Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
  #1  
Old 30-03-2019, 10:17 AM
Benga's Avatar
Benga Benga is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 32
Benga is on a distinguished road
Default New Story: The Elevator Escalators
Hi, everyone.

I have a new story, 33 pages in length (sorry about the length!), called "The Elevator Escalators." The pitch: "A high school senior trying to focus on the big speech. A team full of ultra-competitive female colleagues. Dozens of enormous balloons. And one extreme phobia of balloons popping. All trapped together. What could go wrong?"

EDIT: I had tried to upload this in a different way and the link did not work, so I will be cutting and pasting it here (this explains and makes moot the first couple of comments below). The story will also be published elsewhere soon, when I am able.

Although the work is in 9 chapters, it really is a completely unified story. Things that occur early on have a profound impact on things that happen later. I only divided the story into chapters to give some reading breaks and minimally frame the action into segments.

For tags, I would include some very, very occasional sexual lewdness, a significant quantity of balloon-pop phobia and manifestations of that fear, and a bit of bullying. Also, a ton of somewhat humorous / parodistic post-modernism, from the light-hearted to the deliciously sadistic. I hope I make you Google at least 3 or 4 things as you're reading.

Let me know if you like it. If there are typos, etc. (some of it is grammatically stylized for dramatic intent, so those are not typos), please let me know.

Last edited by Benga; 30-03-2019 at 04:50 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 30-03-2019, 10:57 AM
Bobywan Bobywan is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 27
Bobywan is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
It asks for an account, and then after signing up, it says Access Denied.

I might be doing something wrong, but I suspect your hosting solution doesn't work
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 30-03-2019, 11:24 AM
ThmFirball ThmFirball is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 11
ThmFirball is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
I am denied too. Can you plz add my Account to the Accesslist. Name= ThmFireball
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 30-03-2019, 05:05 PM
Benga's Avatar
Benga Benga is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 32
Benga is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
The Elevator Escalators
“Tight fit, huh?”
The ninth person, a fit 30-something with an oversized blue duffel bag, squeezed his way into the elevator, swiveling around to face the front. He wondered if a 10th person would soon be in view before the doors closed, though it probably didn’t matter, since there was no room left anyway.

Liz gave a polite forced chuckle at his comment, as she backed toward the side wall. True, she and her 5 friends, and their bulky winter jackets, had taken up much of the space in this cozy little compartment. But, m’eh, not a problem. The trip would only last one floor. And Liz was in a very, as she would put it, “stress-free” mood. A full elevator wasn’t gonna cause the serene blonde any angst.

“Press the button, Erica.”

“I did press it! This thing is just really slow.”

The impatient words drifted through the chamber with a strangely abounding resonance, acoustics that, for some reason, far out-rang the enclosure’s snug dimensions. Or maybe it was just an aural illusion shared by all, since the words duly echoed what everyone had been thinking. It WAS slow. Really slow. The doors closed lethargically, the elevator seemed to creep upwards at the pace of a determined-yet-lumbering snail, and when the lifting movement stopped, indicating the arrival of Floor 2, several more restless seconds elapsed before the doors finally sidled open.

Liz took this extra time to close her eyes—a relaxation exercise—and focus on the thoughts running through her mind, thoughts of what the past, present and near future meant for her. “Stress-free.” Though the high school had been selected to this prestigious event in 7 of the past 18 years, this frequent achievement had not dampened the honor or excitement of getting that phone call. Conversely, the angst of perhaps being left out was always nerve-wracking, especially as tweets from happy rival teams began to pepper the girls’ phones, causing the mental arithmetic of “Damnit! How many empty spots are left?!” to churn trepidatiously. But not this year. Liz’s “Be The Change” team had been the very second one selected to this competition. Before some of the nation’s other competitors had even received their joyous calls, or their sullen realizations that there would be no call, the leadership had already begun Googling hotels in Lawrence, Indiana.

Drama-less News Item #2 concerned Liz’s own hopes to be one of the team’s 4 speech-givers at the event. Before she could even get nervous, it was over. First name called by the leadership. A pleasantly-unanticipated cakewalk. And while jealousy over such things was often as much of a varsity sport as this competition was, most of the girls at least pretended to be, or actually were, happy for her. Stress-free.

Even the reports of a snowstorm in the area, which could have led to substantial delays or worse for the team’s travel plans, were inconsequential. Sure, the snow had started, and was beginning to pick up intensity, but the “Be The Change” gang had beaten the clock, arriving at the hotel before the brunt of the storm did. Since strict rules prevented the girls from leaving the hotel anyway, regardless of the weather, and because most of the snow would be washed away by the next morning’s rain, getting inside unscathed was all that they needed to accomplish. No stress. The coast was clear even if the sky wasn’t.

As the doors slowly widened, seven of the nine got off, with the man heading East and the 6 teen teammates heading West. An elderly couple remained in the back, waiting for the elevator’s final stop on the third floor. Liz and Faith, her “roommate” for the night, headed for the room number on their key. 207, just 3 doors down from the elevator. The shortest, most stress-free walk that any of the girls had to their rooms.

The replete blonde’s parents were going to be in the audience for the event, overjoyed that their daughter would be speaking. They had missed the competition in Bethesda, Maryland seven weeks ago, and since Liz’s Dad was a doctor in high demand, all parties knew that this would probably be the only time they’d be able to see her perform until God-knows-when. Faith ardently listened to Liz ballyhoo about the crafting of the speech, and while she was disappointed that she herself hadn’t been chosen, there was still a cordial and magnanimous lilt in the air as the two spent a few minutes unpacking. The lithe redhead waited for the enthusiastic blonde to finish laying tomorrow’s uniform on the bed, and then the two headed back to the elevator. The first-floor conference room was where the team meeting would be held, and the girls wanted to make it a point to be punctual, especially with a slow elevator.

Though the ride this time was just the two of them, they soon saw Rae and Kristen already sitting in the lobby. Nearby, a few other teammates nonchalantly shuffled their way toward the conference room, the door of which had been propped completely open to welcome “Be The Change” into its midst. Pleasantries were exchanged, and everyone moseyed onward across the floor tile…

…Until the moment when Liz stopped short. Gasp. Something instantly signaled to her that her stress-free day had just come to a sudden and devastating end.

Balloons. BIG ones. Blown up tight. From outside the room, she couldn’t tell exactly how tight, but her mental Panic Scale classified them within the gradation of “Very, very fucking tight.” It suddenly became a chore to put one foot in front of the other, as though her shoes were weighed down by cement, and the fact that she did so anyway was only because there was no choice; everyone was heading there. After all, how well does it work out for the biker that tries to escape the middle of the peloton? From just looking down the hall and into the room, the blonde only saw three….fuck, m-make th-that four, but she had a very bad feeling that Four Balloons meant More Balloons.

And Liz HATED balloons. Some girls remembered every batch of cookies they had ever baked, or every kiss with a boy, or every softball hit they had ever legged out. Liz remembered, with distressing phobic vividness, every balloon that had ever popped near her. Or, at least, the list stretched back years, her mind cruelly holding them in immaculately-preserved stasis, front and center, and always menacingly, terrifyingly loud. She couldn’t forget them even when she tried.

The blonde’s mind started pacing like a chess master who knew that her king would face dire trouble soon, and who needed that “h2” flight square in the worst of ways. The excuses began to riff. “Umm, Miss Grant, I think I know most of my instructions, can I skip this meeting and just prepare on my own time?” Nope, this was inconceivable. There’s no way the leadership would allow this. Other girls would surely ask for the same treatment going forward, and then there’d be chaos.

“Ummm, Miss Grant, I’m sick. I need to go lay down.” This was mayyyybe a last resort, but it was going to be a real tight-rope act convincing anyone that the girl who had just excitedly yackety-yacked about her speech to several teammates, including Faith, was suddenly quite ill 5 minutes later.

“Ummm, Miss Grant, I …uhhh…”

She had nothing. If these didn’t work, Liz contemplated, the only thing left was to tell the awful truth. “Miss Grant, I’m terrified of balloons.” It was something she had only admitted to one other person in her life, and he had betrayed her secret to his brother, who used the information gleefully and maliciously against her. Balloon BOOMS #26 through #31, in the exhaustive museum exhibit that was her accursed memory, had occurred that week. Number 31 being particularly teeth-rattlingly loud and cruel. Liz recognized intellectually that this intentional infliction of terror was not going to happen in tonight’s setting, but she still had utterly no interest in making her crippling fear known to another living soul.

And so she walked slowly toward the room, expecting the worst, but hoping against hope for 90 minutes of an extended miracle. A knife-juggling act on a unicycle, suspended on a wire above a dozen transfixed, imperiled observers, where somehow no one would be hurt. A fragile cone of silence that might, please, hopefully, hold just long enough for Liz to escape the meeting with her eardrums unviolated and her mental BOOM count stuck right where it was.

As she entered, however, the prognosis was much, much worse than the already terrible initial report had prophesied. It was like the scene in the movie where the crying wife is finally broken on the witness stand, and reveals the jaw-droppingly incomprehensible scope of her husband’s killing spree, and his boundless ambition for further carnage. Balloons everywhere, at least 40 of them. Pinned with thumb tacks to the walls, tied with strings to the back of chairs, hovering over the flower centerfolds in the middle of tables. All tightly, near-catastrophically over-inflated. 24-inch latex Mothers Of All Bombs with fat, hubristic necks. 16-inch ear-wreckers with necks the size of Liz’s forearm. Aggressive, overblown 12-inchers determined to puff their chests out to maximum size, showing no fear in challenging the rest of the gorilla-pack for dominance. A Minesweeper game come to life, played by a child with poor logic and math skills, with his computer hooked up to a Pioneer TSW126M subwoofer at full volume. The living epitome of Nyayakusumanjalian Karma, as though Liz had done something unspeakable in a previous life, and tonight had finally been her night of reckoning. And karma was about to be a bitch.

CHAPTER 2
It didn’t make any sense. Why would anyone set this up like this? Surely even non-phobic people had to be a LITTLE afraid of these time bombs, no? Or at least remark on how unusually humungous they all were. Liz’s eyes darted around the room, looking for any sign that anyone else was even slightly taken aback by this display. Nope. I mean, there was an audible, gleeful “Wow” from a couple of girls as they entered, and Abigail and Salena Kate did bat around a couple of the chair-tied balloons, nonchalantly giggling about a scene from the plane ride’s in-flight movie. But nothing else. No fear, not even puzzlement. Even when, as Liz had turned around to observe, Grace looked up at the huge 20-inchers at her table, there was no real acknowledgement that the balloons were anything out of the ordi…

…. Oh Shit.

And this was the moment when the chilly-but-bearable winds of false hope met the arctic blast of reality. There was a little slip of paper inside that big balloon that Grace was eying. And then another small, folded note in the adjacent balloon. And when Liz then looked at the balloon behind her, the one nearest her head, all 16-turned-19 puffed-out inches of shiny jewel-orange glory, her awful suspicion yielded an awful dividend. A small square, folded in half, floating inside like a fortune cookie fortune. It was as though, like all fortune cookies, it held an ancient proverb: “She Who Not Cover Ears May Not Go Deaf, But Still Is Dumb.”

Note after note in orb after orb. It felt like a bulletin board, and Liz felt like she was push-pinned to it. She knew there was only one way to get the slips of paper out. She knew. During the course of this meeting—oh my god—most of these balloons, if not all of them, were going. To. POP.

While Liz stayed quiet and meek in the corner of the room, all of the remaining girls finally made it. 20 in all. There had been 22 on the team, but this was before the incident in Bethesda. Everyone had been eating at the hotel restaurant, when the chaperones decided to do a head-count and realized that heaven was short two little angels. Brie and Alexis were missing, and they weren’t in their rooms, nor responding to their phones, and the panic started. It turned out that they had simply decided to walk a few blocks to a different restaurant and eat there. I mean, what was wrong with that? It wasn’t like they were two high school seniors, in a strange city, out trawling for boys, right? Well, actually, Brie did kinda wanna trawl for boys, and had made a few comments to that effect to Alexis, while the two zestfully ogled some of the muscle-bound “scenery” in their midsts. But even though they didn’t act on their horny impulses, and instead returned soon without harm, the punishment was swift and severe—immediate expulsion from the team at competition’s end, and a new universal emphasis on the edict that no girl was allowed to leave a hotel on any future meet. No exceptions. Well, unless the hotel had caught fire or something. Otherwise, no exceptions.

