An Elevator Encounter

 “Hold the bus!” I sprinted forward and jumped into the elevator just as the doors pinged shut. “Whoa! Thanks.” I looked over her left shoulder, as she looked at the wall by my right elbow, two strangers forced into embarrassingly close quarters in the metal box.

“Floor?” she said.

“What? Oh, twenty-one.” I reached for the button, just as she did. My finger brushed against her gauntlet. Embarrassed, we both jerked our hands back, the button unpressed.

“Go ahead,” she said, stepping back. I hit the button, noting the floor she’d hit was at the top: thirty-five. As the cab accelerated I considered for a moment making a smart-ass comment about her going all the way, but my survival instinct kicked in.

“Nice day,” I said, unable to bear the oppressive silence. She gave a curt nod and gave a tug at her cape. “Doesn’t that get hot? In the sun, I mean. I would imagine it’s great in the winter, but, you know, on a day like this?” I knew I was gabbling, but I was unable to stop my motor mouth.

“Breathable fibres,” she said. “And I have different weight outfits.”

Of course. What woman would have just one set of clothes? So, I’d steered the conversation deep into wardrobe country. What could I say about fashion that wouldn’t make me sound gay? Nothing, I decided.

“Well, I didn’t expect – .”

She cut me off with an upraised hand.

“Listen, sir, I don’t wish to be rude, but I’m working. I have to concentrate.”

I raised my hands in apology.

“Sure, sure. I understand. Sorry.” I turned and stared at the display. Floor twelve. Well, that had gone well. I’d done a wonderful job of coming across as creepy. It was the mask, I decided. How could you tell what a woman was thinking if you could only see her chin? Floor sixteen. Here I was, a complete and utter bore, obviously, and unable to beat a face-saving retreat. Couldn’t this thing go faster?

The cab jerked to a sudden halt. The display read floor nineteen, but the doors didn’t open. We looked at each other.

“Shall I…?” I pointed to the panel, then stabbed floor twenty-one. When that didn’t miraculously start the elevator I tried floor twenty. Then twenty-two. In desperation I tried the open door button, thinking two floors was walkable. The cab resolutely refused to budge.

“We’re stuck,” I said.

“Really?”

“Well, yes, okay, that was pretty obvious, I guess. Sorry. Shall I use the emergency phone?”

She sighed. “No, let me. I might get faster results.” She pulled the emergency phone from its cradle and hit the button. After the third attempt it was obvious no-one was on the other end.

I pulled out my mobile phone and looked at the display. I held it up and waved it around, in the vague hope the magic telephone waves were available six inches above my head.

“Faraday cage,” she said.

“Sorry?”

“The elevator. It’s a metal box. It won’t let electro-magnetic radiation pass through it. It’s what’s called a Faraday cage.”

“Okay. So what do we do? Wait?”

“It seems so.” In a graceful movement she flowed from standing to sitting cross-legged on the floor. Her cat-suit flowed with her. Lycra, I guessed, then immediately wondered where my sudden obsession with clothing came from. Was I a latent homosexual? I looked down at her as she rested her hands on her knees and breathed deeply. Definitely not, I thought, as I closed my eyes and slumped against the opposite wall.

“So, what were you doing in an elevator?” I asked. “I thought you normally climbed up the outside.”

“That’s Batman,” she said. “Besides, I only do that if there’s no other way. Thirty-five storeys? The elevator is much quicker. Normally it’s much quicker,” she corrected herself.

“Right. Only I thought, you and he, well, you sort of did the same things, you know? Belonged to the same school of crime fighting.”

She opened her eyes and treated me to a cold stare.

“Him? The same as me? He wishes. He’s just a man with a gazillion dollars of gadgets. Anyone could do what he does if they had the backing. Take away his toys and he’s just a muscle-bound himbo. Oh, I can kick with the best of them, but it’s not my first resort, you know? And I investigate. I mean real investigation, not just throwing data at a super-computer. Where’s the skill in that?”

“Sorry, sorry. I didn’t know.” I put Batman in the ‘do not discuss’ box. “Still, I bet you wish you’d climbed up the outside now, huh?”

She gave me a look that said, yes, she regretted it, if only because it meant now she was stuck in the elevator with me. I turned to the doors and tried to pry my fingers into the join between the doors. The seal was too tight. I patted my pockets. Did I have anything I could use as a crowbar?

I pulled out a plastic comb. Well, that was going to be a big help. I tried anyway, working it into the crack between the rubber seals. After a few moments I had successfully worked a quarter inch of plastic into the crack. I turned to Batgirl, who looked back quizzically.

“Did you really think, in your wildest dreams, that would work?” she said.

“Well, no, I guess not. Do you have anything in your utility belt?”

“Oh wait. I have a crowbar just here, in this two-inch-square pouch,” she said, reaching down to her waist.

“Really?”

“Duh! No, not really. Where would I carry a crowbar?” She muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘idiot’.

“Well, what are we going to do, then?”

“We wait,” she said, closing her eyes and making a show of calm yoga breathing.

“That’s it? Wait?”

“Believe me, if there was any way I could get out of this any quicker, I would take it. Any way at all.”

“So who’s on the top floor? Some super villain? Anyone I would have read about?”

“It’s need to know,” she said. I thought I detected a slight clenching of the jaw.

“Oh, wait, who was that guy in the news? Big fat guy. Liquorice Man? Jelly Baby? No, Jelly Belly. That was it. Is it him?”

“I’m not at liberty to say.”

“I bet it is. Ooh, he looked mean. You think you can take him?” She snapped her eyes open and I wished I could have backed further into the corner. “Yeah, sure you can take him. Of course you can. Stupid of me to ask, sorry.”

“Hey!” A muffled shout from outside caused me to whirl round and her to jump to her feet. “Anyone in there?”

“Yes,” we cried in unison.

“Hang on.” There was a scraping of metal on metal and the doors juddered open. A janitor jumped back, startled at the sight of her.

“After you,” she said.

“No, after you,” I replied.

“Just get the hell out of the cab so I can carry on my job,” she snarled, and I decided not to press my gallantry any further. I clambered up onto the nineteenth floor. I turned and offered my hand, which she studiously ignored.

“Bye,” I said, as she flowed towards the door that led to the stairs. Did she wear a cape, I wondered, so people wouldn’t stare at her Lycra-clad ass?

“Where’s the bathroom?” I asked the janitor. Still staring at the door to the stairs, he wordlessly pointed to a door by the elevator.

The men’s room was empty. Perfect. I entered a stall and started pulling my clothes off. Jeez, but she had a chip on her shoulder. Understandable, I suppose, when all the franchises revolved around Batman, leaving her chasing sponsorships for ‘female products’. Even so, where did she get off, treating me like that? I pulled the hood over my face and stuffed my ordinary clothes into the bag. Sure, she could take on Jelly Belly by herself, with all his henchmen. Right! I’d wait till there was no doubt she’d bitten off more than she could chew, then wade in, whether she wanted the help or not.

I checked my camera. Hey! JJ would probably pay double for photos of both Spiderman and Batgirl in action together.

 
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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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