Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the sixty-fourth piece in this series. This week’s is an 803-worder by Rowena Simpkiss. This story will be podcasted in episode 22 (Sunday 24th March).
“Damn it!” yelled Brian as he kicked the door of the lift.
He looked up at the floor indicator and realised he was trapped between the fifth and sixth floors. Another minute the other way and he may not be here. He now cursed himself for stopping to watch a sexy young girl saunter down the street in a tight-fitting mini skirt. She really turned him on and he had not felt that way for a while.
He wrenched open the cabinet that housed the emergency telephone.
“Name’s Brian Parker. I’m trapped in a lift in the Huddard Building.”
The voice at the other end sounded unfazed by his plight.
“Someone will be there as soon as possible.”
“What do you mean as soon as possible? The air’s running out in here. Get me out now!”
“Calm down! We’ll have you out before you know it.”
Brian slammed down the phone. How could they keep him waiting? It was urgent. They did not know what it was like to be trapped and facing a fear that threatened to take him over.
It was getting increasingly hot in there and he could feel the sweat running down his brow. He wiped the back of his hand across it and with a sharp tug, loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top of his blue shirt. He thought of Lucy. If only she could see him now. He almost heard her bickering at him to tidy himself up. She always ironed his shirts to perfection and made him keep his dark hair in a sleek, crew-cut. Now his shiny black shoes were scuffed at the toes from kicking the lift door, and his shirt was crumpled like paper and hung out from the back of his grey trousers. His face felt flushed and he could only imagine what his clean-shaven face looked like now. He was glad he couldn’t see his brown eyes as he was sure they would reflect the fear he felt.
He could hear Lucy now saying: “a person in her position should be well groomed.”
He often thought: What’s the point? He was only a telephone customer service representative for a communications company. The customers could not see him. He thought of his co-workers who often complimented him on the calm way he handled irate customers. If only he could display that calm now, but the confined space was driving him mad.
At the moment Lucy was the least of his worries. For now feelings of panic threatened to overwhelm him. As he struggled to control them, another fear entered his mind. There had been so many earthquakes lately that if one struck now there was no way out. He wanted to yell out and bang his fists against the wall of the lift. Why couldn’t they hurry up and get him out of this damned place? he thought. What was taking them so long? He could be dead before they got him out.
He longed to stretch out his tall legs and get some fresh air. For a moment he closed his eyes and imagined himself in a wide-open space with fresh air and a trickling stream. He could hear the tranquillity of bird song and for an instant he was out of the lift. Then reality returned as the smell of his sweat hit his nostrils. His hands were clammy and his mouth was dry and craving for water. The thought of dying in there took over his mind and he wanted to get up and pound on the door. Telling himself to calm down was lost in the turmoil of his mind.
Brian began to wonder whether anyone would care if he did die in the lift. Perhaps his employer had not noticed him missing after lunch. Maybe he did not care himself anymore, his life was flashing before him adding credibility to the fear he was about to die.
It was a sharp jolt at first and then Brian felt movement. He looked up to see the floor indicator was working again.
“Oh, my God!” he yelled. “I’m getting out!”
The doors opened to an unfamiliar floor. He blinked his eyes and saw a petite young blonde woman in a red mini-skirt. At first he didn’t believe his eyes and wondered if he was hallucinating. Then she smiled at him and he heard the sweetest voice.
“He’ll do!” she said excitedly to someone beside her. “He’s what we want.”
She looked at Brian with a smile that melted him away.
“Will you star in our advertisements?”
“Of course!” he replied. “I’ll do it for you.”
A wry smile formed on his dry lips.
He had found heaven between floors and he no longer cared about anything. Not even what Lucy would say.
I asked Rowena what prompted this piece and she said…
Between Floors is inspired by a newspaper item about office workers who were trapped in a lift during a power cut. I imagined what it would be like to be trapped in a lift and I used my own fear of being trapped in a lift to get inside the thoughts and feelings of my character, Brian.
I loved it. Thank you, Rowena.
Rowena Simpkiss enjoys writing short stories and during her teenage years wrote stories for the children’s sections of a New Zealand newspaper and magazine.
She is also a regular contributor to letters to the editor in her local community newspaper The Leader, and currently works for The Inland Revenue Department in New Zealand.
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