Today after Biology I got on the elevator on the 6th floor of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.
I do this every day, to ride down to the 2nd floor library where I sit for an hour until my next class. But today when the elevator stopped on the fifth floor, instead of opening all the way, the doors ground and crunched and struggled their way to open about a foot wide.
My elevator partners and I looked at each other. This was not good. Some poor guy on the fifth floor stared confusedly in on us through the gap. Clearly he was not getting on this elevator. Clearly we were unable to get off. A great chasm opened up between us and him, us being officially in the elevator of death, him being outside where there was still sunshine and puppies and the hope of not plummeting to one's premature demise.
This scenario repeated again on the 4th floor, then on the 3rd. This was the busy ten minutes in between classes, and everyone needed to get on the elevator. Yet time and time again, our elevator moaned and shook and struggled to open up only a few inches. Then it would shut, make even more disturbing noises, and ramble its way to the next floor, where more confused students would look in on the poor suckers trapped in the doom cubby.
The two other girls in the elevator were understandably alarmed. We tried to hold the door open button as per the instructions on the elevator panel. We tried to pull the doors apart with our non-existent muscles. People from outside attempted to help us do this, but each and every time the elevator won. It would clank shut and continue its descent, the clanking and grinding metallic noises growing louder with each floor.
There were mainly two things going through my head at this point.
1) Do not think of that movie about the devil hanging out in an elevator. Do not think about that movie with the devil in the elevator. DO NOT THINK ABOUT THE DEVIL LIZ!
2) Holy crap. I could die in the elevator of J SARGE COMMUNITY COLLEGE! Think of the obituary. Ms. Jewett perished in a freak elevator accident at a local community college. She was last seen staring through the gap in the elevator before it plummeted to the basement in a hail of fire and explosions. There could not be a bleaker way to go. Okay fine, dying when you're pooping in a public restroom might be a bit bleaker, but just barely.
My more sensible friend took out the little phone in the elevator panel and dialed the number. Of course she was directed to some kind of call center. I'm kind of shocked it wasn't in India. I can just imagine the calls an outsourced elevator emergency center might field.
Spoken in a thick Indian accent.
"Hello, my name is Sue. How are you doing today? I am getting ready to celebrate Memorial Day with some hot dogs and beans and other American traditional foods here in America, where I am living, every day, not in India, nope. Can I interest you in a elevator protection policy for just .15 cents a day. For this low rate you will be protected in case of freak elevator death or dismemberment."
Spoken by person in probably by then exploding elevator.
Our elevator emergency operator (fun job right?), was not in India sadly but she was most clearly not on the premises. She asked where we were. Once we reached the first floor, my BIO friend told her.
We were at the first floor, for about 30 seconds, as the crowd outside once again stared in at us. By this point there was a look of resignation in their eyes. Word had probably spread about the three girls in the elevator who were most likely going to die. Avert your eyes people. There's no hope for them now.
But then we began to trundle back upward. "We're at the second floor!" my elevator friend shouted over the phone. "No, the third now. No, the fourth!" And so on. It was not a good system. I imagined fire-men running up flights of stairs, reaching a floor ready to save the day, only to realize we were one floor up. And over and over again until they just gave up and went home, leaving us to continue our slow ascent and descent in the dark.
However, as fate would have it, once we reached the sixth floor and we're preparing for the elevator cable to just snap like a toothpick, the elevator opened up the entire way. My friend hung up the phone (sorry elevator emergency lady, you were helpful?) and we all raced out. I tried to warn the people gathered on the floor who were about to get on the elevator, but all that came out was "elevator...bad...PERIL." They looked at me like I was insane.
But what did I care? I was ALIVE. The possessed elevator had spit me out whole (although if this were a horror movie I would now be a) possessed myself or b) biding time until Death comes after me like in those movies with Devon Sawa). As I walked down the stairs (which are going to be the only mode of transport I ever take again in this building) I considered the previous five minutes.
This was one of those scenarios you think about from time to time. Hasn't everyone played the what if I got stuck in a clearly possessed/ evil elevator game? We like to think we'll be calm and organized in a crisis. But from this five minute mini crisis, I'm not so sure. It never got to this point, but if another few minutes had gone by, I may have started shoving my face through the gap in the elevator and screaming "OH THE HUMANITY!"
I'd like to think I'd be a leader or at least a team player in an emergency, but I honestly don't know. I may be the person who after an extended period of time stuck somewhere without food, mildly suggests, "so that whole cannibalism thing, not THAT bad right?" while picturing the people around me as giant cartoon turkey legs.
Would I be Jack or would I be that guy who got blown into the plane engine in the first episode of Lost?
Would I woman up if disaster struck, or would I pee on myself a little?
There's just no way to know. The one thing I do know is that today I sparred with the demonic elevator of death. And I won.