Going Down

A/N: Based on a nightmare I had.

The elevator doors dinged open, and Alicia stepped in, her arms laden down with bags. She set her groceries on the floor and pressed the close button, fighting back the wave of claustrophobia that always threatened to overwhelm her. Her therapist had been a huge help in helping her overcome her severe claustrophobia and fear of being buried alive, and part of her therapy was riding in the elevator of her apartment building as much as possible.

She pressed the button for her floor and felt the slight jerk as the gears caught and the elevator began to move. She shut her eyes, breathing slowly and deeply in a calming exercise, and focused on the numbers above her head.

To her shock, they went from four, to three. Alicia frowned in puzzlement. Had she perhaps pressed the wrong button by mistake? She looked at the keypad, and her frown grew deeper. The five was clearly lit up. She pressed it again, harder this time, and to her terror the elevator went from three to two. Over and over she slammed her finger on the five button, but nothing happened.

The elevator continued to descend, and Alicia felt the first stirrings of real panic. She pressed the help button. "Hello! Is anyone there? There's something wrong with the elevator! Hello?" Dead silence from the other end, and she sobbed in panic. "Hello! I really need help! Hello! Hello! HELLO!" The realization that no one was there struck her like a sledgehammer, and she whimpered in terror and collapsed on the floor, her knees drawn up to her chest as she rocked back and forth, her eyes staring straight ahead at nothing.

The elevator continued to descend, and Alicia wondered where it would end up. She rummaged in her grocery bag and pulled out an apple, munching mechanically. Surely once it reached the subbasement the doors would open and she would be free.

When the elevator reached the subbasement, Alicia jumped to her feet, ready to bolt as soon as the doors opened. But the doors stayed shut and the elevator kept going. Alicia dug her hands into her cheeks, leaving bloody furrows, and wailed, beating on the doors, cursing and screaming. "Open! GOD DAMN YOU, OPEN!"

She beat on the doors until her knuckles were bruised and bloody and her voice was hoarse from all the screaming she had done.

Then the doors opened, and Alicia sobbed in relief—and that was when the skeletal hands reached out of the darkness beyond and yanked her forward. She didn't even have time to scream.

The doors closed, and the elevator rose to the fourth floor, ready for the next passenger.