I pulled out the note from my pocket and looked at the address my colleague had jotted down. It turned out that I'm about twenty meters from the place. The building was old, with crumbling stucco walls and a richly graffitied entrance. It was obvious though that it had once looked beautiful and memorable, probably sixty or seventy years ago. The entrance door creaked pitifully as I pressed the handle. I was about to start climbing the stairs (I had to go to the fifth floor) when I noticed with surprise that there is a lift. It looked downright ancient. I opened the door and slid the scratchy grate aside.
In this moment I heard clicking of heels. The sound got louder and tiny needles began stabbing my eardrums. I held the door and looked back over my shoulder. A young woman was pacing swiftly toward the elevator. She was dressed in a light blue shortsleeved shirt and black above the knee skirt. She looked all business, obviously worked in some of the big offices nearby. I pushed the door wide open and the girl slid past me, entering the elevator. I smelled her perfume – delicate aroma of fresh flowers.
"Thanks," she said with a gasp, then scanned the tight cell squeamishly.
"What floor?" I asked, pulling the wooden grate closed.
I pressed the worn button and the elevator sprang to life. It was moving slowly, jingling from time to time. Nostalgia overwhelmed me, I remembered the elevator of the building I lived in as a child. Back then I liked using it although our flat was on the second floor.
"Tomblike thing," she said matter-of-factly and fixed her eyes on the ceiling.
"But it works, that's important," I answered. My gaze slid around her figure. She was 5'3' tall, had nicely rounded forms and cute face. I doubted she weighed more than 110 pounds. Her long black hair spilled freely over her shoulders.
The elevator creaked, and then stopped between the fourth and the fifth floor. There was a strange humming sound. The girl's eyes bulged and she dug her fingertips nervously into her small purse. Her chin shot up angrily. I mumbled, reaching out to press the button again.
"That tops it!" she exclaimed, her voice trembling with anger, then leaned back on the wall and sighed.
The elevator trembled for a brief moment, then plunged down. I felt my body getting light as a feather. My feet took off the floor and everything before my eyes grew blurry. The girl was screaming; I saw her flailing her arms like a puppet. And then a monstrous hit ensued; parts of the torn boarding grazed my left cheek. I collapsed like a rock on the floor. The light died out, for a moment my consciousness died out too.
Shadows were dancing in the darkness. I felt sick, and my shoulder hurt. I stirred, but then realized that I'm lying on my side, and that I'm stuck. Something was pressing my left arm. I remembered that I'm not alone as I heard soft weeping, resembling animal's whine. I didn't see the girl, the darkness was absolute. Then my eyes managed to discern a vague light spot, probably her shirt.
"Are you OK?," I asked. My voice had become hoarse and lisping.
The weeping stopped. She sniffed.
"Been better," she muttered tremblingly and moaned. "Gosh, the lift fell!"
"It's a miracle we survived," I said and rose slightly.
"Wait, wait! Be careful, that's my leg!" she squealed. It was not until then that I realized it was her leg pressing my arm. I got hold of the heel of her shoe, which had stabbed my shoulder. While I was drawing it carefully aside, my cheek brushed against her calf.
"I have never been stabbed with a shoe heel."
"Sorry, I normally don't flail my legs. Oh, it's so tight here!
The fact that I had survived made me feel strange.
"No need for apologies. If you knew such thing would happen, you would have probably put on ballet shoes."
"Of course," she said, giggling.
"Are you scared?"
"The worst is behind us, I suppose. I feel strange though, due to the adrenaline maybe.
"It's great to be alive. Are you in pain?"
"My ankle is a bit stiff, and it started aching a little," she said. "You? Did I stab you badly?"
"No, just a cut." I tried to change the subject. "I think we are in the basement. It's time to call for help."
"Yes, good idea."
No one answered our cries, unbelievable as it is.
"We have to wait," I said. My eyes still could not adjust to the darkness. I was seeing only the blurry contours of her shirt. I sat up and tried to stand on my feet. And hit my head hard in the broken boarding, which forced me to sit down again.
"What are you doing?"