The building where I work has many stairs, and I am familiar with every single one of them. I’d like to say that this is because I’m the sort of disgustingly healthy person who runs merrily up stairs at every opportunity, just to get in that little bit more exercise for the day.
Actually, it’s because I’m scared of the lift.
I’m not scared of all lifts. I don’t get claustrophobia, nor am I frightened that the cables will break and I’ll go crashing to my doom several floors below. I know that all lifts have clever braking systems that prevent this, because every time it happens in an action movie, my dad reminds me.
I am scared of the lift at work, however, because this lift is either sentient, possessed, or a Decepticon. (Which I suppose would come under the sentience umbrella, but never mind).
This lift is very old and very rattly. When it carries you up to one of the higher floors, it sounds like an old man grumbling. At first, I found this rather endearing. “I know, lift,” I would think. “I don’t want to go up there either.”
If this was a whimsical adventure story, the lift and I would have developed a human-mecha camaraderie, ending with one of us being threatened and the other coming to their aid. There would possibly be a Bryan Adams song at some point. But this isn’t a whimsical adventure story. It’s a horror.
The sentient/possessed lift did not become my friend – at least, not according to any definition of friendship that I recognise. When I walked up the stairs to my office (only one flight of stairs – it was actually quicker than taking the rickety old lift), as soon as I reached the top, the lift’s doors would shoot open with a threatening rumble, as if I’d personally offended it. There was no reason for the doors to open – no-one else was around, no-one had pressed the button. They did it of their own accord.
This was weird. But it didn’t get truly creepy until I was closing up one night.
I’d gone downstairs to close the shutters and lock the front door. While I was there, I heard the sound of the lift descending.
This was fine. Plenty of people work in my building. It was probably someone on their way out.
The doors rumbled open.
The lift was empty.
The doors stayed open while I finished locking up, and while I walked past the lift, back to the stairs. As soon as I set foot on the first step, they snapped shut.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that the lift had been watching me until I was out of sight.
Slightly perturbed, I walked up the stairs. My horror grew as I heard the sound of the lift ascending, matching my pace.
I reached the top of the stairs. In front of me were the lift doors.
I ran back into the office, grabbed my bag, and got downstairs and out of the building as fast as I could, tumbling out into the street before the lift could follow me and its doors could open and unleash whatever invisible horror was lurking inside.
“Ditch the lift, take the stairs” is a common mantra. Some are motivated by a desire to become fit, others by a wish to stretch their legs after a long day sitting in front of a screen.
My motivation is somewhat more primal. I take the stairs, because if I don’t, the lift will eat me.
Alice’s books are available on Amazon and Smashwords. Her webcomic, co-created and illustrated by Emily Brady, can be found at the Footloose website. Ally rambles about writing, feminism, and odd questions that cross her mind on Twitter and Facebook.