The first 20 minutes of the meeting felt like hours to Liz. Even mundane things, from chaperone instructions to harmless applause for team achievements, sent her mind and heart racing. She found herself noticing the nails of some group members. “Jesus, Paulie’s nails look too sharp for comfort.” A stray giggle made Liz zip her head around, as though sure that some mischief was occurring behind her, mischief that would doubtlessly soon cause a deafening explosion. To Liz’s further discomfort, a couple of the girls had now untied balloons from the chairs and had re-tied them, casually, to their wrists. The unsettled blonde knew from experience that this was often a recipe for balloons flying away. Usually a girl would try to tie the knot herself while the string was already on her wrist, making for very loose and tenuous knot-work. But these balloons weren’t going to fly away. They were going to float up to the ceiling, too high for any of the girls to reach the string. And then just sit up there….right next to the hot lights. The latex slowly but inevitably heating up. Weakening. A frog in a boiling pot, if that pot was also full of nitroglycerine.

Liz looked around for shelter. The lobby? Too close, and the door was still wide open to the conference room. For the effort it would take to be let out into the lobby for a few minutes, she’d still experience about 80% BOOM, and that wasn’t nearly respite enough. Plus, she had no idea when a balloon accident was about to occur, so she’d have to constantly be hurtling back and forth. Not sufficient. The pool? This was even worse. The conference room overlooked the pool, so she’d instantly be seen there, and there was no good reason for her to be in that room. Also, most indoor pool areas were really echoey, weren’t they? Flat, hard tiles. ECHOEY BOOMs. Fuck No. The lobby bathroom? How much time could she credibly spend there? It was better just to try to go back up to her room, if the excuse was going to be an illness.

No answers for this intractable riddle found their way into Liz’s brain, and soon the moment of truth arrived. Just as when a teacher says “Times Up” at the end of a quiz (a POP quiz, as it were), with pencils still furiously writing on half-finished pages, the fretful blonde knew she was in big trouble.

“Ok, girls, now we have planned a special surprise for you. We’re giving away prizes!” Miss Grant sing-sang the last word like she was Oprah gifting free goodies to her audience. Hoots and claps followed from many of the girls. Liz didn’t look around at all of their faces, but it was clear that most were very excited about this development. Why wouldn’t they be? They had a chance to win things! And the only cost, since clearly the prizes were inside the tightly-inflated orbs, was some damage to their resilient little teenage eardrums. Well worth the tradeoff, right?! Liz’s heart felt like it was performing a drum solo in a Van Halen song.

“So here’s how we do it. We’re going to divide you into 2-person teams, and each team gets to pick out a balloon of their choice. Whatever size you want. And we’re going to pick names out of a hat, and then call out how many pledges that member received this month.” The teacher grinned. “And for each pledge, you get to put one puff of air into your balloon. So if you got 3, that’s 3 blows. And the first team that pops their balloon, they get first choice of the prize inside!! No cheating, ladies!”

More applause, laughter and some excited murmuring filled the air, as Liz surmised that the girls were asking each other how many pledges they had gotten. This notion was soon confirmed by a few raised fingers around her table. Lily held up 2 fingers. Abigail gave a delicious, red-cheeked grin back and held up 6 fingers—a palm and a thumb. The reaction from Lily showed that it was indeed a big deal that her friend’s tally had necessitated two hands. Very impressive. She hoped she’d get picked for Abigail’s team. Meanwhile, Liz’s only thought, and a horrifying one at that, was that very few balloons in this room were the slightest bit capable of surviving six full puffs from someone like Abigail.

“I got three. How many did you get, Liz?” Faith’s question jolted the blonde into another horrendous thought, one that hadn’t dawned on her until now. Fuckkk. Liz had gotten 5 pledges. And the loathsome ramifications of this ample total were now clear. Her own overachiever personality, damnit, was going to end up making her have to blow….and blow….and blow….and blow…(whimper)…and blow. Her mind raced a bit more. If she intentionally withheld air, people would surely recognize it over the course of 5 puffs, and she’d be encouraged to blow harder. Surely, even if no one else cared, her teammate (whoever that would be) was gonna expect Liz to give the best “Be The Change” effort possible. Et tu, Liz? Was she going to be one of those poor tragic Greek heroes that ended up self-inflicting her own brutal punishment in an attempt to cheat fate? Was she gonna be the Twilight Zone stopwatch guy whose Hell derived from his own obsession with freezing time?

“There are 7 prize types we’re giving away. There’s money, merchandise,…extra credit…” More hooting. “Which one will you get? Only one way to find out, girls, let’s pop for prizes!!”

It still all seemed staggeringly weird to Liz. Was every girl in this room okay with a spate of stupendous BOOM’s? So much so that no one had even thought to ask if anyone wanted to be excused? Was this part of some questionnaire or something that everyone other than her had filled out? Either way, nobody else seemed perched to sprint for the exits. This monstrous thing—this “popping for prizes” jam—was really gonna happen. Liz was submarine-deep in a massive 7-cannon salute. Right in the middle of it. Captive. In the Dreadful Dead-Center of the De Facto Dance-Circle of Detonation. In a Star Wars-ian trash compactor where the walls were closing in, one ominous puff at a time. A bombardment battalion of big brutish balloons, all much too big already, and all with fixedly-malicious intention and prejudice, and all getting bigger. And bigger. And Bigger. And BIGGER. Until each one’s BOOM shook the room.

Of course, the partner chosen for Liz very much did not help matters either. Jordyn. If someone could design the quintessential anatomical and psychological balloon popper, Jordyn might or might not have been the final model, but she’d definitely have been a chief consultant on the project. A mercurial lil firecracker, Jordyn seemed as vibrantly gung-ho about getting into a fist fight with a guy that towered over her as she did about giving his equally-hulking friend a blowjob for using the right words to compliment her hair. Despite her modestly short stature, her aggressive rebelliousness made her a giant handful for anyone that dared challenge her. And despite her inability to carry a tune—even if it were weightless and had handles all over it, her lacrosse-playing lungs made her a barrel of fun during Karaoke Night, as she diligently screamed the songs’ askew words into the overwhelmed microphone. Sometimes this made her an outstanding friend, both one of the guys and one of the girls at the same time. It also, though, made her an exceptionally compelling bully, with a sadistic streak that seemed to gain oxygen the more her target’s misfortune and misery manifested and worsened. In short (no pun intended), Jordyn Tianna Wilk was a girl who knew what she wanted, and even if that meant barging ahead like a wrecking ball meeting a thin plane of glass, she’d typically get it. And then she’d smirk while intimidating her inferiors into gluing the plane of glass back together.

And she LOVED things that went BANG. Guns, firecrackers, claps of thunder. It was gratuitous, even. If she had been richer, she’d spend her nights making champagne corks loudly POP, then handing the bottles to her friends while she chugged beer, her clandestine-underage-drinking beverage of choice. Jordyn’s favorite pastime was making balloons get as big as they could get. And then, since she couldn’t be sure, blowing them once more. Not sure? Once more. A meticulous inspection repeated again and again, ad explodius deafenaratum. To pop a balloon was like an impertinent little Fuck You to the Gods Above, and to do so as absolutely LOUDLY as possible was the biggest, most indelible Fuck You that her mortal corpus was capable of Fuck You-ing. It was so fuckin’ great to hear the always-unpredictable moment when breath turned into BAANNNNNNNNNNG. And, as luck would have it, she didn’t like Liz very much at all. Not because of Liz’s phobia (the subject had never come up, and Liz was DEFINITELY not going to tell her), but for assorted other reasons.

“Hey Liz. Don’t look now, but you got a great partner today.” At least the little lacrosse-player was in a good mood. “We’ve totally got this. You know how I know?”

“Uhh.. hi. H-How?”

“Dude, I super totally know about this brand of balloons. I use them all the time!!”

Liz mentally winced at the thought, knowing that “Use Them” meant over-inflating them huger and huger until they couldn’t take any more, like some kind of mad scientist experimenting maniacally to try to find some 5th law of thermodynamics or something.

“The latex for this brand is really strong, so I imagine that most of these balloons probably have about 10 puffs left before they explode. Maybe not Harper’s, that one might only have 5. That one’s really big. And Izzay’s is maybe borderline, like 6 or 7.”

My god, the latex alone was enough for Jordyn to deduce how imperiled each balloon was. It was almost a laudable skill, Liz thought, if the ramifications weren’t so terrifying. From this commentary, the blonde gleaned several things: firstly, that Jordyn was even more of a balloon-obsessive than she had suspected. And, secondly, that it was going to be extra-scary watching Harper blow. Fuck!! And that—It was undeniably true—Jordyn definitely WAS the best partner the room could offer. Hey, gotta give her that much. And, lastly, that the concept of “really strong latex” was a very dangerous double-edged sword, one Liz had been mercilessly bloodied by a few times in her life. Good at avoiding horrific “accidents,” even with very big, very full balloons. But oh my goddd, the BANG.

“However, there’s one exception. Robin Egg Blue ones. It’s something with the dye. They almost always pop prematurely. It’s like they’re a little bit weaker. Most people don’t notice or care because they only blow them up to, like, kids’ party sizes. Even bad latex can hold moderate air like that. Not many people try to edge ‘em to the max.” She grinned. “But I KNOW this one can’t hold its load.”

Jordyn pointed excitedly to the fattest part of the bulb of the Robin Egg Blue 16-incher whose nozzle was trapped between her index and middle finger.

“And since you’re such a goody goody, I know you’ve probably gotten, like, a ton of pledges. MORE than enough to make this fucker explode! The other teams are gonna need 2 or 3 rounds to do it. But not us. We’re sooo in the money on this, dude!!”

Liz was right on the verge. She knew she couldn’t go through with this, that even if she could somehow stand to be in the room with seven ghastly Brobdingnagian Booms, there’s no way she could do so without her secret being exposed. The vanquished blonde knew she was unquestionably bound to be cowering in fright soon, fingers in her ears, crouched in a ball and praying for Calgon to Take Her Away. It was simply impossible to put on a brave face long enough to pull this thing off.

“Personally, I don’t know why they don’t just discontinue these,” Jordyn continued. “I mean, what’s the use of a balloon that pussies out on you before it can get to maximum size? I’ve even tried to put one of these inside another to double the thickness, you know, get a fuller, louder BANG, but unless I’m in a gymnasium or something, it doesn’t have that same ring that I can get from just one red one.” Jordyn grinned again, deliciously. “I had this one red one the other day that was so see-through it was like …fucking…distending in on itself.” The grin got wider. “Like …a machine in the middle of catastrophic failure. It was fuckin’ awesome!! It was like if a goddamn butterfly breathed on it, it was gonna blow…”

At this moment, Liz herself was like one of that mad scientist’s balloons; she couldn’t take any more. Like one of Jordyn’s As-Big-As-They-Could-Gets, she had to speak up right now or she was gonna just snap. Snap, crackle, POP.

“I….I’m sick, Jordyn. I can’t do this. I’m really sorry.”

The lacrosse-player stopped talking and just stared. “What?! You’re not sick. I just saw you laughing with everyone a little while ago.”

“I am. I’m sick. It just came upon me.”

“What’s wrong with you??”

“I….have a headache.”

“Umm…ok, so take a fuckin’ Tylenol or something and then let’s win this.” Jordyn wasn’t buying any of what Liz was selling. “Does someone here have an Advil?” Liz was very thankful that Jordyn wasn’t using her loud turbo-lungpower voice, because if any of the girls had had an aspirin, it would certainly be harder to convince them all that this sudden-onset headache had now become a roaring Katanga Lion that simply couldn’t be tamed by pain relievers.

“I need to lie down, Jordyn. Just for maybe an hour or so. I’m sorry.”

The look from Liz’s trusty wingman, …well, wing-woman…trusty balloon wing-woman, was now one of contempt.

“You know, I think I can tell what this is really about. Why you don’t wanna play this game.”

Uh-oh. This was very bad. Given Jordyn’s acumen as a sadistic bully, and what she could do if she knew that the one-and-only Liz Russell was deathly afraid of balloons… Well, well, well. Really fucking bad.

“You think you’re better than me. Better than everyone here. I mean, you don’t need the money. Your Daddy is rich. He buys you whatever you want, so you don’t need prizes, you get A’s, so you don’t need extra credit…”

Ok. Ummm, not as bad. At least she hadn’t figured Liz’s secret out. It wasn’t great, but if Jordyn had to yell at her over something, this was a lot better than the alternative.

“I want a new partner,” shouted Jordyn. There was that loud voice. “Liz says she’s sick, so she’s not gonna play. Someone give me a new partner.”

The thing was that, with 19 girls remaining, there was no way to accommodate this request without screwing over someone else. Jordyn was out of luck, just impotently able to scowl while looking at her Robin Egg Blue balloon. Maybe her anger-fueled puffs could have still detonated the fat fucker herself, if only she had received more than 1 pledge. Alas. Miss Grant nodded Liz a reprieve from the festivities, but the blonde knew that this was not a reprieve from whatever eventual Jordyn fallout she had just wrought.

