Electricity cuts were scheduled until further notice. Franz was furious, listening to the news bulletin. If they haven’t anything positive to report, they shouldn’t cast any program, he was thinking to himself and at the same time trying to figure out how to finish necessary arrangements for tonight’s party. It is his birthday and no matter what, it is gonna be a fun evening. He secured some basement, loads of drinks and some snacks, managed to call everybody. Some idiots invited themselves, it is always the case. However he carefully planned to have nearly equal numbers of girls and boys, large empty space and music. It is all in the balance now as he wasn’t sure what zone they are in for tonight. He better acquire some candles, just in case and neighbor‘s guitar. When in need, an unplugged party is better than none at all.
“If I had listened carefully I would know what zone we are in”, he was talking to himself, entering the elevator in his girlfriend’s building. He was fed up, as everybody else, with war and sanction, wishing he had left the Balkans right after high-school and also wishing that she doesn’t live on 16th floor on the outskirts of the city. He got out, but there has been nobody at home. “Where is she”, he is thinking,” hoping she is buying some sexy lingerie. It is his birthday, after all. Through the window of the corridor, one could see the entire city and river Danube if there is some light, but since electricity has come out as a commodity, very exotic and scarce, there was none to spare. I really hate wars, sanctions and our politicians, he nearly screamed, but he suppressed himself – although early in the evening, it seems it is dead of the night, without single beam of light anywhere. “Although the foreign ones aren’t much better”, he whispered through his teeth going back into the elevator.
When it stopped, and the lights inside went off, he was in his mind somewhere on the Canary Islands. His best buddy from the school had a sister there. Immediately after the last class of final year had finished, he jumped into the train and headed for Spain and oranges, as he called it, appealing to Franz to join him instantly.
“There are toothbrushes in Spain, not just oranges, chiquitas and salsa parties”, he was saying on the way to the station. “I will borrow you my underpants, we could share it. This is much matter then staying here, the war is coming, who knows what kind of shit it brings within.”
“He was right”, Franz needed to give him credit, it was better to share a jock rather than stay here, but neither he nor anybody else were psychic. It was too late anyhow. Slowly, very slowly he realizes that the elevator is not moving and he is stuck in it. He nearly cried “Spain and oranges”, but he could only whisper “The party”. What kind of luck is this to miss your own birthday party, when it all arranged and everybody would be there? He really needs something like this, last couple of years were horrid, no job, no opportunities, no electricity, no fuel, selling potato sacks of 25 kg to poor people and carrying it on his bike to their homes, since there were all fine ladies and he was brought to be a gentleman. “My parents and grandma are special breed for anytime not just this one, where apples worth is nearly one wage and only in the morning, in the evening you need a golden bar to buy anything”, sitting in the dark with his head in his hands on his knees.
Somehow his hand is in his pocket feeling something. A mobile phone. In a space of two months everybody had one despite the unprecedented economic crisis. He was the last one to buy it but he couldn’t operate with it as he was embarrassed to ask anybody. Guys wouldn’t take a leak without it anymore and his first call, and only one so far, was from some bloke, his new best friend, from his throne position in the toilet. All alone, in the dark, without any option, he pushes some buttons. After a while Chinese or Korean girl was saying something.
“English, can you speak English”, Franz was yelling without any success. He pushes another button. This time, fine, elegant female replies, obviously an operator:
“How may we help you?”
“I am in an elevator, stuck between 9th and 10th floor”, he was saying full of hope, already drinking vodka at tonight’s party.
“What is the number on the control panel?”
“I can’t see, it is very dark”, he replied, less enthusiastic,.
“Why can’t you see? What is your zone?” - Now the voice turns into a chilly one.
“I don’t know, I just don’t know”. The line breaks and he is again all alone with the phone in his hand. He jumps and starts yelling and pleading for help unaware that the daily TV bulletin is on for hours and hours and everybody must watch it disregarding any other activities: eating, making love, shitting, pissing… He tosses the mobile phone away into far corner:
“Who needs this useless thing 24/7? Like any novelty it will be over and done very soon.”
