“Go down by yourself,” his father said. “You’re twelve years old already. Just go.”
The boy’s heart quickened and his hands grew cold as he approached the elevator. He stopped, pretending the fidget with some imagined object, and glanced back, but his father had turned away to look at watches. The boy didn’t want to go alone. He wished he could just cry for his dad to take him, but he was long past that age and felt shame at the thought. His bladder complained and he clenched the muscle between his legs. He reached out and pressed the call button.
His face was stretched out in the shiny steel doors and his eyes were vacant black holes. He moved his head slightly from side to side, unsure for a moment whether the reflection was his. He jumped when the face split and the doors slid open. The elevator was empty. It was a small steel car with shiny walls and a beige floor. There wasn’t a spot of darkness to be seen. The boy swung one foot forward, over the crack beyond which yawned the bottomless shaft, and gingerly placed it inside. He slowly applied his weight. The elevator did not tremble, did not yield. He brought himself all the way inside and stood stock-still. The car did not rock. It was just like another room. The doors whispered shut.
He turned to the bank of buttons which he’d only ever been allowed to press at his father’s direction, and smiled. The smile was stretched and reflected back at him. He pressed the number 1 and moved towards the side. There was a bar there that he could hold onto. As the elevator began to descend, he clenched it and gritted his teeth, but he was still smiling.
After a second he stepped out into the middle of the car. He planted his feet in a broad stance and felt the elevator’s power in his legs. His stomach turned but the feeling was delightful. He wondered how long it would take to make the drop from 2 to 1 and what it would feel like to ride back up. He hoped there wouldn’t be anyone in the car when he got back on.
Then something was wrong. The light flickered, and though it seemed to return to full brightness, the car seemed darker. The warped shadows reflected in the walls around him suddenly seemed more present, more prominent, and his stomach turned again and it was terrible. He looked straight ahead and couldn’t see his face.
The shadows in the walls expanded and met one another. The boy pulled his arms to his sides and closed his fists. He heard a pitiful, childlike noise come from his mouth. The walls were swimming with blackness, not a true blackness but more like a fog which could be hiding things, and was. He saw movement in it.
“Daddy,” he pleaded.
A boy stood in the wall before him, a hazy green-colored boy with holes instead of eyes. The boy had hair like his and a shirt like his but he didn’t have eyes and when his mouth opened, it was full of ugly sharp teeth and his smile was a mean, hungry thing.
The elevator doors opened on the first floor. It was empty.