“If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the up button.”
Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas
I have been feeling in a deep hopeless rut lately, and I’m sure a lot of you have too. After writing another Sunday Snippet I decided to set an ambitious goal for myself. I’ll write a short piece of fiction every day and put it up here. Obviously, quality will vary – you get what you get. Length too – I’ll have to write something short on busy days. They will be raw first drafts and full of errors.
I’m not sure how long I can keep it up… I do write quickly, but coming up with an idea every day will be a difficult challenge. So far so good. Maybe a hundred in a row might be a good, achievable, and tough goal.
Here’s another one for today (#99) Almost There! What do you think? Any comments, criticism, insults, ideas, prompts, abuse … anything is welcome. Feel free to comment or contact me.
Thanks for reading.
Elevator to Nowhere
Mitah and her brother Nutmeg walked up to an elaborate set of doors. The doors themselves were square and as black as the walls surrounding them, only in a dull finish instead of the glossy one that the walls boasted. Surrounding the doors was a gold relief of a pair of trees, their bare branches intertwining above the doors.
She looked at Nutmeg, who nodded.
She inserted the small golden key into the trunk of the right tree and turned it to the right.
The doors dinged open and Mitah and Nutmeg both stared at the room behind the doors. There was a tiny room, which would hold no more than ten small beings easily. It had black walls that gleamed; Mitah could almost count the hairs on her feline ears in that reflection. The floor was a red carpet matching the one they now stood on.
“I suppose we have to go in there.” Nutmeg said.
“Yes, we have a job. We were asked to learn where this key went, and we’ve gotten this far.” Mitah said.
Nutmeg nodded in agreement, and they both stepped into the elevator. Mitah turned back to the doors when she entered and spotted the control panel. There was only one button and it had no writing on it. She looked briefly at Nutmeg before pressing the button.
The doors shut with a ding and the elevator stared moving, carrying them upward.
“Look.” Nutmeg said, and Mitah followed his gaze up above the doors, there was a digital readout that normally announced what floor they were passing, this one only had a red glowing question mark.
“That’s comforting.” Mitah said dryly.
Nutmeg chuckled a bit.
“Best be ready for anything.” Mitah said, her hand moving to rest on her gun and Nutmeg followed suit.
Mitah really had no idea what to expect. They had been introduced to their client on the Alliance’s capital world of Arcturus Prime and he had given them a key.
“This key opens something in the Omnu Hotel, I do not know what, but as I am… how shall we put this? No longer welcome there. I am at a loss on finding a way to learn what.”
Mitah wanted to know how he had come about this key and what he had done, but her professionalism dictated her to keep her mouth shut. She did not need those details to complete the job. After some scouting she and Nutmeg had determined that the elevator doors were the only possibility. Some fancy tampering with the security video had erased their presence around the elevator, but as they had no idea where it lead they would have to play it safe when they arrived at their destination.
Mitah felt the elevator slow and motioned Nutmeg to go to the other side of the door, Mitah pulling up the hood on her jacket, masking her face and distinctive hair and ears, Nutmeg following suit. She pulled her gun out of its holster and readied it, just in case there was an armed unit waiting for them.
The doors opened, and Mitah carefully peered around the edge of the door. She did not see anyone, but she saw cameras. The corridor was wide and long, in a similar style of the rest of the building. It had several large pillars, and Mitah counted six side doors plus one at the very end of the hallway. She did not see any guards, though they likely knew they were there.
Mitah knew they could not hide in the elevator forever so she motioned to Nutmeg that it was time to move. He lead the way and Mitah followed him, ready for anything. The elevator doors slid shut behind her silently, but that silence did not last long, a klaxon sounded, making her jump, her fur standing on end.
Mitah swore and her gun snapped up from her side. The first two doors opened and revealed four circular battle drones. The drones started shooting at them.
They both launched themselves behind the pillars and started returning fire. Most of their shots went wide, but a few hit their marks and quickly the bot’s shielding wore off and they were just heaps of smoking twisted metal.
Mitah motioned forward and together she and Nutmeg checked the rooms that the bots had come out of. They were small and did not hold any more drones.
