Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The fifth floor

 The Fifth floor.


I was appointed as the new night watchman of the building a week back. I was slowly getting adjusted to my new surroundings. This apartment provided me a small room to sleep, a fan where is sit and also a good salary. I could manage with this for at least a couple of years. The past few years was a struggle for me, I did both day and night duties at various places ranging from the small local motels to the five star hotels. And I couldn’t stay there for more than three months, it was mostly the salary but sometimes it was the working conditions. It was too much work load for an old man in his early seventies, I couldn’t carry heavy bags for my celebrity owners and residents, I couldn’t wash their cars daily. My diabetes and hypertension was also getting worse. So I needed to settle in this job in a quiet apartment like this, less work and good pay.
So my daily night routine went like this. After 1200 I switched on the generator for the whole night so that owners wouldn’t experience any power cuts in the middle of the night. Then I had to switch on the floor lights situated between the floors and for that I had to walk through the stair and turn them on manually at each floor. The apartment was old and the technology was still not up to the mark.
So I finished turning on the generator. Now it was time to do the floor lights.
I was happy about this task, it helped me with the diabetes. My doctor had advised me to walk at least for half hour daily and this task came up to around twenty-five minutes. I was more than happy about it.
For the first floor, the switch was situated along the stairs leading to the second floor. It was like that for every floor.
I was walking the stairs leading to the fifth floor when suddenly I heard a loud bang on the door.
It was from the fifth floor. I slowly peaked as I reached the fifth. There was no one there. The door of the two flats were closed. The door lights of one of the flats was on. According to the records there was no one supposed to be living in this floor. The owners of the two flats were living abroad and visited this place only twice a year. 
Then again, a loud bang on the door. It was sudden and I didn’t expect it again. I jumped back almost tripping down.
It was quiet for a few seconds, when the light slowly started to dim. The banging started continuously and louder. The lights began to flicker.
I ran for my life. I reached the ground floor within a few seconds. I never knew I could run so fast.

After last night, I came up with a plan. I would switch on the generator and then, till the fourth floor I would go by stairs. Then I would take the elevator to the sixth floor and come down to the stair to switch the lights on for the fifth floor. I could have left it off, since the floor was empty but then the owners of the sixth floor would have problems. I didn’t want to cause any trouble. I needed this job.
I was feeling lazy, so I decided to take the elevator from the second floor itself.
But to my surprise, there was someone in it.
“Hello ma’am” I greeted her as I got in. It was Miss Rathi. She stayed at the sixth floor on rent. She works as a senior marketing manager for an online shopping site as she recently lost her husband to cancer.
“Heavy work now as we are heading to launch some new categories.” She said.
“Oh…….” I didn’t understand the ecommerce/online world. How can people shop without felling it? I can never imagine it. People have started trusting the computers so much that they pay for it even before they get it.
But something caught my eye. She wasn’t going to the sixth floor. She had pressed for the fifth. I blinked and saw again. Number 5 button was lit in red.
Rathi wasn’t there in the lift.
Damn……the lift was moving up to the fourth floor.
I was trapped in it. The lights inside went off.
I switched my torchlight immediately.
My hands were shaking, legs were trembling. I kept looking all around the elevator. Being alone in a dark elevator was terrifying enough, and this was enough to cause a heart attack. I had lost a lot of salt through my sweat and was starting to feel a bit dizzy. I hadn’t eaten much today.
But I held on.
Fifth floor.
I held the torch with both hands firmly. I was ready to swing it. The door slowly opened. I swung my torch lights blindly with my eyes closed. It was just a swing at the air.
There was no one there. And the lights of the elevator came on.
That was very relieving. I wiped the sweat off my forehead.
I was done for the day. I pressed G.
The doors closed and I leaned against the door trying to calm myself.
I looked at the mirror when I noticed something hanging on the ceiling of the elevator.

It was Rathi, hanging upside down from the ceiling with a wide smile across her face. The lights went off. The elevator stopped.


Breath

Breath. His face cuddled between his hunched legs, gasping. His lungs demanded more as he desperately changed maneuvers. His hands...