Heather had left her windows open a crack and the light rain had turned into a deluge. She hurried to the elevator, hoping to get to her car on the top, uncovered level of the parking garage before her upholstery smelled like wet dog.
Handsome delivery man Ryan joined her in the elevator, holding an odd boomerang shaped bone. As the doors closed he pushed the button for the twenty-ninth floor and they began their descent, Heather realized to her delight they were the only two using it. Thank you, Lord! Please help me not to blow this opportunity.
Before she had a chance to think of something to talk about, she heard a thud. The elevator lurched and bounced. A sick feeling roiled her stomach, and she and Ryan stared at each other, wide-eyed. All of a sudden something let go and the elevator dropped like a rock.
They screamed in unison as their plunge toward doom accelerated. The numbers above the door flashed in quick succession, signifying the floors as they passed. In no time they were in single digits. Heather watched, frozen in helpless panic. Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one…
She screamed, “Fuck!” scrunched her eyes shut and braced for the inevitable impact. Oddly enough, they didn’t stop falling.
“Hey! We’re not landing!” Ryan shouted.
Gawking at the numbers, Heather couldn’t believe what she saw. Negative nine, negative ten, negative eleven…
Ryan began counting out loud. “Negative eighteen? Negative nineteen? Negative twenty?”
The elevator slowed and both of them had their eyes glued to the numbers, chanting in unison. “Negative twenty-seven—negative twenty-eight—negative twenty-nine…”
The numbers stopped, heralding the end of their descent.
Ryan’s large, round eyes stared at her. “Are we dead? Did we go to—?” The doors whooshed open, cutting off his question.
Damp fingers of fog reached into the elevator and a preternatural scene greeted Heather’s astonished gaze. An eerie, blue-green light permeated the billowing fog, peeking through thin spots. A pond beneath the miasma seemed to be emitting the strange, iridescent illumination.
They both hesitated but eventually each one of them stepped out onto wet grass and gazed at their mystifying surroundings. Spanish moss hung from giant trees, gnarled and twisted with age. Weird, otherworldly noises, like mournful birds, cried in the distance. The smell of wet moss hung in the air. Before their very eyes the fog dissipated. It appeared to be early morning, just before dawn. The sky was the color of Ryan’s indigo jeans.
Oh Lord. She couldn’t believe she was thinking of his jeans at a time like this, but he had been walking in front of her and she couldn’t help admiring…
A figure dressed in a flowing, brown robe, stood with its back to them on the opposite side of the pond. Platinum hair cascaded down the creature’s back.
Then the elevator disappeared. What the hell is going on?
Ryan called out in the direction of the stranger across the pond. “Hey, you! Where are we?”
The figure didn’t turn around. Instead a low voice began to hum. The hum grew louder and at last evolved into the sound of a female singing a tune; a song that seemed to resonate from everywhere and nowhere.
’Where am I? Where am I?’ That’s what you’re thinking.
Traveled to somewhere without even blinking.
Am I in Heaven? Am I on Earth?
Traveled in time to before my own birth?
Such silly mortals with mortalish thoughts.
Wondering now if you’ve had all your shots.
Resuming her hum, she turned around to face them. She tipped her head to the right, then to the left, and appeared to be studying them.
Picture a moment; a place beyond dreams
That’s waterfall fresh with candy sweet scenes.
That’s not where you’ve landed, and though I’m your host,
I am an immortal, so almost a ghost.
Heather trembled and clumsily grabbed hold of Ryan’s leather jacket. The stranger laughed out loud and her song turned into a shout.
No, you’re not dead, though that can be arranged.
You’re saving your souls! You’re here to be changed!
After the last verse, the odd woman disappeared in a puff of smoke. In the blink of Heather’s eyes, the figure reappeared directly in front of her. She shook so hard she tried to back away but stumbled and landed on her butt in the soft moss. “Ryan, run!”
“Aww…fell on your tush, did you? Hmm. Nice white skirt you’re wearing. That’ll leave a stain,” the whatever-she-was said.
