The Elevator

by Justin Ito
(Japan, Yokohama)

Elevators... strangely silent

Elevators... strangely silent

I let out a sigh of relief as I finished the report I had spent the past five days working on. My boss would be thrilled that I finished it so early, considering I had only been back two days from the hospital after suffering a minor head injury the week before.

I leaned back on my chair and rubbed my eyes wearily. 'Whew,' I thought, 'it sure feels good to get that out of the way.' The entire building was empty, as it was past closing time. I had gotten permission to work a little longer than usual.

After a while, I forced my aching body to move. I sleepily packed up my papers and belongings in my bag, making sure I did not forget anything. As I stood up, the room seemed to spin as a slight migraine assaulted me. 'I'm going to need a lot of sleep tonight,' I thought to myself as I picked up my bag.

Across the room on another work desk sat one of the freshly hired workers. Apparently, she had gotten permission to stay longer, too. As she saw me start to leave the room, whether from fright at being left alone, she quickly packed up her belongings and followed me out.

As I made my way to the elevator, I kept feeling a strange sensation of unexplainable aversion at this woman who was walking behind me. When we were getting on, I realized the cause of my previous uneasiness: it was her eyes. Those terrible blue spheres that seemed to burn into my soul. She was also uncannily quiet, as if by her very silence she was mocking me.

Just as I was retrieving my hand from pressing the ˜1st floor" button, the elevator gave a sudden lurch. We both lost our balance and fell to the floor, and it was not long before the lights turned off, leaving us both in complete darkness.

My first instinct was to reach for the emergency button, but as I noticed that the small red light above the sign was off, I knew that the electricity was out. I sat down, thinking that the electricity would be restored in a short while. But as the seconds bled into minutes, I began to lose hope that I would get out at all tonight.

I looked at my companion, who just sat there staring at me. 'Is it just me or is there something wrong about this person?' Something about her very being was inhuman. I began to think she had some mental disorders when she spoke for the first time.

'Do you ever feel like life isn't worth the living? Like you would rather die instead of face the ugliness of reality?'

'Well, no. I don't. Actually, I'm very happy with my life.' I replied. It was at this time that I recognized that look of helplessness and sorrow. Yes, it was not her eyes at all, now that I come to think of it, it was the overwhelming current of depression that surrounded her. During my life I had known two people who committed suicide, and the look on their faces resembled that on the woman's. She looked at me with envy, and asked a question that startled me.

'Do you have a pocket knife with you now?' she said. 'Yes, I have one on my key-chain. But why on earth would you want a pocketknife?' I asked, pretending that I didn't already guess what she had in mind.

'I feel that I have lived long enough. My time is up, I want to die. Life isn't worth living.' She said.

I was not interested in seeing a woman kill herself in front of me, especially with a knife in a confined elevator. I knew that trying to talk her out of it would be no good, since she looked too far gone, but I refused to give her what she wanted. 'No' I said, 'I will not lend you my pocketknife so that you can kill yourself.'

'You don't know my situation, I'm broke, my baby died in an accident, and my brother was murdered three days ago. I want to die!' She shouted at me, and at that instant leaped toward my coat which I had thrown down earlier, and took out my key-chain. Before I could stop her, she had taken out the knife and stabbed herself through the heart. This, as you can imagine, disgusted me greatly. So much, in fact, that I fainted, and I couldn't remember anything else until I heard a voice saying to me, 'You are under arrest for the murder of Arlene L. Tanner.'

At the police station I explained the whole situation. I said that she had done it herself, and that I had done all I could to prevent her. I recounted the conversation, but at the end, the police officers did not look any friendlier than before. 'Mr. Grant, the woman you murdered was mute. She was hired the two days ago for her skills in sign language.'

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