Eye on the Storm staff writer Vanessa Ricketts’s short story Chasing A Dream is being published one chapter at time. Enjoy the second installment below!
I woke up among a tangle of blankets with my hair askew and a horrible taste in my mouth. Blearily, I reached out to grab the alarm clock at my bedside and squinted. Ten thirty? Just what I need!
Rolling unceremoniously out of bed, I hit the floor awkwardly, nearly twisting my ankle in the process and stumbled down the hall.
My apartment was small, my room literally two steps from the bathroom, and six steps to the family room. As I neared the kitchen, the smell hit me: I’d forgotten to take out the trash again. I really need to get a compost bin, I thought. This is getting ridiculous, Sammy!
Making a mental note to add that to my next grocery list, I popped the lid on the trash can and was greeted by a sudden upstart of fruit flies.
“Ew!” I yelled, swatting wildly at the air.
The flies scattered, and I removed the garbage bag, twirling the neck to ensure it was good and tight.
I hastily shoved my keys into my pocket as I left the apartment and headed for the trash chute at the opposite end of the hall.
Suddenly, the lights flickered and I instantly recognized it as a brief power outage. There was a loud creak, a groan, and strange hollow sound. I stood there stock still, straining my ears with the bag hanging limply at my side.
“What was that?” I muttered.
Another sound made me jump: a distant banging coupled with muffled shouts. Instinctively, I moved toward the elevator bank, listening intently and found myself pressing my ear against the cool metal doors. Someone was trapped.
“Hello?” cried a voice. It sounded distinctly female. “Can anyone hear me?”
“I hear you!” I said loudly. “Are you okay?”
“Oh, thank God,” the woman said in relief. “I wasn’t expecting someone to come so quickly. Um …” She sounded breathless. “I’m kinda freaking out in here. The power’s out and I can’t see a thing.”
“Okay, um,” I said, racking my brain for answers. “I’m gonna try prying the doors open so I can see where you’re at. Just hang tight, alright?”
I jammed my fingernails into the crack between the doors and pushed outward. The doors slowly rolled open to reveal an empty shaft. The elevator itself was between floors, part of it still visible. I could see a pair of legs in the darkness, but the rest of the woman was cut off from the knees up.
“There you are,” I smiled.
“Where?” the girl demanded.
“Down here, by your feet.”
She got down on her hands and knees and bent over. I could just make out a round face and a pair of eyes peering at me.
“Aw, great,” she said in exasperation. “Stuck between floors.”
“Don’t worry, I am on it.”
“Wait!” she cried, as I made for the stairs, and I ground to a halt. “Please don’t leave me here by myself.”
“What, you want me to climb in there with you?” I paused then as I considered the thought. “Although I could do that.”
“Are you crazy?” the girl cried. “I don’t want to be responsible for you plummeting to your death!”
“Aw, it’d be worth it to be somebody’s knight in shining armour for once.”
I could tell she was grinning.
“Alright, Mr. Knight-In-Shining-Armour,” she said. “Can you get me out of here or what?”
It didn’t take very long. I happened to be on really good terms with Carlos at the front desk, so I texted him an S.O.S. In about fifteen minutes, the crew had fixed the elevator and it slid down into place. I was about to say something really cheesy about my heroics, but the words were lost when I saw her for the first time.
She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen and that was saying A LOT. Now I know what you’re thinking. She was probably a gorgeous supermodel with perfect skin, hair, and teeth. Wrong! She had a round face, tanned skin, and delicate features dominated by a pair of startling gray eyes. Her long auburn hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she wore a simple T-shirt and jeans. I couldn’t put my finger on where she could be from. Middle East? South America? Oh, who cares she was hugging me and I … had no clue what to say.
The girl pulled back a little awkwardly, a redness in her cheeks. “Thank-you so much.”
“What?” I said blankly. “Oh yeah, it was no problem, really.”
Real smooth, I thought sarcastically to myself.
“I’m Thalia,” the girl said.
“So, um,” she said, regaining her composure. “What floor is this exactly?”
“Twelve,” I said. “I live just down the hall there, number thirteen. Lucky thirteen, as I like to call it.”
“No way!” Thalia cried. “I’m in room eleven, I just moved here last week.”
“Seriously?” My luck was getting better and better. “I guess we’re neighbours.”