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…”

    “SHUT THE #%@$ UP! I’M GETTING THE #%@$ OUT OF THIS PLACE!”
    He tears off the ceiling vent and starts to climb out. All the people start screaming.
    “NO! NO! DON’T DO THAT!”
    “THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING!”
    “STOP! STOP!”
    “WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”
    “SOMEBODY GRAB HIM!”

    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

    STUCK

    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.

    SMASH!
    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.”
    “WHY THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO THAT?!”
    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.
    “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, BASTARD?! AS SOON AS WE GET OFF THIS DAMN ELEVATOR, YOU BETTER GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME BECAUSE I WILL PERSONALLY POUND YOU INTO OBLIVION, YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT!”
    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

        CONTINUE OF ABOVE.
        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.
    “Richardson!”
    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.

  16. MCKEVIN

    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.
    “Thank-“
    “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

    IT”S ABOUT TIME

    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
    By
    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

    LEAVE THE DRAGON

    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.

    “Leo?”

    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

    PREGNANT PAUSE

    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 yes..my 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.

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