A big smile on his lips. Nice words here and there. Everybody liked the happiest man in the world. The happiest man in the world met a friend in the elevator. “All perfect?” he asked. “Sure,” said the friend. “And you?” “Oh,” said the happiest man in the world. “You know me, I’m always happy!” The happiest man in the world greeted the cashier. She laughed about his joke and he laughed back. The happiest man in the world waved to a neighbor. The happiest man in the world closed the door. The happiest man in the world opened a bottle of beer. “It’s just us again,” he said. Then he drank. Then he cried.
I sit here shivering with my back against the wall. The knife is still in my lap. I can’t even leave this room. I just don’t know what to do anymore.
It was all because I flunked school. Fuck school. Lock kids into a tiny and smelly room in the best time of their life. And then make sure every small mistake determines their future. A gray and brown building filled with incompetent teachers and kids so horribly raised that not just them but also their parents deserve a good spanking.
That’s why I flunked. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t stand the incompetence and the boring, dull, dragging hours on broken chairs. I felt my heart clench whenever I just so much as looked at the front door. So I didn’t go. And look where that got me. Continue reading
She told me to take the small lift, the one around the corner. I think that’s where it all went wrong.
I lost my job six months ago. I sent out hundreds, literally hundreds, of applications. I got two phone interviews – and the rest either didn’t reply or sent the type of response seems to have been made specifically to crush your soul:
We had an unusually high amount of applicants and sadly cannot consider your application at this time. The high amount of applications sadly prevents us from giving detailed feedback on your application. We wish you best of luck…
Else I would never have gone there. I want to get a job. There are a few lazy slobs, but I’m not one of them. I’m not bumming around and hoping for hand-outs. Like most other unemployed I’m just an honest guy that fell on hard times. It shouldn’t be like that, it shouldn’t be a walk of shame just to go to a government-funded agency that helps you to get a job. Still I went early in the morning to make sure that no friends would see me on the street. Continue reading
This story has been featured in the NoSleep Podcast.
I am careful to always leave work on time. I had my fair share of abusive bosses; now I will fight with nails and teeth to not lose an inch of my free time just to print another stack of meaningless papers.
I’ve been in this job for nearly a year, and only twice I had to stay past 6pm. The first time was when a meeting ran overtime; I was new back then, and careful not to make a bad impression. The second time was this Monday.
Before Monday I might have been careful to always go home on time; now I am anal about it. I will never again in my life stay a minute longer at work than necessary. And certainly I will never again be the last one to leave work; even if it’s the CEO on the phone.
Monday was just a bad day. I was hopping from stressful meeting to stressful phone call to finishing a powerpoint on the last minute. And then, ten minutes before I got off, the CEO called.
It wasn’t even important. He wanted to know what our team was up to and for some reason my team manager had forwarded the call to me.
I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Of course, really, I had a choice. I could have offered to call him back in the morning. Or I could have transferred the call to my mobile phone and continued the conversation on the way home. But I didn’t. I sat at my desk, talking, doodling, and checking my emails while the 50-something on the other end of the line was talking about vision and goals and performance and whatever other buzzwords he picked up during his MBA.
It wasn’t even that late. It was around half past seven that I finally locked my workstation – never shut it down, else the IT can’t run their precious updates and will haunt you for a week about it.
Only half past seven – but the office was already as empty as an Egyptian pyramid after three millennia of grave robbers. Nothing more left than posters, the modern murals, and empty, half-lit cubicles that always remind me of sarcophagi – not just because cubicles are the places where dreams die, but also because they seem to be made to lock their inhabitants inside. The sarcophagus doesn’t just keep robbers out – it also keeps the mummy in.
Passing through the row of Egyptian graves I made my way around the corner, past the caffeine corner and the reception tables that always seem sad without the fake smiles of the two young women that realized too late that studying literature with famous professors is not worth $200k.
Press the button and wait. That’s the elevator rule: If other people are around avoid any movement, and any eye contact. But if no one else is around feel free to check your hair or pick your nose until the “Bing” and the light call you inside.
Doors open. Empty cabin; I step inside. Doors close. Elevator begins to move.
You never notice the elevator’s speed until it stops abruptly; when it blows you off your feet, makes you hit your head against the wall so hard that you don’t know whether the lights are off or you just turned blind.
I didn’t notice the cold before, but while hammering against the last light source, the small red emergency button, my feet and back began to freeze. Maybe the roof broke? The cold from outside broke into the house and froze those thick metal cables?
“Hello Sir, can you hear me?”
“Yes; yes I can! Can you hear me?”
“Yes Sir. Is there a problem?”
“Hell, yes, there is! This thing is stuck. Get me out of here!”
“Of course, Sir, please stay calm. This happens occasionally. We will get you out; just relax!”
I hate the English language. Spanish, German, French, Chinese, Greek, Sanskrit, Russian – in any other language that sentence would have been a warning. In English it just was “We will get you out.”
“I can see you.” The technician added. “So don’t worry, you will be fine.”
I don’t know why the technician didn’t turn the microphone off. Either he forgot or he wanted to keep me reassured. But white noise is not reassuring, particularly not if there is an occasional whispered word seeping through the static.
I opened my bag and searched for my phone. That’s the problem with suits – in the jacket pocket the phone makes a strange shape; the trouser pockets send it to the floor the moment you bend forward or sit down. So you have a jacket with pockets and trousers with pockets but still you need to put your phone in a bag. And when you search for it, particularly while locked in an elevator cabin – pitch black except for the faint and almost menacing red glow of the “HELP” button – the phone refuses to appear.
I gave up after about two minutes. I still don’t know how the phone was able to disappear in my bag, between not much more than the travel mug, two books, and the shirt that I should have brought to the dry cleaner in the morning.
I sank to the floor to sit down but caught myself in the last minute. Probably dirty. Instead I leaned my shoulder uncomfortably against the wall; my eyes fixed on the red light and the white noise-producing speaker somewhere above.
Maybe that was the mistake. Maybe if I had sat down I would have noticed.
“Hey.” I said.
Nothing more than static.
The cabin got even colder; it felt nearly like a draft.
“Hello?” I said.
My finger pushed the button.
“Hey, can you hear me?”
Just when I wanted to scream – Click.
“Sir, please don’t panic.”
“Okay.” I whispered.
“We are still on the case. It seems we can fix it from here. Just hang in there; we will get you all out of there in no time.”
The hair on my legs stood on end.
Surely I just misheard.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes. We are just restarting the motor. You will hear a –“
Free fall. Just for a moment; but you know it right away; you know how it feels when you fall, when the insides of your body seem slower than the outside, the pressure shifts, for a moment you can’t feel gravity, but you know that it is exactly the same gravity that pulls you to your doom.
I can’t explain how, but you just know when the ground below you is not a ground, rather it is moving as fast as you; falling together with you. The steel will survive the fall. You won’t.
The crunching sound came first; then my feet hit the ground, then my knees, then my elbows.
“Fuck.” I screamed.
“Sorry, Sir.” Said the technician’s voice.
“What the fuck?” I screamed. “Did this thing just fall two floors?”
“Just about.” Said the voice. “Are you all okay?”
I took a moment to feel the pain in my left arm as well as my knees; painful but not horrible.
“Think so.” I replied.
The steady hum of the elevator’s motion returned. A short stuttering made me grope for something to hold onto. Then the movement was smooth.
“And your daughter?” Asked the voice.
“I don’t have a daughter.” I said.
“The girl that’s with you in the cabin, is she alright?” Asked the voice.
“Bing” made the elevator.
I screamed; crawled outside; pushed myself up, and ran.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.