One hundred and eighty-five floors

Like every day, Dylan arrived with plenty of time to spare. He had been following the same routine every day for twenty-three years, and up until this point there hadn’t been a single day he’d arrived later than he proposed.

He had followed the usual route from his home to the office: first he had taken a coffee in his café of choice; once he had finished, he passed by the newsstand to get the newspaper and from there, he had begun walking in a calm pace towards his office. Twenty-five minutes later, precisely fifteen minutes before his shift begun, he was going through the entrance door of the incredibly high skyscraper in which his office was.

He greeted the receptionist with a slight nod and continued through the main hall towards the line of eight elevators that were arranged to move throughout the entire height of the building. He went into the first available elevator, introduced his key to unlock the access of the highest floors, and pressed the button of the last floor, where his office was.

One hundred and eighty-five floor.

The doors closed behind him and the elevator started to ascend.

The elevator was a cubicle no wider than two meters and around three meters in length, with a very long panel in the left wall in which the buttons for every one of the floors were installed. In front of the door, as usual in many elevators, there was a big mirror that went from waist-height until the ceiling. In the wall on the right there was a vertically oriented screen that showed a clock, a little area with meteorological information and a section devoted to showing ads.

Dylan closed his eyes. The trip in the elevator was one of the few moments of the day in which he had enough time to relax.

The screen flickered quickly, although Dylan didn’t notice, and the faint ambient music that was playing suddenly stopped.

“Dylan,” a voice said.

Dylan turned to face the screen, where the voice originated, and saw that the information and the ads had disappeared, and that in their place there was a face that didn’t cause him any impression, of a man around his fifties.

“One hundred and forty-nine floors,” the voice continued. “Tick, tock. Tick, tock.”

Dylan turned to face the control panel of the elevator and, after a quick calculation, realized that, indeed, he was in the thirty-sixth floor and, as a result, one hundred and forty-nine floors remained to reach his office.

“One hundred and forty-eight.” The voice seemed to come from behind the screen, while the music that had been playing just a few seconds before came from the speakers installed in the ceiling of the elevator.

“What the fuck is going on?” Dylan asked, slightly scared, but intrigued at the same time, while he turned around again to face the screen.

“One hundred and forty-five,” a different voice from the first one said a few moments later, at the same time as the face on the screen changed to that of a young woman. “You are getting closer to your destination, Dylan.”

With his nerves cracking, Dylan acted by instinct. He pressed the elevator’s emergency button, which should suddenly stop the elevator and open the doors.

But nothing happened.

“One hundred and forty-four,” a different voice said, this time of an elderly woman. The voice changed at the same time as the faces shown on the screen were changing.

Why doesn’t her voice come out of the elevator speakers?, Dylan thought, attempting to analyze the situation as calmly as possible.

He saw a little tab on the right side of the screen. He pulled it and the screen moved to its side, leaving a small hole on sight in which there was a speaker, a paper note with some numbers, 78-36, 43-21, 3-15, 32-2, and a device with an alphanumerical keyboard connected to what looked like… Two dynamite cartridges?

“Fuck,” Dylan muttered.

Dylan tried to stay calm. What were those numbers? If he had any chance of surviving, he supposed those numbers would be the key to it. As a result, he tried to introduce the numbers on the note in the alphanumerical keyboard.

“Wrong. Sequence,” a robotic voice said through the same speaker. “Did you truly believe it would be so easy?” the voice, which was human again, said. “One hundred and one.”

The elevator was going up quickly. The day-to-day perception made the trip seem very long, but with the heart beating so fast time seemed to pass by much quicker.

The answer had to be in the numbers. Or maybe it was a distraction? No, it had to be in the numbers.

Of course! The number pairs are all lower than one hundred and eighty-five. They must be pairs of floors, Dylan thought, while he began to press the elevator buttons two at a time.

Nothing happened.

