By E.D. Wivens, November 2006
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness", I mused.
"And rain", added the kit staring out from under an evergreen shrub.
I stared at the grey and stormy sky as a lightning bolt struck the line of electricity pylons on the far side of the nature reserve.
"It's only a shower", I said hopefully.
"Well", said the kit as the raindrops bounced half a metre off the ground, "I don't question your experience in these matters, but when it slackens off a bit, I'm going to make a dash for the buildings before this tree gets hit.
Two minutes later we hit the front doors simultaneously and literally.
"They didn't open", said the kit.
"Power cut", I explained.
Jane opened the side door and let us in.
In the reception area the few emergency lights seemed to emphasise rather than dispel the darkness. The office machines had succumbed to the lack of power and even the fountain had stopped playing. There was an unaccustomed silence about the place.
Most of the occupants were gathered around the lift and, while the kit went to see what was happening, I transferred most of the rainwater from myself to the seating area.
I waited to see if this was a rhetorical question, or a game of twenty questions.
"One of the humans was using the lift when the power went off and is caught like a rat in a trap.
The mention of trapped rats suggested that it was cabaret time, so I positioned myself on a comfortable chair with a good view of the proceedings.
"What will they do now?" asked the kit climbing up beside me.
"Well", I said closing my eyes "according to the manual somebody will get the doors open and use a ladder to lead the trapped person to safety."
"Right", said the kit settling himself down, "I wish I'd got some popcorn".
Alerted to the crisis, the Boss leapt into action with the grace and alacrity of a wounded tortoise and appeared on the scene clutching a sheaf of pages he'd grabbed on the way.
"Who's in there?" he shouted through the door mentally checking off item one on the list.
"Simon" came back the muffled reply.
"OK Sharon, stay there while we run through the list".
"I don't think he has much choice at the moment", said the kit.
"Are you pregnant?"
Again there was a muffled reply. "What did she say?" asked the Boss.
Ms Savage from Human Resources snatched the sheet from him.
"Let me see those questions."
At this point the Health and Safety guy turned up with a ladder and the metal bar for opening the doors. Reaching up he inserted the rod and opened the outer doors. Only the bottom few centimetres of the lift were visible. The Boss summed up the situation. "The lift's stuck between floors - we'll have to go upstairs", he said.
At this point Ms Savage felt that another intervention was necessary, if only to avoid some unnecessary stair climbing.
"I think you'll find that the gap between this floor and the next one is more than the height of the lift." She waved her arm to indicate the sheer white marble wall above the lift door as it vanished into the gloom of the ceiling.
"Ah", said the Boss consulting his notes, "It looks like we're going to have to move the lift then." He shuffled his papers, "I've got the instructions here somewhere."
Ms Savage picked the relevant sheet of paper from the floor and read it. "Somebody", she said glancing around for a volunteer, "is going to have to go into the lift room and wind it down manually."
Nobody moved. Ms Savage's eyes narrowed. Eventually Jane broke the silence and sent a junior to fetch "Young Jim" from the print room.
"Young Jim", a man of about forty-five, turned up wearing a grubby boiler suit and with the stub of a recently extinguished cigarette crammed behind his ear. Health and Safety now resumed command and led Jim up to the lift room, briefed him and made him put on a hardhat.
"So what happens now?" asked the kit as Health and Safety returned to reception.
"The lift will be slowly wound down to this floor and when enough of it is visible the inner doors will be opened and the occupants led to safety using the ladder."
I paused and closed my eyes again.
"At which point the power usually comes back on", I added.
"Right", said the kit.
"Start winding", shouted the Health and Safety guy.
"Nothing's happening", said the Boss.
Ms Savage snorted at this statement of the obvious, but before she could explain her views, Jim's muffled voice echoed down the shaft.
"Are you lot ready yet?
"He can't hear you", said the Boss advancing Ms Savage's blood pressure further into the red.
The Health and Safety guy rested the top of his ladder against the exposed lift and shinned up it. "Ready", he said.
Four floors above him Jim turned the handle vigorously and the lift jerked upwards into the shaft. This deprived the ladder of its support and allowed it to pivot downwards into the basement, taking its occupant with it.
Ms Savage surveyed the scene and took decisive action.
"Turn it the other way you idiot", she yelled up the shaft. In the nature reserve some rooks took to the air and circled around in alarm.
The lift slowly made its way down again and when a sufficient amount had appeared the Boss opened the doors and led Simon to safety.
"Where's Sharon?" he asked.
At this point the lights came back on.
"Well", said the kit as we climbed up to our vantage point on the canteen roof, "that was a fruitful afternoon."
I watched as the ambulance containing the Health and Safety guy left the car park, turned into the main road and almost collided with a taxi.
"Missed", I said.The author and owner of this work is E.D. Wivens. See http://www.katzphur.co.uk/ for more details.