Grabbing her coat and bag, Lily sweeps out of the monochromatic office. The last one to leave, she notes as the lights burst into life above her as she glides through the now-empty 16th floor. Held in her bubble of illumination, she presses one of the buttons to call an elevator to take her down to her car.
It’s these moments that make her regret staying so late. The floor is in darkness, the city is beaming with life outside as she sees people partying in the buildings opposite, such life and vibrancy across the street yet she is deafened by the silence. Not silence, she notes, the air con is still breathing life into the office, the whurring only makes her even more nervous.
Eventually she hears a set of doors slide open behind her and she whips around on one heel to inspect the empty elevator. Deemed safe, she steps inside and presses ‘LG.’ The best was yet to come, she thought, as images of the draughty lower ground car park flashed into focus.
At this time of the night the music is turned off to avoid annoying anyone working late as the elevators move between floors so Lily stood leaning against a wall, head against the mirrored surface looking at her reflections in the opposite side. Because of the angle she could see what looked like infinite copies of herself continuing behind and in front of her in the glass. This always amused her, she never felt alone when confronted with so many reflections of herself. It made the noises of the elevator slowly fade out while she concentrated on herself in several perspectives as they gradually got smaller and smaller in the distance.
Waving slowly to herself, she looks at her hand moving in the distance and starts tracing shapes in the air out of boredom, these 17 floors were really dragging, much like today had. As she formed out several circular shapes an anomaly in the reflections immediately caught her eye.
One reflection was slow.
Tracing shapes again, she tried harder patterns, triangles, squares, zig-zags and they all kept up.
‘I didn’t realise today had taken such a toll.’ She said to herself, conscious of the camera above watching her. Surely security see much weirder things than someone talking to themselves late on in the night. Get it together, she repeats in her head.
It was then that the elevator shuddered and slowed to a stop. The light flickered and dimmed to nothing as the emergency light began to gradually bleed red light onto the mirrors.
‘It’s fine, we have security in the building all the time, you’ll only be stuck for a matter of minutes, surely.’ Really this didn’t bother her at all, she’d heard of people getting stuck in the elevators from people in her office before and if anything it was something to talk about the next day. In a matter of minutes she’d be in her car.
Waving at the camera, she tries to communicate that the elevator has stopped. Now knowing she’ll be seeing someone when the doors open she tries to inspect her make-up in the mirror and then she saw it, this time regrettably unmistakeable.
A distant reflection waved.
Hand raised in the most natural of ways, a distant Lily had broken from the conformity of mirror life and had pulled all of the attention onto her. Then she leaned out of the line and gave the real Lily a smile. Just a smile, nothing more.
‘God, I’m tired. Get me out of here, please.’ She picks up the emergency phone and speaks to one of the guys in the security office. At least they know she’s stuck. She’ll be fine.
In the pulsing red glow she tries to focus on the reflections again. It wasn’t easy as they were all briefly plunged into darkness every couple of seconds.
Then it stepped out to the side.
There it was, in the distance, the reflection was staring at the real Lily as a dog does when it’s confused, head tilted and taking everything in. Was it confused?
Lily picked up the emergency phone again but this time the tone saying it wasn’t connected shattered the silence and panic set in.
She was alone. Alone with whatever was on the other side of the mirror. Eyes glued to the other Lily, she doesn’t move a muscle as the urge to scream slowly builds. In response, as if mocking, the reflection screams silently as if it were her. When the light dimmed and re-lit, the other Lily seemed closer. It was then that the real Lily noticed it properly.
She had been jumping reflections.
One by one the other Lily was getting one mirror closer to reality.
‘Right! I’m not kidding, get me out!’ Waving frantically at the camera, Lily tried to make a scene of urgency. The reflection was only three, four mirrors away at the most.
‘They’re coming, they’ll be here any minute.’ She repeats to herself out loud as the light pumps the red light into the elevator like a slowly beating heart. Then, with conviction, the mirror replies:
‘They aren’t…but I am.’
Check out part 2 of ‘elevator’!