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The International Writers Magazine
:Note *Adult Fiction about shopping...

The Elevator
Sam Barnes
Can you hear me?
Shit. I hope you can hear me. I cannot see my hands in front of my face, and I can barely hear my own voice. When I do speak, my voice is reflected back at me, close, like when I used to hide in the closet as a child. Is it the same for you?

It is pitch black all around me, as if the sun has been extinguished in the sky. But the blackness is so utterly enveloping. I suppose a better way to describe it would be an absence of anything; shape, form, colour, even time. I cannot sense anything around me, and even the ground under my feet feels ‘distant’, like walking on the padded crash mats used in gymnasiums. It is not hot or cold, and there is no smell of any kind. What I would give for the scent of a rose, or fresh cut grass.

It all began at lunchtime, when I set out from my office to do a spot of shopping. To be honest I didn’t really need anything. I just thought I would look around, and see if anything caught my fancy. I wondered off Oxford street, and saw this new department store that had just opened. It was inside a futurist tower block, made from glass and steel.

So I enter through the revolving doors on the ground floor, and there’s barely a soul in sight. An old lady browsing the discounted cardigans, a few staff pottering about, trying to look busy. Of course, as with most department stores, the first floor was taken up mostly with women’s fashion. (These places know their market well.)

I stroll over the pristine wooden flooring, which smelt of fresh wax, to the floor plan which is neatly framed next to the elevator: Ground Floor - Ladies Fashion, Second Floor - Ladies Fashion. My eyes skimmed the plan. Eighth Floor - Audio and Video. It looked promising. Something worth wasting my precious lunch hour on.
I punched the upwards arrow, and waited impatiently until the stainless steel doors slid open with a ping. I stood aside to let a woman out before stepping inside. She was heavily pregnant judging by the bulge in her stomach. No one else with time to waste like I had, how lucky. I had the whole elevator to myself. I pushed the button for floor eight, and stood in silence, as the inertia of upwards motion pushed my feet into the floor.

What I would give now, to have stayed in the office and eaten my own poorly prepared sandwiches.

The doors opened on floor eight, and I roamed around the stereo section playing around with a top of the range Bang and Olufsen. No price. Probably couldn’t have afforded it anyway, but I though I should ask, just to look as though I was a serious customer. Like the ground floor, the audio and video section was devoid of people. And there were no staff around to answer my vein query. Looking about, I saw boxes of unopened stock ready to be unpacked and displayed. I went to the checkout. The till was on, with the display prompting a potential user to "enter password", but no one around to do so. I sighed. My watch already read ‘one fifteen’, and I decided to give up and settle for a game of table football in the staff room. I headed back to the elevator, which to my pleasant surprise, had not been summoned to a different floor. The doors were wide open, inviting me inside.

Just as I was about to make my way out of the store never to return again, I noticed a button where the ninth floor should have been. It read "SEX" in bold red letters illuminated from behind. Finally, something that might provide some entertainment to my otherwise dreary day.

Perhaps it was a separate store renting the cheaper office space above a commercial giant, or maybe it was a daring marketing venture to give the store a radical image. If it was, it worked. Table football could wait until another day, I decided, SEX was at least worth a one time visit.

The doors swished open at the SEX floor, and the heavy scent of jasmine incense filled my nostrils. It was an aroma one might encounter in a shop full of wicker furniture, and hand made cushions. Swathes of crimson silk sashes hung from the ceiling, forming a kind of corridor which led down a central isle. A female voice, faintly moaning was just audible. I walked along the thick shag pile carpet which covered the floor, and the moaning got louder. This must definitely be a separate shop, I decided.

At the far end of the silk corridor, there was a lavish four poster bed with more red silk draped over the sides to form a kind barrier. This was where the gentle melody came from. And to my surprise, there was the silhouette of a woman, naked and moving around slowly. Through the gap in the side of the drape, I caught a glimpse of her face; eyes closed in ecstasy. This is a very clever marketing ploy I thought, as I felt myself grow hard. My heart began to thump away in excitement, and my palms grew sweaty. What ever this place was selling didn’t matter, I would definitely spend some time here.

I approached the bed with some hesitation, not knowing if the erotic show was a piece of performance art, or if indeed the shop was actually open for business. But my fascination got the better of me and I pulled on the white nylon chord, raising the flamboyant drape, like the curtain at the beginning of a film.

The woman’s nubile form quivered and stretched, feet sliding around slowly making waves in the sheets. But her eyes remained closed as if in a dream. I could almost feel the warmth of her breath, as it rolled with its sweet fragrance from her parted ruby lips. Long hair was splayed out wildly from her head, mostly static like a sea anemone. Her manicured hands grabbed handfuls of fabric and released it, in long spasms. My eyes rolled over her body, unconsciously, defying my brain that was telling them not to. I consider myself to be a fairly ‘modern’ man, but a very ancient impulse was captivating me in a way that I could not control. I watched with yearning, as her back arched thrusting forth her breasts, nipples poking out erect as I was. And finally my gaze fell upon her hips, softly flexing and cradling a small strip of wispy black fur.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this. I don’t even know you. I suppose if I stop talking for an extended period I might even cease to exist. (So might you if you stopped listening to me) It is beginning to dawn on me that there might well be no way out of here. Generally I try not to be a pessimist, but under the circumstances it seems like a sensible conclusion. Don’t you agree? I’ll continue with my story now. My apologies for pressing it upon you, but I am guessing that if you can hear me, it will provide you with a small source of comfort.
Where was I? Ah, yes.

