Why am I here?, I wondered as I stood in the lobby of an unfamiliar building. I succinctly remember being here for a specific purpose, however that purpose seems to have eluded me now.
A gentleman complimented me on my necklace, “Thanks”, I said, “Its snowflake obsidian” as I presented the little shining pebble. I was standing in front of several slim elevators, set at a backwards angle away from me along a slope across the floor. Somehow this did not seem out of place. I approached one of the available elevators with its sliding door slightly ajar.
I gently shimmied the door open for me to clamber inside, the concertina door reminded me of those room separators from old buildings. Once inside, the world angle seem to adjust appropriately that I felt I was standing upright. I turned to face the buttons that represented my destination. These too reminded me of a time gone by, big protruding oval buttons much like that of an old intercom. I pressed number 5 and the elevator bobbed into motion. Facing the door now I could see that the wall to my right side, the one opposite from the intercom buttons was completely transparent from the inside of the elevator. It seems as though the elevator had been build to fit inside a spiral staircase. I watched as floors of people go by as they rushed up and down the stairs. Some noticed my passing and waved enthusiastically.
The elevator did not slow as we approached floor 5, instead it felt to be picking up speed as it whooshed pass my intended destination. I pressed the number 5 button again, but it seems as though the elevator was intent on its own destination. I stood waiting patiently with some tension rising in my chest as the elevator kept its steady pace upwards, floors passing in a bit more of a blur now. I looked around the rest of the elevator. It was quite narrow. It could possibly fit only a handful of people. Those people should preferably not have claustrophobia or be afraid of highs seeing as you can count how many floors you pass by looking out through the transparent wall. Fortunately, I had neither – yet the elevator’s seemingly unknown destination was somewhat unnerving.
The elevator gradually slowed and bobbed to a stop announcing that we had arrived at floor 29. Floor 29? I told you floor 5! Stupid elevator… The door shimmied open, its concertina folds bunching up against one another. I peered out into a very large and dimly lit room. I could faintly make out people on the far side and from the well lit elevator interior it seemed as though some were sitting on benches against the walls and others were walking across bridges – no, perhaps walkways?
Why would there be walkways on the 29th floor? I pondered not leaving the now safe confines of the elevator. Suddenly a dark figure appeared in the doorway, making me jump out of my reverie.
“Hi!”, it said brightly, “Welcome to floor 29, please proceed out of the elevator.” My eyes had adjusted to the difference in light and I could make out a small round woman.
“Good morning” I managed to keep my voice level, “Thank you, but I need to be on floor 5 though.”
“Oh, then you should have used a different elevator, this is the express elevator to floor 29.”
Express elevator? Hmph I have never heard of such a thing in my life. I decided I would switch elevators. I made my way through the doorway. Suddenly the elevator swung slightly backwards as I stepped from the landing! A squeak of surprise left my throat as I stumbled forward in the direction of my own momentum, grabbing onto the woman’s left shoulder and arm. Regaining my balance at the woman’s side I realized that I still had fists full of her jacket in my clenched hands.
“Sorry!” I proclaimed and promptly released her.
“It’s quite a natural response to floor 29, deary”, she said softly, a motherly smile appearing on her round face.
I thanked her sheepishly and turned around to search for another elevator. But there were none, only the ‘Express’ was there somehow caught at the top on a intimidating hook. The cable of the hook disappeared into the darkness as it seems that floor 29 had a very high roof.
“How do I get to floor 5 if there is only one elevator?” I asked the friendly woman who was still at my side writing feverishly on a note board.
“You’ll have to take the same one back to floor one and then take another elevator to floor 5. Otherwise, you can take the stairs, since elevators aren’t really allowed up here. You’ll first have to get this one released.” as she gestured with her pen at the hook atop of the elevator.
“So, the elevator has been impounded?” I asked a frown furrowing my forehead. How bizarre!
“Yes, in a manner of speaking. You can pay your fine at the main office.”
What? I thought as she teared off the slip form her board and handed it to me. I took the piece of paper. So much for an express elevator if it’s not allowed. Sounds like a bureaucratic tax trap.
I read the note; with neat penmanship it informed me that my fine was ZAR 2000. Just as I sucked in breath to protest this outrageous form of taxation and declaring that I’d rather take the stairs instead, she promptly stated,
“The main office is on the far side over there” again pointing with her pen, “You’ll have to pay before you are allowed to leave the floor.”
Still wanting to protest, I paused when I saw that the woman’s motherly demeanor had vanished and has been replaced by a high school principal’s scowl. I decided that I’d rather take it up with management at the main office. I turned towards the main office and took a step forward. Again, a similar backwards sway occurred as with the elevator as though I am walking across a rope bridge. My stomach flip flopped and I returned my foot to its prior position. What the? Then, I made the mistake of looking down…
I was standing on top of a stack of huge boxes, those used for printer paper. The stack was so tall that I could not see the floor below. The whole floor seems to have been replaced by these stacks of printer paper boxes, each of them swaying slightly with instability.
I looked up in horror to see that the benches against the walls upon which people sat were also propped up on these stilts, so was the walkway! Even the round woman at my side occupied her own tower.
What kind of a place is this?!
One of those weird dreams… Trying my hand at some fictional storytelling – I should write about my strange dreams more often LOL!
Short story: ~ 1200 words