The entrance to the conveyance is getting smaller; the rectangle closing towards a vertical slit.
Our arrival, however, pauses the doors — just enough. We turn sideways and squeeze through.
We’re in. The doors whoosh shut. Ding.
We’re moving before we realize we’re on the wrong elevator.
We drop towards terminal velocity and float towards the ceiling. Soon after freefall, our box swings to the left and then back up, in a giant arc. We re-enter another shaft and start accelerating upwards, then jerk to the side, back up, and then to the side for a good long time.
As the thrust lessens, we can lift our arms from the wall. One of us, another passenger, reaches
with some effort and presses a floor button.
We fall, fall.
When it seems that we — all of us (as we’ve all made eye contact by now, the travelers, and the soul count is complete) — intuit that the bottom of the gravity well, our astonishingly violent demise, lay just moments away… We’re pulled into a different trajectory, another arc, but violently manipulated this time, as if by a giant hand. Terrifyingly random jerks toss us this way and that.
Wham, clunk! Now we’re heading downward, headfirst. We’ve entered another structure.
Our box rattles into place and starts to move at something closer to normal speed. We crumple into the carpet, our bodies shocked at the sudden return of normal gravity. The disentanglement is awkward and long.
Not everyone has survived.
Ding. The doors whoosh open.
One of the passengers crawls onto the metal seam and collapses, heaving and weeping. Another limps past, then staggers away.
We gather ourselves up as best we can, supporting a tentative ascent with hands, shoulders, and walls. You stoop back down to help the injured. We haul them out, one by one — alive, dead, and everyway between.
At last we come to the first, the body lying across the doorway, quietly whimpering, staring past the carnage into the curving marble hall. You have the arms, I have the legs, but when we lift, the person lets out a gasp and we fall.
It’s just me now, and the person’s lower half — one-and-a-half passengers — in free fall once more. You, back with the bodies and your own burden of guts and woe, gone forever. Me, floating inside a bloody soup can in the wind.
I reach through the goo and entrails, press every button.
We jerk left right, down and up. Again and again.
I let myself go flaccid, hope for a quick, merciful snap of the neck.
I crawl out into a bright alien world. Giant monsters hover over me, cooing.