After she died, the woman awoke to discover that she had become an elevator. Well, not awoke, exactly; her doors slid open slowly and her interior lights blinked on; it was a slow unfolding of consciousness, like a switch had been thrown somewhere far away.
There were worse things she could be, she supposed, than an elevator.
Throughout the workday her buttons were pressed, and she soared, defying gravity, slowing only reluctantly to deposit her passengers on their requested floors.
The elevator sensed that her passengers hated her ascent. As she whisked them up to their workplaces, her cabin filled with grumbling, complaints, and sarcastic sighs. On their way down at the end of the day, her passengers were just as irritable, but for a different reason. They bounced and tapped their feet, pushing her to the ground where they forced her doors open.
It never occurred to the people she carried inside of her that she might rather be ascending than descending. She tried to resist, she tried not to give in, but she could not fight against her lowering. All of that impatient bouncing felt like the forceful elongating of a spine she no longer had, each tapping foot dislocating one invisible vertebra at a time.
At night, as the building shut down and the coming and going ceased, the elevator was trapped where she had last been deposited. Electricity buzzed through her cables, calling her to move, to leap, to rocket up through the building’s top floor and burst through the ceiling, ascending through the clouds and the sky until she broke through heaven and whatever came after. But without a passenger, she could do no more than flicker her lights.
And so she passed her night in agony, awaiting her passengers’ morning arrival, so that she could once again rise and strain against cables and electricity and gravity, coming so close to freedom, to escape, before someone pressed her call button and dragged her back down.
Lindsay Fowler holds her MFA in fiction from the University of Maryland. Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Gravel,Flash Fiction Magazine, and The Golden Key, amongst others. Lindsay lives in Portland, OR, where she reads for Typehouse Literary Magazine and cultivates her love of all things strange at readweird.com. She has nothing against elevators, but is often guilted into taking the stairs. twitter: lafowler8
S Cearley is a former professor of philosophy and AI researcher in computer-derived writing. He currently lives eight inches above a river watching ducks, otters and herons. His major influence is from the background of human-computer interaction, learning from each other and forming new methods of creating imagery in the natural and synthetic mind. Tweet @scearley or visit futureanachronism.com. He made the art that appears here using photography by Sarah Shields.
Sarah Shields is a mother of two who loves to paint, write poetry and children’s stories, and take photographs of anything and everything she fancies (which makes her a sporadic and often slow traveling companion). twitter: @saraheshields