13 Jan “The Elevator People” – Creepypasta
I have a close friend who’s a psychiatrist (please don’t read too much into that.) She mostly just teaches these days. From a textbook that she wrote, no less. But back when she was still practicing, this friend’s specialty was the treatment of specific phobias. You know, patients with an irrational fear of heights or needles or spiders. Fun stuff like that. That’s why I lovingly refer to her as “Doctor Scary”, a nickname which she absolutely adores, no matter what that lying bitch tells you.
One night when we were both especially turnt, I asked Dr. Scary if she ever encountered a patient with a phobia that managed to scare even her. We were seated directly beside each other on the wooden bench-swing suspended from her back porch, but Dr. Scary didn’t look at me when she replied. Her gaze remained fixed on the shadowy expanse of her well-manicured backyard as she scoffed and slowly nodded.
And then she said…
“The Elevator People.”
When this particular patient (a 39 year-old medical supply salesman who we’ll call “Simon”) first showed up at Dr. Scary’s office, he had listed “fear of elevators” as the reason why. Needless to say but if that was an accurate summation of Simon’s issue, we wouldn’t be here.
It all started almost a year prior, while Simon was at a conference in Las Vegas. He was there with his sales manager, scoping out the latest innovations in pacemaker technology and hoping to find a distributor willing to haggle. The trip really was all business too. Simon had never been much for gambling and the live shows gave him a headache. The conference might as well have been in Boise for all he cared.
Simon noted that the initial elevator ride up to his hotel room that night had been perfectly uneventful. Though his flight into McCarran had been delayed, of course. Simon had barely made it to the hotel with enough time for a quick shower and change of clothes before the meet-and-greet in the lounge at 8pm. It was five after when he finally re-emerged from the room in a flurry, tie still untied and his blazer draped over one arm.
As Simon hurried over to the bank of elevators at the other end of the hall, he got a text from his sales manager, who sounded annoyed and was currently waiting for him down in the lobby. Simon hit the button to call for an elevator as he began to frantically tap out a response text explaining the flight delay.
There was a mechanical DING as the middle elevator’s metal doors slid open in his periphery. Simon started inside the elevator as he finished his text and hit “send”. He looked up to smile politely at the other passengers onboard and that is when Simon went rigid, his half-formed smile freezing in place as a tingling surge of fear temporarily overroad control of his body.
To his right, a naked and skeletally thin old man stood grinning back at Simon. The man was completely hairless; his malformed bald head was the shape of a used pencil eraser. He didn’t have eyebrows or facial hair or even pubic hair to hide a fraction of the small yet noticeably erect penis jutting out from between his shriveled legs like the head of some hungry, flesh-colored turtle.
To Simon’s left stood a woman in a tattered gray dress. She appeared to be hairless as well and had a similarly deranged grin stretched across the front of her similarly bald and oddly shaped head. She sported a pronounced hunchback and had glimmering feline eyes. Simon’s bewildered gaze darted from the naked man to the female hunchback, then down to the bald child peeking out from behind her.
The woman shoved the child back out of sight as the naked man attempted to grab Simon by his face. Seeing those grimy fingers darting toward him was enough to finally snap Simon out of his shock and he just barely managed to evade the naked man’s grasp with a single leaping jump back out of the elevator.
He hadn’t moved like that since college and every joint and tendon in Simon’s legs was currently screaming at him. Fortunately, at that moment adrenaline was making it impossible for Simon to register much of anything aside from the elevator doors sliding closed in what felt like slow-motion just as the lunging naked man was about to reach between them.
A dumbstruck Simon was still standing there, quietly panting and staring at those same closed elevator doors a full minute later when an attractive blonde woman approached from the other end of the hallway. She gave Simon a wave as she neared but he didn’t even seem to register her presence. The woman’s expression went from confused to annoyed as she noticed that the button to call the elevator still needed to be pushed.
Simon shook off his daze and managed to take the next elevator all the way down to the lobby without further incident (if you didn’t count several awkward glances from the attractive woman who rode down with him.) He was only fashionably late for the rendezvous with his sales manager, who was already busy talking up several of the reps waiting in line for the meet-and-greet.