Now having been forced to inhabit the role of “girl suddenly so sick that she somehow couldn’t muster sitting placidly in a meeting and playing a couple of fun games with friends,” Liz had to balance the performative slow-walk of a hapless migraine sufferer with the fact that she desperately wanted to get out of this room as soon as humanly possible. Get out before the air assaults commenced on these perilously-overinflated artillery bazookas. As she walked slowly, the action developed much more quickly than she had hoped. Erica’s name was called, and soon her teammate Nozomi (and, really, most of the room) was cheering Erica’s steady progress in blow-lighting the fickle fuse of her lavender 16-inch bomb. Closer to Liz, on her path to the hallway, Tychelle and Kristen had already started a good-natured stare-down of one another, as though to say “I know we’re roommates on this trip and we’ll always be BFF’s to the max, but honey, my balloon is DEFINITELY going to explode before yours does. Prepare to get showered in my latex and humbled by my boom!”

Once out the door and out of the sightline of the other girls, Liz practically sprinted to the elevator. Fuck. This slow, stupid elevator. Her fingers fidgeted anxiously against her side as she waited, fearing the extremely loud worst to her left, a reality for which the mathematical odds went up with each terror-stricken second. Once finally inside, she hit the “Close Door” button of the uncooperative fucking compartment at least a dozen times. “God damnit, come on!!!!” Finally, mercifully, the doors complied, and Liz was safe in her cozy little fortress of solitude. She wasn’t happy to have to play this card, and the piercing eyes of a disdainful Jordyn burned uneasily in her memory. She was definitely the wrong person to piss off, and Liz was going to have to find a way to make things up to her. But she was out of harm’s way for now.

A minute later, Liz had arrived back in room 207. Lying in bed, her outfit now placed carefully on the chair by the window, she lay there thinking about how everything had gone so wrong in such a short time. Well, at least the bed did feel good, and it definitely wouldn’t hurt to get a quick nap in. Tomorrow was going to be a long and intense day. Liz closed her eyes and thought about the peaceful snowflakes falling outside the window.

And then the unthinkable happened. BOOOOOM.

CHAPTER 3
It wasn’t as loud, of course, as if she had been down a floor, right in the midst of the action, but it was…wayyy more than loud enough. A full, sinister, grinning, resonant reminder that sound waves, if powerful enough, can easily permeate through lumber and carpet. Immediately, Liz’s mental Comm Center pivoted from “cagey con artist trying to sell a lie” to “erudite-though-skittish quantum cosmologist, trying to cope with the truth.” There were so many possibilities, and they were all awful.

Was this the explosion from one of the super-loud 24-inch balloons? 20-inchers? Ebonee had had a star-patterned 20-incher in her hand, and its fat neck had practically had a “Danger: Maximum Air Occupancy Exceeded” sign on it. Was this that one? Or was it …oh god, just a 16-inch balloon, or one even smaller? Which would mean that… when the BIGGER fuckers started losing their battles with this blitzkrieg girl-army of high school air-assassins, the BOOMs were about to start causing Liz’s hotel room to shake like a speaker box at a KISS concert. Oh, Beth (Elizabeth, like she had been called as a child), What Could She Do? Six more of them!! She didn’t know if she could handle such horrible anticipa….

Wait. How could she even know if there were 6? Maybe she had missed one while in the elevator. So maybe there might be only 5 left, but she was gonna still have to spend several minutes feebly cowering and waiting for the 6th, feeding the progressively worse impulses of her psychosis, even though that final BANG was never going to arrive. Or maybe one of the teams would get dinged for cheating—so their pop wouldn’t even count toward the seven, in which case there’d be more. Maybe that was why there were so many extra balloons! Gasp—or maybe this was just the first of several contests, with who-knows-how-many additional “winners” to come. Liz scrunched the blanket up snugly, closed her worried eyes, and put her fingers tightly into her ears. This was no longer stress-free at all.

BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!

She couldn’t tell. Was that one louder? Oh god. Maybe it was just that she was now anticipating them, and had psyched herself out. Maybe it just felt louder because she had blocked her ears, and so her expectation of a more muffled BANG had backfired. And like a backfiring car, a big clunky 1970 Plymouth Barracuda with a cracked distributor cap, it was very loud.

This wasn’t going to do. Liz jumped out of bed and scurried back to the elevator. The entire 2nd floor was now suspect, and since there was obviously no way she could leave the building —even if she snuck past the chaperones, and then snuck back in, the snow on her clothing would give her away—her only refuge was the third floor. Maybe the old couple from the back of that first crowded elevator ride had had it right all along.

Once up there, five interminable minutes went by as Liz strained her apprehensive ears, trying to determine if she could still hear remnants of the severe balloon-thunderstorm going on two floors below. Nope. Finally some peace. Too much peace, even. She had 55 more minutes to kill, no phone to play with (she had left it in her room, and was not going to risk going back there), and nothing else to do. Well, her speech was still with her, in her jeans pocket. So she started to glance through it, pantomiming her would-be delivery at certain key moments. This was perhaps not stress-free, but as close as she was gonna get for a while. Her own words staring back at her gave just a bit of new solace to the restive blonde.

But then she realized that there was a problem. Back in the airport the girls had been told that a group picture was going to be taken at the end of the meeting, something Liz just now remembered. Her parents were obviously going to want a copy, and she knew that the rest of the group would deduce as much soon enough. They would naturally send someone, probably Faith, to head to room 207 and bring the gang back together again. After all, surely the ailing blonde could make it downstairs for at least a few minutes for a picture, right? And then, when Faith discovered that Liz wasn’t in her room, panic—and punishment—would ensue. And there was utterly no excuse the trepidatious lil balloon-boom-o-phobe could come up with for why she had been hanging out on the third floor.

Ergo, the next 25 minutes were spent with Liz constantly traveling up and down the two flights of stairs between Floors 2 and 3, in the stairwell on the far end of the hallway. She very much disliked the immense echo of this stairwell, and the potential ramification of such, given what activity still might have been going on not all that far away. But it was the only way she could spy to see when Faith (or someone else) was searching for her, while still being able to scamper upward another floor if her Spidey Senses were beginning to boom-tingle. Her hallway spot on the third floor (chair and everything) was much more comfortable and safe, but far less utilitarian than she needed during this tricky special ops mission.

When Faith did eventually emerge from the elevator, Liz quickly and quietly descended to the first floor via the stairs, so that she could play the “Huh—I was just coming down here, we must have somehow passed each other, I don’t know how I missed her, how peculiarly delightful!” game. It wasn’t ideal, but at least the hard part was probably over. She was confident that there would be no “Hey, let’s all competitively blow these gigantic fucking balloons until they explode, just to scare the daylights out of Liz, won’t that be so much fucking fun?” initiative undertaken during the group picture. Probably. And with any luck, she’d be free in just a couple of minutes from this blasted conference room. Hopefully not still literally being blasted.

What Liz didn’t realize was that she had already carved out yet another problem for herself.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 30-03-2019, 05:16 PM
Benga's Avatar
Benga Benga is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 32
Benga is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
PART 2

CHAPTER 4
The conference room yielded mixed results this time. Most of the balloons were gone, or at least in their “tiny pieces of latex confetti on the floor” phase. Five remained intact, still as scary-looking as ever. Perhaps, a la some old-timey prison movie, these guys had ratted out their friends so they could save their own skins. Happily, none were immediately in harm’s way, at least other than the continued pernicious strain of holding way too much air In them. Liz was greeted by a few sympathetic eyes (after all, she was such a brave trooper for attending the group picture even while sick), and by a few excited “Hey! She’s back!”’s. Jordyn, who Liz intentionally avoided eye contact with, looked on coolly, then turned back around to smirk at an unrelated joke from a nearby friend.

The picture itself was without incident. Liz did end up looking a bit pale in it, but this was the lingering result of the last hour of anxiety, not of illness. At least the ordeal had ended, presuming she could somehow get far enough away from the presumed “cleanup duty” that would surely, noisily seal the remaining balloons’ fates. Feeling like a bit of a rainbow had begun to peek through the dark clouds of her evening, the mollified blonde smiled and went over to thank Miss Grant for letting her “rest.”

“Yes. Glad you were able to make it back down for this, Liz. You’ll have some more time to rest after dinner if you need it.”

Nodding.

“Oh, by the way, you’re now going to be 9th up and you’ll sit on the side bleachers, after Grace. So make sure to line up behind her as we file in.”

Noddi…. wait… The side bleachers?

“Umm, aren’t there seats behind the podium? Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to sit there so I can just stand up and give my speech?”

“Oh, no, we…. (pause).. You’re not… We… gave away your speech time. You’re sick.”

Liz’s mouth dropped open. Both women were confused, Liz by the news, and Miss Grant by the fact that Liz was confused by the news.

“You gave…. But my speech is ready to go. I’m fine to deliver it.”

“I can’t take that chance. What If you still feel sick in the morning? Rae’s gonna do it. She started typing something up a few minutes ago.” Miss Grant pointed to the center of the room, where Rae, alone at a table, bottom lip bitten, was ebulliently tapping her fingers against her iPad keys.

“B….but my parents will be there. They’ve been waiting to hear me speak at this event since back before Christmas.” Tears were nearly welling up in Liz’s eyes. She almost felt more distraught about this than about giant balloons going BANG. Well, not really, the latter was still so much worse. But this was still, you know, really quite devastating.

“Listen. I don’t want to cause drama between you ladies. For us to have any chance to win tomorrow, we have to be firing on all cylinders. If you really think you can do it, then I believe you. But you’ll have to go ask Rae, because right now it’s her spot. If she lets you take it back, you can have it back.” As Liz processed this information, the teacher tapped her thumb and index finger together a few times subconsciously, and then continued. “But you should know that I’m gonna insist on her writing a backup speech tonight. Maybe she uses it for a future event, maybe it’s just good practice for her. But there has to be a backup in case you can’t do it tomorrow.”

Back to nodding.

“I’ll decide in the morning if you’re well enough to go, and at that point, my decision is final. Got it?”

The distressed blonde was not ecstatic by this development, but did feel somewhat relieved that there was now, maybe, a way out of all of this. If she could convince Rae, she could reclaim her spot on the podium. And assuming that the event didn’t feature, say, about 35,000 cubic inches of air over-packed dangerously into 12 greedily gluttonous balloons, Liz would be completely adept at assuring everyone that she wasn’t sick. Because, of course, she wasn’t.

Hmm. Rae was very competitive, but Liz knew she could find some way to persuade her. Or just bribe her. If these 20 strong-willed girls were an obstacle course that someone had to negotiate, Rae was far from the most grueling wall to scale.

“Hi, Rae. I want to thank you for stepping in to help me. But I think I’m gonna be all right. I had a migraine, and it just sorta zoomed in and zoomed back out with a bit of rest. So I feel confident I can speak tomorrow. Is that ok with you?” This clearly wasn’t gonna be one of Liz’s trip highlights; although she was diffidently satisfied that she had found a way to “thank” her teammate while simultaneously tricking her out of this bauble, she also felt guilty for being so patronizing.

“Nah, I think I’m good. I’ve been wanting to give a speech at one of these things for a long time. I guess it just sorta fell right into my lap, so I’m gonna take it. Thanks, though.”

Oh. Now it was Liz that had been condescendingly thanked for nothing. Turnabout was fair play, she reckoned stoically. And Rae’s little smile indicated that she knew that this indeed was a “play,” a parry and riposte, and not just an idle good-faith conciliation. Rae held a flush, and Liz held Queen-High, and they both knew it.

“Ok, Rae. Let’s get serious. I would regard this as a huge favor. My parents will be in the audience—I really need to deliver this speech. I know you want to do this, but I swear to you I can help you get a speech at the next conference. You’re so talented at this, you probably don’t need my help anyway. Come on. I’ve been dreaming about this for weeks. Please don’t let an hour-long illness take this away fr…”

Liz felt that if she really needed to, she could drum up a third pitch that was even more craven than this second one was. But it soon became crucial for this one to work, since the blonde was losing concentration very quickly. Paulie, one table over, had grabbed the last remaining 20-inch balloon, a red one, and was now beginning to playfully dig her nails into it. Those sharp nails. Liz had been right. Those nails were gonna be trouble.

“You’re killing me, dude. I feel badly for you, I really do. But this is something I want too.” Rae kept talking, but Liz’s mind, first con artist and then cosmologist, had now advanced to “jazz bassist,” someone capable of listening to the cues from the other instrumentalists while still muscle-memory-maintaining her bass line. She could keep nodding to Rae, but the worrying conversation at the next table…and Paulie’s nails….held an ever-increasing share of her attention.

