Today's been the most difficult day at work ever since I started working here, four months ago—I've had to
fix three major issues on our production servers and run
fsck on a local server. I
managed to wrap everything up... and I still have 40 minutes before punching out.
"Boss, can I leave 15 minutes early today? I'd like to beat rush hour."
"Michael, you've done more than two days worth of work today. Leave now if you want to."
"Cool! See you tomorrow!"
This is great! I'll arrive home much earlier today and will be able to catch up with last week's Game of Thrones episode before watching the new one tonight. I'm happy.
I get to the elevator hall, and I just missed the leftmost one; that means I'll have to wait for the one in the middle, as the rightmost has been out of order since pretty much forever and... wait, the "in maintenance" signpost has been removed? Wow, they finally fixed it?
The next elevator arrives; it's, indeed, the rightmost one. I hop in, for the first time ever. Hey, it's TWO happy notes today! It looks just the same as the other ones; I press the '1' button to exit the building and get to my car.
The building I work at is 30 floors high, and these elevators serve floors 16 to 30; I work at floor 21. As the elevator goes down, I can see small amounts of light entering the cabin as it passes each hall. 20, 19, 18, 17, 16... then nothing until the first floor. As the elevator passes floor 8, it stops. What?! Lights go out. Oh, FRACK!!! I press the emergency button. Nothing. This better be fixed, fast, or I'll go Game‑of‑Thrones on someone!!! I press the emergency button again—nothing. I try to call management with my smartphone—no signal.
I'm still waiting for something to happen. I'm extremely furious!! I probably missed my chance of beating rush hour, and perhaps I'll miss my TV show as well.
I've waited a while now. I stand in the cabin, alone, in the dark. I use my phone's "flashlight" mode a few times to look around. It then dawns on me that I don't hear any noise, at all. I should be able to hear the sounds of the other elevators moving about and the people inside them, talking... but I don't hear anything.
The stories I've read in reddit's nosleep take over in my brain—this should be the moment where a ghost or a demon or something shows up and attacks me, shouldn't it? Yet... nothing. I'm completely alone. For the first time, I shout "Help!". Nothing. I do it again. Nothing. All this wasted time has made me feel quite angry.
A few more minutes pass. I still can't hear anything, and now I notice that I can't even hear my own breathing. I speak—I can feel air passing through my larynx and my vocal chords doing their thing, but I can't hear myself talking. I clap; I can feel the palms of my hands striking each other, but no sound is produced.
More time passes. I can't see anything (if only I had something, some means of lighting the cabinet) and I can't hear anything. I touch the elevator's panel with my hand, feeling every button, every Braille code on each one, the polished steel in the panel. At least I still have one functioning sense.
What time is it? I can't tell. Now I can't remember why I was in a rush. I begin counting seconds in my head. 1, 2, 3...
... 3599, 3600. Again. 1, 2, 3...
... 3600. It should be night by now. But... I'm not hungry (I should be); I don't need to go to the bathroom (I should, too). My ingrown toenail hasn't hurt for a while now. I do feel rather upset about this ordeal, though. 1, 2, 3...
I can't feel anything with my hands, even though I know I should be touching the panel. I smell my armpit and lick my fingers. Nothing.
... 3600. I don't feel my feet anymore. Somehow, I'm fading away, a situation that I find a bit unamusing. I decide to keep going by asking myself, and answering, the same questions over and over.
I'm losing the sensation on my knees.
I don't know if I have legs anymore. My hands are numb.
I don't feel my chest anymore. Or my arms.
I start biting my tongue periodically. It hurts a bit.
I can't tell anymore if I'm biting my tongue or not. I close my eyes and open them, but it doesn't make any difference: it's all dark.
I don't know which of my eyes is open and which isn't.
I can't remember how many extremities I have.
It's not even dark anymore.
Length: 1045 words. Written under no word-limit constraint.
Originally published on 16 April 2012 in Reddit's NoSleep. See http://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/sdlis/stuck_inside/.
Last update: 28/05/2012.
Return to Miguel Farah's flash fiction.