The open bar and inane conversation helped Simon put what had just happened to him out of his mind for the moment and, to his surprise, it actually turned out to be a rather lucrative evening. So much so that about an hour in, Simon’s manager gave him a pat on the back and announced that he was going to officially clock out for the night to quote “start focusing on who I’m a’fuck.”
Still feeling a bit jetlagged and generally exhausted from his earlier encounter, Simon decided to take this opportunity to get some much-needed rest before tomorrow when the real work needed to get done. As he exited the hotel lounge and made his way back across the lobby, Simon spotted a pair of Vegas newlyweds forcefully making out while they waited for an elevator. A wave of relief washed over him when Simon realized he wouldn’t have to ride back up to his room alone.
An elevator arrived a few moments later and Simon hit the button for the tenth floor as he entered. The couple followed him on and the young guy leaned away from his better half just long enough to poke the button labeled “3”. Simon’s stomach began to churn as he realized he was going to have to ride for seven whole floors by himself. When the car stopped to let the couple out, he was tempted to exit with them and take the stairs the rest of the way. But the love-birds had seen him hit the button for ten already. Following them off now without looking like a weirdo would be rather difficult.
Simon just barely managed to suppress his urge to sprint out of there and took a deep breath as the elevator doors slowly slid shut with him still enclosed behind them. The elevator resumed its ascent and almost immediately, the overhead lights began to flicker. This prompted a tired eye-roll from Simon as he muttered, “You’ve got to be fucking kid-”
And that’s when the lights switched off completely. He could feel the car continue its climb as he reflexively spun around and pressed his back to the cold steel of the elevator’s inner doors. Somewhere just passed the oppressive darkness now enveloping him, Simon could hear movement.
He held his breath in an attempt to better discern the sound’s location. As Simon’s eyes began to adjust to the darkness, he glimpsed what at first appeared to be the silhouette of a massive spider crawling toward him. But this was only a trick of perspective. What he was actually seeing was merely a hand reaching out to grab Simon by his face.
There was another DING as the doors he was leaning against finally slid open, sending Simon spilling out onto the hotel’s gaudy patterned carpet, landing face-up and looking into an open elevator that currently appeared to be both well-lit and noticeably empty. It was that moment right there when his fear of “the Elevator People” truly took root.
Since the inciting incident was tangentially related to his job, Dr. Scary’s first instinct had been to examine Simon’s work-life. He claimed he couldn’t have been happier on that end. He liked the job and made good money doing it. Simon even liked the people he worked for, despite the fact that his sales manager was five years younger than him and a womanizing prick. He was a young, womanizing prick who knew the market and stayed out of Simon’s way.
At that point, the only negative aspect of his job stemmed from his recent inability to easily move about tall buildings. That may not sound like much of an issue to those of you who don’t live and/or work in large cities but Simon did both. Granted, being in sales meant he spent most of each workday away from his own office but the majority of that time was usually spent visiting other people’s offices in different, often taller buildings.
As is typically the case with phobia patients, in the beginning Simon tried to solve the problem by developing various workarounds for his sudden yet crippling fear of riding in elevators alone. He started scheduling a lot more lunches with prospective buyers. He offered to take clients golfing, anything that would get them to meet him down on ground level.
He even volunteered to train the new intern because it gave Simon someone he could drag along with him on cold-calls. But there were still the annual conferences, which were always out of town and often involved staying in hotels. And there was also the mortgage on his high-rise condo apartment, which his husband Ronald absolutely adored.
Simon had confided in Ronald about his fear of the Elevator People pretty much as soon as it became an issue. The whole thing had been rather difficult to hide from him, given the circumstances. Of course, Ronald was totally understanding and most nights, he was able to meet Simon down in the lobby when he got home from work so they could ride the elevator up together.
Of course, no system devised by humans was ever truly perfect. Eventually, there came a day when Ronald had to suddenly go out of town to assist his cousin with an extended family emergency, which resulted in Simon having to sprint up fifteen flights of stairs to narrowly avoid crapping himself because he had scheduled three different lunches with clients earlier that day and two of them were at the same Mexican restaurant.
