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The Elevator
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The Elevator
by Indy McDaniel
Cover art by Bryce Wolfe
(originally published in SNM Horror Magazine – Issue 26, June 2010)

            The irony of the elevator being stuck between floors twelve and fourteen was not lost on Jim.  Just because the building didn’t officially have a thirteenth floor didn’t mean it didn’t technically have one.  The elevator had apparently decided to stall out somewhere between the metaphorical thirteenth and the technical thirteenth floor of the office building.  Jim would have expected something like this to happen in the old apartment building he lived in, but the office was modern, only a few years old.  Certainly not old enough to have an elevator just break down between floors.  Jim couldn’t help the uneasiness he felt at being stuck in the particular spot he was.  Despite trying to tell himself otherwise, he was rather superstitious.  Glancing over at the only other occupant of the elevator, he wondered if she was superstitious, too.  And if she’d taken notice of the floors they were stuck between.
            In fact, Melody hadn’t taken notice of what specific floors they were stuck between and she wasn’t overly superstitious.  Although she was claustrophobic.  It wasn’t unbearable enough to force her to take the stairs over the elevator, but now that she was trapped inside the cramped steel box, the phobia was quickly acting up.  She glanced over at the man standing across from her.  She’d seen him before, a couple times.  Actually, she was pretty sure she’d ridden on this very elevator with him before, although usually with other passengers.  They’d never spoken.  Just two different faces working in the same building.  Not even for the same company.  Now they were trapped in this damned elevator together.  Melody’s mind began to wonder how much air they had.  How long it would take the maintenance people to break them out.
            Trying to force the doors open had proved useless.  They seemed to be jammed shut somehow.  Jim had tried the maintenance phone next and felt dismay and a deeper twinge of superstition flow into him as he realized it was dead.  They weren’t just trapped, they were cut off.  Jim tried forcing the doors open again, straining hard but only managing to tire himself out.  Stepping away, he sat down on the floor of the elevator.  “Guess we wait for the cavalry...”
            Melody looked down at him, growing more unnerved by the minute.  Normally, she’d have been out of the elevator and in her office by now.  The longer she stayed in here, the worse she felt.  Her eyes darted from Jim to the walls, almost positive they were a bit closer than they had been a minute ago.  “Do you have a cell phone?” she asked, hopefully.
            Jim shook his head.  “Can’t afford one...  Although, at this point, I’d gladly take the extra bill...”  He looked up at her.  “You?”
            Melody shook her head, her blonde hair falling over her eyes for a moment before she brushed her bangs back behind her ears.  “Left it in the car...”  She began to pace, nervously.  “I need to get out of here.”
            Jim smirked, looking down at the floor.  “Me, too.  Can’t afford to get canned.”
            “No, I mean, I really need to get out of here...” Melody shot back, a bit angered by his glib remark.  She grabbed the maintenance phone and put it to her ear, not hearing anything.  She hit the call button several times.  Still nothing.  Frustrated, she threw the phone down.
            “Hey!” Jim exclaimed.  “Careful, that phone’s our only shot at letting someone know we’re in here.”
            “What good is it?” Melody shot back, turning swiftly on him.  “It’s fucking dead!  Just like we’re gonna be if no one finds us!”
            “We’re fine...  Unless it takes them like a week to find us and we die of dehydration,” he said, trying to calm the woman down.
            Melody glared at the man, even angrier at him for his calm demeanor than his smart-ass comments.  “What about air?  We’ve gotta be running out.”
            Jim motioned to the doors.  “Just because we can’t force those doors open doesn’t make them air tight.  Besides, they have to know the elevator’s stuck.  Even if we can’t call down to them, they’ll have to send someone up to get the thing open or running again.  It’s just gonna take a little time.  So why don’t you just relax?”
            Turning to the doors, Melody ignored Jim and moved forward.  Hooking her fingers into the center seam of the door, she tried to force her arms apart and pry the door open.  Clenching her teeth, she pushed hard, but it was no use.  Releasing the door, she began to pound against it, screaming and hoping that someone on the other side would hear her.
