Three strangers get stuck in an elevator. There’s one survivor but no dead bodies to be found.
Keith was pacing the elevator bank of the prestigious Hilton Anatole hotel in downtown Dallas – pushing all buttons and trying to force one of the six elevators to his will. The rehearsal with the choir had taken longer as he expected. Most choir members had been participating for the first time, and to make matters worse he had misplaced his sheets of music to accompany them on his beloved organ. There were only two things he valued highly in the human part of his live – playing the organ at First Baptist Church two blocks away from where he lived, and his poker game every Thursday late afternoon. He genuinely loved to play the organ, a skill he developed when he was a boy of 13 and sold by his parents to an abbey in Northern France at the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War. Organ music had ever since been a part of his life, and he was grateful that his creator didn’t rob him of this gift. Being an organ player enabled him to live an inconspicuous life and often served as a profound proof of his civil façade when actions of his dark nature were in danger to jeopardize his existence. His addiction for illegal poker games with high pools was – as he had to admit to himself – rather immature, but enabled him to meet interesting people, either immensely rich or immensely stupid and most of them both and almost always potential targets for his next scheme.
Amber was finishing the last touches of an elaborated wedding cake decoration when she glanced at the clock high up on the opposite wall of the hotel kitchen and realized that she would be late for her job evaluation. Impatiently she pushed some of her long auburn curls back into her hairnet. Her white uniform, pristine clean only a few hours ago when she started her shift, was now stained with food color and butter cream. She considered to rush to her locker and change but then decided against it. They had hired her as a pastry chef, not a fashion model and she already would be late as it was. Amber loved her job – she was very creative and found an outlet very early on when she started to help her mother baking and decorating cakes, pastries and sweets for the small catering company her mother owed. She earned several culinary art degrees from renowned cooking schools in Europe and was recognized more often than she cared for as employee of the month. She was cursing under her breath when she realized that she also had to take the elevator. If she would climb the stairs up to the 15th floor where HR resided, she might as well get fired for being so tardy. She sighed and made herself promise to get a fix on her claustrophobia ASAP.
Amber instructed one of her co-workers to finish the last touches of the wedding cake and rushed for the elevator where she collided with a man as she turned around the corner toward the elevator bank. She apologized profusely and wanted to explain her unprofessional behavior, but the man only turned around, staring at the elevator doors as if he could mesmerize some of them to open up immediately. Amber glanced impatiently at her watch, cursing her bad luck and remembering that some of the staff members earlier mentioned that one of the elevators had technical problems. A crew was probably working on them right now.
The scarcely audible soft ring indicated that one of the six elevators finally found its way to the ground floor. The man was in such a hurry to get in that he forgot his good manners and pushed Amber to the side, hit the button for the 18th floor and planted himself with his stocky build into the right back corner of the elevator.
Amber was about to make a nasty comment when she reminded herself that she was a representative of the hotel staff and as such all guests no matter how misbehaving they acted were to treat with kindness and respect. She bit her tongue, pushed the button for the 15th floor and settled into the other corner of the elevator – fuming with anger.
The doors of the elevators started closing when suddenly a hand with black painted finger nails and a hug red rose tattooed on the back of the hand broke the light barrier and forced the door to open again.
With a smug grin, a teenage boy, probably 18 years old, forced his way into the elevator. His emerald green hair was meticulous spiked into a Mohawk haircut and his face and bare arms were laced with tattoos – some almost artistic creations, where as others appeared just flat and done amateurishly. He wore expensive ear and nose studs and his eyebrows were pierced with little diamond studs.
Keith stared at the intruder with disbelief and disgust. He was already in a bad mood after this exceedingly stunning looking woman had bumped into him. She had a delicate face with green sparkling eyes and unruly auburn curls that were trying to escape her chef’s hat. He tuned into her and could smell a whiff of her delicious blood. He could hear her exaggerated palpitations. For the love of all arch angels, but this was not appreciated. He had turned around so that the woman couldn’t see his face when he tried to get his fangs under control. After acting like a complete redneck and pushing her aside when he jumped into the elevator he was barely ready to endure the elevator ride in her company.
