Note: I'm not the author of this story. I've translated it from original Japanese into English. Please do NOT copy and paste it somewhere else on the web without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation.
Apparently, according to the Building Standard Act or something you have to install an elevator in the building of five stories or more (maybe it was six stories or more. I forgot).
So the apartment block along the highway where I used to live also had an elevator.
I lived on the 6th floor and almost never used the stairs. Well, everyone on my floor did the same, I think.
I was totally dependent on the elevator. The stairs are fine when you are going down but no good when you are going up.
But these days, although I know walking up the stairs is hard, I use the stairs only.
One weekday around noon I had no classes at college, so I thought I would go out and buy a lunch at the nearest convinience store.
Like always, I was going to use the elevator to get down.
The elevator at the time was stopping on the 8th floor and I guessed someone else must be getting off or in.
I pressed the button and waited for it to come down.
When the door opened I saw one middle-aged woman inside. I often saw her around so she must have been a resident on the 8th floor.
I gave her a small bow and got in. The 1st-floor button had already been pressed.
The elevator stopped again on the 4th floor, and a delivery man got in. It looked like we were all going down to the 1st floor.
The elevator suddenly jolted and stopped between the 3rd and the 2nd floor. For a moment I felt gravity weighing down on me.
All three of us looked at one another.
What's happening? Broken? Not a power failure. There was nothing wrong with the lights inside the elevator.
"What...do you think has happened?"
I mumbled. The woman and the delivery man were both looking as puzzled as I was. We waited for a while but the elevator showed no sign of moving.
The delivery man was the first to spring into action. He pressed the button for the emergency phone. But we got no responses.
"I wonder what on earth is happening?"
He echoed my question.
We all fell silent. If we had a mind to measure the time the silence lasted, it wouldn't have been more than three minutes; but it was long enough to make us feel nervous and agitated.
All of us were beginning to fidget again when all of a sudden the elevator started working again.
The woman gasped in surprise. It was a bit of a shock to me too, because it just started moivng without a warning.
Even though the only button that had been pressed was the 1st-floor button, somehow it was not going down. It was going up.
It went past the 4th floor, then the 5th, and then the 6th....
Finally it stopped on the 7th floor and the door opened. I eyed the opening with suspicion.
Really, what's the hell is happening?
"I think it's unstable."
The woman said, as she stepped off the elevator.
"Yeah. It definitely seems unstable. We'd better use the stairs to get down. You never know what might happen next."
The delivery man agreed and he too got off.
"That might be the best option."
I agreed with them wholeheartedly. We were able to get out now but we might not be so lucky the next time. We could get stuck inside for a long time, or worse still get injured as a result of the malfunction.
That wouldn't be very pleasant.
I felt I could no longer trust it to take me safely down and I almost made up my mind to follow them.
Something is wrong.
The scenery I saw was familiar enough; the 7th floor of the apartment that looked pretty much the same as the floor where I lived.
But it was too dark. Not one light was on. No source of illumination whatsoever. I could barely see the end of the corridor.
So is it a power failure after all? I thought, and turned around. But the elevator itself was aglow with lights, making it look out of place with the rest of the surrounding.
Of course. The elevator was malfunctioning but it was still moving. We couldn't be having a power failure. I don't know what, but something is wrong.
With an unsettling feeling inside, I next shifted my eyes to the scenery outside of the apartment.
What's the hell...?
The sky was red. It looked like the sky either at dawn or dusk. But it wasn't the time of day for either of those. I also saw no sun or clouds.
The vivid crimson red somehow made my skin crawl.
Next I looked at the highway. It was dark... no, all black. I saw only black buildings and black highway silhouetted against the sky.
Like inside of the apartment there was no source of light to be seen anywhere.
Not only that, but I heard no usual, loud, unpleasant sounds of cars from the highway.
Dead silence. I could hear absolutely no sounds.
I also saw no movements. I don't know how to express it, but I felt there was nothing "alive" about the scenery I was seeing.
Only the sky was vividly red. The red-and-black world.
I quickly glanced back inside the elevator once more. The elevator looked as brightly aglow as before.
I had only a few seconds to decide. The doors began to close.
Wait. Think again. Should I get off or stay inside.....?
The doors closed.
This time nothing out of ordinary happened and the elevator descended smoothly down to the 1st floor.
The doors opened and I saw the usual scenery. People walking, cars driving. The sounds of life. It was noon outside. Just an ordinary, everyday life scenery.
I sighed with relief. I'm safe now ― that was the immediate thought which darted across my mind. I got off.
When I had sufficiently calmed down I began to worry about the other two.
I waited for them at the bottom of the stairs.
But no matter how long I waited they didn't show up.
I waited for a good 15 minutes but no one was coming down. They couldn't have taken that long to come down the stairs.
I got completely freaked out. I sprinted to the outside. I didn't want to stay there any longer.
Ever since that day I have develped a phobia for elevators.
Now I've moved to a different apartment and I use the stairs whenever I need to go up or down the floors.
The stairs are "continuous with the ground" so I won't have to worry about suddenly finding myself transported to another world without noticing it.
But the elevator is different. That thing is a gateway to another world. At least that's what I think.
I'll never, ever get into an elevator again.