52 comments

Sep 12, 2020

Drama Funny

I hated lifts, but Fred wouldn’t take the stairs. He was always annoying, but he’d have a complaint for every step he was forced to take. It would’ve been unbearable as we live on the top floor. So I waited for the lift. 

The doors opened, and Mrs. Peacock stared back at me, weighed down by her shopping bags. I stepped inside, and pressed the button for the twenty-fourth floor; it clicked and glowed red. I nodded to Mrs. Peacock, and while I gave my silent greeting I heard more clicking. My shoulders dropped, and I didn’t have to look to know what Fred had done.

“Don’t press all the elevator buttons!”

“It’s a lift not an elevator,” said Fred, punctuating his statement by sticking out his tongue. He knew I’d started Americanising my words to try and fit in more since my parents moved us here. “Who are you trying to impress, you’re not American!”

Feeling in no mood for his teasing, I punched him in the arm and he stepped away, but the damage was done.

“I’m sorry about that Mrs. Peacock.”

She gave me a dirty look and said nothing in reply. I don’t know why everyone always blames me; Fred is only a year younger than me but it’s not my fault he’s never grown up! Maybe it’s because I always look guilty. 

Thankfully Mrs. Peacock lived on the fourth floor, and got off on the next stop anyway. I don’t know why she was so grumpy about the buttons. 

Now we were alone but I was ignoring Fred, any encouragement always made him ten times worse. I watched each of the numbered lights turn off, one by one. Six out of twenty-four down, eighteen to go. But we were only half-way there when suddenly all the lights went out and the lift stopped dead!

I was anxious in lifts at the best of times, and not being able to see my own hand in front of my face in eerie silence was pushing my limits. I knew Fred was scared too as even he didn’t break the silence.

Without the distraction of the names tagged on the wall, and disturbingly accurate drawings of genitalia, the smell of piss could no longer be ignored. I had no point of reference in the pitch black but could still feel the walls start closing in. It froze me to the spot. I hoped I was standing in the centre of the lift so I could last as long as possible before I was crushed like a bug.

“Use your phone Groaney Joaney!”

“I told you to never call me that!” The walls stopped in their tracks, surprised by my sudden anger.

“It has a light doesn’t it?” Then I heard Fred patting himself looking for something, “Never mind, I’ll use mine.”

Fred was always losing things, and even if he did find his phone the battery was probably dead anyway. So I pulled my phone out of my pocket, and the screen lit up the lift. I spun around like a lighthouse, illuminating the artwork on the walls, and confirming there were no monsters in the corners; just Fred. He was still patting himself like he was putting out a fire…he was such an idiot as he only had two pockets! He stopped and smiled at me. I refused to smile back and praise him, even if it was a good idea.

“We can call for help now.”

“There’s obviously no signal in the lift!” I snapped back. I stopped spinning and gave my screen a sideways glance to confirm. Unfortunately I was right – no bars! I sucked in a deep breath, and then turned my phone to make sure the walls weren’t moving. I felt dizzy, but the unique odour of the lift brought me back to my senses like smelling salts, reminding me that sitting on the floor was a bad idea.

“We shoulda stayed at Millie’s. Then you’d have a signal.”

Millie was the first friend I made when we moved to New York. The more time I spent with Millie the less Mum worried about me, which is handy as she lives in the same building as us. I only let Fred tag along sometimes when I went down to Millie’s flat to play, and he always wanted to stay longer, even though she ignored him more than I did.

“And if we had stayed there…we wouldn’t be stuck in this lift and wouldn’t NEED a signal!”

I quickly realised no signal to call, also meant no data. My phone was just a glorified torch, and an expensive one too! I didn’t know what to do with it; I couldn’t put it down on the sticky floor, but I couldn’t put it back in my pocket either, and I knew Fred wouldn’t hold it. There was no telling how long it would take for them to find us, and I’ll be reduced to a bored candle for the whole time.

“Let’s play a game,” said Fred, reading my mind. “How about eye-spy?”

“Funny!”

“The usual then?”

