my hands to my ears, closed my eyes and sang Bob Marley’s ‘Three little birds’ song aloud. Suddenly, the elevator jerked and I held my breath. Then, like a miracle, it began to work. I opened my eyes in time to see the timid man bull-rush through the crowd and the business woman follow. The rest of us stampeded out of the elevator at the fourth floor with sighs of relief. Needless to say, I am never taking the elevator again.

  67. Allie

    The elevator jerked to a jarring halt, knocking me slightly off balance. The florescent lights flickered out, leaving me submerged in the dark with ten strangers. “Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening,” a nervous man mumbled on my right. I glanced over at him, and with my eyes adjusting to the dark, I could make out his round glasses and vomit-colored jacket. “I’m going to die in an elevator.”
    “You’re not going to die,” I snapped. He glared at me.
    “Yeah?” he shot back. “We’re stuck in a two ton metal death trap hanging by a thread.”
    “Two tons?” a girl asked.
    “He’s exaggerating, it’s not two tons,” I assured her.
    “Yes it is!” the man announced. “I researched it! It’s two tons.”
    “You’re full of shit,” a boy around my age snapped.
    A woman was wringing her hands nervously together, rocking back and forth on her feet, muttering to herself. “George…Oh, if he finds out know he’ll curse my grave…The birds will come for me, they always come for me…”
    I ignored her nonsensical rambling. A man was trying to calm his screaming baby, who was growing louder by the second. “Marty, it’s going to be fine,” he mumbled to the child. “Everything will be fine, the elevator will be working soon.”
    The metal box jerked again, moving downward. My heart jumped into my throat, but the elevator stopped again. An old woman was praying in the corner, whispering to herself fluently with her eyes closed. I girt my teeth and rolled my eyes.
    “You’re all pathetic,” I grumbled.
    “At the speed this hits the ground, we’ll be dead on impact,” the man with glasses announced. “At least it will only be painful for a moment. Two tons and we’re out like lights.”
    “That’s it,” a girl said sourly. She looked to be in her late twenties. “I’m getting out of here,” she grumbled. She stood and pried the elevator doors apart, revealing the floor of a hallway halfway up the opening.
    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” an old man rasped. She ignored him and pulled herself up to the floor slowly with her upper arms. I watched her, the only sound being her grunting, the old woman praying, and the annoying baby screaming. “Get down, young lady!” the man insisted.
    “I’m – not – dying – in a stupid – elevator!” she groaned. She had pulled her body halfway up, her legs flailing precariously still in the elevator.
    The woman continued to pray. “Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, please help us in our time of need – ”
    The elevator lurched down again and with a sickening squash, we were all splattered with the girl’s blood. We fell silent. Her legs fell to the ground of the elevator, motionless and separated from her body. The baby started to scream again.
    “Two tons, I’m telling you. She didn’t even feel it. It split her right down the middle. It didn’t even hurt. Two tons.”

    1. Reaper

      I saw the inevitable end coming for the girl and still jumped when it happened. Your description was perfect as my mind saw all of them covered in sprays of blood and then added shocked looks of disbelief on their face. The last, see I was right from the man got me smiling in a dark way. Though I have to admit my favorite line was An old woman was praying in the corner, whispering to herself fluently with her eyes closed. I don’t know how one whispers to themself fluently but this line kept me, the vomit colored jacked hooked me.

  68. NoBlock

    In The Dark

    “Oh, crap.” A male voice said.

    “Uhhh, are some back-up lights supposed to come on or something?” That sounded like Carla from the furniture department on the second floor, but I couldn’t be certain. I thought I saw Carla behind me and to the left when I got on, that voice sounded like it was on my right.

    “You gotta be kidding me, not now. I’m already late for a business luncheon.” A raspy, older male voice said. “Can somebody push a button and try to get this thing moving again?”

    Tick, tick…..tick, tick, tick.

    “Nothing.” Smash, smash, smash. “Fuck!” a Long Island or Brooklyn or maybe Boston, hell I don’t know, voice said.

    “Well don’t break it!” This voice was certainly a big, burly man who breathed heavily on the back of my neck when he spoke.

    “It’s already broke! I-I-I am trying to fix the damn thing.” Tick, tick, SMASH! “Fuck!”

    “Excuse me, does anyone possibly have a flashlight?” I calmly asked, hoping a resourceful woman might carry one in her purse.

    After six despairing no’s, a teenage voice piped up. “Hey! I forgot, I got a flashlight app on my phone!”

    “Wow that much light comes from a phone? The whole elevator is lit up, that’s nice.” Said the older, raspy female voice. Oops.
    The light revealed a little bald man with thick glasses and a sweater vest who was on the verge of hyperventilating. He had his eyes clamped shut tight with his head tilted backward, his hands were gripping the rail on the wall and his forehead was dripping with sweat. He was mumbling something over and over to himself that sounded like “Ice in my panties, ice in my panties.”

    The blazing red haired guy next to me looked at me sideways and lip synced “ice in my panties?”

    I shrugged my shoulders, hey whatever works for him.

    A couple of people sat down with heavy sighs, Carla dug a candy bar from her purse and began to open the wrapper and most everybody else had their smartphones out and were busy texting.

    The older raspy female took the opportunity with the light on, to pull a compact mirror from her purse and apply some lipstick.

    Suddenly the elevator jolted violently and fell for just a second knocking the light from the teenager’s hands. We were all thrust into darkness yet again.

    After a few hysterical moments of screams prophesying the certain death of us all, I calmed most everyone down and assured the group that the department store had a great maintenance team and in a matter of minutes they’d figure the issue out and rescue us.

    An hour and a half later, the elevator lights came on and the door was slowly pried open and at the top of the door a smiling maintenance man’s head poked through. After he looked around at the group for a few seconds, his smile turned to laughter.