“Squeeze it harder. Hug it and show it that you love it to death!” Addison grinned as she goaded Paulie, who obliged by digging a bit deeper, still more in the “teasing” than in the “death-hugging” phase. “You should give it a nice deep tissue massage, like you do to your boyfriend,” Tychelle cajoled. “Really work those kinks out.” “I think her boyfriend is too busy working MY kinks out,” retorted Addison, prompting both Tychelle and Paulie to open their mouths in lewd shock at the joke. Paulie was clearly amused, pulling her hands back for a minute in an involuntarily giggle, but then digging back in. Maybe a little deeper than the last time.

Liz discovered that she needed to don her mental geometry teacher hat as well. What percentage could Paulie dig her nails into that overinflated scratching post before the cat (not to mention all of that air) was thunderously let out of that bag? 5%? 10%? Eek…Eleven percent??? It couldn’t be much more. This was a bad, bad road, and Paulie’s nails were, so to speak, “drag”-racing all the way down that road.

“I think you should untie it and blow it up until it pops.” Fuck. If the roux wasn’t spicy enough already, here came Jordyn to turn up the Scovilles even more. “It’ll make a much better BANG. Those red ones are incredible.”

“Why don’t you just grab one to blow up?” Tychelle held her hands out, pointing to several alternate options, each of which Jordyn was readily welcome to inflate beyond its maximum capacity.

“Because I like that one. It’s the biggest one left. Now, I admit I’d like it a little more if she wasn’t able to squeeze it like that…” The little lacrosse-player pointed to Paulie’s fingernails, still digging somewhere in the range of….oh, 7-to-9% into that distressingly-precarious Red Menace. “If you can press your nails in that far, that means it can hold more air.”

“More. Fucking. Air.” Addison grinned, while Tychelle chuckled next to her. After all, they mused, what do you get the balloon that has everything? Why, a few more big, bodacious, impetuous, inadvisably injudicious lungfuls of everything, right? Did I mention big? Addison, sensing the possibilities, grinned wider.

Jordyn was getting emboldened. “C’mon, BLOW it, Paulie. If it’s not one puff away from scaring the neighbors, it’s not even really a balloon, it’s flat like a welcome mat. I mean, are we, like, in a library right now, or in a fuckin’ church, or is this a party?”

“Are you listening? Three demands,” repeated Rae, something that proved indispensably necessary since Liz hadn’t heard a word of it the first time.

“Y…yeah. All right. What are your demands?”

Liz was lucky she even had the wherewithal to respond coherently, since nearly 100% of her concentration was needed for the head-on truck convoy collision chillingly taking shape in slow-motion over Rae’s shoulder.

The bully in Jordyn began to come out more and more. “What’s fucking wrong with you? Untie the knot and blow it up!! Are you scared??!” Addison had begun a slow, soft somewhat-serious chant of “More….Air. More….Air! MORE…. AIR!!!!” Pauley, in response, made a comment that Liz couldn’t make out, but one that was clearly a clapback to her aggressive lacrosse-playing colleague.

“You ARE scared! I’ll fuckin’ pop it right in your ear, Paulie!! That’ll show you scared!!!” The size and juiciness of the balloon had clearly begun to surge the adrenaline through Jordyn’s veins, even prompting a heretofore supportive Tychelle to say “All righty, dude. What the fuck? We’re all friends here.” Pauley was still enjoying herself, though, sticking her arms out and pushing the balloon toward Jordyn, while giving an extra tease-squeeze of her nails, one eyebrow arched impishly. It was like she was almost daring her, like the red balloon was a matador’s cape in front of a bull. The fat part of the balloon got even Falstaffianly fatter with the squeeze, but stayed tenuously, barely in tact. The calm before the storm, perhaps. Everyone’s eyes got wider watching it, including Liz’s.

But not Courtney’s. Who??! Ah. There were actually 5 girls at the table (if Jordyn, who was really only standing beside it, was included in the count). While Paulie and Jordyn continued their two-person Stratego game of planting their metaphorical flag on this metaphorical bomb, and while Tychelle played peacemaker and Addison played cheerleader, Courtney just sat there, taking it all in. No visible change of her expression. She obviously didn’t fear the prospects of a megalithic BANG right next to her, but nor did she seem particularly engrossed by it…annoyed by it…curious about it…anything. She just watched, as though this was a historic event she was dispassionately viewing much later, and from the distant comfort of her living room couch. Liz couldn’t mind-read Courtney at all. Nothing. She could have had Queen-High or a flush, or anything better or worse, or have been playing the poker game with Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards instead of playing cards, and Liz would still have had no idea. It was positively mesmerizi…

“Hey!! Earth to Liz!! Yes or no?”

Liz re-entered the world of attempting to save her speech, recognizing that she had to put a bit more effort into it. Rae was growing impatient, and one more errant moment could tank this deal permanently. Luckily, while still terrified about what was happening nearby, Liz at least had dual hopes to be buoyed by. One was that Paulie evidently wasn’t about to add more doom-puffs to the humongoid in her hands, and the other was that If she had wanted to hug it to room-shaking smithereens, she probably would have done so by now. So the hastened blonde figured she had a small amount of time. Ok. Her new Mission: Impossible became clear. Plow through this negotiation as fast as possible and get the fuck out of this room.

“Say it one more time, Rae? Yes or no to what?”

“You help me write this speech tonight, because Miss Grant says I have to write it anyway, and then you promise—in writing—that you will lobby for me the next time. If you get picked the next time, you will decline your spot immediately and ask that I have it instead.”

This all sounded fine. “Done. Next?” Liz was almost at the point where this whole night was so much of a Massey Ferguson Combine Thresher accident that she might not even have wanted to go to the next event. Plus, whatever the negotiation terms would be, Rae had happened to catch Liz in a particularly disadvantageous bargaining position anyway. The clock was undeniably ticking on Paulie’s balloon, and beggars (begging to avoid incredibly loud BOOMs) could not be choosers. And now even more trouble was developing on the immediate, grim horizon.

Addison had grabbed a balloon of her own, a 16-inch white troublemaker, and was now beginning to fiddle with the knot. Maybe there was a 10% chance that she wanted to suck the helium out and do an Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas revue. But probably not, since it was February. She was probably taking Jordyn’s advice. Exploring the perfect-circle Venn Diagram between the spheres of “Bigger” and “Better.” The one entitled “The Bigger The Better.” Uh-oh. And speaking of 10%, Paulie’s nail-dig had just reached and crossed that failsafe.

“Demand two: You carry my books for a week.”

M’eh, this was slightly petty, mostly just meant for Liz to suffer a few thwacks to her ego while Rae and her friends guffawed their way through some playful hazing. But no big deal. Certainly not compared to those balloons in Liz’s periphery. Those were big, BIG deals. “Done. What’s the third one?” Liz galloped through the line as though it only had 3 syllables in it.

Tychelle was now holding the 16-incher steady while Addison continued her task of unknotting it. Jordyn was no longer instigating Jeet Kune Do Attack Mode against Paulie, but instead casually sharing a story about popping a balloon in a Wal-Mart recently, and the various reactions of the people nearby. A laughing Paulie shook her head at the audacity of the act. Courtney just looked on. And then looked at Liz, and then looked on again. Still no clues emerged about how she felt regarding any of this.

“Ok, my third demand….those are really nice earrings, Liz. Can I have them?”

Ahh, God Damnit. These were nice. Nice silver floral studs from Blue Nile, given to her as a gift. Oh, well. If it had to be, it had to be. After all, her eardrums were in prison, awaiting the imminent merciless ravages of the loudly-thuggish Balloon Power supremacist gang, the “Air-yan Nation,” (Get it??!) and her earrings were the sole responsible set of relatives capable of bailing those ne’er-do-well eardrums out. If you were wondering, the Gang Sign of the Air-yan Nation: A member blowing into the thumb of a closed fist like it was a balloon nozzle.

“Fine.” Liz began to remove them, shaking her head vexedly as she did. That’s when she spotted Lily.

FUCK!!!!

Somehow, amazingly, this whole high wire unicycle knife-juggling act had not led to any casualties yet. No balloons had popped in Liz’s immediate vicinity. Fatefully, Lily intended to change that. Crouching behind the chair one table over, devious grin on her face, her gaze was zeroed in on Paulie’s red balloon. Through the metaphorical door left open by Jordyn and Paulie’s failure to reach consensus, Lily was gonna burst through it and “Gotcha” them both. And in her right hand was a blue push-pin.

Liz knew that her clock had been sped up significantly now, and that the seconds were ticking as breathlessly as during that Houdini-Chained-In-The-Water-Tank trick. “Okay, so are we good?” She lurched her arm forward to place the earrings next to Rae’s iPad.

Oh, God, Rae, take the deal so that I can please leave!!

“Ok. It’s a deal. You can have the time slot back. Good luck with it.”

Great!

“Now let me read you what I have from my speech so far.”

Sigh. Not as great.

“No, wait, wait, Rae, uhh, before you start, I have, umm, one tiny, tiny request.” The hurried blonde squinted her eyes and brought her thumb and forefinger to about a millimeter apart, indicating “tiny.”

“What’s that?”

“Can we break for now, and I’ll come back later to help you with your speech?”

Rae, looking down avariciously at her fancy new trinkets, was very impressed by them. But not by Liz’s proposition. “No, I wanna do it now. Later I wanna party.”

“Come on. Please? Can you give me….just a few minutes and I’ll come back? I just need some air.” Now THAT was an ironic statement, given the fact that Addison was now adding some air—some More. Fucking. Air.—to her already-overstretched balloon, and that was DEFINITELY not what Liz needed at all.

“Ok. Five minutes. Meet me back here.” Rae removed her own earrings and reached down to toss them into her purse.

For a split-second, Liz felt like hanging a Mission Accomplished banner on her own personal USS Abraham Lincoln. She had gotten her time slot back, and she could probably still avoid the imminent carnage if she left right away….

Nope. Of course not. Too late. This plane was already on the runway and there was no way off of it. Lily was no longer a Crouching Tiger but a prowling one, no longer a Hidden Dragon but one that was depredating with a push-pin as her makeshift dragon claw. Tip-toeing just behind Paulie, she was mere seconds away from lunging in for the ear-splitting kill. And the door to the lobby was on the other side of the action, meaning that even if Liz had made a run for it, she’d actually be closer to the explosion than she was now. She just had to brace herself, scrunch up her shoulders and prepare another permanently-preserved spot in her brain’s remorseless BOOM trophy case.

But once again, it was just a “BOO!!!” and not a “BOOM!!!!!!!!!.” At the last second, Paulie noticed some movement by her left side, and she reflexively pulled the balloon away. Lily’s angle of entry was thrown just a bit off, such that she didn’t get full pinprick-on-latex action, and the pushpin bounced off of the balloon and to the ground. She and Paulie erupted in giggles at the failed assassination attempt. Liz, on the other hand, nearly jumped out of her chair, almost as though she herself had been the one being assassinated. She could have sworn that she saw the tip of the pin not only drag across the skin of the balloon, but also slightly pierce it. Jesus Christ. Really strong latex indeed. Thankfully, Rae’s eyes were on her purse, and none of the girls had seen the startled blonde jump. Except Courtney.

It was obvious that this, now, was the opportunity for Liz to run. She had finagled her 5-minute reprieve. She had her King-To-H2 flight square. But she didn’t run. Instead, she remained transfixed. Staring at Courtney. Frozen in time and space, while the impenetrable tabula rasa peered back at her.

“My god. This is what a normal person thinks about balloons,” the bewildered blonde thought. “There’s no fear, no anxiety. If it explodes, it explodes, she just shrugs and goes on with her day.”


Liz recognized that this was the way more than half the population felt, at least presumably. But she couldn’t wrap her head around it. “How can anyone be so calm around balloons? They’re fucking T.N.T. barrels weaponized by air to get bigger and bigger, in the most visually terrifying of ways, and then they fucking make chandeliers quake when they go BOOOOM! How does that not scare people?”

She almost didn’t believe that Courtney’s reaction could possibly be genuine. Maybe the mysterious girl actually -was- quite bothered by the BANG of a balloon, but she had developed a calm smile as her coping mechanism. That’s possible, right? Maybe she was so Zen-Level Chill that her inner panic yielded no outward signs of discomfiture. Uhh, maybe she had been trained as a crisis counselor or something, someone that simply knew how to be Liz’s “Rock” and soothe her pain away. Heck, maybe she was deaf and couldn’t hear how loudly balloons explode. …No, that last one didn’t seem plausible.