“Sure…not like I have a lot of options.”

Twenty questions was Fred’s favourite game. When I had started seeing my therapist she suggested it for when I felt anxious, as it gave my thoughts something positive to focus on. Fred always got the answer in less questions than me – his record was five – and he always knew when I needed to play.

We were well into our fourth game when I heard a weird noise.

“ShhhhHH!

We both stood motionless, channelling our inner dog as we tilted our heads to hear better. Then I heard it again; it was a creaking scraping type of noise.

“I heard it that time,” said Fred.

“SHHH!”

The scraping stopped with a metallic clang, and then a distant voice echoed above our heads.

“Anybody down there?” The voice was deep, but was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard!

“Yes. YES! GET HELP!”

We were saved, and I would soon be out of this stinky prison cell.

“We are the help sweetheart. How many of you are down there?”

I looked to Fred, and he smiled back at me.

“Just me.”

The fireman – I later found out his name was Barry – was quickly onto the top of the lift, and forced the emergency hatch open. Barry tried his best to calm me down; then he put me into a harness, and lifted me out to safety. Once through the emergency hatch I took one last look back into the lift, and Fred was looking up at me. He blinked three times in quick succession like he always did when I didn’t need him anymore, and then disappeared!

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52 comments

נιмму 🤎
17:34 Sep 12, 2020

I also don't like elevators - they always make me anxious, especially the ones in the mall where they are clear and there like three flights so you can just SEE how high you are - I always imagine that glass breaking and then me dying. A litttttle overdramatic. Annyyyway this was pretty good. I like the characters you created in such a short amount of time. A simple prompt, but you managed to turn it into a wonderful intrigeuing story. Hats off to you! (tho im not wearing one..)

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Andrew Krey
18:31 Sep 12, 2020

Hi Celeste, thanks for the kind words. The worse lift I've been in is the Heron Tower in London; it's glass, on the outside of the building, and takes you to the bar/restaurant at the top, and you definitely need a drink after as it's straight to the top! Thanks for the feedback, I thought I'd make it hard for myself and set the whole story in the lift :) force myself to make it interesting without using plot, I'm glad it worked for you, cheers. Happy writing.

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Charles Stucker
17:44 Sep 18, 2020

"When I had started seeing my therapist she suggested it for when I felt anxious, as it gave my thoughts something positive to focus on." "When I had started seeing my therapist " is a subordinate clause and should end with a comma. "Once through the emergency hatch I..." comma after hatch "quick succession like he always did when I didn’t need him anymore," Like he always did when I didn't need him any more - this is another subordinate clause. When you have a complex sentence, look for the basic part- here it is "He blinked and the...

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Andrew Krey
20:46 Sep 18, 2020

Thanks Charles! Really appreciate the time you took to provide your feedback. I keep an updated version of my stories for errors I missed before submitting, so this is invaluable for me, and I'll make those changes...plus sack my editor! I'll keep the comma advice in mind for my edit cycles for my next post, cheers. I'm really glad you enjoyed the story. I was very conscious of the show and tell balance because with limited 'action' within a lift I wanted to keep the story as short as possible while still developing the characters, and hi...

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Yolanda Wu
06:18 Sep 18, 2020

I love how the dialogue captures the characters' relationship and what they are like. It was great take on the prompt. I love the whole 'lift' vs 'elevator', I'm Australian, so I say it both ways, although elevator predominantly. And wow, I loved that ending. This was a wonderful read, very well-written. Amazing work, Andrew!

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Andrew Krey
09:46 Sep 18, 2020

Hi Yolanda, thanks so much for the kind words, and taking he time to read/feedback my story, it's appreciated. I'm from the UK, so 100% lift for me, I didn't want to Americanise my writing just to match the prompt, so thought I'd acknowledge it in the story instead, and it served as a way to reveal her backstory and also their dynamic. I also like it as when observed by Mrs. Peacock, she's having a one side argument with herself :) Thanks again!

