Short Story | ‘Going Up!’ by Martin Hooijmans, Illustration by Lars de Ruyter
“Come on, Fred, it’ll be fun!”
Fred looked down at his shining armor and was quite confident it wouldn’t be. The elevator lobby was filled with people like him and Shirley, dressed like they were attending some huge carnival. There were people in tin foil suits, cavemen, Roman soldiers and Fred could’ve sworn he’d seen someone dressed like an alien.
“Why do you want to go back in time anyway?” he said.
Shirley threw him a frown. “Fred, we’ve talked about this. You wanted a simple life, so you’re getting one.”
All six elevator doors opened simultaneously, inviting the next group of people in. As applause rang throughout the lobby, Fred caught another glimpse of the alien, frantically waving as he entered an elevator by himself, probably bound for an alien-invested future Earth. “He’ll be chewed up in seconds,” Fred muttered.
“What?” Shirley asked.
“I said I can’t wait.”
“That’s more like it! Looks like we’re next.”
As the doors closed, the couple indeed found themselves at the front of the queue. A surly-faced attendant stepped forward. “Ticket?” he grumbled.
Shirley almost tripped over herself in the rush to hand it to him.
“Medieval times,” the attendant said, and indifferently began operating a little panel.
“So how does this work?” Fred asked him.
“Beats me. I just enter the dates.”
“How can we come back?”
Fred turned to Shirley, panic in his eyes. “You didn’t tell me about that!”
“So what?” Shirley said. “It’s not like you like it here.”
Before Fred could say more, a soft bell rang and the set of doors opened. Applause erupted once more as Shirley shoved her husband into the little compartment, waving as frantically as the ‘alien’ had done. Then the doors slid shut once more, and silence settled in. A friendly female voice announced that they would be going up.
“This is it,” Shirley said as the elevator gained speed. Her face finally showed a bit of tension. It was nothing compared to Fred’s, however.
“Shirley?” he said, a dreadful realization dawning in his eyes.
“Yes?” Blue sparks had begun to dance around the compartment. A high whistling sound rang out. The compartment began to rumble.
“If no one has ever returned, how do we know this…”
Illustration by: Lars de Ruyter