“I’m such an idiot,” he grunted. “I must input something in the keyboard I found behind the screen.”

“Sixty-five,” another voice continued, this time of a kid around eleven years old. “Why don’t you like to play with me anymore?”

That last voice… That last one wasn’t completely unknown. Or was it? He tried to concentrate on what mattered the most in that moment: only sixty-five floors remained until his inevitable death arrived. He couldn’t think in trifles, he had to focus on what mattered the most.

What mattered the most.

Dylan lived for his work. How didn’t he think about that in the first place. Clearly the situation in which he found himself had to be some kind of vengeance of something from work.

“Who can have so much resentment toward me?” Dylan thought aloud.

If he managed to find that answer, he was sure he would know what he needed to write in order to stop what was happening.

He begun to think in events which had happened recently at work.

That time he promised to his superiors to have the slides ready for a week earlier, but that he couldn’t deliver until one day after the due date. That had been a disaster, but not so much as to justify what was happening.

No. It can’t be that.

Or perhaps… Could that be possible? It was true he had been pushing his subordinates for a while with persistence, but had he pushed them that hard? Could that be so serious as to arrive at that point?

He thought of the employee who was just under his level. He was the one that had received more pressure from him. If it had to be someone, it had to be him.

“Peter McKinsey,” Dylan muttered while he wrote the name on the terminal.

“Wrong. Sequence.” The robotic voice reverberated throughout the little cubicle. “Forty-three,” said this time the voice of a woman who should have around his age.

That voice brought him memories. But he didn’t have time to stop and try to distinguish the voices that were speaking.

“Fuck!” Dylan exclaimed while he channeled all his rage in the shape of a blow with his fists against the elevator’s mirror.

The mirror shattered and fell into pieces, leaving a note visible behind. It’s a pity you know to the minute in which time of day you live, but you don’t even know which day it is today.


What did that note mean? What day was it? He pulled out the newspaper he bought less than half an hour before to look at the date. 20/01/2021.

He didn’t think that would be the answer, given that it had nothing to do with the pairs of numbers of the first note, but he tried anyway.

“Wrong. Sequence,” the robotic voice said again. “Twenty-two floors,” continued the voice of the same woman who had been indicating him how many floors were left since a few moments ago. “So organized for everything and you can’t think of anything else?”

And then he had a revelation.

The newspaper.

He glanced at the note with the numbers. 78-36, 43-21, 3-15, 32-2. He opened the newspaper as quickly as he could at page seventy-eight and started to count words until he arrived to word number thirty-six.


He followed the same procedure with the remaining number pairs.


“Fifteen floors, Dylan. Tick, tock.”





Dylan, we miss you.

The words echoed in Dylan’s mind, when suddenly he remembered the voice of that kid that had sounded through the speaker so many floors before. Could he be…

His son.

Then he began to identify all the voices that had been sounding, all the faces that had spoken. His brother, his older daughter, his mother, his little son and finally…

My wife…, Dylan thought.

Always worried about work, it wasn’t uncommon that Dylan would leave his family aside on many occasions. It had been years since he had spoken with his brother. Months without calling his mother. Weeks knowing nothing about his daughter. Days he didn’t kiss his son good night.

His wife.

Finally, he remembered. That day it was his wedding anniversary.

With a tear in his cheek, Dylan realized that the password that would save him couldn’t be the anniversary date, given that he had already tried it before.

“Three floors,” his wife’s voice reverberated, louder than any of the other voices, with a sad touch to her voice, as if she was crying.

“I’m sorry,” Dylan whispered.


“I’m sorry!” Dylan exclaimed, with his eyes filled with tears.

“One,” whispered the voice of his wife through that speaker. “Good bye, Dylan.”

And as quickly as he could, Dylan typed into the terminal:

I’m sorry.

The elevator music began to play again and a bell sound played.

“You have reached your destination,” said the usual elevator voice.

Written by Nordellak
Category: Horror Stories

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