Moving to a new city has its fair share of problems. Finding good housing is one of those problems. I had faced this problem up till a month ago. At that point, I was flat hunting. Luckily, I did not have to hunt for long. I found a flat in a good locality which was not too far from my workplace. The flat felt cozy and had a great sea-side view. The owner was a cheery old man. The only rule he set up for the flat was that I would have to pay for any damages I caused. Otherwise I was free to do what I wanted within the flat. I thought that was the end of my housing problem. I was wrong.
My flat was on the 11th floor of the building. I agree I like to stay fit. But, the thought of climbing eleven floors never crossed my mind. The elevator was the only option for me. The elevator used a double gate system. The outer gate was a metal door with a small window at the top, allowing a person standing outside to look in and vice versa. The inner gate was a scissor gate. The elevator did not move unless the inner gate and outer gate were both closed. I was settling into my new job as well. There wasn’t a lot of workload, but I generally take my time to get used to a new environment. So, I used to end up coming late every night from work and after work dinner parties. My new flat was treating me well too. No leaks, no pests and no other bad surprises. However, three weeks ago was when the weird incidents started happening.
It was a Friday night, which meant that it was booze night. I had had my regular share of beers and was mildly buzzing by the time I got back. The night had grown late – 1am. My friends dropped me outside my building and I stepped in after waving them goodnight. I pressed the button for the lift. After it arrived, I opened the outer gate and was met with a familiar high pitched female voice saying
“Please close the door.”
I slid open the inner gate and stepped inside.
”Please close the door.”
My buzzing mind was finding this voice highly irritating.
“Please close the door.”
“Yea, yea, you dumb hag.”
I pulled the outer door and slid the inner gate back into the closed position. I pressed the button for the 11th floor and waited back. The annoying voice finally stopped and the lift began moving. My head was buzzing really hard now. I shifted my attention the LCD display that showed the floor number. Having nothing better to do I decided to count out the floor numbers.
The lift had halted at five. The female voice started speaking again
“Please open the door.”
I was not sure whether I heard that correctly. Did the voice say open instead of close, or was it the beer finally finishing its job? I started to feel very cold and a sense of uneasiness came over me. I decided to brush the feeling off. The lift had halted but no one entered the lift. I pressed the 11th floor button again. The lift resumed its climb and halted at my floor. I walked up to my flat, unlocked the door and settled into my bed. I decided to call it a night.
A couple of days went by without incident. I woke up in the morning, got ready for work and left my house. As I neared the outer gate of the lift, I noticed a sign put up on it. The sign read:
‘Lift is closed for maintenance. Please use the stairs.
Inconvenience is regretted.
I muttered a few curses and rushed towards the staircase. Now, my building had no main staircase. It only had an emergency staircase. On every floor, a door connected the floor to the staircase. I pushed the door open and began my long dash down the stairs. As I reached the fifth floor, I was almost out of breath. I agree, my fitness level was not what it once used to be. I noticed something peculiar. The door that led to the staircase was barricaded shut. This was weird. I figured there was an alternate staircase for the lower floors or something. I was in a hurry so I decided to not dwell on the peculiarity. However, as I reached the fourth floor, I noticed it had a normal functioning door. The same held true for the remaining three floors. I thought it was really strange. I realized I had to get to office and decided to focus on that.
I got back early from work that evening. I was admiring my building basking in the setting sun when I noticed it. All the windows on the fifth floor were barricaded as well. I had never noticed this before. Or maybe I had, but had ignored it. Now, the entire situation seemed very peculiar. The lift stopping there, the change of statement and now the door and windows being barricaded, I had a feeling it was all connected. I decided to ask my watchman about it.
“Baburao, is the lift functioning now?”
“No sir. It will restart from tomorrow morning for sure.”
“Oh! Baburao, tell me this. Who lives on the fifth floor?”
The watchman gave me a very puzzled look.
“Sir, no one lives on the fifth floor. It has been empty for five years. In fact, it has been sealed shut.”
(To be continued…)