The Elevator (Short Story)

The Elevator

by Jimmy Gibson

Two women enter an elevator. What sounds to be either the beginning of some dated misogynist’s attempt at humour, or a simple five-word sentence introducing a darkly cynical take cautioning the dangers of modern technology turns out to be neither. Rather, it reads as an attempt at unraveling the mind of any self-described academic. Pretentious folks are the worst.

As stated prior, two women enter an elevator. The door shuts. Silence ensues. Buttons are pushed. Movement. Movement. Movement. Less movement. None. This is not a suitable place for an elevator to stop. Most elevators do not stop halfway between floors. Confused, but still socially tied to complete silence both women glance around the room. It’s small. Some people do not enjoy closed spaces.

The women see each other for the first time. Crazy how a lack of movement can do that. One sees a stuffy, uptight office worker. She seems to be in a hurry. She seems to be the road rage of people. Do not worry, I hate her too. I do not exactly know why. I do not even know her name. The other sees a clumsy, slightly overweight, obviously charismatic receptionist type. Whatever that means. The receptionist, whom we will call ‘Johanna’ because that was the first name that comes to mind, is smiling. Like one does when confronted with silence. Both are mind-numbingly disinterested and not intimidated by the other in the slightest.

Continuing around the room. The office worker, whom we will continue to call ‘the office worker’ because I have some subconscious vendetta against her, sees it as a box. Johanna sees the same. The difference being that to her the box is a light brown, tan colour with the old fashioned headache inducing fluorescent bulbs above them. Some people do not enjoy closed spaces. Others do not enjoy descriptors when a lack thereof is equally irrelevant.

As the women ponder the utter lack of movement in their general vicinity, Johanna sees a small flame emerge from the bottom corner of the box of a room. This flame is to her left. Still bound to the arbitrary silence of the social constructs of an elevator, she wordlessly, yet loudly begins to try to stomp out the flame. The attempt is fruitless. The disgusting, probably vomit-drenched carpet, unchanged since punk “died” is very flammable. Very. The flames spread. Now appears to be as good a time as any to break the unspoken rule of unspeaking. Or rather screaming in this particular case.

The fire was started by a young man whose mind was not quite willing to cooperate with the lesser minds he assumed to be within this building. Whether or not this is true, the occupants of this building are dead. He is not. He started the fire. He is glad he was not caught.

Some people do not enjoy closed spaces.