smoke stung Ravi’s eyes and the city lights cascaded like diamonds
in his teardrops. He snatched the roach from his lips as its rough
end popped. Sparks showered his face. Tripping over a low hedge, he
landed on his back in spongy grass.
air shook the cherry blossoms and glittering star points flashed in
the rolling clouds above. With the starlight came the EEGs of a
stranger and feelings that used words as vents. Something wonderful
caused him to stand up and embrace the velvety darkness. Two moons
vibrated and became one, and then a delicious odor of baked goods
looked across the yard and the condominium complex looked back with
a hungry jumble of bright alien eyes. His stomach growled, shaking
angry juices. He decided to buy some munchies and go upstairs.
Moving in the purple night toward a side door, he thought, “Why
contemplate an overdose again? It could be worse, like I could be a
maniac or something instead of just an unemployed loser.”
porcine security guard with a lazy stare was slumped on the desk.
Ravi strolled out of the concourse, passed the guard, and crossed
the painfully bright lobby clutching a paper sack of munchies
against his chest. A potato-chip autumn blew in his mind, drool and
fangs were in his stomach, but like a wild beast, he needed privacy
while devouring his meal.
blond woman, her hips tilted sweetly, stood by the elevators. He
slowed abruptly and his eyes shone like lanterns, taking in the
creamy skin of her thighs and shoulders. Her little red summer dress
set his brain smoldering, and he bit his lip as he pictured her
naked beneath a tree fern. She glanced at him and he forced a smile
over his grimace, looking like the stereotype of a weirdo as he came
to a stumbling halt.
word TART was written on her face in layers of thick make-up. “Hey
guy,” she said with the forwardness of a hooker. “You been drinking
poison or something?”
never drink anything cheap. It was just a flashback of my ex-wife's
“Think you're cool stuff, huh?”
wish I thought that way.”
eyes were innocent blue, but they cut into his heart. He knew she
could see he was a faker and nothing more. What would be left of his
ego tomorrow? - the elevator rattled open - maybe just a pile of
scraps on the elevator floor, and people would carefully step over
him like always.
body language sucked him into the elevator, and she hit button
fifteen. “I'm on thirteen,” he said, pressing button 13. “Only two
floors from you. Quite a coincidence, eh?”
looked at him icily, in the way women look at the dirtier half of
the living dead, and she was about to say something when the
elevator began to bounce up and down like a sardine can Zeus was
shaking. It settled and the door banged open, revealing an earthen
pit filled with boards and junk. A rat was about to board. She
screamed and he spilled bags of popcorn and chips as he hit the
in the hell! - we're at the bottom of the shaft,” he said, and then
his mouth fell open as he watched her breasts swell with a deep
breath. He hit the numbers again and the elevator began to bounce
its way back up.
elevator steadied and inched on up the shaft like a beetle. The lady
had her arms crossed and she looked panicky. He wanted to say
something reassuring, but his brain was meatloaf, then the lights
blinked out. The car stopped on a dime and a hum dropped down the
shaft. Total silence remained. Screaming took over. His groceries
were knocked out of his hands, razor-sharp nails slashed at him and
he fell against the side wall, sliding to the floor under the force
of the assault. Mustering his strength, he tackled the woman and
forced her down. He gripped her wrists. She squirmed for a moment,
and then she began to weep.
terrified of elevators,” she choked.
“Don't be frightened. I won't hurt you. I've been smoking dope.”
me off this bullshit elevator!”
you all right in there!” yelled a man with a gravely voice.
we're stuck!” she hollered back.
“Sorry, but I can't help you - it's a blackout. I gotta guard my
store downstairs. I'll see if I can find someone to get you out.”
“Wait, you can't leave us here!” she sputtered. When there was no
reply, she sighed out a shivering ghost and collapsed.
great,” Ravi muttered. “A blackout. It could last all night if not
longer.” Deciding it wouldn't hurt to be comfortable he pulled her
against him and let her head rest on his chest. He found a chocolate
bar next to him and ripped away the wrapper with his teeth. He took
a bite and as he chewed on the sticky caramel, fear grew in his
mind. “Maybe it's more than a blackout; maybe it's nuclear war.”
Demonic apparitions peppered him with howls as they whirled in the
darkness. “The big one and nuclear winter,” he mumbled as the wicked
apparitions mocked him and burst into hellish flames. Fire burned on
ice and he could see vicious new species of rats, flies and roaches
swarming through drifting poison gas and endless mounds of charred
corpses. Wide-eyed, he took another bite of his chocolate bar.
Suddenly the woman snorted loudly and stirred.
snapped to an upright posture. “Oh-no!” she exclaimed.
“Oh-yes,” he said.
Somewhat adapted to dark confinement she moved back beside him. “So
are we being rescued or what?”
“You're single aren't you?” she said softly, rubbing the inside of
of - the wife took off a year ago. What about you?”
husband's criminally insane; he'll never be released. A thing about
body parts. He once brought me a--”
terrible to be alone,” Ravi said, clenching his fists. “When women
reject me I feel like - feel like --” He succumbed to her kisses.
slipped pleasantly by, then a man laughed - his voice was gravely.
“Hey, what's goin’ on in there? I could use some of that.”
was some hasty movement in the elevator. “Did you find help?” the
woman asked in a hopeful tone.
“Yeah, I ran across some Joe helping people next door with his pry
bar. He don't talk much, but I'm sure he can force the door. I gotta
get back to my store. I'll leave the lantern and Joe can get to
was sorry about getting out; he let his mind fall in the darkness
and his hand wander on her thigh. A loud hammering on the door made
them both jump. “Joe,” he said. “You're supposed to force it open,
not hammer it down.”
hope this guy knows what he's doing,” the woman said.
creaking replaced the hammering and a crack of flickering light
showed as the metal groaned and gave way. Joe had the strength of an
ox, but he didn't know how to apply a lever. He put big gashes in
the outer door; he was like a moron opening a can with a
Finally Joe got brighter, slipped his pry bar in the crack and
forced the door halfway open. They ducked out quickly and turned to
thank him. The woman gasped. In the lantern light, Joe looked like a
creature from the bottom of a mineshaft. He was a squat, lumpy guy
with swollen blue lips and a porous red-veined bump for a nose.
Lifeless hair hung like cobwebs from a head checkered with bald
patches. His eyes were like little black olives in pools of moldy
margarine, and he grinned witlessly, showing crooked yellow teeth.
“Darling,” the woman said, almost choking. “How did you get out?”
mean that guy's your mad husband?”
grin widened. “The electric fence, the electric fence - no power,”
he blubbered. “Look.” He set the pry bar down and reached for an
enormous dent-covered toolbox. Loosening up some snaps, he lifted
out something large and held it up in the lantern light. It was a
heavy meat hook, a human foot hung from it - blood dripped to the
carpet from the toe of a nylon stocking. “For you, for you,” he said
took steps back, turned and fled into the dark stairwell. They were
down a few flights before they heard Joe's heavy boots ringing
above. His crazed voice echoed, “Paint the town red, paint it black
woman threw the side door open and they raced off under the cherry
blossoms. An apparition of a ghastly head swinging on a meat hook
vanished in the moonlight as Joe appeared. He looked around, but
they were gone, dashing into a lovers' darkness he would never find.
---The End ---