Today I’m acting on a prompt from DailyPost, which fits quite well because I was looking to write more fiction today. And what did I find on my WordPress reader but a suggestion to write fiction based around the idea of meeting a stranger on an elevator. So here goes.
She was a little bit nervous. She looked at the address she had taken down on her phone. This was indeed the building. It stood mightily tall, so many stories high that she thought the word “skyscraper” might be a bit of an understatement.
She swept her hair behind her ears, took a deep breath and walked up the stairs to the doorway. It was a revolving door, as she might have expected from such a huge place. Regular doors were apparently for poor people or something.
When she got into the building’s lobby she was even more intimidated, but she stopped herself from being petrified with fear. It was only a job interview, for god’s sake. Her livelihood was at stake here.
She wandered for a minute or so before finally finding the elevator. It was a little before lunchtime for the offices in the building, so the lobby was fairly empty. She double-checked the floor number, got into the elevator and punched in 34. Just before the elevator doors were about to close, she noticed a man who was clearly trying to make this elevator. She pushed the “door open” button to make sure he got in.
“Thank you,” the man said as he got in. She noticed he didn’t push a button. She hoped that was because he was going to the same floor as her, otherwise she could have very well just let a possible sociopath into the elevator with her.
She stopped thinking about it, though, and decided to focus her attention on the elevator display panel. She watched as the digital numbers started increasing. She steadied her frayed nerves, trying to look as calm and put-together as possible when she stepped into the office that would be her testing ground.
Her thought process was interrupted by a gruff jerking sound. She looked around in bewilderment and saw that the display panel was stuck at 29. She thought it might have been a brief glitch, but no, the elevator was not moving.
The man beside her didn’t move a muscle, not seeming the least bit concerned at all about this. She hit the emergency button, but nothing happened. She frantically started pressing other buttons but none of those did anything either.
“You’re only going to make it worse if you keep on like that,” the man said suddenly. His voice was soft but powerful, as though he were a politician who could silence a room with the sweep of a hand.
“What am I supposed to do then,” she almost yelled. “Sit here and do nothing?”
“Well not nothing exactly,” the man replied. She decided to finally get a good look at him. Had she been paying more attention to him when he got onto the elevator, she would have immediately noticed that he wasn’t an employee of any offices in this building. She knew this just by looking at the way he was dressed.
He had on a beret, the type of hat that men would have worn in the 1920s or 30s. As clothing he had a bizarre ensemble put together, involving a white dress shirt worn with a bow tie, a blue vest over the shirt, and long grey dress pants. His shoes were not dress shoes but sneakers. Who in the hell was this guy?
“Are you going to say anything else?” the man asked.
“What do you want me to say?” she replied, suddenly feeling defensive.
“You’re wondering who I am, aren’t you?”
“Wouldn’t anyone if they say you dressed as you are?”
The man chuckled. “I suppose so. I guess I need to be a little more inconspicuous when I make an appearance.”
“Ah, well, I’ll get to that eventually. So tell me a little bit about yourself.”
She was bewildered. Was she being hit on right now? This was not the time nor the place. “Why should I tell you anything?” she finally said. She was more pissed off now about the guy beside her than the fact that she was trapped in an elevator.
The man sighed. “Alright, then I will. You just recently received your MBA, and you’re going to interview for a job at the marketing firm on the 34th floor.”
She tensed a little bit. “Anyone could have guessed that,” she said.
“Well I suppose they could, but they could also guess that you already work here,” he replied.
“Yeah, and you guessed correctly,” she said. She was keeping her guard up.
“Okay, what else…” he paused for a moment as though he was taking some time to venture through her thoughts. “You have a huge collection of unread books at home. You’re always buying them but never actually read them. You most recently bought Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, didn’t you?”
Now she was alarmed. “How the hell did you know that?”
“Oh come on, you watch enough science fiction and fantasy, can’t you guess? I know everything about you.”
“So you’re not human?”
“I might be. But that’s up to you.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“What do you want it to mean?”
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she said. “Why are you here?”
“Well, I did ask you a question a little back. We can move on if you answer it.”
“You want me to tell you about myself? But you know everything about me!”
“I do,” he said. “But I still want me to tell you about yourself.”
“What good will that do?”
“A lot more than you know,” he said. “I’ll wait,”
She decided to be stubborn. She wasn’t just going to open up to this random, possibly supernatural being. She still didn’t get the point of telling him things that he already knew. She tried again to hit the emergency button but came up empty. She pounded the wall harder than she meant to and shook her hand, which was now aching and a little red.
She sat down on the elevator floor and hugged her knees. She wasn’t someone prone to claustrophobia, but the finite dimensions of the tiny lifting device were starting to make her a little more nervous.
Ten minutes passed, with her not saying a word and the man remaining motionless in place.
Finally she couldn’t stand it anymore. “I was born in the neighbouring city, but I never really enjoyed it there,” she began. And before she knew it, she was spilling her guts to this man. It was as though someone had pulled the plug on a bathtub full of water and it was all rushing into the drain at once. She didn’t at once stop and consider whether the happening in her life was too private and detailed all of her successes, failures, relationships and fights.
She finally got to the present. “And now I’m just nervous about this. I feel like I don’t have a good enough portfolio, and that they’re only interviewing me out of pity.” She stopped and took a few deep breaths. She couldn’t believe how relieved she felt to expel her life story like that.
“But you have a good portfolio,” the man said.
“How can you say that without even seeing it?” she asked.
“Well, what did your supervisors at school say about it?”
She had to think back. He of course already knew this, but she had to dig up the memories. “Oh right… When I showed it to Gellhorne, he said it was among some of the most creative work he had ever seen.”
“And what about when you showed it to Higgs?”
“Higgs said… She said that between her and me, I had more potential than anyone else in her class that year.”
“You’re right, she did say that,” the man said. “So what is there to be nervous about?”
She was stunned. It was as though Socrates had come back to life. “I… I don’t have anything to be nervous about,” she said.
“Exactly,” the man said. “It’s too bad it took you so long to get that, I didn’t think it would take so long.” As soon as he finished saying those words, the elevator began to move again.
“Did you…” she stopped her question there. She was beyond the point of disbelief now.
The elevator reached the 34th floor, and she stepped out. The man waved, and she gingerly waved back, still a little shaken by what had just happened. She looked at her watch. Less than a minute had passed since she stepped onto the elevator. What?
She looked back to see if the man was still there, but the doors had already closed and the elevator was now presumably heading back down to the ground floor.
She looked around and saw the sign that said “Craig & Barnes & Associates” and then knocked on the door.
A short woman opened it. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m here for the interview with Ms. Barnes?” she said.
“Oh yes!” the woman brightened. “Come right in. Ms. Barnes has said a lot of great things about your work and told me she can’t wait to meet you.”
“Oh, that’s great!” she said.
A minute later the woman (presumably a secretary) came back with Barnes.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Barnes said. “Come on over to my office and we’ll begin the interview.”