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Yolanda Wu
09:51 Sep 18, 2020

Oh yeah, I totally get that. I remember one of the prompt a while back was about a popsicle melting, and I was adamant to make it icy pole in my story, lol. :)

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Andrew Krey
10:30 Sep 18, 2020

Haha yeah I read a couple of the stories from that prompt, to me with popsicle my mind went to lolly pop like Kojack, before the mentions of melting! Lol Yeah if there's a stick inside it's an ice lolly, if in a plastic or card wrapper you squeeze to eat, it's an ice pole. :)

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Regina Perry
02:50 Oct 14, 2020

I love how Fred has personality tics even though he doesn't exist. The blinking three times is a nice touch.

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Andrew Krey
17:13 Oct 16, 2020

Thanks Regina, I'm glad you liked it. I wanted to make Fred a real character in everyway possible...except the being imaginary part. I also wanted the process of disappearing to be familiar to Joan, to make the reader questions why this always happens...then the reveal. Thanks again

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Tessa Takzikab
05:04 Oct 01, 2020

Woah. Imaginary friend, huh. That is an extremely active imagination. But of course a part of your brain would get answers faster. Of course Fred had no phone. and of course he would complain about the steps. I'm sitting here trying to wrap my head around the idea of an imaginary friend in someone with the voice of an older kid. It's a really cool story. And that explains why Fred never gets in trouble. At first I was thinking 'How dare you abandon him' and then I thought 'Oh, of course. He can get out on his own.'

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Andrew Krey
18:00 Oct 01, 2020

Hi Tessa, thanks for taking the time to read my stories and leave feedback :) I’m glad all the hints worked re-reading the story. Mrs. Peacock was a personal favourite; judging her for being a rude woman, then realises why she gave her a dirty look! I’m now planning to create a universe for all my Reedsy stories, so they’re all connected - no the question is will Joan still have Fred when an adult? :S

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Tessa Takzikab
18:14 Oct 01, 2020

That's a really cool idea! I guess it depends on if she has real people or not. I would assume that she usually doesn't, unless something really freaky happens. Like, something that would normally have a grown person wishing he/she was young enough to run and hide behind his/her mother, Joan would hide behind Fred. The only problem being that he's not there... I can't wait to read about when your characters meet! I bet Jadoo Jana would bring Fred back. :) Good luck!

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Andrew Krey
18:36 Oct 01, 2020

Haha yeah Jadoo Jana might be too powerful to bring back, creating a universe with time travel, an apocalypse AND magic might be a bit much! Lol With Joan I saw Fred as a coping strategy for childhood trauma, so she could appear normal to her parents/friends. So I think a global apocalypse is justification for her to still need him...even if they are just shorter cameos :) Thanks for the luck, I’ll probably need it!

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01:27 Sep 23, 2020

Wow, amazing story! I caught one error here: “How about eye-spy?” ~ I'm pretty sure it's actually I-spy. I love the twist at the end! I agree with Charles, Mrs. Peacock reminds me of the grouchy old lady across the street (a very unflattering comparison, really) until Fred is revealed to be an imaginary friend. Excellent story! Keep it up! ~Ria

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Andrew Krey
01:45 Sep 23, 2020

Really glad you liked it Adrienne, and thanks for taking the time to read it and leave feedback. I'm glad Mrs. Peacock worked so well as a character, as I was writing this story I really wanted there to be hints that seemed obvious when re-reading the story. And good spot with eye-spying my mistake :D I'll update my saved version of the story on my computer, thanks :)

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Yvonne Barker
07:17 Sep 19, 2020

Nice twist at the end.

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Andrew Krey
10:30 Sep 19, 2020

Thanks for reading and leaving feedback, it's appreciated :)

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Rowena Tisdale
00:21 Sep 19, 2020

Love this story, Andrew! I wondered early on if you were taking the horror route, but I like what you did even more. You kept me guessing until the sweet, albeit a bit poignant, end.

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Andrew Krey
10:26 Sep 19, 2020

Thanks Rowena! Really appreciate the time to read and give feedback...and love the feedback :) I'm glad the hints still kept you guessing till the end. I didn't even contemplate horror as I thought it would be too hard within the confines of a lift, which is why I was so impressed with your story.