All around Courtney, the flames got higher and higher. Jordyn had begun impishly coaching and encouraging Addison to blow her white balloon up to impossible, unendurable bigness. To Infinity And Beyond. Spurred on, Addison complied with a steady stream of supercilious, uppity puff after puff, while Tychelle continued holding the sides of the tightly-packed orb. She didn’t need to steady it anymore, she just wanted to feel the air unceasingly billowing in, one dangerous new breath at a time. Lily, meanwhile, had gotten onto her knees to look for her push-pin under the table. She would surely not miss her mark twice.

But none of it mattered. Liz and Courtney just stared at each other, And the spellbound blonde realized at that moment that she wanted more than anything to be Courtney. To swap her own mind with that of this magnificent enigma. She also ….sorta wanted to see her naked. But that’s a different story.

Anyway, it turned out not to be the BANG of a balloon that wrenched the beguiled blonde away from her magical mystery tour of denial. It was a shout from an unexpected direction.

“You guys!!!” Mia ran into the room in all of her Deus Ex Machina glory, excited to announce the next trendy party spot in the hotel.

“Wynne just sat on a balloon in the stairwell, and it was sooooo fuckin’ loud!!!! It was AWESOME—you have to hear!!”

Determining that the superior acoustics of the stairwell would enhance their own current prospects as well, the gang quickly grabbed all of the remaining balloons and filed out behind Mia. Liz watched with great relief as the balloon thunderstorm finally blew off shore, a parade of loud mischief content to take its road show to a place where it could wreak havoc on a more audaciously imperious set of sound waves.

Huh. She had been so afraid of that daunting, perilous stairwell because of its echo, and now it was actually, ironically, her best friend. It had drawn all of the BANG-thusiasts into its midst like a spiderweb trapping flies. “POP flies,” as it were. Like in baseball. I mean, with Mia, Paulie, Addison, Lily, Tychelle and Jordyn, they were only three away from fielding a baseball team, actually, and that wasn’t yet counting Wynne.

Wait. Hmm. By the time Liz turned back to survey the rest of the now-quiet room, she had lost track of Courtney. She was sure that she had only counted 6 members of the Stairwell Hunters crew, and Courtney hadn’t been among them. But she was still gone. Somewhere.

She shrugged. “Ok, Rae, I guess I don’t need 5 minutes. We can start working now. Let’s hear your speech so far.”

CHAPTER 5
About fifteen minutes elapsed, as Liz and Rae spoke about various concepts related to “Be the Change,” and how to best incorporate these into the latter’s oratory presentation. Then trouble struck again.

“I want to use, like, alliteration here. A flourish. Do you do that in your speech at all?”

“Not too much, Rae, but there are a couple of spots. Let me look through my speech and see if there’s a place you can get some ideas from.”

Liz dug into her pocket, remembering that there had been some flowery lines in the second half of tomorrow’s address. To her alarm, it was empty. As were the rest of her pockets. With a gasp, the wide-eyed blonde realized that the speech was still at her resting spot on the 3rd floor. One of the times that she had snuck down the stairwell stairs on Faith-spying duty, she must have left it upstairs and then forgotten about it. Damnit! Immediately, her brain conjured up the same dread as before. “What’s your speech doing on the third floor? Why were you up there? I thought you said you were sick! What’s the real reason you tried to sneak away from us?” It wasn’t that leaving her speech in a weird location was much of a transgression in itself, it was the fact that, once again, she had no good reason for it to be there.

“I…I left my speech up in my room, Rae. Let me go up and get it, and I’ll come back down.”

“Ok.”

Luckily, all of the girls had rooms on the 2nd floor, so there wasn’t much risk of one of them stumbling upon it a floor higher. Or so Liz mistakenly thought.

Oh, hey, -there- was Courtney. Sitting in the lobby, chatting with Salena Kate and Nozomi. Liz waved hello to the trio, then turned her back to press the elevator’s “up” button. To her surprise, by the time she was inside, the three girls had joined her, all apparently deciding to go to the second floor at the same time she did.

Hmmm. This was going to require one more step, since she couldn’t press the “3” button, or else everyone would question her decision. All righty—new plan. She would get off with all of them at Floor 2, wait for them to walk ahead of her (their rooms were further away, fortunately), and then sneak back to the elevator and take her quick detour on Floor 3. As quick as this fucking slow elevator could do anything, that is.

“Hit 3 for me, please.”

What?! “Umm… 3, Courtney?”

“Third floor. That’s where my room is.”

Damnit! There WERE rooms for some of the girls on the 3rd floor. Sigh—this changed the dynamic substantially. At any second, someone could now discover the speech. Even one minute might make the difference between two very divergent paths: Liz getting away scot-free with all of this deception, and Liz having a Lot of ‘Splainin’ To Do, a la Lucy Ricardo. The beleaguered blonde decided that she couldn’t risk the extra time, and it was best to just go all the way to Floor 3 with Courtney. Maybe she could just pretend that she was visiting one of the other girls’ rooms. Maybe all of this was an overthink, and no one would care either way.

Nomozi and Salena Kate bounded out when the elevator slow-groaned to a halt on the second floor. The doors stayed open for an eternity, as was the pattern, before they began to close.

But they didn’t close, because a hand reached in and blocked the path, causing them to re-open again. Someone had made it just in time. It was Jordyn, whose room was also on the 3rd floor. Jordyn, fresh from whatever god-awful bevy of BOOMs had occurred in the stairwell, was now back in polite company. Her ears were probably still ringing, mused Liz, “and she probably LIKES this fact. Unbelievable.”

Liz hoped Jordyn wasn’t still mad at her, but she figured that she probably still was. Once again, the blonde contemplated avoiding this drama by getting out of the elevator, but by the time she could make her decision (and get past Courtney, who was blocking her path), the doors were again closing. Figures. The one time Liz had hoped that maybe they’d have been a little slower. Anyway, it wasn’t so bad. Jordyn only had to be in close quarters with her for a few seconds, one measly floor.

And that’s when the elevator, which had been dying slowly throughout this whole evening, finally “broke even” like Kenny Rogers’ Gambler. There was a clank, and then another, and then the compartment lodged itself firmly at Floor Two and a Half. And all of the buttons began flashing at once.

All Liz could hear, over the rueful pounding in her temples, was a nearby Jordyn saying “Oh, for fuck’s sake, dude.”
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 30-03-2019, 05:26 PM
Benga's Avatar
Benga Benga is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 32
Benga is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
Part 3

CHAPTER 6
Twenty to twenty-five minutes. That was the amount of time it would take for the maintenance crew to get there. Hey, it would have been much shorter, but … well, there was a snowstorm outside. Sigh. Liz liked the Jackson Five, but she told herself right then and there that she was never fuckin’ Goin’ Back to Indiana again.

So there she was, she and Jordyn. And, yes, Courtney was there too, but…. Liz and Jordyn. For twenty to twenty-five minutes. I wonder what there was to talk about.

“Listen. I’m really sorry. Maybe I could buy you something, as a gift, to substitute for the one you would have won…”

“Let’s just move past it. I know you get everything you want in life. Some of us on the team aren’t so lucky, but I should just be used to it.”

“That’s really not how it is.”

“Ok, yeah, I’m sure you’d like to tell me all about your struggle, Liz, but spare me. Save it for your German class.”

Was…that a Hitler reference? Liz was not taking a German class. There were many directions in which she could have aimed her next sentence, but instead she decided to just lower her head and walk away, planting herself down with her back to the doors. She was really hoping they could change the subject, before something truly antagonistic was said. Luckily, Courtney, as though sensing the tension, had just the thing.

“So, Jordyn, let’s talk about something else.” As the enigmatic girl spoke these words, a little mental fist-pump roused Liz’s brain.

“How was the stairwell? Were the balloons loud?” Oof. Not so lucky. On the list of Liz’s least desired topics right now, this one was probably second from the bottom. Or from the top. Whichever one means “she really didn’t want to talk about any more goddamn balloons this evening.

“Mmmf, it was GREAT. They were like….Zeus’s lightning bolts with headphones cranked up, they were so loud.”

“Did you blow any to pop?”

“Are you fucking kidding me? Do you not know me at all? Of course we did!” With an excited glint in her eye, Jordyn went on to tell her wonderful tale to Courtney and Liz, the latter of whom she had no idea was deathly phobic of the subject matter. Liz toggled between eye contact with Jordyn, barely-adequately pretending that she was enjoying this, and looking at the back wall, as she tried to maintain as close to Mr. Miyagi-esque composure as possible. Her inner monologue was crane-kicking her in the head.

“Addison and Wynne did a back-to-back blow-to-pop race, and right at the end, Wynne starts flinching every time she hears Addison inhale behind her head, because she knew it was gonna pop any second, and so after one puff, she, like, held the balloon nozzle in her fingers and ducked away, and she was trying to block her ears…” Liz visualized every second of Wynne’s trauma, barely able to even grasp what she would do if she had been there. Not only if she had been Wynne, but even just to be in the vicinity. Courtney simply nodded.

“And then Mia grabbed the balloon and shoved it back up into Wynne’s face and popped it with her nails!! It was awesome! Like ‘Ohhh, nooo, you’re not getting out of this, Wynne. You entered the race, it pops in your face!!’ And Wynne is like all shell-shocked and everything, you can see the fear in her eyes, and she’s about to yell at Mia, and….I swear to god, you guys, the NEXT PUFF from Addison, like 2 seconds later, and her balloon went BOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!, right behind Wynne’s head!! It was the funniest fucking thing ever, we were all laughing so hard.”

Jordyn screamed the word “BOOM” so loudly that it was probably the same decibel level as a mid-sized balloon being disposed of. But it definitely did not do justice to that of a huge balloon, overinflated to cheat-code level, in a super echoey stairwell.

“You guys shoulda gone with us. It was definitely a lot better than the garbage acoustics of that conference room.”

Courtney ever-so-slightly raised an eyebrow, perhaps the first real incipit of emotion Liz had seen her showcase all night. “You were not impressed by some of the explosions in the conference room?”

Liz shuddered internally at this thought. Those explosions had been so loud that she had heard them a floor above. What kind of psychopath was she dealing with here?

“Nah. I blow up balloons like those all the time. Those same ones, really. And I always get them way, way louder than the girls did tonight.”

Courtney continued, coolly. “How’s it possible for someone to make a balloon pop louder? It’s the same balloon.”

“It’s all about super big puffs. They, like, make the air molecules all excited, like it’s filled with kinetic energy. And then when the balloon explodes, they’re turbo-charged to blast outward really fast, which gives the…sound waves a bunch of extra loudness.”

It was true that Liz had played Mental Geometry Teacher a little while earlier, and geometry wasn’t the same as physics, but none of Jordyn’s explanation sounded anywhere near scientifically accurate to her.

“So you’re saying that you can out-blow all of the other girls, and they don’t produce as much air per puff as you do.” It didn’t seem like Courtney was buying Jordyn’s explanation either. …Maybe. Once again, Liz couldn’t read the mysterious girl at all.

“Most definitely, I could. No one out-puffs me.”

Another eyebrow raise, then back to a blank expression. “Well then, Jordyn, I think you owe Liz an apology.”

Wait—woah!! What had just happened? Liz’s eyes suddenly got wide, and for the first time it didn’t have to do with fear. Well, there was still a little bit of fear—fear that Jordyn was about to flip out.

“What do you mean, I owe her an apology?! For what?”

“For dishonesty.” Courtney gave Liz a slight look of what perhaps could be interpreted as sympathy, or …something (it was hard to read), and then turned back to Jordyn. “I was right behind you when you were talking. I heard you tell her that you chose a Robin Egg Blue balloon because it would pop more easily.”

“So?”

“So even though you knew you had a big advantage with your blowing skills, you still tried to cheat to win your prize.”

“How was it cheating?! I just knew what color…”

“Right! If you’re playing a video game and you know how to beat all the levels with one hidden move that no one else knows, wouldn’t you call that cheating? It just happened that you didn’t get your prize because Liz left, but really you wouldn’t have deserved it anyway. It was supposed to be a fun, fair contest. You could have picked another color and just out-puffed the other girls if you wanted to play fair. Instead, you tried to steal a prize deceptively and it didn’t work. Being angry at Liz is just a copout.”

THIS WAS AMAZING. The astonished blonde had never seen anyone stand up to Jordyn, certainly not this directly, and even the rebellious bully was rocked back on her lil lacrosse-playing heels.

“Now then, Jordyn,” continued Courtney, still as ever temperately equanimous, “Were you lying about blowing bigger puffs than the other girls? What else have you said that’s not true?”

“Oh no, that’s ABSOLUTELY true.” Jordyn seemed to take greater offense to that charge than she did to being called a liar. “Come at me with whatever you want, dude, but not with that.”

