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May 12, 2011
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The impressive elevator doors were the sort that came in pairs, with one sliding each way once you pressed the button. They were practically ancient and utterly dirty, but they reflected a certain amount of glamour and prestige. Perhaps it was the way the mahogany was moulded to perfection, with many appealing lines and curves, or maybe it was the gold borders of each door that shone through the dust in the fading sunlight. I liked to think it was gold, at least, but it was probably just brass. There was a little gold clock-hand above it, pointing to the gold lettering that said “Lobby”, beside which were all the numbers up to thirty. The button was to the right of the elevator doors. It was, again, gold, with a small mahogany circle to outline it. It radiated magnetism and just ached for a warm fingertip to touch its cool surface. It looked very inviting.

I, all scrubby brown plaits and crumpled jeans, must have seemed completely out of place. I stood there, gazing at the elevator and hovering my finger over the button. I should not be here. I should not even be imagining the thoughts that are in my head right now... but it looks so tempting! I wondered if I could ride it. Well, it probably doesn’t run, but what if it did? I wonder what could happen if it does still run and I did push the button and the doors opened.

I’m still not sure why I’m here exactly. I sneaked out this evening after dinner, leaving my mum to worry her head off and my dad to stomp around, shouting, but I’m not even sure why. I guess it’s that I’ve walked past here for so many years, dreaming about what it was like inside, that I just had to see it. I’m a bit too curious. My dad says, “Curiosity killed the cat.” I won’t die today, though – I’m much too stubborn, and I can’t prove my dad right. From the outside, even with boarded up windows and sheets hanging all over, it seemed glamourous and exciting, as if it still might be the jazzy, fun-filled hotel it once was, but now I look around the empty, dusty, dirty hotel... it seems creepy. Even the elevator doors seemed to ooze eeriness behind their flashy exterior.

The reason I feel like there is something missing, and like there is a sinister feel, is clear. This hotel used to be famously thrilling and glitzy, totally the place to be, full of smartly-dressed men and elegant women and flamboyant showgirls and neat bellhops. It was laden with red carpets and glass chandeliers and cigar smoke. There was a ballroom where jazz music played every night while people spun around the floor, or chatted in the seating area, swinging back champagne. It was glitter, lights and the life of the city.

Then something happened. It was a cool night in the November of 1949; the music had finished and the last partying stragglers were returning to their rooms. Miss Sylvia Grey, a stylish young lady, sidled into the elevator that was being operated by low-paid but friendly bellhop, Mister Norman York. There were four men playing late-night cards at a table, one couple laughing at the bar, and the bored barman, to see what happened. Miss Grey leant against the elevator wall, and Mister York pushed the button to her floor. The doors slid closed, but the arrow showed that the elevator had not moved. After ten minutes, the barman came over to check what had happened. He tried pushing the button but it did not work. He shouted through, and heard a reply. They were trapped! The key to open the doors was stuck and they were shut inside. The barman tried to force them open but couldn’t, so he called over the four men and the couple and, all together, they tried to ram into the doors to open them and... well, let’s just say that the doors were stubborn. The hotel got closed down because of what happened; it was deemed “an unsafe facility”, which is quite sad really because it was about to celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. Miss Grey and Mister York were officially said to have died, given that the elevator doors never opened and there was no means of escape. Soon after the incident the owner of the hotel died of heart failure and the hotel was never properly cleared out – it was left to gather dust.

I may never see the other side of these elevator doors, but if for some miraculous reason they opened (although I’m not sure if elevators work with the electricity turned off, but let’s say they do), then I would probably be looking at two old, decaying corpses. Imagine what it would smell like! All that air trapped inside an elevator for sixty-one years must be disgusting, especially with two dead people adding to the scent. But suppose they hadn’t died? Suppose there had been a crack in the corner where air could get through, and they found some food, maybe in one of their pockets (although people don’t often carry around sandwiches), and maybe there was a leaking pipe that dripped water in for them to drink – then could they be alive? Sylvia was only twenty-six when it happened – she’d be eighty-seven now, a perfectly acceptable age, and Norman would only be eighty, because he was nineteen in 1949. However, if you spend sixty-one years in a tiny elevator, I suppose you’d go a bit insane. Oh gosh, what if they’d turned into mad cannibals who only ate young, brunette girls? Or... they may have managed to escape, by boring a hole through the ceiling or smashing an opening in the wall or something. I think it would be hilarious if all this time they’d been fine and walking the streets like any other people.

Now, if the doors just so happened to open when I push this button, what would happen? I could find two very old corpses. Or I could find two mad cannibals, driven so by being contained for so long. Or I could find absolutely nothing, proving they escaped and hid among the public to avoid attention. If I just so happened to wander in the elevator, I could: be murdered by cannibals, faint from seeing corpses and get crushed when the doors close, crash to the basement level if the cable broke, or get trapped inside myself. In most cases I shall die, unless I get trapped myself – I’m far too industrious to sit around waiting and going mad, like Sylvia and Norman!

Okay, I give in. I touch the gold button lightly. It’s surprisingly cold and still for such as magnetic, energetic-seeming button. It must be lonely. I don’t believe anyone who says that buttons cannot have feelings. Those people should try being alone and untouched for sixty-one years, not seeing a soul. I stroke the button tenderly. Gently and cautiously, I place my hand against the set of doors. Whoa! It’s almost as if there’s a spark as my hand presses against the smooth mahogany. They feel warm, and full of life, as if they’re still as cherished and admired as they were back in the day. A little sizzle of energy rides through my hand to my wrist to my arm and onwards through the rest of my body. There can’t be anything dead in such a lively set of doors. My fingertip is on the button all I have to do is press firmly. I send a message from my brain to my finger, it moves down to my shoulder, through my arm, across my hand, to my finger and “click”.

There’s a lady-like sigh followed by, in a deeper voice: “Floor number, Miss?”





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