At life’s end

Humming loudly to vent some of the happiness bubbling up in me, I entered the elevator and jabbed ‘10′. Wordlessly, the doors slid shut and the metal cabin slowly started making its way up the steel corridor.

It stopped at floor 4. Someone entered and pressed ‘9′. I was too busy humming and celebrating to care. The doors closed and we continued our merry journey upwards.

Next thing I knew, the elevator had stopped at 9 and the doors slip open. My eyes just ran over the details of the office in front of me, when suddenly they dipped and noted that the floor of the elevator was not aligned with that of the office floor. ‘Was this reason for concern?‘, I thought. Before I could pursue that line of thought further, the doors slid shut, cutting us off from the rest of the world. ‘Well, so much for that..‘.

This time, there was no gentle stutter or jerk to indicate that the elevator had started its merry ascent again. I looked up at the LED display. It showed 9. Then all of a sudden, it started couting up and down at a rapid rate. Within a brief instance of time, I was on high alert. I looked around me. The others were yet to notice this. Even as the situation was dawning on them, all the button lights switched off.

Now, they were all looking at each other. I looked around the lift in panic. Was this, as far as my life would take me? Was I going to die in a painful and horrible manner? The lift gave a small shudder, as if the cable had given way a little, and my heart plummeted down 10 floors. We tried the buttons for various floors, tried to close or open the doors, but nothing worked. Immediately, I called my friend and informed him of our predicament. He ran off to get help. Meanwhile, we tried the “emergency” buttons. We pressed the ‘phone’ button. Nothing happened. We tried it again. Nope, it was dead. We then tried the next one, whatever it was meant for. That didn’t magically rescue us either. Then, almost frantically, I jabbed the ‘alarm’ button, and somewhere in the distance, I heard a siren go off.

Almost relieved, I kept jabbing at it, a bit worried that I was causing much commotion outside. ‘My life is worth more than other people’s discomfort!‘, I thought savagely. All the while running over in my mind, what I could do should the cable break. I looked up and saw that the ceiling had several glass panels. Would they be breakable? Could I break some and hang from them when we fell? So what if my hands came out of their socket? Maybe the rest of me might make it.  All this while, the lift kept groaning and shuddering, playing its deadly game with us.

Then, as abruptly as this nightmare had started, it ended when the doors slip open. I almost literally jumped out in a single leap. The others exited less dramatically. In an almost hysteric tone, I asked a friend of mine, who happened to be there at the reception, which floor we were on. With a look of mixed amusement and astonishment, he replied that it was the 9th. Without further ado, I made my way back to my office on the 10th floor via the staircase.

The rest of the day was spent in pretend-elevatorphobia. I am not the superstitious kind (ok, maybe a little) but it was fun pretending that the elevators were cursed and that as long as I am alive, I would never use another elevator. However, at the end of the day, when I had to return home, the prospect of climbing down 10 flights of stairs, made me enter the elevator quite meekly, thus ending an adventure that lasted barely 10 minutes, but had cut, probably, 10 years from my life. My life had, for 10 minutes, dangled by a thread (well, so it was a steel cable - the point is still valid).