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Judith Buskohl
01:48 Sep 18, 2020

I found your story interesting and I see what you mean about having more dialogue. It makes your characters more personal and it make me feel like I was in the elevator with them. I hope I don't remember this story when I am reading in an elevator. I loved your story. Good work!

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Andrew Krey
02:19 Sep 18, 2020

Thanks Judith, I’m really glad you liked it :) thanks for taking the time to read it and leave feedback. Dialogue is great for getting the person’s character across. What I also like to try and do is show the nature of their relationship with the person they’re speaking to by what they leave unsaid - i.e. the narration can reveal the true feeling of the character, and if this is the same as what they say to the person it shows a close and trusting relationship, but if they guard their true feelings then they’re not close to that person. I...

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B. W.
20:16 Sep 17, 2020

Hey this is a really good story and you did a great job with it ^^ i think that you should continue to make stories here whenever your not busy or anything, i know it would be great. you know what? this gets a 10/10 :)

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Andrew Krey
20:38 Sep 17, 2020

Hi, thanks for taking the time to read my story, appreciate the kind words :)

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B. W.
20:38 Sep 17, 2020

No prob ^^

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Tempest Wright
21:58 Sep 16, 2020

Oh wow. Love that plot twist at the end. I had to go back and read it again!! Great job!

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Andrew Krey
12:53 Sep 17, 2020

Thanks, I appreciate you taking the time to read and give me back feedback, glad you liked it :)

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Kristin Neubauer
16:13 Sep 16, 2020

I really enjoyed this story, Andrew. It was very clear and easy to read. And I absolutely loved the somewhat tortured interplay between Fred and the narrator. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on between them until you made it clear at the end....but you give plenty of hints and foreshadowing to let the reader know there was more that what met the eye. Great job!

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Andrew Krey
20:59 Sep 16, 2020

Thanks for taking the time to read my story and especially for leaving feedback, I really appreciate it. I’m also really glad you enjoyed it :) I tried to leave a few subtle clues for the re-read, so great to hear they worked out! I tried to draw on memories of me annoying my older brother to bring Fred to life! Lol Thanks again

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Becky Holland
03:17 Sep 16, 2020

Hey, Andrew. I like your take on this prompt. You have an expressive writing style that reminds me of someone but I can't remember which writer it is. (I am old.) You write like you talk somewhat - you are a storyteller - that is it. F. Scott Fitzgerald was that way. There are a few things here and there- I was going to make notes, but just completely forgot because I got caught up in the storyline. Some missed punctuation, some very long sentences and paragraphs, and the exclamation point. That is a pet peeve of mine. Instead of using ...

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Becky Holland
03:18 Sep 16, 2020

Oh, and the title. Titles should be grammatically correct. Maybe reword it?

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Andrew Krey
09:54 Sep 16, 2020

Hi Becky, thanks for taking the time to read my story, and provide feedback - I'm glad you liked it. I take it as a good sign that you got into the story so much you forgot to note the issues lol totally agree with the exclamation marks; this was a difficult one for me as Joan is in a situation of high anxiety and is being aggravated by Fred, so everything felt exclamation worthy. So this should be a one off in my stories :) With the sentences I intended to contrast the now and reflection via pacing - so mid panic in the lift are shor...

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Becky Holland
14:55 Sep 16, 2020

I get it and understand your thought process - all of us writers look at our stories and can find explanations of why. Makes perfect sense to us, but not always to the readers, so we have to figure out a balance, and give the readers their due respect too, and keep with our story idea. If I get into a book or story, and all of a sudden it appears to wordy or such, I will stop. Just some thoughts. Keep writing.

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Andrew Krey
16:00 Sep 16, 2020

Exactly, I experiment with concepts I don't often use for these short stories, so other people's thoughts are invaluable for me, thanks again!

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Becky Holland
16:08 Sep 16, 2020

And thanks for reading me. I am keeping you on my "radar" because I liked reading what you wrote.