They moved on approaching the next set of doors warily.
Suddenly Mitah spoke, “Wait.”
She knelt down and examined the air and a momentary glint caught her eye. She had been right.
“Tripwire,” Mitah said.
Nutmeg nodded and started examining higher up, as did Mitah to make sure there were no additional wires. They found several, all at different heights and distances. Carefully they wove through them.
Once they cleared the wires they moved on cautiously, keeping a close eye out for any additional traps. Mitah scanned every direction, but realized too late to keep an eye on the carpet beneath them as the floor gave slightly.
“Nutmeg, move!” She called out as she launched herself into a roll.
Just as she came back there was a blinding flash of light, and she cried out in pain as it painfully jabbed into her eyes, even after they had instinctively shut. It was gone as fast as it had come. Mitah staggered to the side, unable to see, the world dark.
“Nutmeg?” She asked, wondering where he was. She could not hear his breathing.
She stared walking around, patting the air, trying to find one of the walls, praying that she did not trip any traps while blinded. There came a thumping sound from her right, she veered that way. Her vision was returning slowly. She was glad her vision was coming back, but still worried about Nutmeg.
Mitah tried calling out his name again and this time she heard a faint response coming from before her, the same direction as the thumps. Her hands met a wall, one that she did not remember being there, or had she gotten confused on which direction she was facing? She was not sure.
“Mitah!” She heard Nutmeg say, his voice muffled.
“Nutmeg! Where are you?” Mitah asked, blinking furiously, willing her vision to return faster, vague shapes appearing before her.
“Here! Quick, there’s some kind of gas…” Nutmeg said, sounding closer, but still muffled.
“Gas?” Mitah said to herself, she did not smell anything. “Where are you? I don’t smell anything.”
“Behind the wall, I wasn’t fast enough.” Nutmeg’s voice came weakly.
There had been a double trap, Mitah realized. She took a step back and pointed her gun at the wall.
“Nutmeg, duck.” She said and aimed as well as her limited vision allowed.
She let loose a shot. Her blaster’s bolt hit the floor to ceiling wall, but instead of damaging the wall like she had hopped it ricocheted off. Mitah dropped to the floor mentally cursing herself. Her bolt blackened a section of the carpet in the middle of the hallway.
Mitah stood up, vision significantly clearer and holstered her gun. She brought her hands up before her chest and focused on them, calling forth her innate fire. It glowed between her hands and she let it build there, her eyes squinted against the additional light, still not fully recovered. Once she had a decent fireball, she launched it at the wall. It hit and spread, the glass fracturing under the heat. The carpet started smoking, but did not catch fire. Mitah launched another fireball at the same spot, this time breaking through. A large section of the glass wall shattered, falling to the ground.
The gas that had claimed Nutmeg filtered through to her side and she took a deep breath of clean air before going through the opening she had created and hauling Nutmeg out. She took him as far away from the opening as she dared, and checked his vitals.
Nutmeg was still alive, still breathing, but unconscious.
Mitah looked at the three remaining doors, wondering what they might hold, hoping that whatever they were looking for had not been behind the last two, which remained shut behind the cloud of gas. She would have to act quickly, the gas was still leaking out of the hole she had created and she did not want to test how potent it was.
Mitah could not see any differences between the three doors so she picked one at random, going with the one closest to herself and Nutmeg. She opened it and let it swing the rest of the way open by itself.
“I see you’ve found me.” A familiar voice said from within the room.
Mitah looked into the room. It was an office. A large spacious office, with a familiar alien sitting behind a large desk, grinning at her.
“Congratulations. You pass my test.” He said.
Mitah’s tail twitched in confusion and she looked between him and Nutmeg, who was still unconscious.
“Bring him in, it will wear off soon enough. “ He said.
Mitah did as she was asked, still both annoyed and confused.
“What was the point of all that?” Mitah asked.
“Why it was just a test, I have a difficult mission for you, and now that you have passed I will tell you more about it.” He said, holding out his hand and motioning.
Mitah realized that he wanted the key, and she gave it to him, wondering where his real mission would take them.