The Death Defying 45-Floor Elevator Free Fall

Dave FremlandOsher Lifelong Learning Institute at SDSU member Dave Fremland shares an essay he wrote in a group that’s been meeting regularly since taking Kathi Diamant’s Writing Critique Workshop. They share their work and help each other become stronger writers.

Just like any other Wednesday, the parking lot was full and I had to drive the delivery truck around the block a few times to find a close enough space. With four boxes of orchids to deliver, I would have to make at least another trip up and down from the high rise tower.

“Hi, good morning,” I said as I passed the security desk.

“You got nice stuff for the Carnelian room?” the attendant asked.

“Yeah, Oncidium orchids. Big, yellow ones this week.”

The express elevator was free so I gathered up my load and pressed the 45th floor button. I stared at the door as it closed and I heard the usual clink and chug of the motor. I felt my body sort of lighten as the carriage wooshed up toward the sky.

The numbers lit from the first to the tenth floor. Then only the X lit up on the panel.

As the elevator got to the final stop, there was a clicking sound like a ratchet but it didn’t quite seem to latch and suddenly the elevator dropped. The floor beneath my feet dropped leaving me airborne for just a split second and I dropped the box of orchids. It took me a double take to realize the elevator was in a free fall. Without panic, I pushed the emergency button. A red light came on but nothing else.

My mind cleared in an unusual way and I felt inhumanly calm. “So this is how it ends” was my only thought. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. There was no emotion, only resignation.

Then around the tenth floor, I heard a loud hacking sound and the elevator slowed down dramatically. I fell to my knees from the unexpected jolt.

The ratcheting sound got louder as the elevator slowed and finally stopped. The emergency braking system had kicked in and caught the elevator just in time to prevent a crash. (Whew.)

I gathered the dirt and plant materials together off the floor as best as I could, but my adrenaline now had filled my bloodstream. My legs felt like rubber and my heart was beating fast.

The door opened. Security guards and building maintenance people were lined on each side with curious expressions on their faces.

I turned to the first one I saw and handed him the crushed orchids and box of loose dirt and pottery.

“Here,” I said, “You’d better check on this elevator.” I kept walking straight ahead without turning back. My legs wobbled and I staggered back to my truck and drove home.

Once at home, I called my boss and told him I was not coming back to work today. I gave him a quick rundown on what I had experienced but he was skeptical.  “You don’t have to make up silly stories,” he said. “If you don’t want to come to work, just tell me.”

Then, I woke up.

End

 

© Dave Fremland 2014