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The Fire and the Flames
“Dad, I did all I could,” I said.
“Well this is something you need to learn, I’m not going to be here for you any time you need me,” my father replied.
“When have you been there for me? You didn’t help me when I was a child, not when I was a teen. You didn’t even come to my good-bye party,” I said back.
He didn’t answer. I started to pace around the room. I read over the checkout directions once again, making sure I know what else I need to gather.
“Dad… Is it okay if I see you in a month? I never really get to see you often,” I asked.
“Alright, just no taxes this time, you can do them yourself,” he replied.
“Thanks dad, honestly for everything. Bye dad, I love you,” I said.
“Yeah, bye,” he replied, disconnecting the call.
I looked down at my phone, reading the “Call ended.” Anger filled inside me, and I threw the phone onto the bed. I stood there looking at my face in the mirror. My beard seemed a bit lighter, and my head still buzzed short. I continued to stare down at my brown eyes when my cell vibrated on the bed. I hobbled over to the bed and just fell onto it. I picked up my cell and read the text, “Love you too.”
My anger subsided and yet was still there. The vein on my forehead started to fade away.
Where’s my cane? I wondered.
I did my best to maneuver around my room, trying to find my cane. It was laying up against the door, its silver knob keeping my cane in place. I steadied myself, and stood upright.
The beds were made, the room was almost perfectly the way I came in, except for my suitcase which was next to my bed on the ground.
I even checked the bathroom, just to make sure. All was clear; the towels were on the racks, sink and shower clear of any clogs. All looked in order except for that one bottle, its orange casing holding the dual-colored caplets. A white sticker bore my name and a dosage amount.
I unscrewed the lid and peered inside the bottle.
Two days worth left. Should I get more? Will I need it? It's been three years, can't I just let it go, I thought.
I poured out two and stuck them in my mouth. I swallowed hard, not even drinking a glass of water. I quickly closed the lid on the bottle and threw it in the trash.
I stood there, staring at my reflection in the mirror. An orange hue surrounded my figure in the mirror. My eyes poured sadness from their depths even though no tears streamed down my face. I wiped my eyes of the figurative tears. I felt immobile, like I couldn’t do a single thing to escape this.
I looked up to see me as normal as I could. The hue of orange was gone, just my reflection. I checked my watch to see that I needed to leave, so I grabbed my cane and picked up my suitcase and finally left my room.
The door shut hard, but I never looked back. My cane made a heavy thump each time it hit the carpeted floor. I almost reach the elevator when this little girl comes running to press the down button.
Her hair almost reminded me of my sister when she was younger. I just looked at her as I waited for the elevator, yet she did not notice me. I could see she was scared and afraid, but I chose to do nothing about, for I did not know.
The elevator ringed open, and the girl ran inside, scrambling to press the buttons she needed to. She even pressed the button to close the doors before I had even stepped inside the elevator. I stopped it from closing, and walked inside. She pressed the door close button once again. Fortunately for me, she pressed the ground floor button so then I didn’t have too.
The doors shut close, leaving me and the girl alone in the elevator as it started to move. As quickly as it had started to go down, the elevator shook violently and then stopped moving entirely.
I thought I heard the girl scream, but then again it could’ve been the elevator screeching. She now sat down in the corner away from me, her head in her knees. I got up to the button panel and pressed the door open button. The elevator did not respond.
From what I could see, the elevator had lost all electrical power. The ground floor button was not lighted up, and the floor number was not showing on the top. I even tried to radio for help, but it also busted.
Really! I didn’t want to stay here any longer and I even have a plane to catch, I thought.
I hobbled back to my corner and opened up my suitcase. I found my pocket knife in a side-pocket. I pulled out the screwdriver attachment, and picked up my cane and walked back over to the electrical panel.
I started to unscrew the panel hoping to fix it, the girl was still crying in the corner. The panel came off with ease, and I pulled out the wires hoping to be able to rewire to get some electricity.