The whole scene was all perplexingly surreal. Yet, as Salman Rushdie had once said about this increasingly insane world, “surrealism, it seems, is the new realism.” And things were about to get very fucking real. He didn’t say that part. The tone of Miss Zen-Level Chill’s next sentence was, as always, pastoral, like Beethoven’s 6th Symphony. But the subject matter was grim and ominous, like Beethoven’s 5th symphony. Allegro con brio. Dun dun dun DAHHHHN.

“I think you’re gonna have to prove that to me. And to Liz here.”

With this, Courtney opened her hand, and two enormous uninflated balloons uncrumpled. A ruby red one and an emerald green one, both jewel-tones.

Gaspppp—Oh my godddddd….wait….no no no no no no!!” screamed Liz’s mind. Never before did she less wanna see someone offer a demonstration on her behalf. After all of her avoidance of balloons, spanning arguably three separate occasions over the last hour-plus, she now was trapped, staring face-to-face at two primo, A-Number-1 top-quality Jack Macks of balloon contraband. The good stuff. Saint-Tropez VIP Room griz. She had a bad, badddd feeling about this.

The glint in Jordyn’s eye returned. “I’ll take the red one.”

CHAPTER 7
Courtney could really blow. By the time 5 majestic puffs of air had filled her green balloon, it was already substantially larger than her head. Liz’s head, by contrast, tried frantically to fill its own self with some way to stop this madness, but she had nothing. “Isn’t balloon blowing an outdoor activity? Shouldn’t we wait until we’re outside?” was literally the best she could pitifully muster. Thinking on her feet had produced really spotty results this whole evening.

“I think th…that’s enough. W…we can check now.” It wasn’t that Liz figured that 5 puffs into a balloon was going to cause it to pop, but the principle of seeing it get bigger was frightening enough. Bigger often meant…on the road to even bigger.

“Ten will be fine. We can tell with ten,” replied Courtney. Yikes. Ten was still nowhere near enough to be dangerous, not for these enormous balloons anyway, but it was still double the concern. Five and then a second five. A two-part episode of Fright Night.

As Jordyn looked on, not super impressed but quite a bit more so than she thought she’d be, she turned to Liz several times, as though the art of “working the ref,” whom Liz had clearly been force-volunteered into becoming (she was the only one without a balloon in her hand) would elicit a more favorable score. After all, this “talent competition” had to be strictly judged in order to render a fair pageant victor, right?

“Make sure she’s not cheating! I’m so gonna fuckin’ beat this size!! Nobody challenges the Queen!”

It took all of Liz’s fortitude to keep …sorta feigning passive appreciation for this horrific science experiment, especially when Courtney’s nails forged a lil extra latex-squeak after puff number eight. The overwrought blonde winced a bit during the tenth puff, more as a conditioned response to the instinct of “This Is The Last Puff,” and what that usually meant in the eardrum-mangling universe of balloon lingo, than from any actual danger she was in. Now falling somewhere in the “small disco ball” to “small exercise ball” range, a mid-point between Uranus and Saturn in the solar system of balloon size, Courtney held the 10-puffed orb out for the other girls to observe.

“If you can make yours bigger, then you don’t have to apologize. It means you were being honest.” Um, did it?! Did it mean that? Liz was fairly sure that Courtney had missed a step in her logic somewhere, but it didn’t matter. Damage control was now the best the disquieted blonde could do.

“Y…You don’t really need to apologize to me either way. I think this is silly, what we’re….what we umm, are trying to do here. It was just a little spat among friends. I don’t think you need to convince anyone by blowing up that b…”

Jordyn had already started. Loud, over-exaggerated puffs, like when a doctor tells a patient to breath deeply while pressing a stethoscope to his or her lungs.

“Uhhhh…o..okay, you can do the ten puffs. But then, please, can we just get this all over with, guys? I mean, the sooner we put this” phhhhhhhhhhhhht “little scrap behind us, the more we can, you know, focus on” phhhhhhhhhhhhhht “umm….focus on the competition tomorrow. So 10 puffs, and then” phhhhhhhhhhhhhhttt “we can let the air out, right?”

To this request, the “letting the air out” request, one conveyed with a more wavery delivery than Liz realized or was comfortable exhibiting, Courtney simply and coolly replied “Yes. We can let the air out after we measure.” Jordyn’s response had to wait slightly longer, since she was in mid-puff #6, but she also nodded, “sounds-good-to-me”-ing with a mouthful of nozzle clenched in her teeth.

Phew. This could have been worse. As long as both girls were careful and didn’t have a nails-related accident or something, Liz was cool with 10 puffs, or at least as cool as she could be. Neither balloon had a neck yet, and Jordyn was only 4 puffs away from finishing. And these balloons had really strong latex, so no other types of defects or assorted globular glitches were glaring. Gleefully. Liz felt almost like she had willed herself out of danger. Like she “Was The Change” in her latest “Be The Change” role. Just 4 more puffs. Her body clenched a bit more after each one, only partially able to release tension as Jordyn habitually took the balloon out of her mouth to inspect it. It didn’t seem all that necessary to scrutinize so punctiliously, but then again this was Jordyn. Naturally, she had to make sure that this noble spirit-balloon that she was embiggening was, in all ways, perfectly cromulent.

Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. Ten. With a haughty smirk on her face, Jordyn held out her balloon as if it were a prized Meishan pig named Zinnia or Emperor Broderick Damarion IV or whatever. Alas, there was no place to pin a ribbon on it without making the little piggy cry “wee wee BOOM” all the way home.

But her arrogance soon turned to astonishment. Courtney’s balloon was exactly the same size. At least within an imperceptible millimeter or two, anyway. Neither Liz nor Jordyn could believe it, but the indisputable air-packed evidence sat there, right in front of them. Was Jordyn all bark and no bite, after all? I mean, she still doubtlessly seemed to love hearing balloons klimax-in-kaboom, but maybe her short stature gave her a disadvantage in blowing. She did want to win, right?? The presumption had to be that she was giving it all she had, that this wasn’t some sort of contract holdout or something. Or maybe…Courtney was just Jordyn’s inflationary equal. Maybe she was puffing for the collective pride of the entire team against Jordyn’s standalone opposition. Maybe there’d have to be -two- queens, a duet act. Hall and Oates, if Oates ever sang lead. Ummm, Indigo Girls. They both sang lead. Maybe Courtney was a pin to Jordyn’s BANG, …er… a yin to her yang.

“So who won?” Jordyn’s eyes peered impatiently through Liz once again. And the wheedled blonde realized she was again in an impossible situation. Mission: Impossible 2. She certainly didn’t want to anger Jordyn again, and she certainly didn’t want to be perceived by Courtney as dishonest. And calling it a “tie” might necessitate some kind of tiebreaker, and Liz CERTAINLY didn’t want to open that haunted house door. And she couldn’t rely on either girl for help, since they each had a vested interest in making sure their own balloon was named the bigge…

“It’s ok, Jordyn,” came the tranquil words from Liz’s right. “You’re off the hook, you don’t have to apologize. They’re about the same size, but I’ll defer to you. You probably won by a little bit.”

Liz sighed another sigh of relief. Jordyn muttered something under her breath, not making eye contact with either girl, but with body language to attest to the fact she wasn’t angry anymore. Yayyy—Conflict, meet resolution. All was calm, all was bright. Almost like the crystalline snow outside.

The little lacrosse player, however, had something else occupying her mind. She gazed at her balloon, cocked her head slightly and then re-straightened it, before slowly raking her upper teeth against her bottom lip. This matter clearly required a few moments of thought, and when she had come to a conclusion, there was a resolute nod. And then a deep inhale.

And then Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht, she blew into the balloon. And again. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.

Oh no. What was this???! Hey!!!! Liz’s breathing tensed once again, the discomfort evident on her face. Struggling for options, and knowing that this was potentially a very serious problem indeed, her mental Pageant Judge was the first to attempt to take over.

“W…Wait, wait, wait….you said ten! Y…you don’t get to re-measure—you were done at ten!!”

While the sentiment behind this protest had been real, the next sentence that came to mind was hard to even fake authenticity on, although she threw it out there anyway. “You’re…being unfair to Courtney!” Wow. This had not been even the faintest consideration of Liz’s night up until then, but hey, whatever had a shot of working.

“Oh, yeah, my bad, sorry,” Jordyn replied, after puffing again. While those words could have been sarcastic in another context, in this case she genuinely meant them. “I admit that we tied. We’re not competing anymore. You blow well, Courtney. Don’t mind me, I just changed my mind.” phhhhhhhhhhhhhht. “If I gave this back to her, it would be all stretched out and everything, and I’m sure she doesn’t want that. So I just decided I’ll get rid of it now.” Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. Jordyn exhaled, then inhaled again.

“I’ll. Get. Rid. Of. It. Now.” Those words. That order. THAT BALLOON. Oh my god. OH MY GODDDDDD!!!!! Liz’s hands started to shake, as she frantically careened her head back to Courtney. The enigma placidly peered back at her.

“What does she mean?! Is she going to let the air out???” It was hope against hope, against hope. Against hope.

Courtney nonchalantly glanced at Jordyn, who greeted her with another phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht, and then nonchalantly glanced back at Liz. “I don’t think so.”

“What???!!”

Though there was no reason to do this, since the situation was quite clear, the mysterious girl still opted to break the news to the blonde. She did it as though a tennis announcer was remarking on a foot fault in the 15-love 3rd game of a 5-set amateur match in the round of 32. Emotionlessly.

“I think she’s going to blow her balloon up until it explodes.”

Liz didn’t have to search her feelings. Like Luke Skywalker, she knew it to be true. Jordyn was gonna blow up her Death Star. Standby……Standby…..

Courtney’s words vibrantly rang out in this ill-omened, over-resonant enclosed space. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. They mercilessly swirled and chomped, and were terrible, like a Sharknado movie. The kind of words that made bluenosed dowagers and coxcombs stagger toward their fainting couches in the 1880’s. Of course, not that Jordyn, the rebellious lil balloon-o-mancer, was paying attention to the other girls’ conversation. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. She had…bigger things on her mind. And bigger. And there was nothing Liz could do about it. Hmmmmm. God damnit, maybe one thing.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. Liz resolved that she needed Courtney’s help. The tabula rasa had been nice to her so far. Maybe she could help dissuade Jordyn. Liz so fervidly wanted to avoid telling anyone about her phobia, but if she absolutely had to, Courtney was probably the least bad choice. Maybe even the best choice. Yeah!! The Best Choice! And also the only choice, because Jordyn’s balloon had started to grow a very baleful neck. A Baleful Inhale-Full. Uh-oh.

“Courtney…,” Liz leaned in closely. “I’m…uhhh” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the thought, but she absolutely HAD to, and quickly. “I’m….” Christ, Liz, Do it. Now!! Fuckin’ Right Now!!! DO IT!!!! “Ahhhhggg—I’m really scared of balloons!! I’m…scared of wh… when they….pop. Like, really scared!! Reallllllly scared!!!!! Please make Jordyn stop!!!” Her breathing was ragged and panicked.

Alarm crossed Courtney’s face for a brief moment, before retreating back to serenity. “Ok. I have a plan.”

She turned to Jordyn. “Jordyn, doll, could you stop blowing for a minute?” The neck was heftily bigger now.

“Sorry, that’s a negatory, good buddy,” Jordyn replied perfunctorily, exhaling again with another phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.

“No, I’m serious, Jordyn. You have to hear this.”

Ummm, that was a bit of a red flag. Courtney wasn’t going to TELL her, right? She did have an actual plan, right???? RIGHT??? Liz couldn’t help it any longer, and finally sprang her hands upward to cover her ears tightly.

“Yeah, uhhh…no, dude. -I’m- serious. You two have to hear -THIS-.” Jordyn nodded purposefully toward her balloon, and inhaled again. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.

Two strikes and Courtney was already out. She looked back at Liz, as though to say “I tried, hun, there’s nothing I can do either.” There was nigh but a look of tranquil, nonchalant failure on her countenance, as though saying “ehh, win some, lose some.” The sentiment was quickly accompanied by Jordyn inhaling one more time.

Liz’s white flag had been up for a few moments by this time, ready to go, and now it helplessly began waving. It was over. All over but the shouting. “PLEASE STOP—I’M AFRAID OF THE POP!!!!” she finally screamed aloud.

All noise in the elevator stopped instantly, for several feverish yet profound seconds. This admission was worse and more dangerous even than “I Have a Queen High, Please Take My Money!!!” At least that announcement was confined to one hand of one game at one table. This one was more like telling a serial killer “My Backdoor Has No Lock On It!!!” It had an extensive and dreadful permanence to it. The quasi-sexual connotation of metaphorically leaving that certain door unlocked was also not lost on Liz, given the position she had essentially just assumed.