            “Would you shut the fuck up?  Christ!” Jim yelled over her.  He pushed himself back to his feet.  “Screaming’s not gonna do a goddamn thing aside from deafen both of us.  So why don’t you sit your fucking ass down and chill the fuck out.  Okay?”
            Melody stopped pounding on the elevator doors, her eyes narrowing before she turned to Jim again.  “You’re an asshole.”
            “So be it.  I’m an asshole,” Jim said, throwing his arms out to his sides in frustration.  “Now sit the fuck down and relax.”
            Continuing to glare at Jim, Melody did sit down.  But relaxing was the last thing she’d be able to do while trapped in this small, metallic, box-shaped tomb.  Leaning against the far wall, she set her purse on her lap and stared at the closed doors across from her.  Jim sat down in the corner, apparently content to wait things out, regardless of the superstitious area they were stuck in.
            Melody waited silently for several long minutes, squeezing her purse tightly.  Beads of sweat trickled down the back of her neck, although the temperature was still quite moderate.  She kept her eyes straight ahead, but she knew Jim was staring at her.  He wants to rape me, she thought.  He knows we’re never getting out of here and he wants one last fuck before he bites it.  Forcing a brief glance in his direction, she saw him looking down at the floor.  Probably had noticed her eyes shifting and had averted his gaze before she could catch him looking at her.  She kept glancing over to him every couple minutes, trying to make sure he wasn’t about to leap at her and tackle her to the floor.
            After about ten minutes, Melody noticed Jim’s eyes had fallen shut, his breathing slow and steady.  He’d drifted off.  Now was her chance.  Quietly, she opened her purse and dug through it.  She came up with a small switchblade, something her sister had given her to keep her safe.  Up until then, she hadn’t had a need for it, but now she was very glad she had it.  Looking over to Jim, setting her purse aside and gripping the switchblade firmly, she thumbed the button on it.  The sharp blade flipped out and Melody steadied herself, knowing that it was kill or be killed in this hellish box they’d become trapped in.
            Without warning, Melody launched herself at Jim, bringing the knife between them.  Jim’s eyes fluttered open as she collided with him, opening his mouth to ask what the hell she was doing.  Then a sharp pain dug into his gut.  His words were reduced to a grunt and he looked down, seeing Melody’s hand gripping the handle of a small knife which was now embedded in his stomach.  Looking from the wound up to Melody, his expression became one of pained confusion.  Melody hadn’t expected that look, but there was no turning back now.  She yanked the knife free and jammed it back into him, higher.  The narrow blade found its way between his ribs, puncturing a lung.  Jim felt a pressure in his chest, finding it hard to breathe.
            Melody wasn’t letting up though.  Pulling the knife out, she slammed it forward, again and again.  Jim tried to bring his hands up, to throttle Melody or punch her or do something to get her away from him, but the pain in his chest and the inability to breathe properly was making him weak.  After stabbing him a half-dozen times, Melody yanked the bloody switchblade out of Jim’s chest and slashed it across his throat.  It opened up and released a torrent of crimson liquid gushing down over Jim’s already blood-soaked chest.  Jim gurgled, bringing his hands up to his neck and trying to hold the blood in, but it was useless.  His face was growing more and more pale and now he found it absolutely impossible to breathe.
            Satisfied with her work, Melody moved away from him, bringing her knife with her.  Rising to her feet, she watched Jim finish bleeding out in the corner.  A large pool of blood was spreading out from him.  He looked up at her, his expression asking her why.  Why had she done it?  A triumphant smirk formed on Melody’s face, responding to him with an ‘as if you don’t know’ look.  Jim’s head fell back, his eyes growing vacant as what remained of his blood continued to spill out of him.  Melody felt relief flow through her as she watched Jim die.  Now she would be safe.  Folding the switchblade closed, she replaced the blood-covered weapon to her purse and picked it up, sliding the strap over her shoulder.
            Hearing the elevator kick back on and resume its journey upwards, Melody turned to face the doors, a satisfied smile on her face.  It was about time.  Now she could get to work.

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