    I looked around at our group and couldn’t help but chuckle myself. Carla had chocolate candy bar smeared across an eyebrow. The teenager was asleep. The Long Island, Bostonian was trying to do pushups against the elevator wall. The older raspy female had an arc of lipstick from her lower lip to her left ear lobe.

    Then the maintenance man looked at me and asked, “Is that guy saying, ice in my panties?”

    1. lionetravail

      Nicely done, pretty crisp, and I chuckled over the revisit of the last line. I’m going to be thinking “Ice in my panties” for a few days now- thanks :)

    2. jhowe

      My favorite line was, “Wow that much light comes from a phone?” I’ve had that same thought a few times. Also, any story that starts with “Oh crap,” has got to be read.

    3. Silver Sister

      I liked the part where the redhead lip syncs ‘ice in my.panties’. Of course, ending the story with that phrase is killer. I gotta like a guy who just says what everyone is thinking. Good stuff!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m still smiling as I write this. It’s particularly funny because it’s dead on real. The dialogue is 100% on target. It only makes it funnier. Would you try something for the forum? Post a story titled, “Ice In My Panties” I suggest you diverse from the prompt and write anything that comes to mind. You’ve earned it. The whole forum is chuckling over this!

  69. lionetravail

    I walked into the already crowded elevator, hearing some groans and quick inhales as people grudgingly made room for me and my large belly. I didn’t care, however, and turned around as soon as I was in to face the closing doors.

    “Couldn’t just wait for the next car,” a woman muttered from the back left corner. Someone grunted a half laugh from next to her. I ignored them.

    I glanced over at the buttons on the panel to the right of the door, and it looked like everyone was on their way to 4 and higher. The elevator began to move slowly upwards. Finally, I thought to myself.

    Someone to my right dropped something and cursed. I didn’t look. “Oh, don’t worry ma’am, I’ll get it,” said a young female voice. I could feel her kneel down just to my right and back. “Thank you dear,” said an older, tremulous voice to the front right of the car.

    I glanced up at the numbers lighting in progression above the doors in front of me, and breathed. I heard a young male voice behind me say: “Mom, can we stop at the shoe section so I can get a new pair of sneakers.”

    “We’ll see,” came the subdued reply.

    Just after the number 3 lit and faded, the elevator car jerked to a sudden halt.

    “Oh no!” “What the hell is that?” “Oh my, I’ve dropped my umbrella again!” rang out. I kept my hands in the pockets of my jacket and remained calm.

    “Well this totally sucks!” said the young male voice petulantly.

    “They’ll have us moving again in just a few seconds, Tommy, you wait and see.”

    “God-damned, lousy elevator…” came from the earlier mutterer to the left rear.

    “No,” I said calmly. “You are wrong. God is great, you see.” I took my hands out of my pockets and unzipped the jacket I was wearing. I shrugged my shoulders out of it, and let it drop.

    The rows of explosives banded around my torso led to ‘dead man’ switches I clutched in my hands. I turned to face the others in the elevator, to see faces registering confusion, terror, and dawning understanding.

    “Insha’Allah,” I said, “You will no longer need to worry about the rest of your petty, sinful lives.”

    “Omigod, he’s going to…!”

    “Allahu akbar!” I said, and, simply, let go.

    1. lionetravail

      Thanks guys! The whole idea, and how it just came out and wrote itself, was scary. It really came from some dark place when I was thinking about one calm person in the middle of panic in an elevator. Brrr!

    2. agnesjack

      Oh my, was that intense. Your reveal came at just the right time. I really had no idea until he said, “God is great, you see.” Excellent, though disturbing.

  70. Carlos Hammer


    Eleven people entered. Me, my wife and both kids, a blind man with a rather large and terrifying-looking seeing-eye dog, a creepy, lonely man wearing shorts despite the cold weather, three teenagers, two girls and a boy, with tons of shopping bags, an old man with a walker that he leaned over to the point that his chin touched it, and a man with a hat, hawaiian shirt and a heavy camera dangling from his neck: a stereotypical tourist. We all entered an elevators.

    “What floors?” the tourist asked.

    “Four,” screamed the teenagers. I looked back at them, jumping up and down trying to make the elevator shake. I rolled my eyes and made sure my children weren’t laughing or jumping for that matter. Once everyone else had muttered numbers the elevator began moving. The blind man wanted the fourth floor too. The elevator began moving. 1… 2… almost done with those teenagers… 3… we passed the third when suddenly we were jerked to a stop. One of the teenagers hit their heads from jumping and I couldn’t help but snicker. Anyway, the other teens thought it was hilarious. The tourist turned, somehow still managing to smile and look worried.

    “We seem to have stopped…” he muttered, concerned. The blind man fidgeted and groaned. The teenagers continued laughing at their friend’s misfortune. My wife clung to my shoulder and my kids to my pant legs. The walker man pushed himself straighter.

    “So’re we gonna sit here or are we gonna try’n get some help?” he grumbled. “One of you gotta have your silly mobile phones?”

    “I’ve got mine!” The tourist said. He pulled an I-phone from his pocket. But elevator jerked and he dropped it. It cracked and turned off. It had broken.

    “Great…” the creepy man said, “that’s just great.” The teens kept jumping and finally I flipped.
    “Can you please stop?!” I turned and screamed, waving one hand by the side of my face. The boy teen turned to me and began laughing.

    “Ay man, we’re just playin’ around,” he said and through his hands into the air. Suddenly the elevator flew up with his hands. The girls started laughing louder. The walker man fell and the blind man stumbled. The tourist man put his hands out for balance.

    “Wait, what was that-” the creep was interrupted when the boy launched his hands down and the elevator moved too. Now more of us fell. The doors opened near the top of the door when the boy pulled his hands apart. The teens climbed out, giggling as the rest of us regained our balance. I jumped up and grabbed onto the ledge when the boy put his hands back together and the door slammed shut on my fingers. I fell to the ground, screaming and holding my fingers. Everyone was gathered around me.