Red wire connects with blue wire… Green is neutral so I can connect to the second red... Black and white wires go only with similar colors... Bad wiring needs to be snipped off... Will that girl shut up I’m trying to think… I continually thought, trying to connect some electricity, Maybe I could reroute wires to work together with different wires… Is possible something got stuck in the door?
Nothing worked. I even tried the radio again, this time wired differently, but I was able to receive and not transmit. Frustrated, I threw my pocketknife against the wall, the little girl freaked. I moved back to the opposite corner and sat down with a grimace on my face.
What am I going to do? What about this girl? Are we ever going to be able to get out? Does the staff even understand that we are trapped inside this elevator? What does this girl want? I kept thinking to myself.
The girl continued to sob over in the corner. I just sat there tapping my cane against the floor. What were minutes, passed like hours. I took a deep breath.
“Hey,” I said, the girl whimpered, “are you okay?”
The girl just stuck her head back in her knees, hiding her face from me. I remembered the bottle of water I had in my suitcase and pulled it out. I unscrewed the lid and handed the bottle to the girl. She didn’t notice.
“Hey, here you go,” I said, swirling the bottle in my hand.
Her head rose once again, and this time she took the bottle from my hand. She took three big gulps and then handed it back to me. I took a swig as well, hoping to conserve, in case this was going to take a while.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Pip,” she answered, not entirely focused, but yet still very frightened.
“Hello there Pip, I’m Adam,” I replied, still keeping my distance hoping not to frighten her more.
She didn’t respond, keeping to herself and her fears.
“Why were you going down in the elevator?” I asked.
“To see my parents,” she replied.
Why did they leave her all alone? Who does that? I thought. My parents kind of did that to me. They weren’t there for me. My dad still doesn’t even entirely care for me. Yeah, they’re helping me, but now is not the time for them to help me. I continued.
“Is your family nice?” I asked
“Yeah,” she answered.
Short responses, she doesn’t entirely care for this conversation. She wants to get out to mom and dad. What if they aren't looking for her? Do they understand that she is here I wondered.
At that moment, the elevator started rattling, and it felt like we even hit the walls of the shaft. Pip got bumped off from sitting down, was on her feet, then fell and hit her head hard on the floor. I went over to Pip and sat her up. Her head was a pink cherry against my arm. I could feel her head throbbing by her temple.
WHY? WHAT’S GOING ON? WHERE’S THE HELP? I screamed inside my consciousness. WAIT, my cell, I remembered. Of all things, I would forget that I had a cell phone with me.
“Hey Pip, do you know your parent’s cell number?” I asked, really hopeful to get help.
She didn’t tell me, she just took my phone and started to dial the number. However, she didn’t even finish when she had given it back to me.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
She didn’t respond, but it became clear to me when I looked down at the phone.
NO FREAKING RECEPTION. DAMN ELEVATOR. WHY THE ONE TIME I ACTUAL NEED MY PHONE TO WORK, IT DOESN'T? Typical, just like my family, and well everything else. Nothing works when I need it too. I never finished college, the army didn't help me get through college, I getting nowhere with my parents.
Pip continued to cry, and I continued to sit there, wondering what to do. I took a drink of water, and gave some to Pip. Then a plan finally came fully together.
“Pip, we’re getting out of here,” I said bravely, holding up my cane.
She looked up and saw me turn to the elevator door. I pulled off the knob of my cane, which revealed a short flat knife. I stuck the knife in the slit between the two doors, and started to pry it open. The knife barely moved it more than a couple quarter-inches. I kept pushing the knife through, moving the doors ever so slightly. Under the intense pressure, the blade snapped off its handle.
NO! WHAT NOW? OF COURSE THE BLADE WOULD BREAK!
I sat back down next to the doors, just staring at the small crack between them. I stared and stared and stared, Pip laid her head on my shoulder, tears still streaming down her face. I ran my fingers up the crack, just wondering what to do.
I stood up again, placed both palms on the right door, twisted and pushed with all my might. It budged in the slightest, but it did budge. I knew I could move it.
If only I have something to pry it open with... I can't really use my foot, it's not good. I could probably make use of my suitcase, or... my cane.
