The elevator hasn’t worked for days. It worked fine a week ago, but now the weather warmed up and it stopped dead beat on third floor. We call it the puny little monster in the corner, because it can make most grown men cry, when we call them in to fix it.
It isn’t horrible looking. It is classic end of the millennium class elevator that is constantly used and thus has had most of its original parts removed or replaced by newer ones. It was installed in an old shaft behind the stairs, where the sun does not reach to mirror its flawless stainless steel surface.
It has mind of its own. Or at least weather channel info line going right through it. It’s one of its things – extreme heat or cold and it refuses to budge. Because of its unpredictability half of our residents know how it is to sit in it for at least half an hour while the man is being called out to let them out. Every worker here knows by heart, how it is done, but safety hazard laws prohibit us from lifting a finger. In case we hurt them.
Last night it started screaming. It was tangy sound that scared the hell out of us. We had no clue it even had alarms like that installed. It lasted exactly 10 minutes and then it was silence again. We checked the stairs and all the floors – the only way this machine could produce such a piercing sound would be someone in it pressing down the red bell button. The doors were shut. On every floor the doors were shut!
Then it repeated. The repairman, who hadn’t left yet from the last one-on-one with the elevator, asked me to call in the elevator’s phone line and get hold of whoever had got stuck in there, but the phone remained unanswered. Before I hanged up, I heard the phone being hanged up on the other side as well. Like the click you hear before analog is switched off.
We told the man to open the elevator up and he agreed to do it. It was empty. Just as we suspected for nobody would remain unnoticed in a small steel box that overheated. Somebody would notice.
On the next night it happened again. At 10:42 p.m. the alarm cracked through the house as if somebody had burned their food again. We ran to the third, but the doors were closed. We knew it had to come from the elevator for the closer we got, the worse it became. If you pressed your ear against the door, you could feel it vibrate. By 10:52 it was over.
Two hours later we heard it move. It makes rather unique sound that comes through the side wall next to our station. The doors would open and close and for awhile it went up and down as if nothing was wrong with it. At least it wasn’t screaming.
It was early in the morning and besides the ventilation the house was quiet. We decided to let it be, but the moment we said it out loud, it stopped again and we heard banging begun. Somebody was trying to get it moving again by jumping up and down.
When we got up there, the doors were open and we saw nobody despite never hearing corridor doors being opened or meeting anyone on their way down or up. We stood there, baffled, when we saw the elevator door closed. The door remained shut until the repairman arrived the next morning.
Two days later they decided to change it for a new model. Moments later we saw a shadow go through the hall and leave. The elevator started working as if nothing had happened and after the last repair it began working normally. That is – in any other time except hot days, cold days, moving days, Sundays…
My partner quit the same day. I stayed on. There are worse things than ghosts to witness in this world. A month later it stopped again. Again on third floor – all doors closed and alarms blasting through the thin walls of the house before and after breakfast. I went upstairs and pressed my ear against the steel like last time. Only this time I could hear somebody else pressing their ear against the other side and breathing heavily. I pulled away, straightened my keys and continued my routine round.
It will leave soon, this mind of the elevator. Only I refuse to drive with it together in the same elevator. Stairs are lovely enough – they are made of stone and they have nowhere to go.