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Anyone Going Down?
She walked slowly down to the elevator, stopped, and pushed the down arrow. She sighed as she stood there knowing it would take some time for the elevator to reach the top floor of the 34 story apartment. While she waited, she glanced around the hallway. Nothing abnormal, just the same pale green walls down seemingly endless hallway only broken by the stained black doors. There was one new thing, the shiny, silver elevator doors. Brickview Apartments had just spent the last few weeks remodeling the elevators. Apparently, too many residents didn’t enjoy being scared to death as the elevators squeaked and jerked them continuously up and down. She hesitantly looked closer at the spotless mirrors. The reflection of Kate Miller stared back out. She quickly noticed her white blonde frizzy hair, plain-Jane brown eyes, and the five pounds her body seemed to have gained, which didn’t matter since she was too skinny, even for a stick figure. Kate was so absorbed in staring, she jumped back five feet when she heard the doors opened and the familiar ding of the elevator arriving. She stepped inside and glanced around. This was the first time she had ridden the “more efficient” and “safer” elevators. There was wood paneled walls, a rich red carpet, more space inside (although old ones seemed like they couldn’t get any smaller), and the countless soprano squeaks and bumps were replaced by a smooth, deep, baritone hum. After a couple floors, Kate watched as the doors opened to a deserted hallway. The doors began to close again, when she heard pounding footsteps and shouts to hold the elevator.
Hearing the soft chime of the elevator arriving, she sprinted down the stairs, through the living room, through the open door slamming it behind her, and down the hallway. Coming around the corner and seeing the doors closing, she yelled for someone to hold the elevator. The doors stopped halfway and Samantha Harrison quickly darted between them. “Thanks,” she gasped out between breaths. She turned to the other occupant. It was a girl, who looked strangely familiar, about her age and eyeing her up awkwardly. “I’m going to the ECU game with a bunch of friends and I’m already running late,” she said, explaining why she was head to toe royal purple and golden yellow. The girl just nodded in understanding and the elevator was filled with silence again.
Kate peeked out of the corner of her eye at the girl who had just dashed in the elevator. The girl was panting and red-faced from running, but she still looked pretty. Her hair was a deep rich brown in a high ponytail with purple and yellow ribbons streaming through it. Her shirt had a menacing pirate flag, the symbol of East Carolina University, on it, almost warning other team of the danger of getting their butts kicked. She was a little shorter, but looked about 15 or 16, and was skinny, but not in a sickly, “I’m anorexic” way. She was probably popular, had good grades, had the perfect boyfriend, and was captain of some school team. It was obvious she was rich, everybody living in Brickview was. The elevator was smooth and silent for two or three floors, then both girls fell to the floor as the elevator jerked to a stop. Kate heard the ECU girl murmur, “Ow, What is going-“ Her question was lost in the ear splitting screech and screams as the elevator plunged down the shaft.
“Ahhhh!” Samantha cried as she felt a sudden lurch. The elevator was speeding downward to what she thought was her certain death. She was on the floor, hands over her head, curled up in a ball. Sam was launched into the air as the elevator unexpectedly squealed to a halt. Cautiously, she opened her eyes, not that it helped much since the lights were out. Hearing a movement to her left, she remembered the other girl. “Are you hurt?” she asked. “No, I’m fine. Are you okay?” came a whisper from within the darkness.
“Well, I’m not hurt, but I think I may have scared a few years off of my life, if I live to get out of here. Do you know what happened?”
“Not for sure, but my guess would be the elevator tried to take us down a little quicker than I would have liked.”
“Do you know if there’s any way to get out?”
“Umm,” Kate thought for a moment, “let’s try the doors. I seriously doubt the buttons will work since the electricity is off, but we can try to force them open. Help me find them.” Kate and Samantha began blindly feeling around the elevator.
“Here’s the doors,” said Sam, “but I can’t feel a handle or anything to pull on. There’s nothing to grab or push them open with.” Suddenly, Sam let out a scream as her hand brushed against Kate’s.“ Oh my God!”
“You just scared me half to death. I didn’t know you were so close.”
“Sorry. Well, it looks like we are stuck here, though I don’t really know where here exactly is. We might be here for awhile, too.”
“We might not be here that long if the elevator decides to crash yet again. I’m Samantha Harrison, by the way. My friends call me Sam.”
“Kate Miller. Glad to meet you.”
“Me, too. However, I admit I wish I would have met you in a different place.” There was silence once more.
“Uhh, I can’t see anything, I wish the lights would turn back on,” Kate exclaimed a few moments later.