I picked up my cane with an open hand, keeping pressure on the door with the other. I pushed once more on the door. It moved just slightly more, and so I moved to place my cane in between the doors. I gave up some pressure on the door, and the doors shut once again.
Exhaustion filled me up, and sweat started to drip down my face. I sat down again, taking in some needed rest.
“I can’t do it,” I muttered to myself.
How much air is left in the elevator? I wondered.
I sat there, meditating on all these ideas that just were racing through my brain. I stumbled upon an idea about the small door at the top of the elevator, and thought about maybe I could see a way to escape.
So I followed that idea, and moved my suitcase into place so I could stand on it. Pip sat in the corner, watching intently. I couldn’t reach the top enough to push the door open. Then I remembered my cane, and I jabbed it at the door until the door came off its hinges.
I looked up the elevator shaft and dread filled me. Escape was not an option, unless it was through the elevator doors. I could see in the shaft that the wiring was wearing down and soon that it would break. I looked down at Pip, who was still looking at me with intent. I kept a calm composure hoping not to scare her, but what could I do. I checked my phone for any reception now that the top-door was open, but still had none.
“So, you want to help me get those doors open?” I asked Pip, as honestly I didn’t know what to do from now on.
She stood up on her feet along with me. She helped steady myself, making sure I would not fall. I went back to the door and prepared myself. I took a gulp of water and then went to work.
I placed my hands firmly against the door, pressing as hard as I could. My hands suctioned onto the wall, the skin oil giving me extra friction. My feet planted firmly on the ground gave me an extra push to begin opening the door. I got it open enough to hold it so could place my left knee and foot partial inbetween the doors.
"Pip, I need you to hold my leg. It's not strong enough on it's own. When I get it open enough, climb on through," I said to her.
She stared at my leg in utter disgust, but she followed my orders, grasping my leg tightly against the door.
I continued to push, even putting my cane back inbetween the doors hoping that it would help stabilize the doors. I was surprised at the strength I put through. I had no idea that I had this strength in my resouvoir of energy that I had with me. The doors just kept sliding open.
Light from the hallway shone through the space that the doors were apart. The doors just kept moving. I fit my whole leg inside, keeping pressure on the one door.
At that moment, Pip climbed through the door, and ran down the hall towards the stairs. The pressure of pain hit my leg hard. The doors were just squeezing the life out of my leg. The elevator felt like it got really warm, the walls seemed to be melting. I could see faces on the walls, all staring at me, all familar to me.
I shook my head back and forth. Miller, I thought.
I pulled my phone out again, hoping that I would get a sliver of reception, just enough to call Miller. And so I had enough, the two bars that the door gave me were just enough. I pressed '2' and placed my cell on speaker.
The phone rang, and Miller picked up.
"Karrick?" He asked.
"Yes sir Miller," I replied, "I'm in a bit of a situation."
"What's wrong?" He wondered.
"My time has come. I'm coming to see the squad today," I answered.
"Where are you?" he asked.
"The Grand in San Francisco. Lloyd, tell Pip 'Thank you' for me," I said.
"Who's Pip? Ad-" Lloyd cried, but got cut off when I pulled myself back into the elevator.
I fell to the floor hard, my cane got smashed in the door. My left leg was busted, hardly able to move it. The elevator started to screech, I stayed immobile on the ground.
Then it finally snapped. The wire holding the elevator broke off and the elevator started to freefall down the shaft with me inside.
I gained a sense of weightlessness as the elevator started to fall. Time moved slowly even when I didn't. A new memory came into my head, and so I reached for my cell once again. I opened and searched my recent texts. I opened the one from my father.
"I love you," it read. Tears floated from my eyes as I started to cry. I closed them to take in the moment.
Dad, I will miss you. You did some great things for me, how could I ever repay you for what you have done for me.
The elevator hit the bottom of the shaft, and my back smashed into the floor of the elevator. I opened my eyes and took my final breath, flames flying around me. I could see Squad 7 standing in the flames, and as the fire crashed down upon me, I saw hands reaching out to take me away with them. The hands of my brothers who died in fire.