*Author's Note: This submission contains a healthy helping of profanity, by which I mean a lot...just making you aware. Also, my sincerest apologies to the State of Alabama.
Mary Midas bounced back and forth on the heels of her leather loafers inside of the elevator, her annoyance showing plain as day across her fair features. She felt like she'd been standing there for an hour before the silvery steel elevator doors finally decided to close together and allow her to begin her ascent up to the 45th floor of the Mitsui Fudosan Tower.
She’d practically made it to third base with the ‘close’ door button on the control panel, but it didn’t seem to make a difference in the time it took for the bastards to shut. Mary’s piercing eyes were locked intently on the soft green glow of the level indicator as it briefly flashed with each new floor. It gave her the impression of a lazy strobe light. It fit in nicely with the light jazz music being piped in through the overhead speaker.
She hated it.
“Honestly, why even have a close door button at all if it doesn’t do shit. It’s so stupid,” she grumbled.
Her brother, Gary, dressed in the same pinstriped grey suit and gleaming black loafers as his ill-tempered sibling, rolled his eyes at this statement.
'Always so impatient,' he thought.
Gary leaned his slender shoulder against the wall of the elevator, as he glanced over the light-faux wood paneling that covered it. It made him feel like he was traversing the sky in a hollowed-out tree. He never cared for the aesthetic.
“It’s a placebo, like the ones they use at crosswalks, y’know? People are always in such a hurry, having something there for them to press gives them the feeling that they have some kind of control over their lives,” Gary replied.
“That’s nonsensical,” Mary said. “Why the hell not go ahead and connect it to something if you’re going to have the button there at all?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t come up with it,” Gary said, shrugging lightly, “you asked, I answered.”
“Well I was being rhetorical when I asked, smartass. By the way, when did you become Fuhrer of fucking elevator facts anyway, Gar?”
Gary said nothing, opting instead to look through messages on his smartphone. There was no talking to her when she got heated about something. He pursed his lips when he noticed he had no service, and slid the phone back into his pocked, thoroughly devoid of ways to occupy himself.
Mary had been a hot-head ever since they were kids. She was always the first to let loose a flurry of insults or throw a punch. The fact she was taller than him didn’t do him any favors back then either, it often lead to him taking an ass-whipping for his trouble.
Still, Gary wasn’t free of sin himself, and he recognized that. He could be an unbearable know-it-all, and a wise-ass to boot. Also, he grew bored quite easily, especially when he was forced to listen to smooth jazz.
“Did you know that the Ancient Romans had over 20 elevators at the Colosseum back in the day?” he asked.
“What?” she asked, leering at him from over her shoulder.
“Yeah, they had elevators in Rome. Apparently, they used somewhere around 200 slaves to manually operate the fuckers as well. Can you believe that shit, Mare?”
Mary’s face shifted from mild annoyance to begrudging interest.
“Yup, 200. Can’t imagine enjoying that job too much.”
“How the fuck do you know that?”
“Well, I mean, c’mon. Cranking those pudgy fucks up and down the stands all day must’ve sucked.”
“That’s not what I’m asking, dumbass. How do you know that they used 200 slaves to do it?”
“Oh, I saw it online somewhere.”
“I get that, but how the fuck to they know how many poor bastards were down there on any given day 4,000 years ago? What if they had 199 or 210? At what point do you stop rounding up or down and start tallying the people actually there operating the damn thing?”
Gary raised an eyebrow as he thought on it, “I don’t actually know, Mar. I assume they used whichever sounded the best.”
“That’s why I can’t stand history, ugh.”
“Because of the slaves?”
“Well, yes, but not in this instance. I hate it because all of our ‘history’ is riddled with an assload of inaccuracies. If I’m going to take the time to bother learning a thing, it better be what actually happened, not some bullshit some guy used to make himself feel better because his mom hated him or his dick was tiny.”
“Actually, it’s funny you mention that...”
“Don’t make it this easy for me to roast you, Gary. It takes all the fun out of it.”
Gary blushed slightly after realizing his error.
“Shut up,” he said.
“The Romans used the middle finger to...you know what, no. Fuck you.”
“Bitch,” Mary said as she snickered. She turned back to face the front of the elevator and check their progress. They were still only half-way there.
'Sweet Jesus,' she thought.
“You think she’s still up there?” Gary asked, changing the subject.
“According to my intel she hasn’t left yet.”
“Your intel? Okay, James Bond.”