I was standing, captivated by this incredibly beautiful woman, who was apparently oblivious to my presence in this strange ‘shop’. By then, all theories about marketing had vacated my mind. Her eyes flicked open, as though she had just woken, and she looked at me with a weak smile. She released a handful of cloth, and reached over to rub the bulge in my trousers. Her eyes transfixed me for some time, as I felt her exploring my penis with her curious fingers. A fire in my loins, trickled into my blood and quickly spread throughout my body. I removed my clothing and she gently pulled me onto the bed. We rubbed and touched, and nibbled for a while before I flipped over onto my back, and let her help me pollinate her wet flower. She sat astride me, rocking her pelvis from front to back, her torso swaying. The feeling was divine.

We were intimate for some time, and afterwards not a word was said. I looked around the room, and noticed some daffodils arranged in a slender green vase. When I looked back she was gone.
At the time it seemed perfectly normal, but in retrospect, I should have known something wasn’t right. I lounged in a warm afterglow, until it occurred to me that another customer might come at any time. The twin steel doors would slide back and I would be exposed, naked, and possibly arrested. I pulled on my clothes and noticed my watch. It was ‘two twenty’. I was already over my lunch hour, though the elicit encounter more than made up for this.

I hurried back passed the brushed suede furniture, thinking of excuses.
As the elevator’s doors clicked shut, I was not entirely surprised to see another new button which I hadn’t noticed before. It said MONEY in alluring green letters. It was above the SEX floor, where the tenth floor should have been. I looked at my watch again and decided sudden sickness might be the most plausible excuse, and would explain my continued absence. As crazy as this sounds, by then, curiosity had overcome sense. I depressed the money button and eagerly waited to be carried upwards.

As I stepped out into a lavish high-ceiling drawing room, the first thing I noticed was a large grand piano. A Steinway, positioned near a roaring fire place. The flames from the fire reflected in the piano’s polished ebony finish. There were renaissance artworks hung at intervals around the walls with intricate guilt frames. A TV was switched on in one corner, but no one was there to watch it. I sat down at the Steinway, and tried out a few notes. The sound was rich and resonant, and the action smooth. Looking over the long body of the instrument, I saw a bar area in the far corner. I went across to the glass counter which was stocked with a vast array of spirits and mixers. I took a crystal tumbler and chipped some pieces of ice into it, pouring myself a large Jack Daniels. ‘Must have to pay for this later’ I thought, ‘at the main counter.’

Over by the TV, there was a chaise lounge, upholstered with sky blue velvet. There was also a large flower arrangement, with pristine white lilies and grasses. I loosened my tie, and lay back sipping at the whiskey. There was a TV program about Iceland, with sweeping helicopter shots of ancient ice fields, and a commentary about the aurora borealis, I switched it off. Behind me I heard a now familiar ping. The woman from the SEX floor came into the room, she had donned an elegant silver evening dress. She came over, took my drink and sat opposite me, on a mature leather sofa.

We sat for a while in silence, and she peered at me over the glass, which she cradled with both hands to her mouth. Her eyes twinkled. I didn’t know if the scent which I caught came from her or the flowers, but I guessed it was her.
"Why did you come here?" She asked. She had a vague Scottish accent.
"I was just…on my lunch break, wanted to do some shopping." I replied. "Anyway, after the SEX floor, I couldn’t stop could I?"
"No, you couldn’t," she agreed. "You came here because you had nothing better to do, didn’t you?" She didn’t wait for my answer. "You thought you could brighten up your life a little, and forget your job for a while."
"Yes, I suppose." I wasn’t exactly sure where she was leading. "But the Audio Visual section was very dull, I was about to go back when…"
"When you noticed SEX?"
"That’s right."
"I don’t blame you" She said "lots of people come to SEX for relief from office boredom. They can forget everything, at least for a while. By the way, aren’t you going to be late?" She smiled thinly "Its such a shame, you’re the same as all the others."
"What others, I.."
"You come to SEX, and then you notice MONEY. And now you’re here, you’ll never go back will you? Why should you when you have this lovely apartment, and everything else you need in this massive store."
"I don’t understand, this isn’t my apartment, I just came here to have a look." Her cryptic way of speaking was beginning to irritate me, even if we had just shared skin. "Anyway, even if I did live here I couldn’t just take things from the store."
Her smile broke into a sob "I was hoping you would be different. But I knew somehow that you wouldn’t. You came to me, like so many others, wanting some kind of release. But all you got was a temporary fix, like an addict pricking his arms."
"I had no idea the SEX floor was here at all, in fact I didn’t notice it until I was in the elevator. I’m going to pay for that drink, and get back to work." I stood up and placed my hand on her shoulder. "I’m sorry if I upset you. I…don’t know what I was thinking…"
But she didn’t seem to hear me. "Just like the rest. There’s no going back now, don’t you see? I’m sorry you came here, so sorry." She was beginning to baffle me.
"What rest, I don’t see anyone else here?"
She looked at me with a numb stare, a tear trickled from the corner of her eye. I had the feeling she was biting her tongue, but the whole scene was beginning to freak me out too much to stick around any longer.
"OK. I am going to go back, right now. This is by far the weirdest fucking lunch break I have ever had." I marched across the room to the elevator and looked back. "Take care," I said.

I punched the button for the ground floor and sighed in frustration. What had started out as a fascinating discovery, had turned into a head fuck. What on earth was she talking about: ‘No going back’ and ‘just like the others’?
In no way did I regret not getting her number

Now my friend, I know exactly what she was talking about, and I think you do too. The elevator didn’t stop at the ground floor, but continued downwards to what should have been Basement Floor 1. Instead the button had some big black letters written on it. The button illuminated just before the doors opened, drowning me with darkness. It said DEATH.

© Sam Barnes Nov 2004

Sam Barnes is an English teacher and writer from the UK, who currently resides in Japan. His interests include philosophy, and cultural analysis.

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