The Other Elevator
By: Erika Griffin
You'll think I'm crazy. Or just some idiot trolling online. I don't care. Something happened to me and whether or not you believe me is moot, because it happened to me. It happened.
I don't want to tell you my name. It doesn't matter anyway, because you won't believe me and I don't want people thinking I'm insane. But maybe my telling will mean something to someone. Maybe this has happened to you too and I'm not just imagining things. God, I really hope I'm just imagining things.
I visit my grandparents every summer. They live in Eastern Europe, in one of those tourist cities where the capital draws in people from all over the world. They live in an old, faded-yellow apartment building.
There's an elevator that I have to take to get to their floor; the eighth floor. It's one of those old elevators that most people would probably think wasn't very safe. The ones where you walk in and it's super tiny, like just big enough to hold four skinny people if they don't mind a cuddle. While there is a metal door you need to open to enter, the elevator itself has no doors. So as the elevator rises, you can reach out and run your hand along the passing wall, scraping against your fingernails. I used to like to do that. There's a little mirror someone has hung on the wall opposite, a square one with a red frame. I used to use it to check my makeup.
Two days ago, I got back a little later than usual. My grandmother buzzed me in. I called the elevator. You can always see it arrive through the little window in the metal door. It makes a loud sound each time it stops. I got in the elevator, hit the eighth floor, and turned around to face the mirror.
While indulging in my little moment of vanity, I noticed something really strange: The elevator was taking longer than usual to get to the eighth floor. I turned and watched the floors fly by. Every once in a while the metal door of the next floor would go by, where someone had scrawled each floor number in marker. Except the numbers were gone and I suddenly realized I had no idea how long the thing had been rising or what floor I was on.
I also began to feel a strange warmth emanating from behind me. I turned back to the mirror and saw nothing peculiar, but the temperature continued to rise until it was uncomfortably clammy. I suddenly felt overwhelmed by the heat, like I had been sitting in a sauna for hours. I remember stumbling backwards slightly, my hand reaching back to balance myself and expecting to feel the motion of the walls as they rose and fell. Except what my hand touched wasn't moving. And it was warm.
The mirror reflected only the same elevator and the same passing wall. I turned around to make sure.
I woke up later inside the elevator, a concerned stranger shaking me awake.
Nobody will believe what I saw when I turned around, so I'm not telling. At least, I'm not telling anyone I know. It was...and this is insane, I know... The elevator; its comfortable chalk walls, the single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, everything familiar had vanished. In its place was a rectangular box with pulsating layers of speckled...something. Like old meat. Like the inside of a mouth. All around me. Then the smell hit me. That's the last thing I remember before I passed out. The smell. Like puss and rot and vomit and the grave. It hit me hard and I felt my sinuses burning in agony. I was instantly blind with my own tears. Choking on my own bile.
I caught one last glimpse into the mirror, through my stinging eyes. The only thing that stayed. I could see it, reflected inside. I could see my elevator. My nice, normal, elevator. People were getting into it, their faces plainly visible in the sunlight streaming in from outside. Pushing the button for their floor. I wasn't in it. Around me, the walls began to convulse. There was a sound. Like retching.
Then I was unconscious.
I don't use the elevator anymore. I take the stairs. I think, maybe, if you see an elevator like this, you should probably take the stairs too. Please, take the stairs too. Please.