This piece was written for @F3nix's Finish the Story Contest - Week #26 which is now hosted over on the @bananafish blog. Each week, a beginning script of a story is posted, then each participant posts their completion on their blog or in the comments. Three of the favorite endings are rewarded with shares in the Steem Basic Income program and the SBD payout is divided among the honorable mentions. It's an incredible contest with a group of wonderful and supportive Steemians participating week after week! Head on over to @bananafish every Wednesday and join in the merriment and the mayhem. Grazie, F3nix, for this challenge!
I was too late for this round but wanted to post my ending anyway.
The moonlight descended on the east side of the Wagner Tower like an ancestral bone dust. The ectoplasm of a vague awareness crossed a tenant’s mind seeking for oblivion: finally, the dull blows coming from God knows what remote corner of the old building had decided to quit and he would have slept. However, between the seventy-fifth and seventy-fourth floor, a particularly fine ear could have still seized an intermittent, stifled counterpoint of voices.
"I feel that this unusual condition is helping us bring out some interesting perspectives, Mendo." In breaking the silence, the psychotherapist's voice had soon lost its initial momentum.
"I want you to know that this time won’t be billed, go ahead if you feel like it." She tried to assume a playful expression. Hidden underneath her short suit jacket, Dr. Wallace's fingers were nervously playing with a fluorescent orange rubber bracelet.
"No-one is ever suspended, not even now with seventy-four floors of nothing underfoot..."
"Well, this is certainly a positive observation..."
"Shut up, you don’t know a shit." An almost calm remark, pronounced with a firmness that hit Dr. Wallace like a bucket of frozen water.
"Have you ever thought, doctor," Mendo continued, sharply spelling out his last word, "that the fear of emptiness, the horror vacui as they defined it in the Middle Ages, is nothing but the unconscious and desperate attempt to look away from the ultimate truth?"
Since the elevator had blocked its descent, the patient had confined himself to a corner on the opposite side of the entrance. His left leg was now dancing grotesquely, animated like it had a life of its own and in contrast with the cadaveric stiffness of his other body parts.
"I never thought of that." Dr. Wallace wisely responded in brief, observing for the umpteenth time the assistance number carved on the elevator control panel.
"Mmmm...” A growing moan on the other side of the narrow cabin.
The doctor instinctively thought of her daughter that night, when the wind had hit the fixtures of the old house in the mountains so intensely that it produced an endless banshee howl. The little girl had made a sound of compressed horror, just like that.
If only she had known, she would have never asked Mr. Anatoliy “Mendoza” Volkov, an extraordinarily subtle personality, to follow her downstairs after that emergency therapy session in her office. On the other hand, he was one of her first and most challenging patients. Furthermore, he used to pay awesomely.
"Because the void swarms." Now his eyes were on the doctor, sunken out and bugging out at the same time.
"Soon they'll free us, do you think you'll keep writing that song you were talking about?" Dr. Wallace ventured. She realized that the silk shirt was soaking with her acrid sweat.
"It's the Yellow King's dominion, he comes from the void, it's him who made me do those things. I did not want to." His whine ripped open in a sinister vocal of terror.
"Mendo .." She did not know what to add. Now the doctor's hand, behind her sweating back, was pressing the assistance button convulsively.
His wide open eyes. They had stopped staring at her and now they were pointing up, right behind her shoulders.
"Mendo, what's up?"
"The Yellow King. He's here."
His words halted her frantic pressing. Icy fingers of dread played their tune along her spine. They spread deep within, percussing her lungs. Dr. Wallace fought the instinctive urge to turn. There was nothing behind her. The danger was coming head on, not from some omnipresent entity that phased in and out as it pleased.
She forced her hand to lower, sliding it into the saffron pocket of her jacket to hide it's tremors. It was best to keep him talking. Silence was dangerous.
"Oh?" She answered, keeping her tone light. "Does he know how to fix an elevator?"
Mendo's widened gaze, like terrified prey, shifted to hers. "Through him lies the truth." He leaned forward, sliding his jaw past hers and spoke lowly. "Ask him about the baby." His warm breath, a perversion of a lover's whispering, made her heart slam within it's cage.
His delusions were escalating. "What? What baby?"
With a mechanical whirr, the tiny cabin trembled beneath their feet, resuming motion. Seizing the distraction, Dr. Wallace slid to the right. Hoping the distance would give her some composure.
Unlike before, they were now ascending, past the 76th floor and continuing on.
She forced a laugh, "Looks like we'll be out in a minute." Her words drifted off. He hadn't turned, hadn't moved from his spot. "Mendo?"
His voice, flat and defeated, answered, "Stop hiding. You're the one who called this session." His head tilted towards the indicator, 78th floor and climbing.
"No. You called me. I have three voicemails from you begging to talk." Her hand stroked the item in her pocket. Seeking comfort from the familiar chipped surface beneath her touch.
"Did I?" Mendo snapped. "Why don't you check your phone again?"
The elevator eased momentum and stopped before she could answer. Floor 80. The metal doors parted to darkness. None of the fluorescent light filtered beyond the threshold. Dr. Wallace winced and looked away. Nothing good would come from venturing out. Better to stay inside and wait for maintenance to come.
From the corner of her eye, she watched Mendo step forward, into the deep ink.
"You still don't realize, do you?" His voice began to fade. "I'll leave you two alone then." Then, he was gone, without leaving the sound of footsteps, only the silence.
Minutes passed by as she waited in the security of the light, fiddling with the figure in her pocket. The tapping sound her spasming leg made as it struck the floor played out Mendo's rhythm. The beat kept the panic at bay. She was fine. Someone would come soon.
Six repetitions of the tune later, enough was enough. Her other hand, the one with the bracelet bearing her name, rummaged her other pockets to find her cell. Dammit!, she thought. Of all times to have left it in her office...
In frustration, her worrying hand left the other pocket, removing the figure with it.
That night in the old house...
Her hand dropped the chipped yellow chess king.
His. No, HER daughter whimpering...
She covered her face with her hands.
"Daddy!" the little girl as her father's blood oozed around the scattered chess pieces.
The cheerful yellow king piece bounced and rolled, coming to a stop at the edge of the still open doorway.
The frantic thrashing of her daughter as she screamed and fought against her abductor.
Eyes screwed shut, Dr. Wallace slammed her hands against her ears, and began to hum.
"Shhh...baby! It's okay, I'm your Mommy now." Her hand held up the sunshine yellow king to the terrified girl. "We'll play games together and sing your song."
The humming from the fractured woman shifted to a litany. "No. No. No. No. No. No..."
In a padded room, sixth on the 80th floor, the former Dr. Wallace, rocked and howled. With a sigh, the night attendant rang for security and prepared another sedative.
art and flair courtesy of @PegasusPhysics