Going Down?


sf_lorraine_icon.gif sf_zachery_icon.gif

Scene Title Going Down
Synopsis After a long day in surgery, Zachery Miller has an unusual experience on an elevator.
Date October 16, 2020

Elmhurst Hospital

“Everyone was impressed with today’s surgery, Dr, Miller. I hate to say it, but there were doubts that there would be such a positive outcome,” the doctor who walked beside him down the hallway of the hospital said, dressed in her long white coat with her arms in front of her. Lorraine Fournier-Raith wasn’t a spinal surgeon, but she would be taking over for the client now, as part of his physical therapy in recovering the use of his limbs after surgery, which was why they were talking on Miller’s way finally out of the hospital. “I’ve never heard so many nurses praise a surgeon’s steady hands after so many hours before.”

This had been a long day. Longer than most. The surgery had taken much longer than predicted, because of various complications, but as the other doctor had said, it had been successful. The young man might even regain the use of his legs eventually, with therapy, but it would be difficult to tell until he had a day or two to recover. But most of the damage had been avoided and it was possible. It could happen. He might not be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

It was one thing.

“You should go home and get some sleep. Your wife is probably worried, too.”

Quiet and dim, the hospital almost had a spooky feel to it, with some of the fluorescent lights flickering a little as they walked by them in the hallway toward the elevators. Dr. Fournier-Raith wouldn’t be heading home just yet, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t walk with Dr. Miller a short distance anyway, to praise him on his work.

"I just hope she's asleep," Dr. Miller replies in half-suppressed laugh, keeping his voice down to suit the quiet of the hour. "With how busy her work keeps her, especially now." He rubs a hand along his cheek, forcing tired eyes to open a little wider. With the night's work done, adrenaline is fading quickly.

Still, there is no mistaking the pride in his expression, and in the smile that he seems to fight back before letting it through. The combination of compliments, success and the mention of Nicole proves too much for him to be humble. "We do what we can, don't we. With whatever we have at the moment. Which—"

He stifles a yawn, then concludes, "Which might have to be falling asleep in bed in my clothes, at some point soon, admittedly."

“Oh, I envy her then— both of you, really, my shift has another six hours on it.” Because sleep was something that almost all of the staff probably wished they could have, after all, especially after such a long day in the hospital. And there was always the unfortunate possibility of an incident to extend that six hours even longer— But the tall blonde woman grins at him as it would seem he’s already been feeling the rigors of the day for a while— understandably so.

“Do you need me to call you a cab?” Lorraine asks, as they get to the elevators, and without even waiting really, she hits the down button for him, to wait for the elevator to arrive.

The arrow lights up, and the elevator makes the buzzing sound of motion behind the cold closed doors.

"No, I'm alright," Zachery answers, shaking his head. There isn't a 'thank you' to follow it, but gratitude still rings through on his voice. "The walk to my car will do a well enough job of waking me, I'm sure."

When he comes to a stop in front of the elevator, he stretches his arms forward and glances to the side with one eyebrow raised, smirking at Lorraine. "Did you know they swapped my parking spot with Maureen's again? I used to be right outside. But - I suppose she has to get her wins somewhere."

When he turns to look at the doors - shoulders squaring in anticipation for it to finally open - he looks unbothered. "And I've got plenty of them as is."

“Must have complained to HR about her sore feet again or something. What a total Karen,” Lorraine jokes with a laugh, “That’s what my daughter calls women like that,” she jokes with a laugh, shaking her head a little in amusement as the elevator arrives with a ding and the doors slide open. The elevator is empty, but not really surprising given the hour. “Have a good walk back to your car. And pull over if you get tired. I don’t want to hear about you ending up on an operating table.”

Cause that would be a terrible waste of a very good surgeon, but it was a warning, anyway, her way of telling him to be careful, it would seem, before she steps back and lets him go the rest of the way. “And you are certainly more skilled than she is. You did a good job tonight, Doctor Miller, again. I’m grateful. And my patient will be too.” Even if they don’t get full use, any use at this point was practically a miracle.

Zachery wastes no time stepping into the elevator, but when he turns around to face Lorraine again, he smacks a hand against where the doors have slid out of sight, forcing the sensor into letting them stay open as he talks.