And now this spoiled kid hopped into the elevator like a weird kind of human dragon and threatened to weaken his self-control. He groaned in disgust and searched for his mobile, starting frantically pushing some numbers.
The boy seemed amused and leaned forward, “You know those things don’t work in elevators like these. The elevators are too massive and the tower is too far away”. He cocked his head and added in a snotty tone, “I should know, I program those things all the time.” Keith just glared at him and put his cell phone back in his pocket, folding his brawny arms over his chest, determined not to acknowledge this brat by answering.
Amber seemed to be bewildered and amused at the same time and looked from one to the other. She was relieved when the boy joined them – she felt uneasy in the man’s company and if it were only for a short elevator ride. She adored the appearance of the boy and admired his courage to wear his ragged cloth, the numerous tattoos and piercings with the innate classiness of a born leader. She once had dressed and behaved the same way, but her mother’s nagging and the demands of a professional career had taken a toll and she reluctantly had surrendered.
The elevator doors closed again – this time without interruption, and the elevator started labored to rise. First stop would be the 13th floor, that’s where the boy was heading. Amber glanced at the digital display showing which floor they were passing.
2, 3, 4, 5 ,6 – suddenly the elevator started to rumble. Amber’s stomach heaved and she felt the bile rising in her stomach. She made an effort to get a grip at her panic. The boy was still wearing the mask of an underestimated genius, but the man started to look worried too. He leaned against the elevator wall as if he was able to hear its discomfort.
7, 8, 9, 10 – just between the 10th and the 11th floor the elevator abruptly came to a halt. Amber’s worst nightmare came true – she was trapped in an elevator with a selfish arrogant boy and an overbearing perpetrator. She started screaming and as she felt hands reaching out trying to comfort her she almost fainted. Her horror grew when she looked at the small mirror above the dashboard and saw absolutely nothing, nobody, nada, niente, not behind, her not at the side of her. She was completely alone. She screamed again and hit frantically the emergency button. She could hear the ear-piercing sound of a siren somewhere in the building. Somebody started talking to her through the intercom. But she wasn’t listening. Horror-stricken she looked at the man and the boy. She tried to utter some words but was completely paralyzed. Her body was pressed against the elevator wall as if she wanted to melt into the wall.
With Amber’s screams the boy lost all of his nonchalance as he morphed into the handsome body and appearance of a young man – a spitting image of Amber’s fantasy hero. He would defend her with his eternal life, and only a vampire would be able to destroy him. Keith with his fangs fully extended and his eyes glowing orange in anticipation of a delicious meal paused and looked confused at his new adversary. They both jumped at each other – and Amber stared stunned at a little puff of white smoke that started to fill the elevator with fog when she finally fainted.
The Dallas Morning News, September 25, 2011
One of Dallas’ most luxury hotels and landmarks, the Hilton Anatole, is under new management and undergoing a major remodeling. As reported yesterday, one of the elevators got stuck during some maintenance work between the 10th and 11th floor. Shortly thereafter one of the kitchen staff members was found unconsciously on the 15th floor. According to police reports she is physically unharmed. She testified that she was in this elevator to go to HR department when the elevator got stuck. She also stated that she has no explanation how she got to the 15th floor. The video cameras that are installed in the elevators showed that nobody was in the elevator at this point in time. If they would have been, everybody would have been killed when the steel cable got lose and the elevator crashed with full speed to the ground. The police forensic psychiatrist has no explanation for the woman’s testimony. Eye witnesses testified that they observed the woman entering the elevator together with a man in his 50ties and a teenage boy. Although a terrorist attack was excluded, further investigations are under way. If you have any relevant information about this case, please call the Dallas Police Department at 214-399-4879.