It was actually this very bathroom mishap which finally convinced Simon that he was going to need professional help for his phobia if he wanted any chance at living a normal life. Though, in a rare and rather humbling turn of events, Simon’s case was the first one in a long while that had Dr. Scary feeling wholly and truly stumped as to how she should proceed.
She had asked about Simon’s relationship with Ronald (he was the greatest thing that ever happened to him), Simon’s parents (both still alive and super accepting of their successful gay son), and the likelihood that this was all stemming from a traumatic childhood event Simon simply failed to mention (apparently not very.)
“I grew up in Connecticut.”
Dr. Scary must have looked disappointed by this answer because Simon followed it up with, “Not a big fan of the Constitution State?”
“I’m just worried you might be schizophrenic.”
It was now Simon’s turn to look disappointed as he took a moment to consider this. Then he said, “Isn’t that a hereditary condition?”
“Typically but not always. There may be no documented cases in your family history-”
“There are,” Simon replied with a nod. “My aunt. And my grandmother.”
Dr. scary held up her hands in a “slow down” gesture and said, “Okay, back up… For starters, symptoms of schizophrenia typically start to present in men by their early twenties. Plus, that was pure speculation. It’s just as likely we simply haven’t located the right stressor yet. There’s still plenty of stuff we can try.”
“Are you familiar with the concept of exposure therapy?”
Dr. Scary typically didn’t like attempting such a drastic treatment this early into the process but she clearly wasn’t getting anywhere just talking with Simon. Doctora Aterradora thought that if she could watch him react to the source of his phobia in real time, it might tell her something that Simon couldn’t. So she decided to make their next session a house-call.
It was just past 1PM when Dr. Scary arrived at Simon’s high-rise condo complex. At that time on a weekday, his husband Ronald (like most of the building’s tenants) was still at work. This, of course, had been intentional. They required an empty elevator for the exposure therapy and Simon didn’t need to feel anymore self-conscious about this than he already did.
“It doesn’t have to be all fifteen. ONE would be fantastic. Ride one floor down by yourself and look,” Dr. Scary gestured at the smartphone in Simon’s hand. She turned her own around to show him that the two phones were currently FaceTime’ing each other as she continued, “I’m going to be here with you the whole way.”
Dr. Scary gently grabbed Simon’s arm and guided it up until his phone’s camera was aimed at his face. “RIGHT here. Perfect. Now… We’re gonna get started, okay?”
Simon didn’t respond but it was clear from his expression that he wasn’t exactly psyched about exposure therapy (no phobia patient ever was.) But then finally, Simon glanced at her as he lifted his shoulders in a nearly imperceptible shrug before returning his gaze to the elevator’s closed outer doors.
“Okay,” Dr. Scary repeated. She then casually hit the button to call for an elevator as she turned to head inside Simon’s condo. She leaned her back against the door to shut it behind her as Dr. Scary held up her smartphone to address Simon through the screen.
His uneasy expression had transformed into something more primeval by this point. He looked like a wild animal sensing an approaching storm. Dr. Scary tried to comfort Simon by saying, “Remember I’m right here.”
Simon’s eyes stayed trained on the elevator doors as he eventually replied, “No, you’re not. And there’s nothing you could do anyway.”
Tears began to stream down his cheeks. Dr. Scary attempted to say something in protest but was suddenly cut off by the familiar DING of an arriving elevator. She heard the metal doors slide open and then Simon let out a sudden, thunderous gasp.
“Oh-fuck-no-god-no-Jesus-please…” He frantically muttered as he started to back away.
“What? What are you seeing?”
“LOOK!” He screamed and then turned his phone around so Dr. Scary could see inside the elevator. The interior wasn’t well-lit and it was hard to make out most of the details through Simon’s forward-facing phone camera, but Dr. Scary swore she saw two figures inside that elevator.
