Shifting on my feet to see better into the reception area I heard a loud creak from the floor beneath my feet and looked down and behind me to be sure the noise was my doing. I looked back into the reception and now standing motionless in the centre of the space saw I tall figure. I couldn't easily disguise my fright and was about to laugh nervously when suddenly the impulse left me and instead my blood ran cold. The silent figure was silhouetted against the dim light from a doorway, it looked mal-formed and mis-shapen but not a single feature was visible on its black face.
A deep growling voice came from the darkness before me 'choose any room, they are all empty and most are unlocked'.
I opened my mouth to respond but no words came. I was paralysed staring at the grim shape before me.
'Go', the shadow hissed.
Startled and still speechless I stumbled back and caught sight of an old lift in the corner of the room, it's cage doors slightly ajar. I ran over and opening the cage fully, stepped into the black space and pressed the first button I saw. Bright light enveloped me unexpectedly and spilt out into the lobby revealing some faded graffiti on the opposite wall.
'Dies ist die zwischen'
I dragged the stiff gate shut and stood back as the lift groaned into action. Screeching, the lift moved surprisingly fast and between blurs of rust stained grey stone I saw swift flashes of long black corridors. I breathed for what felt like the first time in minutes. The lift smelled like old, musty, wet carpet and the circulating air was uncomfortably warm.
Red, Brown and carmine smears were on all three wooden panels of the ascending lift. As I looked more closely I saw what looked to be individual hand marks, small childlike handprints. The lift jerked violently before I had a chance to take in what I had seen and I fell hard to the floor. Still moving upwards, the lift clattered and swung from left to right. I steadied myself against the rear of the lift and focused on the stone slipping forever downward on the other side of the rusted cage. A dark corridor slipped momentarily into view and at the edge of the field of light thrown from the lift car I could see some muddied bare legs and feet. Then it was gone and I was back to watching the shifting wall of the lift shaft. A chill ran up my spine and then the lift lurched sideways again and slowed to a crawl. I heard a loud scream from somewhere above. Terrified, I looked to the top of the cage just in time to see the next corridor come into view. On this floor, outside the lift stood a mutilated child soaked in blood and grime, her mouth unnaturally wide as she screamed, her eyes black as night. The lights flickered off in the lift car and blinked back on just long enough for me to see the child was now inside the car with me. Still screaming she reached for my face and I pushed her bloodied hands away. The light continued to flicker as I saw her fall to the ground, no longer screaming, she smeared her bloodied hands about the wooden panel. The lights flickered rapidly and then total blackness and silence. Suddenly the lift jerked hard upwards and returned to the original speed. The light returned to full brightness and I am alone in the lift. Where the girl had stood, written in the bloody smears: two words.
‘Helft mir’ (help me).