“Here, this might work.” The pitch-black elevator was lit up a little as Sam took out her cell phone. “Wow, why couldn’t I think of my cell phone earlier?! Let me try to call somebody for help quick. With our luck the battery will die pretty soon.” Sam began dialing her friend Hillary’s number. “Yes, it’s ringing!” A roar of people yelling and screaming erupted from the phone. “Hello, Hillary?”
A voice on the other line answered, “Sam? Where are you, the players are coming on the field in like 30 seconds . You better hurry!”
“Hillary, listen. Something happened and I’m stuck in an elevator. I need you to call somebody for help and come here.” The stadium voices began getting louder as they chanted for the Pirates.
“What? I can’t hear you. Sam, are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m still here! I really need your help, Hillary!”
“I can’t understand anything you are saying. If you can’t come to the game, I’ll find out. But if you are, I’m sitting in the-“ Hillary’s voice was cut off as the battery in Sam’s cell phone died.
“No! Now we really are totally helpless!”
“What happened? Can’t your friend help?” Kate’s voice asked, once again from the black darkness.
“My phone just died. Our only chance of getting out of here is for somebody to find us or figure out the elevator broke.”
“That could take hours! By then, they elevator might have fallen all the way down to the first floor, with us in it!”
“Well, how high do you think we are?”
“Right before we fell, we were around the 20th floor. I don’t know how far we fell, though. For all we know, we are hanging in an elevator shaft 100 feet in the air!”
Kate started to hyperventilate as Sam sat stunned. All Sam could think of was plummeting down at hundreds of miles per hour and dying as the elevator exploded in a fiery crash.
“Wait, we still have a chance that somebody could find us,” she stated rationalizing.
Kate’s breathing slowed and she sounded excited when she said, “Let’s bang on the doors. Maybe somebody will hear us and come running to help!”
“At 6:00 on a Saturday night? Nobody who lives here stays home or comes back so early on a Saturday night. Even if they did, they wouldn’t hear us through their doors. By beating on the doors, we might also end up causing the elevator to fall. We are just going to have to wait until somebody notices the elevators aren’t working. Then, they would probably find us.” Both girls fell quiet, straining their ears to listen for any sound that might be someone out there. Minutes ticked by but they seemed like hours.
Finally, unable to bear the silence, Sam blurted out, “Ugh I hate silence!”
“Well, what am I supposed to do about that?” Kate snapped.
“Talk to me. Don’t you want to? I know right now, being quiet is driving me insane.”
“Not really. I’m not that talkative-”
“I can tell,” muttered Sam.
“-and,” Kate continued after a short glare, “ we don’t know each other.”
“Well, we can get to know each other. You start. Say something.”
“What am I supposed to say?” asked Kate.
“Well, if it’s driving you crazy, you can start talking.”
“Okay then," Sam thought for moment. “So… how old are you?”
“Sixteen. How old are you?”
“I’m sixteen, too. My seventeenth birthday is actually in a few weeks though, June 12. Do you go to South Central High School, you look familiar.”
“No. I went in my freshman year, then I transferred to J. H. Rose.”
“Why’d you switch?”
“Something happened.” Kate refused to tell more, and Sam could tell she felt uncomfortable. A few feet away Sam heard a sob as Kate began crying.
“What’s the matter? Did I say something that offended you? Are you that scared we are going to die? What’s wrong?” Sam stuttered.
Kate’s weak whisper replied, “No, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Please, tell me. I’m not going to make fun of you. I might be able to help, “ pleaded Sam.
“You can’t help.”
“How do you know? Help can come in most unlikely, unimaginable forms. Maybe this elevator crashed with both of us in it so you would tell me.”
“I seriously doubt that.” Kate’s voice was shaky but harsh. “You would have to understand me, and you clearly don’t.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You’re probably little Miss Perfect living the perfect life.”
“Excuse me?” Sam’s voice turned from sympathetic to annoyed. “I am most definitely not. Where would you ever get that idea?”
“Look at you.”
“Way to be judgmental. Ever heard of not judging a person by their looks?”
“Okay fine!” Kate snapped back. “But you still have no clue about what I’ve been through.”
“I’ve been through hard times, too. Everyone has so don’t go all drama queen just because your parents divorced,” shot Sam.
“Way to be judgmental but that’s not why I’m upset,” quipped Kate.
“Well then what is the reason?”
“Why should I tell you?”
“Maybe because I could help.” The echo of Sam’s words faded as quiet returned to the elevator. Sam sensed Kate’s anger ebb into sadness once more. She reached out. “Kate… I can help you. Don’t be afraid to tell me. Maybe you just need to let it out. I’m not Little Miss Perfect and I won’t judge you anymore.” Answered by silence, she added, “I know everything’s not okay right now and I can’t promise you it will be. But I can try to make it better than it is now…if you’ll let me. I promise.”