    “What was that?” The creepy man asked, backing away.

    “I have no clue,” someone answered. I just writhed worm-like on the ground, cradling my missing fingertips.

    1. Silver Sister

      Cool take on the prompt! I guess teenage malevolent forces don’t like it when others laugh when they bump their little noggins. I enjoyed this.

    2. Are You Dreaming?

      Excellent twist and turns against my expectations. I especially like how you crafted this sentence: “The elevator began moving. 1… 2… almost done with those teenagers… 3… we passed the third when suddenly we were jerked to a stop.” Keep on writing!

  71. Reaper

    Daisy Girl

    Twelve noon, twelfth floor, going down. Who hit the button for four?

    Eleven passengers; soccer mom and infant child, Russian immigrants – grandma – mom – teenage boy, NYC cop from another era who serves and pacifies, two construction workers, gentleman from the east maybe a terrorist, woman that works in perfume wearing a short skirt with promotion heels, homeless Vietnam vet who panhandles covering Country Joe. The last is me.
    “My budet perym oni vkyuchayut.” – Grandma Russia.
    “Tikho, oni ne budut!” – Teen Russia.

    Ten minutes after the car stops. An announcement: The roof hatch is locked. Early detection of possible missiles, everything is shut down. Stay put, stay calm.
    “Keep that kid quiet.” – The angry cop.

    Nine infractions of the child crying in an hour. The first casualty of claustrophobia it hits the wall, silence. None protest, he has a gun and anger. We have only fear.
    “My po-prezhnemu ryadom.” – Mother Russia.

    Eight seconds of deafness. The argument began. We are all going to die in here. We all agree. The blue collar boys blame the Russian immigrants. The immigrants argue in broken English, seeming unsurprised. The boys beat the Russians to death. Only the terrorist tries to protect them. Deafening roar of the cop’s gun barking once to keep the peace. It stinks in here now; death excrement cologne. Mother keens in one corner, Barbie perfume another. I can hear again. Why am I too weak to stand up to the executioners? I fill with shame.

    Seven hours stuck here, no way there are missiles coming but we still believe. Heartbroken mom finally rushes the cop. Her revenge cut short by a bullet in the heart.
    “You killed him!” She wails then deafness again. No wasted bullets. If he has less ammunition than people he knows we will end his terror.

    Five hours until we’ve been in here a day. We have tried talking but no one wants to. We argue when we speak and the cop looks for the next target. More dead than living. Quiet is easier.

    Four, it was the construction workers that pushed four, now we remember. Accusations: If not for them we would have been out before the stall. The cop starts it, beating them with their own hammers to conserve ammo. The lady joins in and, God help me, so do I.

    Three meals from anarchy, sometimes less. Three left alive.

    Two bullets fired. The strumpet starts seducing the cop. She gains his gun and fires one against the artery in his thigh, one into his groin. Now we are safe but she has the gun.

    One violent tryst, I am afraid but alive. She has the gun. I do as she says. Fluids are exchanged but numbers are not. One day since the stall the elevator moves again.

    Launch. Parking. She slides out and clicks away on her heels. She blows me a kiss. Surprised I am alive I do not follow. Instead I punch five, menswear. I need to buy a tie.

    1. Silver Sister

      This is an intense account of the uglier side of human nature – turning on each other when trapped together. ‘Fluids are exchanged but numbers are not’ is a gem of a line. It’s raw and real without being offensive. That’s hard to do. I also liked the shell-shocked actions of the MC. Just going to buy a tie despite being trapped with murderous maniacs. All around good read.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you for these words. That gem is my own favorite line. I wanted it to be raw and am glad it is not offensive. Normally I am okay with being offensive but I try to tone it down a bit on here. I am responding to the last bit about the tie in my coming response to Amyithist but your kind words mean enough to me that I did not want to lump both responses together.

    2. Amyithist

      This was a fast paced, stark reminder of just how evil people can be. The elements of human nature mix with the fundamentals of survival with deadly results. It felt tangible; the fear, the shame, the guilt and the relief. The last part was humorous but it left a sullen feeling in my gut; does this sort of thing happen often enough that the MC is accustomed to dealing with such a crisis?
      Well done, Reaper! It’s always a pleasure reading your material. Thank you.

      1. Reaper

        I am so happy to see some replies! I was starting to think, okay you’ve finally done it. You’ve gone too far. So your response touches me as you have a way of doing.

        I did try for a bit of dark humor but the sullen feeling feeling tells me I hit on what I was going for. I found the new prompt before I went to a job interview and the story idea bloomed. It took shape thanks to three things. One, I have been watching the original Twilight Zone a lot. That made me want to write something that was horror on a visceral level. That show still scares the crap out of because it touches on fundamental aspects of people instead of shock and awe about how bloody the monster is. I wanted a story that could end with Submitted for your approval, a man stuck in an elevator…

        The second is I have been listening to a lot of Vietnam protest songs. Something about them created this feeling that we have lost something. I see the passion, dedication, and love in those and my mind went, “My dad had hippies and I have the occupy movement. When did we go insane?” I know, I’m getting old to think that way. So I wanted a hippie as the MC.

        The third was a comment on the last prompt about the cold war heating up again. That got the Daisy Girl ad that the story is named for from the Johnson, Goldwater campaigns stuck in my head and I wanted to fashion the story as a countdown and have the fear of obliteration causing the insanity.

        All of that is a long way of saying, thank you. I’m glad the story was a good read and thank you for your comment. Then leading to this. What Silver and yourself said about the MC with the tie never entered my mind. That line added itself when I was close to finishing. What it meant in my mind was a man who was homeless but happy being broken. After witnessing the terror that the world around him contained he gave up on his dreams and realized he needed to become a part of the world. To do that he needed to get a job so it is back into the store to buy a tie so he can interview. Though the shell shock was the reason he stepped into an elevator he had just escaped that was filled with dead bodies.