They were both bald. The one on the right was skeletally thin and appeared to be naked. The figure on the left was shorter and had a pronounced hunchback. And just before Simon finally dropped his phone and sprinted inside the condo, Dr. Scary glimpsed a much smaller figure behind the first two, lying motionless against the back wall of the elevator.
She said this smaller figure resembled something somebody had crumpled up and tossed aside. Like “the balled-up piece of paper you find next to a trash can. But instead of paper, it’s pale skin and broken limbs covered in bite-marks.”
Dr. Scary nodded and replied, “Big red bite-marks.”
I waited for her to continue but she remained silent for several moments. Then finally Dr. Scary turned and, for the first time since starting her story, she looked at me. Her mouth was twisted into a somber, humorless smile as she said, “After that, Simon stopped showing up for his sessions. He killed himself a few months later.”
Caught off-guard, I reeled back and replied, “Good god, woman. When was all this?”
Dr. Scary’s sad smile got a little sadder and she said, “Right before I closed down my practice.”
Another long and much more awkward silence followed. Then, as if she could sense the one question I was still too afraid to ask, Dr. Scary added…
“I never saw them again after that. Though, I’ll be honest. For a while, I was genuinely scared I might. But what happened that day was merely a prime example of the power of suggestion. Simon’s fear of the Elevator People made them feel so real in that moment, it’s actually not surprising I saw what I did.”
I thought this over and then shrugged as I said, “Makes sense.”
“Though, of course there were the dreams.”
“You had dreams about the Elevator People?”
Dr. Scary slowly nodded while avoiding my eye-contact. She exhaled a sigh and then said, “It actually still happens occasionally. It’s the weirdest thing too. Most of the time I’ll be dreaming about nothing especially terrifying, you know? Like visiting my sister who somehow now lives at the summer camp we used to go to as kids. Mundane shit like that. And then, out of nowhere I’ll get hit with this…”
She tensed her fingers into a claw-like gesture as she motioned at her chest and said, “…overwhelming sense of hopelessness. That’s how I know they’re close.”
Dr. Scary glanced over at me again and I saw that her eyes were now brimming with tears, yet her tone remained almost unnervingly even as she continued…
“And that’s when I’ll realize I’m standing at a bank of elevators and I can hear one approaching from below and that creeping hopeless dread is now so palpable, I can literally taste it in my mouth. Like dirty copper. I turn and try to run but my legs feel like they’re encased in cement and I can hear the elevator doors opening behind me. I don’t wanna look but I know it won’t matter. The worst part, though? …In the dreams, they know my name.”
I put a hand on Dr. Scary’s shoulder in an attempt to comfort her and she suddenly turned to glare at me, a morbid grin where her somber expression had just been as she nearly shouted, “Do you wanna know what they tell me?!”
I opened my mouth but before I could stutter out a coherent response, Dr. Scary started blinking and her creepy grin reverted to a confused frown. She said my name like a question and asked if I was okay. I lied and told her I was fine and thanked her for sharing such a fascinating story. And yet at first, I thought there was no way I was ever going to tell it to anyone. Sure, it was creepy enough to have potential but in the end, it just left me feeling sad for my friend.
So, I put the whole thing out of my mind and for a while, that was that. Though yes, much like Simon, I too technically live and work in a major city but my place is a duplex and my job is at a bar. So, I don’t typically encounter a lot of elevators in my own day-to-day life. But then my dentist retired and the new guy my insurance switched me to just so happened to work out of one of the CBD’s taller high-rises.
And even then, I managed to get all the way across the building’s otherwise vacant lobby and hit the button to call for an elevator before Dr. Scary’s story finally came rushing back to me in vivid detail. It was the first time I had even really thought about the Elevator People since that night. I remembered the look on her face as she described what she saw during Simon’s exposure therapy session. The way she had grinned when she said, “Do you wanna know what they tell me?!”
I was outside in the courtyard bordering the front of the high-rise and trying to steady my hand long enough to light a cigarette before I was even fully aware that I had left the building. It was about then that I decided two things almost simultaneously:
1.) Twelve flights of stairs would definitely count as my cardio for the day…
2.) If I have to worry about this shit now, I’m taking the rest of you with me.