Kate looked to the shadow of the girl next to her, a girl she had no connections with that wasn’t telling her to be quiet yet wasn’t pressuring her to tell, wasn’t telling her to forget or move on or telling her everything will be the same, but offering to help, however Kate wanted her to. She waited a few minutes before starting her story. “You have to understand what my life was like first. I mean really try to understand.” She paused, then continued on a little more hesitantly. “My mom, my dad, my brother, and I lived in Virginia together. I was too young to understand what was going on at the time, but my parents were getting a divorce. My mom moved out to another house in Richmond, and since she won the custody rights of me and my brother, Kyle, we moved with her. Before the divorce, my mom was great. She was a great mom and really cared about Kyle and me. The divorce changed her, though. She got a lot angrier, meaner, and started to drink and smoke. It didn’t help that my dad would come over almost every day to visit us. He didn’t do it because he cared about us; he would do it to p*** her off. He’d come and talk obnoxiously about the women he saw last night or about how much better he was now that he wasn’t “married to such a b****.” Finally, when she couldn’t take it anymore, we moved here to Greenville. I was fourteen, and it was really hard. Like you said, I’m not outgoing and I had trouble making friends. Nobody wanted to be friends with the shy new girl who had serious family problems. The only friend I ever had was Kyle.” The elevator was filled with sobs as Kate began crying again. After one or two deep breaths, she was calm enough to go on. “Kyle was the only person who didn’t hate or tease me. He was the only person who cared about me. Kyle was sixteen so he went to South Central, too. He would stand up for me at school, and at home, he would defend me when our mom blew up at me, which she usually did every night. However, one night was different.” Sam listened as Kate went on.
“It started out like any normal day. I went to school, got teased, disappointed my teachers, and Kyle stood up for me. We got home and as usual, our mom yelled at us over something. This time it was report cards. Apparently, my straight C’s weren’t good enough this time. Her shouts echoed around the kitchen and so did the loud smack. My cheek turned raw red as Kyle roared at her. Before I knew it, he was dragging me outside.” Vivid images flashed across Kate’s mind. “Outside, the night was cold and dreary, the moon was full, crows flew across the sky, and the silence was deadly. The streets were abandoned except for me and Kyle. We walked down a couple of blocks when I complained. It was so dark and creepy, I was afraid. I stopped and asked him where we were going. Anywhere away from her was all he said. I remember him turning around to look me in the eyes. Then, there was a blur, a gleam of silver right in front of my face, and the sound of a pistol being cocked. A deep voice muttered directions to give us any money or valuables. Kyle moved between me and the man. He explained we didn’t have any. He inched farther away from me. In a second, he lunged, right for the gun. I couldn’t see. With the moonlight, there was just two shadowy figures fighting. I remember hearing cursing from the mysterious shadow and Kyle hollering for me to run. But my feet wouldn’t move. It all happened so quickly.” Kate’s voice cracked and each word was more of a struggle. “There were two figures. Punching, yelling, kicking, screaming. Then there was one. A crack and a blink and one figure on the ground.” Barely audible, Kate’s weak whisper faded into silence. Streams of tears cascaded down her face, ending in puddles on the floor.
“I’m sorry,” Sam whispered. She moved in the darkness to hold to the sobbing girl. It took Kate a couple of minutes before she could answer.
“No, losing someone you care about is never okay. It’s horrible.”
“He was the only someone I cared about, the only person who cared. I was already cut off from everybody else and then the only person who cared about me was gone. Then my mother was saying it would be alright, my father was saying its gonna be okay, counselors, therapists, doctors, police officers, lawyers telling me its okay, but it wasn’t. It was painful but they kept pushing me to say what happened and then forget it. But I couldn’t stop reliving it. So I put up walls to hold it in. I didn’t want to feel hurt anymore.”
“Sometimes we put up walls just to see who will knock them down.” Sam paused. “Besides, he’s not your only friend. I care about you. If we ever get out of here, I’d be your friend.”
Sam hugged Kate but couldn’t see her smile. The girls sat side by side in the quiet dark for some time. They slowly started talking and couldn’t stop. The elevator was filled with jokes and laughter , weird school stories, and old happy memories being shared. They talked so much and got along so well they didn’t hear the sound of footsteps coming down the hall.
At 10:00 on Saturday night, Jonathan Hunter was walking to his home at Brickview Apartments. He went to the elevators on the first floor and hit the up arrow, nothing happened. He waited for five minutes and still nothing happened . “Great,” he muttered as he used his cell phone to call maintenance. Five more minutes later, a mechanic showed up. As he pried open the doors, light from the lobby shone in on two sixteen year old girls giggling and laughing in an elevator suspended five feet from the ground.