        Sorry this is so long. I felt the need to share more on this one because these two comments meant so much to me.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Reaper, I can’t imagine why only two replies to your story. My take is when the chips fall, everything goes primal. Also, you’ve written a discourse on America’s travel into uselessness during the last 70 years.

          My Father’s generation, The Miracle Generation, winning two world wars in the space of less than four years, revolved into my generation, the innocent fifties generation. Then with high amusement I watched the hippies who dressed funny, sat in North Star Mall in Dallas, strumming guitars and growing long hair. Then Nam, protests, shooting students, living in Dallas when JFK was murdered. People flocked to church that Sunday. I was there, I saw it.

          On to the I Don’t Give A Damn Generation, Free love, pot, let somebody else carry the load, stay with Mom and Dad, their parents old geezers, I know it all generation.

          Then surprise, my grand children’s generation. Filled with hope, I’m getting an education, I can do anything Generation. Now I’m intently watching the great grandchildren grow. so far, so good. They’ll have a lot of issues going. ‘40% don’t wanna do’ is their battle. Well, I’ll see what happens and get back to you in ten or twenty and let you know what I think about that. Kerry

          1. Reaper

            Kerry, I love reading your comments so thank you for this one. Your reading always adds a depth to my own stories for me that I had not considered, I am happy to inspire anything like that. I believe we all write to touch and inspire. Or at least that is what I hope to do. I also love having this called a discourse on America’s travel into uselessness during the last 70 years. Mostly because it is a description that I think most people can get behind but it will mean different things to different people. You make me feel bigger than I am and I can’t say thank you enough for that.

      2. don potter

        This was a thought provoking piece. It seems to be a commentary on the self-centered, lack of concern for anyone but one’s self. Leaving the scene to buy a tie was about as blase as anyone could be. There’s a great message here. I hope those in our writing community read it, wonder about why, and ask what can they do to improve on the way we interact.

        1. Reaper

          Thank you Don, you are another who always makes me feel like a giant. I appreciate this as your take on the message makes me feel I did what I wanted to with making this a social commentary story.

    3. agnesjack

      This is a meditation on the darkest side of human nature. Your MC goes from shame to participation to callous acceptance. I think the clipped language gave the piece just the right tone. I was a little thrown by the last line, because I pictured the doors opening on 5 and the MC stepping out of the carnage to the gasps of the people on that floor.

      1. Reaper

        I was a bit thrown by that line as well. I left him in the same elevator because the whole thing was so surreal to me (thank you frankd1100 for using that word) that I just went with it.

  72. Hunger4d

    It’s four o’clock. I’m at Macy’s, exchanging the sweater my mother-in-law, Joyce got Michael for Christmas. She can’t seem to remember that he wears an extra-large. Even if he lost that last 15 pounds, his neck and shoulders aren’t going to get any smaller. The men’s department is on the fourth floor, and I’m really not in the mood to climb stairs today, so I head to the back of the store. I have to wait a couple of minutes; by the time the doors open, I’ve been joined by a gentleman in a suit and a mom with a double stroller. It stops on the second floor, where four teenage girls get on, and again on the third floor, where the two older ladies who should have waited for the next car squeezed themselves in anyway. I roll my eyes. Coming to the mall is such a hassle. Why couldn’t Joyce just buy clothes in the right size in the first place?

    The elevator stopped, and the woman with the stroller shifts slightly. The teenage girls bounce on the balls of their feet. The man in the suit clears his throat, and presses the door open button. When the doors don’t open after another few moments, the mom beside me groans softly. “What’s taking so long?” whines one of the teenagers. “We have to be back in the food court in like 15 minutes and we still need a picture of a suit. We’re not, like, stuck, are we?”

    At that, the man’s snaps up. He looks around elevator, his eyes finally coming to rest disdainfully on the two small children in the stroller. “I don’t know. But I’m going to find out. I don’t have time for this.” He picks up the in-car telephone and held it to his ear. We look at him expectantly, but he slams the receiver back down. “Piece of crap is dead.”

    A squeal from the other side of the elevator wakes the babies, who begin to cry. “I don’t have a signal in here!” It’s one of the teenagers. The mom glares at the oblivious teenager who’d made the noise, and the lady named Phyllis glances nervously at her friend. “Do you have your inhaler?” the Phyllis asked. The other woman shook her head.

    Suddenly Joyce not remembering Michael’s shirt size doesn’t seem like such a monumental problem. I looked at the haggard mom beside me and began to count my blessings. At that moment, the ding we’ve been waiting for sounds loudly and in the elevator. It lurches up an inch and the doors spring open. We spill out into the store, our relief palpable.

    Without looking back, I head toward the stairs. I dig my phone out my purse, and as I enter the stairwell, I hear my voice echoing off the cement walls. “Joyce? I’m glad I caught you. Thanks so much for the sweater you bought Michael for Christmas.”

    1. Reaper

      This was a rollercoaster. I started off wanting to smack your MC because of the self entitlement and general attitude. Then you introduce a lot of characters that humanize her and make me like her by the end. Nothing like a tense situation to do that.

      You have a couple of tense switches in the same line such as picks up… and held it to… Otherwise very solid style. Was the Phyllis and intentional dehumanization in the narrators mind?

      I enjoyed this one. Human moments are hard for me to write, so I love seeing one depicted in a way that I can get emotionally involved in.

  73. kahtymeridiah

    “Mommy, are we getting off now?” 8 year old little girl, hand in her mom’s, stretching her neck to look up at her mom. Her mom, like everyone else, is looking up at the elevator call numbers, and incredulous as it sounds, in a crowded elevator, at each other. “No, Kaitlyn, not yet.”

    Because the elevator wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and that would be 4th floor.

    A 70-ish bald, thin guy with a ponytail in the back announces, “This has happened here before folks, it’ll be okay. Push that red call button and someone’ll get the door open.”

