Martha slammed the front door shut, turned and raced out the front gate. It was a bitterly cold morning and she could feel her teeth chattering already, so she needed to keep moving. “Hi Martha, nice morning!” Her neighbour chuckled as he picked up his paper from the ground and hurried back inside, his large black bathrobe pulled tightly around him. “Yeah, great.” Martha thought. Martha walked briskly to the bus-stop shelter on the corner, just as the bus appeared through the gloom.. She thankfully sat down in the heated bus and rubbed her gloved hands together. Her fingers were almost numb, so she put her hands into her pockets. The elderly woman sitting next to her smiled. “Got far to go love?” “Not really.” Martha replied. “I work in the ABC Bank on Johnstone Street.” “Oh yes, I know the one!” the woman replied. “You’ll be glad to get inside the warm building then.” “I sure will.” “It’s days like this I’m glad I work in a centrally heated building.” “Hope this snow storm doesn’t put the power out.” The woman replied. “Last year about the same time, we lost power for twenty-four hours.” “Yes.” Martha said “I remember putting on coats and gloves and lighting fires in the old fireplace, to try to get warm.” “I think this year they will be ready for any outages, well I hope so, anyway!” “Here’s my stop, nice talking to you, bye!” “Martha jumped out, looked for any cars, then raced across the icy road behind the bus. When she reached the ABC building she held up her ID and the caretaker opened the front door of the bank for her. “Good morning Martha, come in out of the cold!” “Mr Smith hasn’t arrived yet, you’re a bit early.” “The heating has been on for about an hour, so you should be able to feel the place getting warmer soon.” “Thank you Tom, I feel warmer already!”   

Martha strode to the elevator, pushed the button and waited for it to arrive. It was very quiet with nobody else around, but Martha had plenty of preparation to do in her office, so she didn’t mind being here by herself.

The elevator arrived, she walked inside and pressed the 5th floor. Martha watched as the numbers slowly went by, 3, 4 ----.

There was a sudden jerk then everything went black. “What the heck?” thought Martha. She inched her way over to the door, pulled out a mini torch from her bag, and checked the board next to the door. One button had emergency written on it, so she pushed the button. Nothing. She looked at her watch, she still had at least half an hour before anyone else would arrive. There was a phone, she picked it up, no dial tone, no answer. She remembered her mobile, so she rummaged through her bag until she found it. Martha swiped her phone, but nothing happened. “Blast!” “I forgot to charge it last night!” She told herself not to panic, someone would find her shortly. Martha sat down next to the door, with her small torch, and waited. After what seem like forever, but was only about ten minutes, her torch flickered and went out. “Great!” she said. “Just what I need!” She shut her eyes and tried to think about other things. She was remembering the last week-end and the friends Birthday party she had gone to.

Suddenly her eyes flew open, her heart started to thump and she could feel herself starting to shake. Martha couldn’t see a thing it was completely black, but she had distinctly heard breathing!

“Is anybody there?” she croaked. She heard a very hushed sound like a muffled laugh. “Please tell me if anyone’s there, you’re scaring me!” She heard the distinct sounds of someone moving around, then something brushed past her shoulder. Martha froze. She felt like her heart was about to burst out of her chest, it was thumping so hard. She felt faint, and she felt sick. “Who are you?” “How did you get here?” Maybe she was imagining things, but she was sure she heard a very faint voice reply. “I live here.” “That’s impossible!” she said. “Why am I talking to myself?” “There’s nobody else here!” Martha almost fainted as she felt a hand rest on her shoulder.  “Okay, what do you want, why are you here?” “I get lonely.” The hushed voice replied. “My name is George, I have been in charge of this elevator for many years.”

Martha couldn’t recall anyone called George working at the Bank. “How old are you George?” Martha strained to hear the hushed voice reply. “I was born in 1901, in Melbourne.”

Martha started to shake, she realised nobody could live that long, so this had to be someone who had passed. “Why haven’t I heard about you before, George?” “I’m only here when the lights are out.” The hushed voice replied. “Tell me about yourself.” Martha said. But before she could get an answer there was a bright flash.

Martha squeezed her eyes hard, then slowly opened them, the lights had come back on!

The elevator started back up, reached her floor, and the doors opened. Martha turned to look back into the elevator, as she stepped through the door. She felt something brush past her face, and then it was gone.

The second elevator arrived with her workmates and her Boss, Mr Smith. “Hi Martha, been here long?” Her Boss asked. “No.” she replied. “Actually I got here about ten minutes ago.”

During the day when she had a few minutes to herself, she went in to see her Boss. “Mr Smith, do you recall a George working here, many, many years ago?” “I think he was in charge of the elevator.”

Mr Smith looked at her. “Yes, I do.” “George was my great-grandfather.” “Why do you ask?” “Oh, nothing, just heard somebody talking about a George running the elevator, and wondered who he was.” “He was a wonderful man, he put himself through college and earned himself a degree.” “He had a large family with nine children, all gone now unfortunately.”

“Thank you Mr Smith.” “I might look him up on the computer and find out a little bit more about him.”

Martha went home that afternoon with a renewed vigour. She was determined to find out more about George.

The elevator never had a power shortage ever again, so Martha never got to talk to George, ever again. But she would always remember meeting “the stranger” in the elevator, especially when there was a power outage.

September 09, 2020 02:09

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.