Flash Fiction: Don’t Leave it Too Late

At first Mena was annoyed with Will. After all, he was still at work — well technically he had just left the office and was now leaving the multi-storey carpark  — but he promised that morning he’d come home earlier so they could celebrate their first wedding anniversary with good food, good wine, and a good night, depending on the wine.

But now she was concerned, things didn’t sound right on the phone, and he certainly didn’t sound right.

“Would you say I’ve been a good husband, babe?” He asked almost immediately upon answering her call. “You’d say I was a good guy right?” He sounded distracted. Before she could speak he continued: “Only I’ve been driving and driving round this damn carpark and I can’t get out. I’m feeling a touch damned.”

“That’s not funny Will.” Mena rebuked, sensing he was typically dodging the issue by laying on the charm, his ‘get out of jail free’ card. It undoubtedly worked with his colleagues but it wouldn’t wash with her.

“No I’m serious babe,” he insisted, “I’m turning down the next ramp and I can see minus ten on the wall. Minus ten! There’s no such thing as a minus tenth floor, is there? I just can’t find the exit. ”

Against an impenetrable backdrop of darkness Mena’s bright reflection frowned back at her from the kitchen window. She looked lost holding a phone in one hand and a corkscrew in the other.

“Surely…” she began

“And don’t say it’s on the ground floor because it isn’t there. I’ve been driving round and round and down and down and all I’ve been seeing are the same empty spaces, the same lights, the same ramps; the only differences are the level signs.”

“But it must be below the first level. Where else could it be? Go back up.”

There was a pause, the line crackled and shrieked, then,

“Long is the way that out of hell leads up to light. Something like that.” Will muttered, his voice sounding monstrously robotic. Mena held the phone away as it cried out again in electromagnetic despair.

“Just get to the level above minus one and stay there until you find the exit.”

Another pause, punctuated with sped-up jabberings and banshee calls. Mena could hear him counting up the floors every few moments or so until Will partly wrapped up with, “Ah! Ground floor, only…wait, it says level one again.”

“Now you’ve gone too far up, go back down one ramp.” Mena felt more than a little frustrated again, but an uncomfortable coldness had taken hold of her heart as well and she desperately wanted Will home right there and then.

“Go back down again! Did you hear me?”

“Yes I hear you and I’m here and I can’t see any exits, windows, people, cars, doors, nothing! This is ridiculous.”

A horrific screech shook the phone from Mena’s hand; she cursed and picked it up from the floor. Holding it an inch away from her ear she caught Will mid-sentence: “…might be in there, I’ll have a look, won’t be a second…”

“Wait, I didn’t catch what you said just then.” She rushed her words.

He spoke louder, clearer, “I said I can see a lift with a light that just came on as though someone just opened the inside door, and gone inside or come out. I’m just going to take a look, see if anyone’s in there.”

“No! Please don’t go in there, please stay in the car Will!” Mena urged him, her heart feeling heavier and colder by the second. “Call the office, call the police, go to the top of the carpark, shout for help…”

A demonic chorus of wails and monstrous sighs rose up again and pushed her hand away from her ear, she called out his name, called it again, asked if he could hear her, pleaded with him to say something, but he never did, and then: the connection ended abruptly.

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