    The punk teenager pushed up against the front corner, sulking in his black leather and piercings, looks around as if he thinks the crowd will lynch him first. He slams his right hand over the plastic red button. The alarm shrieks and I notice people starting to fidget and mumble.

    Miss obviously pregnant 30-ish School Teacher, next to me in her tan linen maternity pantsuit, is frowning, her eyes watery, “I can’t do this!! You need to get me out of here!!” Breathing quickly, I think she’ll hyperventilate and faint if she doesn’t stop.

    “It’s okay, here, sit down, this guy says someone will be here soon, listen to him. Sit down, put your head between your knees. Would someone help me get this lady down on the floor?”

    Ponytail man reaches his arm around her, the two of us lower her to the floor, her knees up, her head down.

    “Does someone have some water for this woman?” Punk kid hands me a water bottle. “Here, give her mine.”

    We hear a deep voice from outside somewhere yelling at us, “The fire department is here, on their way up! Please stay calm. You’ll be right out of there!”

    There’s a couple behind me, late 40’s, I here him angrily hiss at her, “Why the fuck did we have to come here anyway? Damn it, Lucille, now the whole day’s fucked up. Just ‘cause you had to get a new dress!” She looks at him, he elbows her good and hard, the old guy in the back grabs the guy’s arm, glaring at him as if to say, ‘Just you try it, Buddy….’

    Suddenly the doors begin to creak open. The 4th floor is about a foot above the elevator floor. The Fire Captain reaches down, hand outstretched to the little girl and her mom, “Hey, there, sweetie, you and your mom, come on up here, okay? The rest of you, please don’t push, one at a time. Everybody okay here?”

    The guy who slapped his wife yells out, “Just get us the hell out of here, would you?”

    Everyone steps up and out, me next to last, then the old guy.

    ‘Now, why the hell was I here?’

    1. Silver Sister

      Your descriptions of the others in the elevator are succinct, but vivid. I have a clear picture in my mind of these people and the mood in the elevator. I like that you let some of your characters go against stereotypes. It is the ‘punk’ kid who gives his water to the pregnant lady. It is the middle-aged man (who really should no better) who is using profanity and acting a fool. I liked this one.

    2. Reaper

      Mostly I can only echo what I have seen here. The punk kid with the water was beautiful because there are more of them than we think when we first see them. Perfect amount of detail. I vividly say your old man with a ponytail as one of those guys that is bald on top but keeps the tail. Great job on this one.

    3. Are You Dreaming

      ***Possible Spoiler Alert***
      Great story! Maybe he was there for a job interview? Funny how a crisis can make a person lose their sense of long-term planning. The old guy with a ponytail evoked in me another character from Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ Thurston Marshall, which I JUST read the chapter where Thurston is with his 23 year old lover in the cabin while they are evacuating the area. Now, I know where Thurston’s true demise took place. Very nice!

  74. Ahsuniv

    Nobody could possibly tell that Harty Match was broke. Her grandmother’s dress hung loosely from her shoulders. The dress could be passed off as a vintage though, what with grandma’s exceptional clothing care. She was however, tired of wearing her grandma’s wardrobe from the fifties.

    Today was going to be different. She would be shopping for the first time in years. She had a fifty dollar gift card. She felt empowered. She usually sold her gift cards online. But this time, she wanted it. It was about time that she had a treat.

    She squeezed into the store’s elevator triumphantly. She felt the man next to her pushing into her. She felt repulsed as his arm slid against her. She sighed in relief internally as the elevator reached the fourth floor. But instead of sliding open, the lights in the elevator went out and it heaved to an abrupt stop.

    A youngster in the back cursed in crude language. The rest of them stood in silence for a moment, waiting for the elevator to come back to life. When nothing happened after a minute, people started to grow restless. The man who had been digging into Harty, started banging on the elevator door.

    She looked around to see mobile phones lighting up, illuminating the darkness. Some of them messaged and others tried to make calls.

    ‘There is no network in here, dude. What the hell is going on?’ said the youngster’s voice again.

    Minutes ticked by and Harty felt like it was all a cruel joke that the Gods decided to play on her. She felt that everyone in the lift was suffering because her own misfortune.

    ‘I should’ve just worn the red dress, Mia. Now I’m going to be late for the date,’ exclaimed a girl in the back.

    ‘Don’t worry, they will get this thing up and running in a bit,’ replied the voice of an anxious girl.

    ‘My dear, could you please make a little space for me? I can hardly breathe,’ said a fussy old lady from behind Harty.

    Harty let her move to the front and tried to give her as much room as possible. She felt relieved to be away from the huge, creepy guy, who was still banging on the elevator door.

    Harty felt a hand grope her from behind. Already irritated as she was, this irked her further and she grabbed the man’s hand roughly.

    ‘What. Are. You. Doing?’ she screamed, ‘this man just tried to grope me…’

    She felt herself pushed to the elevator wall as a huge figure pushed past her in the darkness and a scream escaped from the man behind her.

    The huge guy, who was banging on the elevator door, seemed to have punched the guy behind her.

    ‘Are you alright, miss?’ he asked in a surprisingly gentle voice for such a giant personality.

    ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you,’ she said feeling embarrassed and rotten to her heart.

    ‘I think I got a signal, I got a signal…’ said the excited voice of a boy from somewhere in the side, ‘Oh!’ he exclaimed.

    ‘What is it?’ asked the girl who was supposed to go on a date.

    ‘I received an emergency warning…’ he said in a choked voice and stopped, unable to go on.

    Someone next to him read the warning out loud, ‘Electricity has failed indefinitely and everyone is warned to find open ground as quickly as possible. We are expecting an earthquake of a magnitude greater than ten…’

    Just then the elevator started to shake.

    ‘The apocalypse is here,’ said the old lady in a quiet voice, ‘I dreamt of it last night.’

