The folks on the already packed elevator – all seven of them – glared heavily at the man who had put his briefcase between the doors to keep them from shutting.

“Room for one more?” he asked with a half-smile. Maybe he thought he’d relieve the tension of squeezing on. Get a chuckle. A light behind the eyes that indicated that if it had been any other time of day he would have gotten a smile.

Nothing. It was eight fifteen on a Monday morning. He was lucky he didn’t get stabbed.

The doors closed with proficiency so alien to the rest of the bureaucratic building and the elevator began to rise. There were five floors highlighted. All of the previous seven occupants had been so busy cursing the eighth’s mother and father and children and general bloodline they failed to notice he hadn’t picked a button.

Seventeen floors up, he did. The emergency stop button didn’t get much action, and seemed to resist his finger. But after a split second the elevator ground to a stop with a high pitched whine and a jolt.


“What the fuck, man?”

“What’s going on?”

The eighth man turned around to face the seven others with a mild and playful smile on his face.

“I bet you’re wondering why I gathered you here today.”

The seven others stared at the eighth man. Confused. Waiting. Growing increasingly hot. And angry. A man in the back stared harder than the others, sure he knew this face. Was it a common face? Was it the face of the man in his nightmares, the one who lurked in shadows too shallow to hold anything of substance? Was it the face he saw in the corner of his eyes when he was too stressed and had overdosed on caffeine?


“Hey, I know you! You’re that temp working the front desk with Margaret!”

The eighth man held up his hands. “Got me!”

“What was all that then?” one of the others, a woman in a blue blouse, asked.

“What?” the temp asked, going red up to his ears.

“All that nonsense about gathering us here,” a man in a black shirt said.

“Oh, well, everyone seemed so grumpy-”

“Yeah, it’s fucking Monday, man,” the temp’s coworker said.

“-so I thought I could cheer us all up. You know, a little humor.”

“What? Cheer us up by getting us stuck in the elevator?”

“No, no! I mean, I’ll just hit the ‘go’ button and-”

The temp who worked the front desk with Margaret turned in what little space he had back to the row of buttons, sweat popping out on his forehead and neck faster and faster as he failed to locate the ‘restart’ button he was sure was there.

“There is no fucking ‘go’ button, you lollipop,” said a little man in the corner. “You hit the emergency stop. It won’t start again until the fire department gets here.”

The entire car groaned, none louder than the eighth man.

“I am so fired.”

The rest of the car roared their enthusiastic assent.

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