You press the faded black button and wait for the elevator, the numbers above the door counting down slowly. When it arrives with a quiet ding, you step inside the metallic box and press the number 10 with an impatient jab of your finger. The doors judder and slide closed, closing you in.
That’s when you notice movement out of the corner of your eye—a man slips in just as the doors creak shut. You sneak a glance at him. He’s tall with tousled brown hair, wearing a slate gray suit with no tie. His suit jacket is slung over one arm, shirtsleeves rolled up to the elbows.
You both grasp the handrail and face forward quietly as the elevator starts to climb. Out of nowhere, you feel it jolt violently before coming to an ominous, grinding halt between the 7th and 8th floors. The metallic groan trails off into silence.
You look upwards, eyes darting around the small space. The floor number is frozen stubbornly on 7.
You exchange nervous glances with the handsome man, swallowing down the strange blend of thrill and anxiety from this unexpected confinement. You try the emergency phone—dead. You both rattle the doors and shout for help until your voices go hoarse. After more attempts to pry open the door fail, you both slump against the walls. With no way of knowing if anyone heard, discouragement sinks in. After a moment, the man clears his throat.
“Well, this is unfortunate,” he mutters, staring up at the panel of unlit buttons. His voice is low and raspy. He runs a hand through his hair before turning to you. “Might as well get comfortable,” he offers an easy grin at odds with your dire predicament. “I’m Jack.”
“Sam,” you reply automatically with a tentative smile. His hazel eyes meet yours for a lingering moment. You hope the heat you feel rising in your cheeks isn’t visible.
Jack sighs heavily and sinks down to sit on the floor, leaning against the faux wood paneling. You remain standing uncertainly for a few more seconds before lowering yourself down across from him, knees tucked up to your chest.
You both eye the useless emergency phone for a few silent minutes, dread creeping into your minds about how long you might be trapped. Jack pulls out his smartphone and grimaces. “No signal,” he mutters before stuffing it back into his pocket.
The air already feels warmer. Still, you rub your bare arms with the palms of your hands, trying to soothe your rising nerves. Trying not to think about how quickly this metal box could turn into an oven.
“Are you cold?” Jack asks, misreading your discomfort. “Here,” he offers, draping his jacket around your bare shoulders before you can respond. The flex of obvious muscle beneath his shirt and veined forearms make you catch your breath for a second. Stop ogling him, you scold yourself, glancing away.