    If she had dreamt of it, why hadn’t she stayed home?, thought Harty, God, is it a crime to want a pair of skinny jeans…

    That was her last thought as the elevator gave away beneath their feet.

    1. Silver Sister

      Harty is an interesting character. She seems to feel a lot of guilt – for the others suffering from her misfortune and the groper getting his lights punched our by a good Samaritan. Too bad she didn’t get her skinny jeans. Nice read!

    2. Reaper

      This is a perfect tragedy. I was feeling bad for Harty from the beginning. Poor girl, I forgot the prompt and was so happy for her to get her treat. Then I just kept feeling worse for her. This hit me hard.

    3. Are You Dreaming

      Great story! Everything everyone else said above in their comments! It is ironic to think that the elevator went down and the story is a tragedy.

    4. devsmess

      I loved this. I want to read more and I’m definitely in for Harty.
      Awesome story. Pulled me right through to the end.

      Thanks for sharing!

      1. Ahsuniv

        Thank you so much for your replies. I feel bad for Harty myself… but, have you ever got that feeling that on a bad day everything keeps going wrong? Or if your going through a bad time everything goes wrong during that period of time…It happened to me a number of times so I made Harty experience the same.

        1. Reaper

          That is part of what makes your story so powerful. I have recently been going through one of those periods in my life. As I discuss it with people I realize those days and times are a basic part of the human condition. While I have never lived through Harty’s exact situation it relates easily to the moments where the universe just keeps piling it on, and then seems to punish me for trying to have one happy moment. I believe everyone can relate to that.

  75. Are You Dreaming

    What a day I was having. It had been so long since I had stepped out of my isolation chamber in the accounting office. The bulk of tax season was now behind me. So many numbers, in so short of time. But, in the middle of swimming in all of those numbers, I had dreamt of getting new electronic gadgets, technology dancing around in my head all the while. Hell, I deserved some playtime.
    Precious loot in hand, I crammed myself into the crowded elevator. “Fourth floor, please,” I said with zeal. The doors closed and up we went.
    Suddenly, a metal groaning cry emanated around us, but then let up.
    “What was that?” The petit woman, dressed like a kid for a funeral, whispered with a discerning look on her face muscles. We were packed to the brim is this death box.
    “Probably nuttin’,” the tall plump man said as his belly jiggled in rhythm against my nose with each utterance. Is that Cheetos I smell? Maybe lodged in his belly button? “Happens all da’ time.”
    Faint murmurs blew around the cage.
    “I don’t know, think we got too much weight aboard?” I knew the answer. Now, I think I am smelling chili dog fluctuating to a waft of tuna fish. I urped. Then swallowed.
    The elevator came to an abrupt halt. We stumbled and bags clanked as our bodies continued their levitation without the rising box.
    “Mother of God!”
    “Oh my sweet Buddha!”
    “Everybody please take a deep breath,” I said with immediate regret. The others caught a suffering whiff of the belly button buffet. “And, just remain calm.”
    Not a chance. The petite woman began spinning in her place, elbowing every poor soul around her. “We are going to DIE!”
    I clutched her shoulder, “Get a hold of yourself!” She did.
    Little did I know, my savior was the smelly ogre. He looked down at me with those old eyes and nodded, then interlaced his hands and boosted me through the upper tiles through the ceiling, which I pushed aside. I climbed on top of the broken box, balanced my way to the doors that were waist level, spread them with a hulkish grunt, and climbed up on the carpeted floor level.
    “Get someone. NOW! The elevator is jammed and overloaded.” I collected my breath and composure.
    “Oh my god, okay, I am on it!” The beautiful old woman behind the desk nearby, quite alarmed.
    ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
    I aided the refugees up. Looking down, I threw my hand out to lift up my new friend. Once up, he now towered over me and smiled. “Thank ya’. You wanna’ go grab a buffet with me.”
    “Sure!” I said. Suddenly, a force slapped me on the back and then the weight of an arm over my shoulder. A FRIEND! The best treasure I could have found! I launched my other hand up with a finger pointing to the sky and a grin on my face.

    1. IamVandee

      Haha I love this. The ending was pretty light hearted though somewhat confusing. (Not that mine wasn’t). I love the image of the really heavy set guy which reminds of the hot dog man in the children’s movie Oliver Twist who is standing on the side of the curb yelling. The character dialogue is really good too. I often have way too much trouble dealing with particular character dialogue just because the image in my head is always more complicated than the one on the paper. :)

      Nicely done!


      1. Are You Dreaming

        Thank you so much for the praise, feedback and critique. This is the second short that I have published on the net, the first the other day, so it was a big leap for me. But when I saw your ‘reply’ it made my day!

    2. Silver Sister

      My sense of smell is not my keenest sense, but your story had me smelling like a champion bloodhound! This made the story come to life for me.

      1. Are You Dreaming

        Thank you so much for the praise! I didn’t realize that evocation was in the story, until you pointed it out. I am happy the story gave you some enjoyment and could sharpen your senses all with one stone.

    3. jmcody

      Nice story and nice job. You had me squirming with the description of the odors of the belly button buffet. Your protagonist was funny and likeable, and the interdenominational swearing was a nice touch.

      1. Are You Dreaming

        Thank you for the praise. I am honored I could make you squirm. I really like your critique on “interdenominational swearing”. I had to take a second look at that long word. Upon editing the story, I didn’t realize at I even linked “Mother of GOD!” and “DAMN!” creating a link between the two, hence the Christian ‘GD’ bomb. Thank you so much!

      1. Are You Dreaming

        Thank you so much for the praise. You know, when I wrote the story I didn’t even see the treasure of friendship between odd pairs emerge, until writing end of it. That is why we need to keep writing, mining for treasures to share with our friends!

    4. Reaper

      Twists and turns for a light story. Loved this. At first I was wondering if the description was artistic or if this was something in the future and he was really in an isolation chamber. The disgust turning to friendship made this a heartwarming tale.

