Friday, October 11, 2019
By Randy Romero
Carol Abrams took a deep, arduous breath as the elevator doors shimmied open. She stepped in slowly, warily, and exhaled another deep sigh as the elevator doors closed with a light thud.
Carol suffered from an extreme case of claustrophobia. But when you live on the thirty-third floor of a forty floor apartment building, you learn to combat that fear.
It sure beats taking the stairs.
She continued taking deep, laborious breaths as the elevator descended. Its mechanical hum sounded like a power drill in Carol’s skull.
Trapped. That’s how she felt. Confined inside a steel box that had haunted her since she was a little girl. The intense anxiety was enough to make her heart race. She could feel her throat starting to tighten up. She needed to get out of this steel contraption ASAP.
She took soft, weak breaths as it became more and more difficult to breathe. She started silently counting all the floors she had left. Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen…
The elevator finally reached the ground floor, stopped. But the doors refused to open.
She jabbed the first floor button several times with her index finger.
The doors didn’t open and the elevator resumed moving, traveling down to the basement level. But it didn’t stop there.
She pounded against the doors, frantically mashed all the buttons with her palms. Screamed for help until her throat was coarse. The air felt thin all around her. She pressed the emergency stop button which was unresponsive.
“This isn’t possible,” she cried. “This can’t be happening.”
But the elevator seemed to disagree as it continued its subterranean descent.
After what felt like an eternity to Carol, the elevator came to a sudden stop. The doors slid open and she peered out into the darkness.
A thick raspy voice, like the sound of glass on a chalkboard, greeted her.
“Who are you?” she said, trembling.
“Oh, I have many names…Lucifer, Satan…But I’ve always loved the Prince of Darkness.”
“This isn’t happening…it’s not real…I’m just having a really bad dream.”
“I’m afraid you’re not dreaming. You died Carol. Car accident just a few days ago. And now, you’re here. This is your reward for your sins. Everyone’s hell is different and you are now trapped in your own private hell. Forced to take that terrifying descent over and over. You will spend eternity trapped inside that box.”
“I don’t belong here,” Carol said. “This is a mistake. It’s all a big mistake. If I’m really dead, then I belong in Heaven.”
“There’s no mistake. Have you forgotten about your mother, Carol? Your ailing mother who depended on you for every little thing. You grew sick and tired of waiting on her hand and foot. A little untraceable poison in her soup was all it took. What did you call it to make yourself feel better? A mercy killing? I think that’s the phrase you used to justify it to yourself. I think your mother would have disagreed.”
The elevator doors started to close.
“Wait!” Carol cried out.
“Going up,” the Prince of Darkness said and waved goodbye with one red, clawed hand.
The doors banged shut and the elevator began to ascend.