Press 15 Please

23 Apr

This is a repeat from an older blog but I am crunching a deadline on something and some of you may not have read this so…

Press 15 Please

 

The elevator was haunted. Everybody knew it but nobody ever discussed it. Except now that they had replaced the old car there were a couple of tenants who liked to joke about it looking like something out of a Chinese horror movie because of the mirrored surround and the blue cast from the led lighting.

Mary who watched a lot of Asian horror films kept expecting to see old withered legs dangling behind her or a chalk-white face with black eyes glaring malevolently into hers. It was always worse at night which never made any sense really because once the doors slid shut it could be the end of time and who would know. Unfortunately for Mary she was a bartender and usually got home around 2:30 in the morning. She would have taken the stairs but she lived on the 19th floor and she would have considered moving but with the exception of the haunting Mary loved this building.

Nobody knew for sure who the ghost was because there were so many potential candidates. Not that the place was a death trap but it was located right downtown where people tend to live at a much higher pace. The superintendent alone had buried two husbands in the half a decade since Mary had moved in. And in addition to that there were a handful of age, aids, traffic, and suicide related deaths.

Although no one had admitted to actually seeing the specter, everyone had experienced phenomena. The most common being the elevator door opening as if it had been expecting you all along as you walked towards it. There were also the stops for floors that no buttons had been pushed for and temperature fluctuations.

So far only Mary had heard the voice.

“15 please.” was all it said. And it always waited till the elevator was full. It took almost a year for Mary to realize that no one else heard the request. An entire year of her fellow passengers giving her the filthiest looks as the elevator stopped at 15 and Mary once again failed to get out.

But it wasn’t until Mrs. Bapst, a diminutive octogenarian slapped her hand before it could press the button that Mary knew the request had come from the grave. Unfortunately this revelation did not stop the voice. In fact it grew more and more insistent now that Mary refused to play along till one day Mary found herself screaming in an elevator full of exuberant gay men “Press the fucking button yourself.”

That night Mary almost took the stairs, all 19 flights of them. But her aching feet won the fight over her pounding heart and so she entered the already open doors. Once inside she felt a shiver run down the back of her neck and she positioned herself as far from the mirrored surround as possible. Mary pressed 19. The light flickered on and then went dark. It was as if she had not pressed the button at all. And then right before her eyes she saw button for the 15th floor depress and light. Mary pressed 19 again. And again the light behind the numbers flickered briefly and then became dark. Mary pushed all the buttons as fast as she could with both hands and still the only floor that remained lit was 15.

She watched as the floors sank below her 6, 7, 8… 11, 12… 14, 15. The elevator ground to a halt but the doors refused to open. From behind the door Mary heard a scratching and a whimper. At first she thought it was a dog that was waiting on the other side of the door with its human companion impatient for its walk. Mary pounded on the door to let whoever it was know that the doors were stuck and the whimpering increased till it sounded more like muffled screams. Mary rang the alarm until she heard someone yell from below her that they had called the super. She wondered if whoever it was that yelled could hear what was going on outside on this floor. The screams had built till they were shrill like a siren and in between the screams were the sounds of a body being hit over and over again and then nothing.

‘This is what it must sound like in a vacuum.’ Mary thought, her eyes fixed on the crack below the elevator doors. Was that someone being dragged? Is that what was causing the flickering light in the space between the door and the floor?

Mary got down on her hands and knees, pressing her eye as close to the crack as she could get it. But whatever it was had vanished.

When the doors opened Mary discovered that she was not on the 15th floor at all but the 19th. The Super and her too burly sons were standing outside waiting to help her out because the elevator was a couple of feet short of the actual floor.

But try as they might they could not get Mary out until they promised to walk down to the 15th floor with her. Mary had no idea what she would find once she got there but she knew that no matter what she had to go there. Mary was moving so fast that she got there several minutes before the rest of them.

Without even stopping to catch her breath Mary ran to the elevator and just stood there listening. Was that someone crying? Mary put her ear to the door of apartment 1503 which was directly across from the elevator. She knocked on the door and heard heavy steps approaching from deep in the apartment. So focused was Mary on the door opening that she didn’t know or care that her back up had arrived. She pushed past the man in the flannel bathrobe.

“Where is she?” Mary said.

“What the fuck!!” The man said.

The two burly sons grabbed Mary and walked her out into the hall as the superintendent smoothed things over with the angry and bewildered tenant of 1503 who fully understood how being stuck in an elevator for a couple of hours could definitely make you anxious. He even smiled and said he hoped that Mary felt better once she’d had a chance to calm down.

And once she’s had a chance to calm down he thought, he would pay her a little visit and ask her how she knew about the dead prostitute he had wrapped in 2 pound packages like hamburger beside his ice tray in the freezer.

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