I’m going to tell you a story so scary you will never be able to look at a lift (or elevator if you Americans) the same way again. Stairs will become your new best friend. What I am going to tell you is a true story of how I suddenly found myself trapped in a lift, between floors in a deserted building.
The dictionary describes a lift as such:
A platform or an enclosure raised and lowered in a vertical shaft to transport people or freight.
But I describe a lift as so:
A platform dangling over the void of darkness or a claustrophobic enclosure of terror raised and lowered in a vertical shaft of doom and death to transport and create fear in people or freight.
It all started one Saturday evening a few years ago. I was working late, during my free time, trying to complete my work in time for a deadline. I was the last person in the building. Around 10pm I finally decided it was time to go home, shut off my computer and got in the lift to go from the fourth floor to the ground floor… if only I had taken the stairs.
As the lift moved down the shaft it suddenly jerked to a stop. At first I thought nothing of it. I thought I had arrived at my destination. Only the doors did not open. I tried hitting a few buttons, nothing happened. It only took a few seconds to realize I was trapped between the first and second floor. It was a Saturday. Monday was a bank holiday. I realized there was a good chance I would not be getting out any time soon and I might have to eat my own arm to survive. I was trapped in a lift.
Trapped in a lift
I don’t mind telling you that for the first couple of minutes I was very scared. Visions of the lift falling down the shaft danced through my mind. Shouting and using the emergency buzzer did no good. There was no one else in the building. No one was coming to my rescue. In my panic I tried to open the doors with my bare hands. They opened easily but what was behind them was another horror like something out of the ‘Twilight Zone.’ An old red brick wall up to waist height and then the outer lift doors. I tried to force open the outer lift doors but they would only open an inch and no more. For a while I let the panic in, pacing up and down the small space of the lift (but being careful not to shake it too much).
Then, as I started to calm down, came the moment that every man who grew up watching 80s TV dreams of… MacGyver time. Also known as ‘The bit at the end of the A-Team where they made something cool’. So I found myself thinking, “What would MacGyver do?” I took stock of my inventory.
1)A laptop with only a little battery power remaining
2) A mobile phone with a dead battery
3) Some paper
4) A technical drawing pencil
5) A can of coke
6) And my back pack itself
I started thinking things like, “Maybe I could somehow wire up my laptop battery to my mobile phone and charge it up. No.. wait… the lift is a dead spot for mobile phones.”
“Maybe I could use the technical drawing pencil to chip away at the mortar around the bricks and tunnel my way out. No… no good either, I might bring the whole building down.”
“I could open up my laptop, find a long wire and tie it to the Coke can. Then I could shake the Coke can really hard, open it and use it as a rudimentary grappling gun to climb up and out of the shaft. Dam… that wont work… there is no hatch in the lift to open.”
“Ah screw it… I’ll use my backpack as a pillow to sleep on till someone comes and rescues me.”
I used the paper and technical drawing pencil to write a note and push it through the small gap in the lift doors in case anyone came along while I tried to sleep. I wrote my SOS on both sides of the paper since I did not know how it would fall when I pushed it through the gap. Luckily I only ended up with spelling errors on one side.
Then insanity started to set in. The creaking and groaning noises the lift was making started to get to me. It sounded like evil mocking laughter telling me no one was coming. The only thing I could do to keep my spirits up and block out the sound was to sing to myself. No songs came to mind so I started making up my own. I came up with great hits like:
1) I’m stuck in a mother %$#@! lift.
2) I hate this lift.
3) Why does this %$#@! have to happen to me.
4) I should have asked that girl out. Now I’m going to die in a lift.
After a while I tried to sleep. In a strange way I had come to accept what was happening to me. There was nothing more to do but wait. Panicking served no purpose and if the lift was going to drop me to my death if would have done so by now. Still I could not sleep. The mocking laughter of the lift kept me awake.
How did I escape my fate you might ask. The simple answer is… I didn’t. I’m still here, using the wireless connection on my lap top to send this blog entry in the hope that someone will see it and come to my rescue.
Ok… maybe not. Here is what really happened. The sounds from the lift and thoughts of what I would have to do if I needed to go to the toilet kept me awake. Around 2am I heard something… not the lift… something else… movement… from down stairs. I jumped up and started shouting. I was found by a very surprised Dutchman in a suit from one of the other companies in our building. I don’t know what he was doing showing up at 2am. I did not care. All I cared about was I was saved.
One thing I feel really bad about was I never remembered his name. It went in one ear and out the other because of all I had been through (If you are reading this I am sorry about that). He phoned the fire brigade and sat and chatted with me while we waited. He even tried to hand me a bottle of Bacardi between the small opening in the lift doors but it would not fit and we did not have any long straws.
Eventually the fireman arrived, opened the lift doors with a crowbar and pulled me out. I could have hugged them… in a manly way of course. I thanked everyone, signed some forms that the firemen gave me, walked out of the building and took in a lungful of the air of freedom. In total I had been trapped for a little over four hours. I never saw the man who found me again. Maybe he was an angel… or a smartly dressed cat burglar, I don’t know. I’ve also never set foot in that lift alone again and never ever late at night. I still swear when ever I hear the lift creek it is saying, “I’ll get you next time Stuart and you’ll never escape.”
Think this story sounds to crazy to be true? Then let me leave you with a scan of the actual note I wrote that fateful night: