To be fair, ‘the powers that be’, wherever they are, recognised that the message would be of universal importance and thus issued it on all social media platforms to ensure the widest readership. The message was brief but to the point. “We apologise for any inconvenience but we have grown bored with our experiment. The planet you are living on will become uninhabitable in approximately three hours. No packing for the afterlife is necessary”. Existence , despite the best efforts of a number of largely ignored soothsayers, prophets and visionaries is never fair. Time zones being what they are, some people would vanish into the void without the chance to pack their reputation while others would be more fortunate, if you see awareness as something to celebrate.
Whatever else was happening, for two people in a lift when the power supply went off, the news was less than welcome. One was buying a present for his sister’s birthday, and the other one was a floor manager in the store the lift was in. .He was on the way to give some underling the roasting of a lifetime. He enjoyed giving roastings, and had worked up a portfolio of cutting and diminishing phrases sometime before the interview. Now he was to be robbed of this enjoyment. It was irritating.
His ill humour was compounded by the fact that the man he was stuck with seemed to be an unhinged and shrieking hysteric on the edge of tearing at his own shirt. “Is there any chance you could lower your voice a little. You are in danger of giving me a headache”. he warned him.
“A headache”. Can’t you read. We’re going to die. DIE you cold-hearted robot”. The sight of the sun being turned off and setting for the last time would reveal the most beautiful skyscape you could imagine. Something anyone might treasure until they died, which was going to be in about two hours and twenty minutes. Sadly for our titans in the lift, no windows had been provided for their added entertainment. Instead a small advertisement opposite the door offered the best in new central heating with payments spread over three years. A bargain in any eventuality, although possibly not this one.
It appears that raising his eyebrows at the Hysteric was a gesture too far. The man lunged forward in a manner likely to damage his wardrobe. Given that the manager was known domestically as the ‘Master of the Ironing Board’ this could not happen. He was also a brown belt at Judo: a skill he had gathered during his time with the Human Resources department, as part of their arbitration training. The poor hysteric, now pinned to the floor and faced with spending some of his last and precious moments peering at his image in the polished base of the lift, resorted to a curious range of whimpering and shrieking in an a language unfortunately not known to the author. “A little quiet would be appreciated jerk” said Mr Manager.
All of a sudden the emergency lighting was replaced by the normal glare. Mobiles pinged and a strange non regional voice spoke over the tannoy. “Earthlings. We have enjoyed your displays of callow shallowness, cowardice and hysteria to such an extent that we have decided to rescind our decision. Life will continue as normal, but with added catastrophes. After a short period, because we are enjoying ourselves, you will all experience partial amnesia and forget this happened. Keep crying. Thank you for entertaining us.” Somewhere at the back of the transmission a slightly less cultured voice could be heard exclaiming “They’re really very silly aren’t they” and then being told to shut up.
The Liftonians rose to their feet and resumed normal standards of etiquette. That is standing as far apart as possible and admiring the walls. The hysterics eyebrows rose for a moment. Suddenly that nifty central heating offer seemed worth investigating.