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Laura Clark
21:44 Sep 15, 2020

This was an interesting story with an unexpected twist. I reread it to find clues and you do it quite well! I was confused about the button pressing thing but I’m envisioning a Ed Norton/ Brad Pitt Fight Club scenario now and it works. One piece of advice is to be very sparing with the exclamation marks. Usually the sentence should communicate that tone without the need for the punctuation. They’re useful in speech but otherwise less so. I really enjoyed the relationship between Fred and the protagonist - I couldn’t work out if they ...

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Andrew Krey
22:44 Sep 15, 2020

Hi Laura, thanks for taking the time to read my story, and I really appreciate the feedback. I'm glad you liked it. This was a tough one in terms of exclamation marks for me - believe it or not there were more before the edit - because she's anxious and highly stressed so it felt necessary all the time. But I do agree, any emphasis loses impact the more it's used. Fight club is a good comparison, that's why I had Mrs. Peacock give her an dirty look, as to her eyes, she pressed the buttons, argued with thin air, then apologised like she di...

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Leilani Lane
03:13 Sep 15, 2020

Hi, Andrew! Great story and good use of dialogue. Keep writing! :)

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Andrew Krey
12:15 Sep 15, 2020

Hi Leilani, I'm really glad you liked it, thanks for reading it :)

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Bianka Nova
21:57 Sep 14, 2020

Nice short story; very good length actually because it might've gotten a bit boring when nothing much can happen in a lift after a while. And then, a really unexpected turn. It made me go back and read it all over again in order to see if there had been any clues - none whatsoever, very well written. Here are the gems that stood out for me: "I spun around like a lighthouse, illuminating the artwork on the walls" "bored candle" "channelling our inner dog" (an extra 'l' in that one, but I mean it's still good) Well done! 😊

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Andrew Krey
23:47 Sep 14, 2020

Thanks Bianka, I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for taking the time to read it. Really glad those were your gems, mine too, for 'bored candle' I had a sentence expressing the same point then cut it and thought those two words say it all, and in a much better way! I do Furious Fiction, which is a monthly comp with only 500 words; that's really helped me make my writing concise, and better for it - otherwise all my stories on here would be 2,999 words whether they should be or not! Lol I think with 'channelling' it may be a UK vs U...

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Bianka Nova
10:42 Sep 15, 2020

You're right for channelling! I didn't realize it, as my browser setting is for US spelling. As for the dogs - that's exactly the image it evoked! Good job!

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Andrew Krey
12:17 Sep 15, 2020

I love it when a plan comes together! :D Everytime I paste the story into the browser I get a panic attack from all the words underlined...then I see it's just the browser trying to change 's' to 'z' in words like organise. Lol

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Bianka Nova
12:29 Sep 15, 2020

Actually you could change the settings of the browser, if you want to. I think I'll stick to US, since it's the one I use for writing (I like UK English better, but alas, it doesn't come that naturally to me) 🙃

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Andrew Krey
13:03 Sep 15, 2020

Ha well they do say wrote what you know ;) Tbh it might be the Reedsy website settings for the submission form rather than the browser, but yeah if it becomes too annoying that's an option, cheers 👍

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Jade Young
23:18 Sep 12, 2020

Whoa! That ending. Here I was embracing the cuteness between them, and then it turns out Fred wasn't even real. You blew my mind. I wasn't expecting that at all. I live you descriptions and pacing. A lot of scenes were super relatable. My favourite line has got to be "My phone was just a glorified torch, and an expensive one too". It's such a mood🙌🏽 You really drew me in with your story, and it was a really enjoyable read as a result😊

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Andrew Krey
23:54 Sep 12, 2020

Wow, what great feedback! I’m really glad you liked it. And I had a dog reference in my story too! Yeah when I write in first person I always try to use pacing to reflect the evolving feelings of the main character. I tried to throw in a few hints too so you have that “oh yeah” moment on the second reading :) good to know it worked :) Thanks!!

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