flash fiction

Do We Even Matter?

Says one man to another. The compact  glass elevator has broken down between the 95 and 96th floor. ” Does anyone care that we are up here?”

“The guy on the intercom said they were working on it,” the fellow reminds. He brushes his bushy grey moustache with a wisp of his fingers.

The younger man, a recently hired engineer posits no one is helping them. “Do you see workers aiding us?” 

” It’s probably a technician in the basement.”

“Can’t they at least update us?”

“We’ll know when the elevator is working.”

The stranger pats a brass handrailing and gazes at himself in the mirror. 

The younger man melts into the corner, he is preparing to sleep for the first time in days.

“I just want to know I matter.”

“You matter to me,” the older man laughs. “I’d die of boredom if you weren’t here.”

“Yeah. Real helpful.” The engineering rubs his eyes and traces a circuit diagram from memory. 

The gent is mesmerized for a moment. “Stay awake, friend. I need the company.”

His head tilts to the side; round wire-framed glasses fall to the floor. The elevator light dims and the people fade away. The glass appears almost frosted and the smell of smoke all but overpowers him. Worse is the heat of what could only be called superfire. The rubble of a monolith weighing down on the tiny car in such a precarious fashion, the engineer had already given up

His eyes droop shut and the man tries one more time. “Hey buddy, you gotta stay awake. This thing isn’t looking too good…”

“The… Wha?” The engineer’a hand stops tracing. For a moment he is paralyzed. But he quickly goes limp, then blackness follows.

An electronic pulse brings him back from the darkness. The medical machines attached seem simple enough. He checks for all his limbs. “One, two, three, four…” A deep inhale and one more spot to check. “Five. Thank God.” He sighs heavily and hits the bed. 

The doctor comes in a few minutes later. She explains that the building was attacked by an alien warcraft of all things.

“You must have a guardian angel. You had four pieces of rebar in you and… Well the medical term is a ‘crapload’ of glass throughout your torso and legs.”

The kid ran his fingers through his hair. The gesture calmed his mind

 His mental clarity increased as he became aware of the medicated haze blocking his mind.

“What about the older guy? Did he survive?”

“Listen, there were a lot of bodies here today. More specific.”

“Damnit man, the guy who was I’m the elevator with me!”

The doctor paused a split-second before snapping at the man. She raised an eyebrow and tilted her head at him, almost like a curious dog.

“Sir, you were the only one in the elevator.”

“No way. This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. grey moustache? Pakistani guy maybe?” 

“Sir, your brain probably just created him as a coping mechanism. It happens, especially to people who have fears of dying alone.”

“Oh..” the engineer ponders. “The brain can do that?”

She works on his chart seemingly oblivious to his oresence,”Yep.”

“Oh…wild.”

“Yeah,” she looks up and gleams a smile. “Its cool, isn’t it? I’ll be back to check on you in fifteen minutes!”

She strides out of the room a proud lionness in charge of her life. He lies in a bed, unable to do anything but watch tv. Then he remembers that actually attacked and he’d much rather experience it vicariously from this point on.

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