"If I see you when I come back in…" He pushes a sleeve back with his free hand to glance briefly at his watch, before continuing to fix his colleague with what she knows is only a playfully stern look, "… In about seven hours, I'm locking you out of the building myself."

And finally, he seems to have tired of hearing himself talk. His hand slides free of the door to push the button for the parking garage, and when he steps back, he lifts his head to meet her gaze again, his smirk pulling into a proud smile. "Until then, good night."

The metal doors close as Lorraine starts to turn away, leaving Zachery to look at his own distorted reflection in the shiny metal for a moment as the elevator starts to descend. The numbers began to click downward, lighting up, slowly moving. That feeling of dropping that always accompanied a moving elevator, as well as the sounds of the motors and switches and all the beeps as the numbers changed.






The elevator keeps descending, the numbers go dark and look as if they should change, the click of a change of floors happen— but the number goes back to 4.






But that's not right.


Zachery stands, drawing a breath that's deeper than it needs to be by far. He stares at the display, having watched it be wrong. Waiting for the number to blink away and into


He clears his throat, breathes slowly out, and glances at the buttons. At the corresponding number amongst them, then to the door, then up to the number display again. His expression falls with a roll of his jaw in thought, but he waits again, fingers curling slowly inward at his sides as he watches that display, holding still until it rolls over from 4 to


Without pause, he steps forward, and presses the emergency button on the bottom row as firmly as his thumb will let him.

The button depresses, and the lights in the elevator change, flickering like old fluorescent lights. The buttons for all of the floors start to light up and unlight, turning on and off, on and off. The elevator seems to be going faster and faster. The world almost feels lighter, but also louder. The electric buzz, the beeping of the number shifting, the lights flickering and changing.

It wasn’t a 4 that time. Just a line.

And that wasn’t even something that the elevator number pad should have been able to manage at all.

Nor that. And a moment later the three figures all merged together as one, and it stayed on that, stayed locked there, bright red as the elevator continued to fall at high speeds, with the ground nowhere in sight.

Zachery has been watching, his hand pressed against the buttons and panel both. The confidence he'd felt not a minute ago has turned into a cold, dead pit in his stomach, freezing him where he stands. By the time he finds the will to move, he only manages to do so in a blind swipe to the side, fingers finding purchase around the wall-mounted railing.

"No—" he manages, scrambling to reach for his phone only to have it slip from his pocket to the ground, eyes widening as he watches it fall from his fingers, unlocked, lit screen showing a background picture of himself with an arm around Nicole, both smiling back up at him.

He doesn't bend to grab the phone, his fingers too tightly wound around the metal at his side to let go - presumably, there won't be enough time to do anything with it either way. So instead, his eyes shoot back up at the display, and he thinks aloud in quick, sharp exhales, "Four floors." Panicked, eyes wide, he tries, as if logic will save him "— Plus two— three? Broken legs, ribs— no no no— "

While running down in his mind the knowledge of all the damage that this should and will do to his body, the elevator continues to fall, faster and faster, louder and louder. The elevator should have come to an abrupt stop upon meeting the ground many seconds before, heartbeats, breaths, or maybe it only felt like it should have. Maybe he was imagining things. Maybe he was—

The lights suddenly goes out. The floor under his feet seems to vanish. He keeps falling.




There are things you're meant to do in this situation. If not to prevent injury, then to prevent worse. With the elevator now dark, with the noise drowning out anything else he might have said, and as the very floor beneath his feet is pulled into absence…

… Zachery does nothing.

He knows it's over. He knows everything he's ever done has been for absolutely nothing. Good, bad, and everything in between, everything he might have planned, meaningless. There is nothing he can do and nothing he could have done. It's calming.

Right up until the point where it's not. When freedom becomes freefall again, and he is gripped by something far heavier, hands searching once again for something it's too late to find in the darkness and disorientation both. He's been falling far too long, he's sure now, and whether he's dying or already dead is of little consequence at this point.

And so, he does the one thing still one thing he feels he's got left, the last way he knows to fight the fear that grips.

He takes one more breath, and, bitterly, involuntarily, drowned out by the cacophony - he laughs.

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