Two weeks ago Forsythia moved into a new apartment in a beautiful old high-rise. Everything there was antique, from the dark wood paneling to the rich carpeting. It was a far cry from the decaying 20th century-style cinderblock tower that Forsythia used to live in. There were multiple elevators, each shiny brass. Ever since she moved in, the elevator on the far right had an “out of order” sign hung in front of it between red velvet ropes. Today the sign was gone, so Forsythia got in.
“Floor twenty please.” she said as the brass doors were closing.
“Take the stairs!” screeched the elevator.
Forsythia jumped, gasping. The voice had come from the lacquered ceiling. The elevators only other occupant, an elderly woman named Stacy, patted the Forsythia’s shoulder affectionately.
“Don’t worry about it, honey. That’s just Robbie.”
“The elevator. He’s just mad because he’s dead.”
Forsythia put her hand on her chest and tried to calm her breathing. “Oh, I thought most elevators don’t have personalities.”
Stacy nodded. “Oh, they don’t. This one doesn’t either. Robbie is inside the elevator.” She winked knowingly.
The elevator stopped. It was the third floor. “GET OFF!” screamed the elevator “TAKE THE CRAPPING STAIRS!” The lights indicating the floor blinked wildly.
Stacy folded her arms in front of her chest and frowned. “Robbie! You will close that door and take this nice young lady to her floor.” The door closed slowly, stopping a few times in childish protest. The old lady smiled, wrinkles bunching around her eyes. “Sorry about Robbie dear, he’s upset because he died in this elevator.”
“My God!” said Forsythia. “How did it happen?”
“The antigravity failed ““ it was in the old days, when we thought the whole thing was foolproof. The only thing Robbie had time to do before the crash was upload his circuit memory into the elevators processor.” She patted the faux wood paneling affectionately. “Poor dear. He won’t even pay attention when we tell him that there haven’t been any stairs for the past fourteen years. I don’t imagine he wants to think about it.”
“Think about what?”
“A world without stairs.”
The elevator doors opened reluctantly. “Hasn’t anyone ever tried to get him out of there?” Forsythia asked, stepping into the hallway.
“Oh my, yes, we’ve tried to convince him to let us put him on the worldwide system but he won’t go.” Stacy smiled, lifting a hundred wrinkles upward. “I think he likes it in here.”