Jimmy exited the 4th floor elevator, making his way to the vice president’s office. Writing for a men’s magazine was not what he envisioned. He believed he was a poet; he wanted to be a poet; at a time when most dream of money, Jimmy wanted to write words that couldn’t be unwritten. He was skinny; dressed in a cheap suit that was too big for him. Dress at Maximum Magazine was a part of company regulations and a way of measuring the worth of employees. He was worthless by their standards but he had words inside. He opened Mr. Bills’ office. It was shiny, the way mahogany and silver look when they’ve been polished.
“You’re late,” Bills said. “You’ll arrange copy for our magazine so we can distribute.”
“I thought I was going to write something.”
“You’ll write your resignation if you interrupt me again. My assistant will help you with the particulars.”
Jimmy felt anonymous; it was the kind of invisible feeling one gets in the presence of others. He left Bills’ office a little bit weaker than before. Jimmy walked to the elevator and got on. Before he pressed the button, Bills shouted, “Wait; hold that elevator.” The big man put his hand between the doors and squeezed in. His suit was shiny, like it had been polished; it was really expensive; you could tell, just by looking at it. He stank of expensive cologne and a lingering cigar.
On the third floor, the doors opened and an attractive woman got on. Her blazer covered her obvious curves, and Jimmy looked at the back of her head in the way boys do when they dream. She was a magazine model. On the second floor, the janitor pushed his cart in.
“Don’t they have corridors and freight elevators you can use?” Bills asked.
The janitor didn’t say anything. Halfway down the first floor, the elevator stopped.
“This is just great, I’ve got a meeting to be at in 15 minutes,” Bills said.
The blonde turned around. She looked like she hadn’t slept in two days.
The janitor shrugged his shoulders and Jimmy picked up the emergency telephone. “It doesn’t work.”
Then the lights went out. “Oh God, really?” Bills complained. “This can’t be happening. It was blacker than black.
“Let’s hope the air conditioning still works,” the janitor said. “Nope; that’s out too. It might get really hot in here.”
Somebody will find us. Wait… do you smell something?”
“It’s burning plastic; probably an electrical malfunction,” the janitor said.
“Can you fix it?” Bills ask.
“I can try, but I’m not an electrician.”
“What good are you if you can’t fix it?” Bills complained.
The janitor ignored him.
“I’m just going to sit down for a bit; I don’t feel well,” the woman said. She was invisible in the dark and Jimmy thought her voice sounded different; it was vulnerable.
“To override, we have to cross the wires,” the janitor said. He started stripping off plastic with his pen knife.
“What happens if you cut the wrong wire?” Bills asked.
“We’ll be stuck here until someone breaks through the wall.” CUT. Nothing happened.
5 hours later…
“I can’t breathe,” the woman said.
“There’s smoke in the elevator.” Jimmy couldn’t see it in the dark, but the smell was unmistakable.
“You suffocated us, you damn fool,” Bills yelled and then coughed.
Jimmy was light headed.
Bills was angry.
The woman was unconscious.
The janitor failed to save them.
And moments past. Suddenly, light shifted above them. “Anybody in there?”
“I’m here,” Jimmy said.
Everybody else was dead.