“Well what else am I supposed to call it, dickless? It's intelligence I've gathered.”
“Can you keep my dick out of your nasty-ass mouth? We’re not from Alabama, Mary, and it’s not cool to just up and appropriate their culture.”
“That’s just wrong.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize Alabama was that near and dear to your shriveled husk of a heart.”
Before Mary had a chance to reply, the elevator abruptly jerked, then came to a sudden halt, causing both of the siblings to lose balance and slam into each other and then into the walls. Gary bounced off of the paneling and fell face-first onto the matte grey tile that comprised the floor of the elevator.
The dull white overhead light flickered slightly, then cut out entirely, along with the rest of the interior lighting. After a few moments, the lights began to faintly glow once more, but not nearly as brightly as before.
Gary groaned as Mary pulled him up from his heap and back onto his feet.
“Goddamn it,” Gary muttered, wiping the dust from the shoulder pad of his suit jacket. “How high up were we before it seized up?”
“We just went passed 28, so I imagine were probably somewhere in between it and 29.”
“Ah, well that’s no good. Here, hand me your knife.” Gary said, extending his hand.
Mary lifted her pants leg up and withdrew the small ivory-handled dagger she kept affixed to her calf. She flipped it up in the air before quickly snatching it by its point with a flourish before passing it over handle first.
Shoving the blade between the doors of the elevator, Gary grunted as he twisted the handle, causing an inch gap in the doors to briefly appear between the doors. Mary quickly shoved her fingers into the breach, and began to wrench them apart with a series of grunts as they resisted her efforts. Gary quickly joined her in the attempt.
With an ear-piercing metallic shriek, the doors relented and opened up, exposing the concrete walls of the elevator shaft and four feet of the bottommost portion of the Level 29 doors.
“Hmm, it’s just as you reckoned,” Gary said absentmindedly.
“Almost done with my blade, Gar?”
“Yeah, yeah. One more second.”
Gary traced a path beneath the control panel and found a raised metal plate labeled ‘emergency’ in thick red letters. After wedging the point of the dagger under its corner, he popped the plate off with a light flick of his wrist. Hiding beneath it was a small speaker above a circular red button. Garry poked the button with the point of the dagger and quickly cleared his throat.
“Hey, can anyone hear me?” he asked loudly.
After a moment, a tinny voice replied.
“Yes sir, I hear you. Is everyone okay?”
“We’re fine, but our elevator is stuck.”
“I figured as much from the call. Do you know what floor you’re
“I believe we were just passing the 29th floor, so we're slightly above it. Not by much though, maybe a couple of feet.”
“I hear you, sir. We had a brief power outage building-wide. You know how these new buildings are, they’re still working out all of the kinks. Give them a few minutes to get it sorted and you should be back on your way in no time.”
“Alright, thank you.”
The little static voice cut out and the elevator grew silent once more.
Gary passed the knife back to Mary before crossing his arms, a smug grin creeped across his face.
Mary knelt back down and tucked her knife back into its holster, then stood up and stretched her back. Several audible pops resulted from the motion, causing Gary to wince.
All of a sudden, a creaking metal sound rang out just front of them, accompanied by a series of muffled voices.
“So, Mr. Fun Fact, how long do you think we have?”
“With as much time that’s elapsed? I’d give it a minute, 2 tops.”
“Probably 6, maybe as many as 8, she’s rich but she doesn’t have an army out there.”
“I can’t believe they couldn’t lie better than that though, I mean that’s just sad,” Mary said.
“You get what you pay for.”
“Well I would’ve paid for some lackeys that were more useful than the ‘close’ button on a fucking elevator.”
“Fair point, Mare,” Gary chuckled.
Gary produced a pair of pistols from the leather holsters hiding beneath his jacket and then slid like a shadow against the elevator's front corner. He took a deep breath and slowly released it through his nostrils as he readied his weapons.
Mary pulled a massive gleaming silver pistol from her own holster, quickly flicking off the safety before tucking her sizable frame as flush as she could against the corner opposite Gary. She couldn’t hide the wide grin plastered across her face.
This was her favorite part.
The outer doors began to jerkily open wide, revealing the legs of several armed, yet hopelessly unprepared mercenaries.
Those goons had never tangled with anyone like the pair of legendary killers from the ‘Midas Touch’ Crime Syndicate before, and after they felt the pieces of hot lead tearing through their flesh, they all quickly came to the somber realization that they never would again.