Gravid, parturient silence.

“Hold this, please,” monotoned Jordyn. She slowly and deliberately transferred ownership of her enormous balloon to Courtney, who took it without resistance. The enigma did not let the air out. Not of Jordyn’s balloon, and not of her own balloon either, which was still pinched shut by her other hand.

The now-empty-handed little lacrosse-player motioned for Liz, still seated, to stand. Since there was no longer an imminent threat of danger in Jordyn’s possession, the blonde complied, fingers fidgeting nervously but no longer in her ears. Jordyn moved herself into the flustered scaredy-cat’s personal space, her warm face peering upward several inches right into the taller Liz’s. She spoke one word, calmly.

“Boom.” And give Liz a sinister little smirk. The preciously-privileged “Be The Change” angel flinched just at hearing the word.

Jordyn looked back at Courtney. “I think she’s ready.”
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 30-03-2019, 05:37 PM
Benga's Avatar
Benga Benga is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 32
Benga is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
Part 4 (End)

CHAPTER 8
“Liz, you have to trust me,” came the voice of the mysterious girl. “The next couple of minutes might be very painful for you, but after that it will be over, and you will be better off for it. Just please know that we both love you.”

They loved her?? What?! If Love is a Battlefield, which by the way it…isn’t, obviously—that song never satisfactorily explains what that metaphor means—Liz wished right now that she could draft-dodge as a Conscientious Objector. She didn’t like where any of this was going.

“Before we tell you what is happening here,” continued Courtney, “you must first do something you will sorely not like. I do not like instructing it to you, but it must happen.” Jesus Christ!!!! “Jordyn is going to keep blowing up her balloon. You should only tell her to stop when you think it is as big as it can possibly get, without exploding purely from stress.”

As though sensing that Liz would try to protest vigorously, Courtney sped up a bit and stepped into her next sentence. "The larger it gets, and the braver you are, the more it will benefit you. Don’t stop her until you think that her balloon cannot take more air. Do you understand?”

The blonde didn’t understand any of it. Why were these girls doing this to her? Was this an intervention of some kind? That couldn’t possibly be the case—how would they have known the elevator would get st… Was this exposure therapy???? Oh, please, please, please let it not be that. Liz had no desire to be exposed to even the stomp-pop of a fully-necked 9-incher, let alone anything like the Mike Tyson Punch-Out punch that Jordyn’s powerful perfidious pugilist pop-toy was precariously packing.

Or… was it a veiled threat?? “Do what we say and we won’t hurt you, because we love you?” Domestic Protective Services hotlines had surely been called for less. If Liz couldn’t read Courtney at all—what if the mysterious girl was actually sociopathically, sadistically evil? Gasp—a co-conspirator of Jordyn’s?! Some sort of Good Cop, Bad Cop routine to ferret out Liz’s confession….which, oh my god, she had just given them??? With a chilling revulsion, it suddenly dawned on Liz that at the same moment as Jordyn had left the conference room, Courtney had disappeared through another exit, whereupon she had obviously purloined these two thunderous Biggo-Bangos. Had it all been a coordinated setup? Oh god, it had to be, because why else did she need two balloons??!?

And then, as though this all wasn’t ghastly enough, something else also suddenly dawned on her: that Jordyn had resumed blowing. Noooooooo!! The balloon was now squeaking, creaking and croaking in protest, amid Jordyn’s latest exhale. It had grown impossibly tight, even substantially tighter than when the frenzied blonde had screamed her previous outburst, and the ruby redness had given way to an almost see-through quality. And this was extra scary, since the image seeing-through it was Jordyn’s inhale after exhale after inhale. The quintessential demon goddess of Hell-pierced balloon poppery, on a More. Fucking. Air. expedition, a suicide mission, exploring the barbarously loud ends of this doomed, over-crowded air-planet. Really strong latex was….really strong, but it was only so strong. And it was really, really thin latex right now. Like thin ice. Crack, crack, crackkkk, cracccccck.

Liz had once wanted a glittery pink barrette, after winning a Spelling Bee in 3rd grade. That was an example of something she had wanted. Here is something she did not want; to hear this giant fuckin’ balloon go BANG in her fuckin’ face. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she squeezed her fingers in her ears tightly. But, through it all, she still recognized that following Courtney’s instructions were her best hope. Somewhere in that blank expression there had to be some mercy, hopefully.

So she watched, crouched over awkwardly, “please-no”-ing barely audibly under her breath, while Jordyn blew again. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. Liz brow furrowed, sobbing a bit as she watched Jordyn inhale.

Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.

Please no. Please nooo. Pleeeeease noooo.

Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. Jordyn inhaled.

Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhtttt.
Jordyn inhaled.

“OK, STOP STOP!!!!! That’s enough!!!” The panicked shriek caused both of Liz’s teammates to smile contentedly. Jordyn even responded with a reverent, re-assuring “Good job, kid.”

It was over, but it was…one would have to guess, probably not over. By now, Liz recognized that “over” was more myth than word on this terrible evening. The torment would never end, it was a Möbius strip. And since the risk-averse blonde hadn’t even been willing to go down a floor to get her phone, for fear of a perfectly-ill-timed BOOM from the room below, she was pretty much sure that she was never taking her fingers out of her ears again. Maybe she could eat soup through a straw.

She did however manage to look back at Courtney, hoping that she had completed her assignment adequately, and that maybe this all had some chance to end. What she saw was another incomprehensible shock.

Courtney’s facial expression was now warm, rosy and compassionate. The stoic, pallid girl was gone. It wasn’t at all clear what had happened, but SOMETHING had, and Liz had clearly passed whatever sick test she was in the middle of. It was obviously time to listen with close and intent focus, especially if she hoped to circumvent the impediment of finger-muffled eardrums.

“Elizabeth,” the new beauty lulled maternally, “what you have seen tonight is not real. It is happening only in your mind, and we are merely figments of your imagination.”

What??????????

“Do you remember the relaxation exercise you did when you first entered this elevator?” Courtney waited for Liz to nod slowly, then looked her squarely in the eye. “You’re still doing it.”

Silence again. Any emotion could have followed. Rage, hurt, even relief. But instead Liz was simply confused. Very confused. She closed her eyes hard for a second, toggling her eyeballs inside them in order to maybe reboot her mental desktop, and then blinked them back open again. Maybe that would help.

It did. Much had now changed, thereby confirming what she had just been told. The elevator lights had stopped flashing. Courtney and Jordyn still stood side by side, but they had now donned their “Be The Change” uniforms. No balloons were in sight anymore. Liz was safe. Freaked out, but safe. No longer the metaphorical star eyewitness to the gruesome Double Inflate-icide case the Evening News had surely led with. The blonde lowered her jittery hands from her ears, straightened up, and looked through tear-addled eyes directly at Courtney, deferentially awaiting further instruction.

“There’s something in your brain keeping you from becoming stress-free, Elizabeth. Some fear you have. Something other than balloons. They are just the mechanisms you are using to express this fear.”

Liz tried to respond that, um, no, it was fucking definitely balloons causing her fear, but the words would not escape her mouth. Deep down she recognized that Courtney, or, well, “her imaginary Courtney,” must have been correct. Actually, yeah, obviously. Liz was just basically agreeing with herself, so of course….uhh….she agreed.

“I represent your goal,” said the kindhearted former enigma. “I am the stress-free person you wish to be. For you to achieve this, you must relax. You must put whatever it is out of our mind, and simply relax.” The words danced with opulence and suppleness around the impossibly over-resonant elevator. They were lush plume celosia flowers wrapped in velvet. Beautiful and therapeutic, sugary and sublime.

But then the unease came. The dread, the panic. Liz, gulping, swerved her head around apprehensively, to see what Jordyn’s role in all of this was. She was guessing “Probably not a second muse for stress-freeness.” Though that would have been appreciated.

As though anticipating the question, Jordyn’s devious smirk grew wider. “I’m your worst nightmare, sweety. I represent your fear.” Holy fuck!!

The lil lacrosse player, or this version of her anyway, slowly brought her hand upwards to shoulder level, in an exaggerated little signifier of ominous melodrama. Liz had no idea what was about to happen, but she knew she wasn’t going to like it. “Please no.” Whatever was going to emerge from that hand, or be gesticulated via that hand, or whether Liz was about to get punched 50 times in the face by that hand, “Please no” was a pretty useful response, given its universality.

Jordyn beamed evilly, reveling in Liz’s terror. Then, with that wicked hand, she snapped her fingers. And the trio were back in the saddle again. Same outfits as previously, same respective positions, same dullened lighting. Same balloons too, and the same size as they had been. Which, as one may remember, included one that was so, so precipitously big and tight. So fucking tight. One-breath-away level tight, most likely. Hey, of course it was: after all, Liz herself had inexplicably aided in making it that way. Quite a BANG-up job, huh, fuckin’ moron.

“So here’s how this works,” the little fear-imp continued, cradling her Jupiter-sized-balloon in both hands, almost like it was a lacrosse stick. “You need to attempt to relax, and if you do, you will end this episode. I will promise you this. When your mind is clear and serene, you will have addressed your fear, and your relaxation exercise will be complete.” There was a pause. “In the meantime, Courtney is going to blow her balloon up. She will not stop unless your mind lets her. ”

The blonde reacted as though she was being dangled halfway out of a 12th-storey window. “Oh, God, please don’t do this, Jordyn!! Please!!! I c…can’t relax with the balloons here!! They’re too scary!! Don’t make me do this!!!!!!!!!”

Jordyn continued. “The only rule is that I cannot blow up my balloon until or unless Courtney’s balloon gets bigger than mine. That is why it was helpful to you to make sure mine was as big as possible. It buys you more time to relax.”

Liz was right—relaxing was gonna be hard. Especially when she saw Jordyn smirk again, her eyes gleaming even more than before.

“But I want to blow, Liz. With every bone in my body, I wanna POP this monster. So you can help me by staying stressed out long enough for her balloon to exceed mine. Because you know what happens then? That means that I get to blow. Won’t that be fun??! I. Get. To. BLOW.”

The grin kept widening, and it nearly set the entire elevator ablaze when Miss Super Big Puffs delivered her next line. “And, sweety, I wanna make sure you hear the BIGGEST, LOUDEST fucking BANG you’ve ever, EVER heard. Right after Courtney’s balloon gives you the second loudest.”

Liz’s fingers, by now, were back in her ears tightly, as she continued to beg the two of them to stop. That this was simply too horrifying. How much could her pounding heart take? Maybe she should just have fuckin’ stayed in the conference room and gotten it all over with hours ago. At least by now her ears would have stopped ringing, if not the telephone of the psychiatrist’s office she was going to need to visit.

“Put it out of your mind, Elizabeth. Focus and relax,” whispered Courtney tenderly, before exhaling into her balloon, thus moving her metaphorical Price is Right Cliff Hangers climber one puff up the mountain.

“Mmm, it looks like Courtney’s time bomb has started ticking, Liz. I wonder how many seconds you have left. It’s a pity you didn’t count how many blows it took me to get mine this big.” Liz was already nodding in sad concurrence. She hadn’t. But of course Jordyn knew that—she was literally in Liz’s head—she knew everything. “It would have given you a clue about how many more of ….these there were.” Jordyn pointed, right on cue, as Courtney showed Liz what was behind Door #2. It was another Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht.

“Now let’s see. There are so many things you could be afraid of, Liz. And so little time.”

“Relax, Elizabeth. All of your worry, your pain. Everything that causes you stress. Let it go.” Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht. This was a Hell of a way for Courtney to be “helping.”

Jordyn’s grin became sneerish and aggressive, little by little, as she dug into her patented bullying routine, knowing that she now had to get down to business. “Well, we could start with the fear that everyone on this team totally fucking hates you. They do, you know. You get everything handed to you, you’re arrogant, you’re fake… You just had to get special treatment at tonight’s meeting, didn’t you. Look in their eyes, dude. They’re all hoping your speech FAILS tomorrow.”

“…hhht.” Courtney finished exhaling, then inhaled deeply for another puff.

“And you know it will fail, Liz. You’re too nervous. You’re gonna think about that conference room during your speech, and you’re gonna choke. Middle of a line, and your brain is gonna think POP, POP, POP, sweety. Or maybe it won’t even be a hallucination, maybe it’ll be real. One of us’ll sneak a balloon in. One of the girls behind you, perhaps. Hmm—are we gonna pop it near the beginning, or in the middle, or near the end of your speech?”