      1. Are You Dreaming

        Thank you for the praise. I know, I am kind of a gadget guy, and I used to think isolation chambers were cool and until I associated an office cubical to one. So, I thought it would be something that gadget girls or guys could relate to.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m getting in late on my reply, Are You Dreaming. This is only your second posting of a story? Holy Wow! I can’t wait for your next one. You’ve hit on a topic most people don’t realize. The sense of smell, overpowers all other human senses. You’ve done a beautiful job with this piece. You’re goona love it here! We’re goona love having you.

          1. Are You Dreaming?

            Wow! Thank YOU, Madame Kerry Charlton! Those are very, very kind words. I am literally speechless…
            (Now, I will just sit here in shock.)

  76. Bilbo Baggins


    The old department store on 5th and Oregon had been closed since ’38, but once in a while, under cover of night, I would note the suspicious Chevy or Ford pickup rev away from the place with bright headlights, the driver hidden in a bulk of shadow.

    I’d dressed up as Ol’ Don Picks, who we knew to be one of their informants. He’d bought that farm he’d always wanted south of the Windy City after an incident with my colleagues in an alley. Now I silently rehearsed my lines and hid as much of my face as possible behind the high collar.

    “So, what news you have for us?” The short man in the pinstripe grinned. He reinserted the bulbous stogie and blew out a small cloud. The lone lamp above us flickered as the dust elevator struggled upwards.
    “It’s about the Wilkins boys.” His face lit up even more. The bodyguard next to him kept staring at me.

    “Excellent. As soon as we get into the office, you can tell me everything.”

    My breath quickened. Now was the time. I let the small pistol they’d passed over in the search slip from inside my arm to my hand, and with the other pressed the button in my pocket. The elevator lurched to a halt just feet from the fourth floor.

    I acted shocked. “Must just be a faulty engine. Let’s wait a few minutes.”

    “That’s a surprise,” the boss noted. “Had a guy come over just a week ‘go to work on the cables. Paid him good money, too.”

    I nodded. The bodyguard seemed to be noting me with interest. I was standing in front of the panel.
    “Move aside, bud.” He gruffly spoke.

    He was going to press the help button. I tightened my grip on the pistol.
    “I said, move aside!”

    I whipped my hands out and fired once, into his hand. His reflexes were incredible, but when the high-velocity bullet ripped into his fingers, he dropped the shotgun. With a hard left I sent him spinning backwards. I grabbed the shotgun from the dusty floor. Ten bullets sank into his bulk in succession.

    Finally, the bodyguard slammed into the wall. The boss was shocked. I pulled open my suit, in one, last defiant gesture.
    “Johnny Watkins!”

    His cry of recognition died on his lips. I swung the shotgun barrel up and fired once.

    The boss sank to the elevator floor, a weird cringe on his face. As his grey fedora slid down his cheek to cover the red stain that was rapidly spreading, I released the hold button for the doors. They slid open, one of the bodyguards slumping over onto the tiled floor.

    I pushed all of the bodies into the dim-lit office, duly noting the padded chair and his desk in the corner. Resisting the temptation to grab some of his papers, I took the elevator down and entered the lobby, where the four armed guards were still standing.

    “Heard a jolt in the cables up there. You all’ight?”

    “Yeah, they’re up there in his office working on what I gave ‘em.”

    I walked nonchalantly out the door, not hearing any cries from behind me. The old score was settled at last. I got into a black car at the corner and it sped away from the store, a full moon lighting up the empty streets.

    (Go hobbits! This one’s a little over the limit, but oh well.)

    1. Silver Sister

      I just have a question about one little part. Is Johnny Watkins supposed to be one of the Wilkins boys and the names just got confused? Or are the Wilkins boys a completely separate diversionary tactic? Either way, I really enjoyed it. This is a really nice piece of writing.

    2. jmcody

      Bilbo, as usual you’ve done some excellent writing here — fast paced and with just the right amount of details to bring it to life. I just don’t get why the boss and the bodyguard didn’t recognize that this was not old Don Picks, if he was their usual informants. I enjoyed it anyway, though.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thank you very much, jmcody. As for why they didn’t recognize him, Don Picks was just one of their informers, and Johnny was hiding his face behind his collar and hat, so the boss only recognized him near the end when he threw off his coat.

      1. Bilbo Baggins


        It was the autumn of ‘28, a time as crisp in memory to me as my starched suit, and the speakeasies were in full swing all around the North Side. We were rolling in the dough with rakes back in our warehouse, but I didn’t notice the roaring lion in wait around the corner.

        “It’s five to eight,” my father Jack noted, reinserting his watch into a suit pocket. “They better finish soon.” I nodded right beside him.

        It was another booze shipment, forty barrels under a tarp in the back of a Ford Roadster. We waited on the puddle-filled walk outside the shipping area and silently watched the bulky workers loading them in. Tiny drops hit the metal gutters, an aftershock of the rolling grey clouds.

        “Load ‘em up, boys,” he exclaimed, trying to light a soggy cigarette. He turned to me and the bodyguards. “Let’s go down to Larry’s and get a—“ His rugged face smiled, and he flicked the cig onto the pavement. “No damn bars around here. I’ll get my trademark burger. Johnny?”

        “The usual, pa.” I patted my jacket, and we left, traipsing down Emerald until we could see the lights just a block ahead. Civilians hunched underneath umbrellas scurried by. A lone bird swooped down from the hotel roof across the street to a lampstand.

        “Theater’s open.”

        “Not tonight. Too big of a job to let go to subordinates.” The ding of the above-door bell.

        I stomped my feet on the tiles, and the four of us slid into a red booth. We ordered, and I peered out the window. A black Cadillac and two Studebakers were across the street.

        “Met with Peter Gusenberg yesterday,” he said nonchalantly. “He’s made an alliance with Joe Aiello against Ol’ Capone. I agreed to help him.”