Loud noise is heard for a brief moment. Inside it is darker, much darker than before, but he could notice movement. Not really movement, more cruising and he puts hands along his thighs as he is looking down in pitch-black darkness. He remembered one story of an elevator as a vehicle to the stars. It was written by his classmate in 5th grade. It was impossible to think how she was aware of such travelling and it is really happening, right now. As he was considering these things, the door opens itself and he can be sure that this is no SF story, he is still on Earth as he can breathe normally. Not really normally, as the air is stuffy and the darkness lingers on. He makes several bold steps, expecting any moment to fall down in some pith. Scarce light is seen after one bend, but the stench is awful. There is a group of creatures around the fire.
“No electricity yet?”- He fires the question without thinking, wanting to break free and reach his party as soon as possible. One person turns his head, rather small to the body, but very hairy as it is his entire body. He shows the newcomer a spot near the fire, without any words. Others look the same, very very hairy, spreading stench around, but the vicinity of fire is nice. It is a cold, moist and dark place, warmth is what one needs. Franz tries to instigate some conversation, figuring this is a set for some silly movie, with a single purpose – get out as fast as possible, the party waits for nobody. This could be a silent film, he is thinking to himself as these folks don’t talk during supper, except a few groaning sounds.
He needs to take a leak, and with some mimicry he is pointed to one corner. If earlier there was awful stench, from here it is unbelievable. He goes back to where the elevator was and hopefully still is, but the large head of some reptile with sparkling eyes prompted him to return, shut his nostril as best he can and do what is necessary, swearing his wick bladder.
With new resolution he returns wanting some answers, but more groaning and some restless among the group is all he is given. He takes a wood stick from the fire and using it as a torch goes back down the corridor. There is no elevator, but also no monster, just some small lizards running around his feet. At the fire, there is a commotion. All members of a group are standing, and they are a sorry bunch as Franz is observing them. Not just hairy and with big heads, they are so small, that he thinks he is in Africa among pygmies, but he doesn’t understand the cave as a surrounding and how the hell he ended up here, when he ought to be at his birthday party. It is all apologetic now, as one person gives him a spear, lightening the wall, where they see a hunting scene, but Franz could only observe some very bad drawings. He takes brand from the fire and paints, as best he could, which is not very good, what these pygmies desired, remembering what he saw in history books of caves in France and Spain. Not knowingly, his work and copies of his work, the modern scientists would consider equal to Michelangelo or Rafael and showing the artistic tendencies of a first man and its intelligence.
For this moment, as he and the group, everybody smiling, showing single tooth left, is delighted with a picture on the wall, one female took away the painting tool and put a spear into his hands. Obviously, for those people, food is much more important than fine art, any art. Also men should provide, and they consider him a proper one. He should be flattered as one silly child, with a very bad haircut and the face of a junior Frankenstein looks at him from down with admiration. This one is very similar to Neanderthal as he remembers it from history books. They even let him guide the group, which is grave error.
Out in the open, he doesn’t know where to turn, the landscape is the same for him. There is no path, large trees scattered, bush after bush and very tall grass blocking the view. He comes to one large tree and picks some apple-shaped fruit, offering it to his fellow hunters, but no-no head movement makes Franz realizes this is not such a good idea.