An exasperated Liz was crying once again, still begging wordlessly for Courtney to stop blowing, although Jordyn’s fucking trash talking wasn’t her favorite noise right now either. Well, “her” proxy of Jordyn, that is. For God’s Sake, her sadistic brain had become so good at taunting herself with past-lived balloon pops than it was now creating the news in addition to reporting it.

“Please relax, Elizabeth. You know that none of this is real. It’s all in your mind. Release your demons, Liz, and follow me to the light.” Ever the optimist, Courtney’s face remained gentle and motherly even between huge puffs. Heck, even during them. She inhaled for another.

“Ooh—maybe you’re nervous about your parents!” Jordyn’s eyes got wider, as though beset by a revelation. “Maybe the snow will DELAY their travel. Aww, too bad, they’ll miss their sweet little cupcake’s speech. Come on, sweety, imagine it. Think about when you receive that call. That they’re stuck, and they can’t get there in time. The disappointment in their voices. Jusssst keep on thinking about it, Liz. A little….bit…longer.” Jordyn kept checking out the steadily-expanding state of Courtney’s Jolly Green Giant, exuberantly cackling a malevolent lil “Ho Ho Ho” under her breath as she saw it dangerously plump up more and more.

“Y’know, Liz, we’ve been in here a long time,” Jordyn continued mockingly, finding yet a new angle. “Do you think maybe Rae thinks you ditched her? I mean, I’m sure she knows you’re in here, but still…. She’s had all this time to think about it. Sitting there all alone for minute after minute, starting to dream of being up there in the lights…thinking maybe you don’t want your time slot anymore, cause if you did you’d have come back. What if she realizes that you two are the only ones that know about the deal you made? At any second, couldn’t she just go to Miss Grant and tell her that you agreed to let her do the speech after all? Her decision is final, remember?”

Another eyebrow raised itself on Jordyn’s cruelly-smirking face, as she now stepped closer to a crying Liz. “Or maybe someone’s gonna discover your speech on the 3rd floor. Oooooooh, you’re gonna get in so much trouble, sweety. Why were you up there again? Were you breaking the rules?”

Courtney was now almost pleading with Liz to focus and achieve inner peace, knowing that she was on the verge of losing this battle. There was now maximum urgency in her words, even as she maintained her calm, meadowy voice. “Free your mind, Elizabeth! It’s not too late!!”

Yet it was getting toward “too late.” The neck was now nearing the size of Jordyn’s. The catastrophic inflation continued. The mountain climber was yodeling louder. “You must relax!,” it seemed to yodel, following either Courtney’s lead or her ventriloquy skills.

Liz was trying to relax. Trying soooo hard. She just couldn’t. “Please stop…..please stop” was all she could sob, her ears warm from all of the friction her hands and fingers were digging into them. “I c….can’t. I don’t want to be here anymore. Please…. I’ll do anything. Stop this. Ssstoppp thhiiisss!!!!!!!.”

“Oh fuck no, we’re not stopping, Liz. She’s just a little teensy tiny bit away—maybe 2 more puffs of air. We can’t stop NOW. Come on, Courtney. Thatta girl. Gimme that fucking green light. Green means Go!!” Jordyn was practically salivating at how close she now was to being able to deliver the Death Blow to her giant balloon. Green did mean Go, and Courtney’s green Boom-o-Matic showed no signs of stopping.

Nor did Jordyn’s taunts; they just kept getting worse and worse. “It’s gonna be so much fun when I tell everyone, Liz. Which girls do you think will judge you? Which ones will laugh? Only babies are scared of balloons, silly. They’re gonna treat you like a freak show. It’ll become a challenge for them to see for themselves how scared you are. Which girls’ll wanna POP balloons near you every day from now on, Liz? …Every. Single. Day. I bet Addison can’t wait. That girl is a fuckin’ psycho when it comes to balloons. Doesn’t she live right near you too, Liz? Maybe she’ll stand outside your house and blow up balloons all night while you try to sleep. What’s your Boom Count at right now, Liz? 65? It’s gonna be a fuckin’ THOUSAND before the end of the year, princess. Come on, Courtney!! BLOW for me!!!”

The two balloons were now the same size. Twin Peaks. Twin Squeaks and Creaks. Red and Green, like the world’s scariest Christmas tree decoration. Like the Joker’s testicles. Like two chubby-fat tomatoes, one underripe, one overripe. Like Andy Reid’s corpulent coaching career with the Eagles and then the Chiefs. Go and Stop, Blow and POP. Like a horizontal version of antique traffic lights, the ones with just two bulbs. And while there was no yellow light in the middle, unlike modern traffic lights, there was a fuckton of “Caution” blinking through the blonde’s mind.

Liz dropped to her knees, anticipating the imminent double-barreled shotgun blast. Her eyes were screwed shut tightly, but she wouldn’t have been able to see through her tears anyway. Her only thought was that, way back when this elevator had been so cramped with 9 people in it, it still had seemed inconceivable that the space could be so utterly filled up by just 3 of them. Three girls and two tyrannical 24-inch nuclear bombs.

Jordyn reached for her final trick, her showstopper. Her “watch out for that first step, Doc, it’s a lu-lu” moment.

“Or maybe…,” she chortled, “we’ll tell you that we’re taking the back exit to go to the competition tomorrow, but instead it will lead you ….into the stairwell.” There was a naughty grin and a nod. “And the doors will be locked from the outside. So it will just be the 20 of us there. And then we’ll ALL pull out balloons. And some girls will sit on the upper stairs, and some on the lower ones…”

Liz couldn’t stand it any longer. “Nooooo!! Pl….pleeease nooooooooo!!” Her wailing sobs were weak and fatigued by this point, but still constituted sweet music to Jordyn’s ears.

“And we’ll blow…”

And with this statement, Courtney saw that she had no chance and no choice. Relaxation was no longer a card in this tarot deck. The Four of Swords was now, inevitably, the Two of BOOMs. And so Courtney blew her balloon up once more.

And Jordyn’s eyes lit up, jubilantly recognizing her cue. And she blew. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhht!!!!

And Courtney blew. Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhtt!!

And Jordyn blew. PHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHTT!!!!

And Courtney blew. PHHHH…

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!

Devastating, cathartic, traumatizing, none of these words quite did justice to this moment. Umm, Traumvathartastazinc? There’s all three words smashed into one. Maybe that’s closer. The explosion was perfect, an event of awful, hemorrhaging beauty. It put the “art” in cathartic.” The “vast” in “devastating.” The “Ma” in “traumatic,” since Liz wanted nothing more than just to go and sobbingly hug her Ma. Green bits of latex confetti cascaded onto Liz’s skin just like the snowflakes outside the hotel, each piece jaggedly shattered in a resemblance of her psyche and her eardrums. A squall of air blew back her blonde hair, more than enough to remind one and all of her newly-unadorned earlobes, another casualty of this night. Swarms of aggressive Africanized Killer Bee sound waves bombarded Liz like needles from an accidental prat fall in an acupuncturist’s office. The BANG hit her like the opening Ba-na-la-na-la-na-zowww of “Layla,” like a roller-derby elbow to the chops, like “The Jazz Singer”’s decimation of the Vaudeville era. The mirrors cracked and cleaved on all sides of the elevator, while the cables shook and shivered and the buttons buzzed and bumbled.

And then the entire operation lurched cloddishly downward, a few spasmodic inches at a time. The elevator, already having sputtered out, was now going to plummet all three girls into the abyss, as the irreparably-damaged wires finally felt the G’s of the conquering sound waves. Down, down, craccckle, another convulsion downward, microseism after paroxysm after, uhh, Calvinism. In Liz’s Fall, We Sinned All.

Until, with one final clonk, scupper and thud, it jolted to a halt. Perfectly on Floor 2. And the doors opened. Quickly, for once. There stood Miss Grant and the other 17 members of the team, crowded in a throng, eager to greet their three rescued heroes, though no one knew exactly how or why they had managed to unstick themselves before the maintenance crew had finished tinkering with the circuitry.

Instead, they saw a window into the dark corridors of the human soul. Liz, broken and sobbing in a fetal position, mascara a Jackson Pollock painting, hands shaking as they raked and clasped at the disheveled hair on the sides of her sweat-deluged head. A dispirited and taciturn Courtney standing over her on one side, and a brattily, vociferously-smirking Jordyn nodding audaciously on the other, her eve-of-destruction Big Red still in her hand. And green flecks of latex here, there and everywhere.

It took a moment for some of the girls to realize what had happened. Others figured it out immediately. Goodness, gracious, who would have pegged Liz Russell as a pusillanimous little peacock, a girl that could be cowered into avgolemono soup by a mere balloon pop? A few girls snickered. Ebonee shook her head, like “Damn, girl.” Addison just licked her lips ravenously.

Of course, with the doors opening to an audience like that, Jordyn could only think of one metaphor. It was like a curtain unfurling. It was Showtime! And the lil lacrosse player knew that she just HAD to put on a show during Showtime, right? That sense of owning the stage had always been her extra secret weapon during Karaoke Night, after all. So she gave the crowd what it wanted. A twee little curtsying lolly-lick sailor-boy blow of her wuvly widdle bawwoon.

Phhh…. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!

This time, some hoots and excited gasps came from the group. Grace and Izzay “Oh My Gawd”-ed with one another as they hugged, having just seen the indelible highlight of their week. Jordyn threw her head back in a wave of tingles. Addison’s succulent little barely-legal PUSSY became soooo fucking wett. Whoa!!! Hey now. Let’s keep this PG.

Liz, already numbed by the grievously acute assaults of vitiation and emotional barbarism, felt the life leave her body. She could barely make out the box that Abgail was carrying, as her eyes began to flutter closed. Huh. Abigail must have won one of the prizes. It made sense, with all of those puffs she had earned via her pledges. Lily was right to want to be her partner. The debilitated blonde passed out on the floor. The floor of this fucking elevator.

CHAPTER 9
And then she woke up. She could feel Faith’s hand on her forearm, excited about the night’s upcoming activities. Liz was back in that original, cramped elevator, 5 of her friends still in their bulky winter jackets. She sort-of knew this already, but it still required confirmation. It HAD all been a dream. A relaxation exercise. And the blonde felt….wow. Incredibly relaxed. And was once again in possession of her Blue Nile silver floral studs, as she quickly felt her earlobes to check. Sure, balloon BOOMs number 66 and 67 had carved themselves into her memory, but she no longer really felt their sting. They were suddenly distant, as though in a dusty old box in a mental attic someplace.

Looking around at her friends, her eyes now stopped on two of them for the first time, perplexing the blonde immensely. What the hell?! It was….Brie and Alexis standing there. The two girls that had gotten expelled for leaving the hotel in Bethesda.

Waittttttt a second
. The wheels began to turn.

How could they be here if…. And then, suddenly, Liz realized it. Brie and Alexis had not been the ones dismissed. The girls that had been forced out of the group were….

Courtney and Jordyn.

This was what the whole experience had been trying to tell her. Her fear hadn’t been balloons, it had been the unholy possibility of getting thrown off the team. Somewhere, somehow, screwing up and losing the thing she cared about most. Because she loved the team and they loved her. All 5 girls smiled back at her with unadulterated adoration.

There was only one way to pay back such fondness. Liz was going to deliver the speech of her life tomorrow. She was going to “Be the Change” and carry her team to flawless victory. And as the elevator hit Floor 2, Liz thanked her mind for letting herself become ready for this moment. Stress-free.

Last edited by Benga; 08-04-2019 at 03:28 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 30-03-2019, 07:21 PM
loonerfun00's Avatar
loonerfun00 loonerfun00 is offline
Balloon Fetish Writer
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: My country collapsed :(
Posts: 137
loonerfun00 is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
what a twist!

you have exceptional writing skills, well done!

Quote:
Like the Joker’s testicles
i loved that!
Quote:
in all of her Deus Ex Machina glory
and that!

you and other writers in this forum really deserve some recognition; an award or at least a title.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 31-03-2019, 03:28 PM
lyckr lyckr is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Norway
Posts: 610
lyckr is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
Well then. That was quite something.

Masterfully written. The suspense throughout the story was insane. I loved it.
And what a twist.

Only drawback, for me at least, was the heavy use of metaphors. Mostly because I didn't get half of them
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-04-2019, 12:29 PM
ChillinHaze ChillinHaze is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 107
ChillinHaze is on a distinguished road
Default Re: New Story: The Elevator Escalators
Great story ^^

Although I have to say the heavy overuse of metaphors and such makes it a bit exhausting to read after some time. I caught myself thinking, "I get your point, now get to the point!"
And starting to skip over them at some parts.

They are just not meant to be used that heavily as a stylistic means. ^^"

Otherwise the whole psychological angle is very well done.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.