        I nodded, listening to all he said. I crossed my arms and waited for our food to arrive.

        Suddenly a waterfall of glass was to my left, and my bodyguard wrenched me out of my seat. I hit the floor with ferocity, heard distant screams, felt like I had cracked a rib somewhere, a bullet grazed my shoulder and I cried out, and they just kept coming in one, steady wave.

        “Agh! Jack!” I heard the screeching of tires, and the gunfire abruptly stopped. I raised my head up to see the black Cadillac peel around the corner with both windows down.

        My bodyguard was unharmed, and he helped me up. The restaurant was complete chaos. I brushed off my suit and faltered as I looked up. Jack lay face down in a puddle of red.

        “Pa . . . pa! I crouched next to him, but it was obviously a vain effort.

        “Thompsons,” I muttered, clutching at his blood-stained white sleeve.

        They let me sit there for a few seconds, with their chiseled faces showing just a little emotion.

        “Still want to do this job . . . boss?” one of them questioned lowly.

        “Of course.” I didn’t stand. The people in the restaurant were just ghosts near his corpse.

        “South Siders for sure. Whaddaya want to do ‘bout it?”

        “Blood only means more blood in this city,” I replied harshly. “Max’ll get what’s comin’ to him in due time.” Little did I know that it would take twelve years to avenge his deed.

        I took my hat and placed it on my father’s chest, and waited for the wailing of the ambulances. Not a tear flowed from my face.

        1. Reaper

          Did you have this written before the other, or is it a Star Wars situation? The father and son feel like characters that you know intimately. God do I love a good gangster story.

        2. gamingtheblues

          Ahhh now this THIS is the good stuff. Your prequel just did an anti-star wars and left the original wanting. While the original take was good… This was something truly well written. I forgot I was even reading a prompt response in a way and was just settling into the story. You my friend might have a book in this one.

    3. Are You Dreaming

      Okay, I gotta say, this painted some awesome pictures in my head with some major action. “…a full moon lighting up the empty streets.” Very, very nice. AND, “His cry of recognition died on his lips.” Excellent. I could hear their Brooklyn accents in my head. Well done!

    4. agnesjack

      I was a little thrown by the ten bullets from a shotgun, but then I looked it up and discovered that it is possible with some models.

      That said, I thought this was a creative idea for the prompt, bilbo — and well-paced. I, too, was wondering who “us” and “we” were, however.

  77. IamVandee

    I slid into the elevator just as it doors were about to barricade the onboard people in.
    “Close call.” The man at the very back of the elevator chuckled. I had seen him around the office before catching eyes with every woman he passed, and staring longer than necessary. He truly always gave me the creeps, but just then I felt he was being honestly himself. No piggish nature intact.
    “Thanks.” I replied quietly, then turned to face the doors just as everyone else had. The image of a boring world, full of conformity and un-excitement crept into my mind as the blonde headed secretary beside me leaned over to hit the button for floor the fourth floor. I imagined all of us traveling down to utopia, staring ahead a some desolate future the government programmed all of us to receive. Then someone coughed behind me, bringing me out of my creative stupor. Images like that are stupid, I told myself. And if I wasn’t care, I was going to travel down the rabbit hole that got me into this pathetic job to being with.
    The elevator beeped, and the red, luminescent number 4 appeared on the screen. Just as we all anticipated the pull of gravity, indicating we had arrived at the fourth floor, the elevator came to a screeching, midway stop – throwing us all a foot backwards. My back hit something that felt like a brick wall and instantly unknown hands reached around and help push me upright. I spun around, quickly to see who’s body I had fallen into.
    Daniel McPhee. With a face that only God could create, and angels could sing about. He smiled at me, showing all of his perfect, pearly whites, and winked one of those chocolate brown eyes at me.
    “It’s alright. I know you can’t help yourself. Women just fall all over me.” Despite me thinking that I would never laugh at such a joke, I chuckled. He had a careless personality, a deep sense of well-being, and never really held his tongue. Though, I had never heard of him stepping out of line at work before. And that granted him some type of trust from the interworking’s of my mind.
    “Sorry. Gravitational pull.” I smiled. That was when I realized we weren’t on number floor, that the elevator was somehow stuck between three and four.
    “Did you press the help button?” I asked the short, petite, blonde lady that was standing in front of the 12 buttons, staring at them like her brain was trying to compute a simple, ordained, task.
    “Yes.” She said, then reached up with her left hand, subconsciously rubbing her earring, “But nothing yet. Hopefully they’ll realize we are stuck up here soon.”
    “Well with only one elevator in the entire building, I’m sure they’ll realize within minutes.” The creep from the back chimed in.
    Daniel turned towards him,
    “Yeah. No doubt.” Daniel obviously had no affliction with the character. Then again, he of course wasn’t a woman living in a mans world.

      1. IamVandee

        Thanks! They often come to me in moments of complete blindness and fear of what’s going on. Haha I imagine my creativity as a small human running into a raging crowd full of gladiators and bulls. Never knowing what the out come will be. I’m not sure if that leads for exciting things or dead ends. (As a small boy would probably face a dead end at this fact)

    1. Are You Dreaming

      Every time I read a story where the character is imagining or daydreaming, it just adds another layer of immersion. I didn’t read your story before I wrote mine, but I find it extremely weird I also used “petite” on a character, too. Okay, I just had a major ‘feel’ of déjà vu. Anyways, great story, I love your internal dialogue of your main character, and a nice twist at the end (especially because I am a guy). Great writing! Keep it up!

      1. IamVandee

        Haha you too! I really enjoyed yours. Your dialogue was pretty great. Haha I love happy dialogue and pure honesty. I feel like it makes for interesting people. And you too! Any day I can I will try to :). And do you find it hard sometimes to put the character’s thoughts inside the story,without running off into minor moments of ADHD? I feel like this is probably what an editor is for but thought I’d ask anyways.

        Happy March!