One guy spotted something in the grass, some kind of a trail. He is put in front, again. This is a mistake, but he needs to be vigilant and there is no time to explain as they wouldn’t understand him, anyhow. At some clearing there is a wild beast with enormous tusks. Much bigger than the elephant he saw in a Zoo. He tries to remember what they were called, but he couldn’t. He is scared like never before, cold and icy sweat goes up and down his spine, so he screams, running away:
He doesn’t know for how long he was fleeing and more importantly where he is. Only one beside him it is that child-Neanderthal or what the fuck it is, looking at him with enormous eyes glowing. He can’t disappoint those eyes. He is wondering how one small thing with very short legs can run equally to him, grasping there is nothing much to do for these people. He is about to say something approvingly, but suddenly there is another beast in front of them. This one is also out to find some supper and it thinks it has founded it. It isn’t that huge like the one before, with smaller tusks, according to his smaller size, which are actually enormous teeth. The roar produced by it, is enough for every fiber of Franz’s body to tremble with hair turned white. He could smell awful odour from its mouth, turning away to run and dropping his spear. Last thing he did, before giving his feet a chance to be like Jesse Owens’ was to push poor child- Neanderthal at the feet of the beast for a small feast. He has to cover his ears running for gold in any racing category, including equestrian and Formula 1.
His sprint turns into a marathon, finally grasping how it is for Olympic champions at a huge distance of 5k or 10k. Watching on TV it is quite a different adventure. He looked around, when he finally stopped, for any predators, bugs, small bugs, lizards, man-eating plants, frogs, humans, but there was nobody around. In the distance he spots that tree with apple-shaped fruit and approaches it and climbs up. He is thirsty, hungry, weary. There were little options left, so he picked up a fruit and jostling with it in his hand, wanting to find a proper angle for the first bite. And several more after this. Resting a little bit, he sees a large snake gliding towards him. It seems to be in the air, but the branch was the same colour. The animal passed by him as he froze. It wanted the fruit. He quietly, as possible as some city fellow can, break free, trying to get as far as he can from all those monsters, predators, bad apples, small people and dirty caves.
Suddenly, he felt dizzy, vomiting around. His womb isn’t his and his legs refuses to go along anymore. He is out in the open with cold sweat on a hot day as sure sign, his time is up. Covering eyes, he is praying for a merciful end.
Still in pain, he notices something wet on his forehand and again stenches of some close space. He is back in a cave, but different one, he is saved by another group of early humans. They could be cannibals, quick thought rushes through his mind, what is left of it anyhow, but he disregards it. “Que sera sera”, he starts whistling the tune, with many hairy heads close to his spot. They like it very much, so he continues, hoping this will be enough for him to stay out of their bellies, and more and more cavemen copying his melodies. At least, they tried to. He caught himself encouraging and learning them, surprising himself. He never knew he had any educatory skills within. He is happy like some lonely child who found a kitty, anybody, just not to be alone.
They gave him a bone, knocking it with another in a “Cheers!” way. Again he is jostling it in his hands, with the rest taking second or third already. The pile is disappearing very fast. If Franz wanted not to be hungry he needs to take the first bite very soon. His organs don’t appreciate such a meal as food. The nose is trying to break free from the head, mouth is fleeing at far corners of the face. Somehow his brain compels them to comply and teeth did what is necessary. Now, he should swallow it, which was as difficult as swimming across cold and fast flowing Danube River on a rainy November evening. Loud belch is heard and many more within his group. He was feeling a member of it when he took another bone, but his stomach refuses to cooperate pushing the stuff back up. He had to lay down. He has found some soft rock. He is thanking to God for this blessing. He screamed and nearly vomited his supper when the rock moved. It was some furry and gray old lady with a single golden tooth smiling to anybody who would share a bed with her. That one had to be Franz as he is frozen, too afraid to move any part of his belly, so he complied. Anyhow she isn’t that old, people live much shorter in those days and she probably was some kind of queen until quite recently. There is no other way to explain golden tooth.
Later that evening, much to dismay of his nose, Franz is thinking of his current situation. He should be dead, remembering the poor child-Neanderthal, with lots of shivers. He is slightly aware that Einstein was really right and the space-time continuum is possible on Earth and of all places, his elevator. He desired that bloody thing has brought him to some fine times in history where there were no wars, plagues and hunger or even better in the future where the robots would carry any work and humans would enjoy leisure and pleasure. Only way he could fall asleep is to be expecting such lovely things.