“This can’t be happening.”
Ryan bent to help her up and whispered, “I won’t leave you.”
Heather took one look at his determined expression and swallowed hard. The warm strength of him seeped into her and spread. He could almost distract her from this craziness.
That’s it! I must be at my desk—going crazy. Or I fell asleep from utter boredom. Any minute now, I’ll wake up.
Meanwhile, the peculiar woman paced back and forth in front of them, looking them over from top to bottom.
“You’re from the Earthly realm. You were wise to seek me out, although I must say I’m amazed you found me. It was decided long ago that I should remain hidden from you.”
She sighed and began to sit. A chair appeared underneath her by the time she needed it, thus preventing her from falling on her ass. Heather wished she had plummeted to the ground. Maybe a little humor would make her laugh and wake her up out of this dream—or hallucination.
“Hey, watch that. I’ll be the one to decide what happens to whom.”
Heather caught her breath. Did she just read my mind?
“Oh, that’s right,” said the singing Dr. Seuss. “You don’t know who I am. I guess I’ll have to introduce myself.” She tossed her head and crossed her legs, the robe falling open to reveal their shapeliness. “I have many different names, but you can call me Tophet.”
After a period of silence she sighed. “For heaven’s sake, will one of you please get over your speechless panic and talk to me? Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve heard another voice? Not that I don’t love the sound of my own voice…I do, but come on now. Speak!”
“You can hear what we’re thinking?” Ryan asked.
“Yes. By the way, thanks for the compliment on my legs, but they’re not really a mile long.”
His jaw dropped and he took a giant step backward. Ryan managed to straighten his posture and cross his arms in front of his chest. “Okay, what was I just thinking?”
Tophet chuckled. “Your mind was blank. Your brain’s still frozen in fear, although you’re doing an impressive job of hiding your terror.” She waved them over and gestured to the grass at her feet. “Come. Sit down. I won’t bite.”
Heather took a deep breath and hoped it was true. As they settled on the ground, Ryan happened to lay the boomerang-shaped bone on the grass in front of Tophet.
“My boomerang! Where did you find it?”
Ryan wiped the sweat from his brow and said, “I was told to deliver it to the Paleontology department—on the 29th floor. I didn’t realize there was a negative 29th floor.”
Tophet chuckled. “I see what happened now. I threw my boomerang so hard, it wound up in the world above. Then, when you began your descent, it found its way back to me—as boomerangs are supposed to do.”
“Okaaay…Now that you have your precious boomerang, how do we get out of here?” Ryan asked.
“Ah. Simple.” She snapped her fingers.
Heather blinked. She must have—they were in the elevator again, slowing to a safe stop on the lobby floor. The doors whooshed open.
“Did you…” she began.
“No. I didn’t see anything strange. No negative twenty-ninth floor. No weird woman. Nothing unusual happened. Right?”
At first Heather was confused, then he winked. “Ah! Right. We didn’t see anything that would land us in the loony bin.”
He nodded. “Want to go for a drink after work and not talk about it?” he asked.
She grinned. “Yeah. I’d like that.”
Cool, eh? Have you ever felt…uncomfortable in an elevator? I have!!! I rode the antiquated narrow grated one up to the auditing office where I worked for a short time in the TOWER. The place where the guy killed so many people on UT campus in Austin. The next step up were a flight of stairs to the top where he was shooting. It was the eeriest feeling, going up in that old elevator.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable when tons of people get on with you and you’re sure they’ve exceeded the weight limit? Or have you ever been stuck in an elevator?
When we lived in Imperial Towers in Titusville, we got stuck on their elevator. It had stuck between floors and we had to climb out where the elevator was stuck below the opening. I just knew it would crash while we were halfway out. It didn’t. Not that day. But it did later. Luckily, no one was on it that time. What about glass elevators? Creepy.
Have a great day and may all your experiences in elevators be good ones!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
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