'Wha's happenin'?' 'Nothing. Go back to sleep.'

Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved.
Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341.

'Wha's happenin'?'  'Nothing. Go back to sleep.'

        Rule 1: I will not take elevators.
        Rule 2: Where I violate Rule 1, I will do so alone.
        Oh, well, I was late. Is that an excuse?
        I was late and running for the elevators and slid in just as
the doors were closing. The car was crowded, or maybe it was just
small. As it began to race upward, I reached to push the button for my
        We made a few stops, and the crowding eased some, but after
one of them the doors closed, but the car did not move. A
harried-looking young man by the door began to push the buttons on the
panel in front of him. He pushed all of them at least twice. Nothing
happened. He was looking reluctantly at the alarm button,
looking like a man who didn't like to think he'd ever want to push it,
when the lumpy old woman with the cottony white hair said:
        "This isn't happening."
        "It is happening," said Harried-Looking, with the expression
of a man who has studied up on just that subject.
        "No. It is not," replied Frau Lumpy. "It is not happening.
It's only a dream. Just a bad dream."
        In the other corner, Mrs. Thirtyish, complete with
five-year-old-of-no-discernable-gender and a thick magazine, at which
she was staring with vigor. The little one squeaked, "What are they
saying, Mommy?"
        "Nothing." She snapped to a new page. "Mommy wants you to
think about something else, honey. Okay?" She read the page sternly,
vehemently. If eyes could burn, we'd have choked on that magazine. The
child clung to her legs.
        "Just a bad dream, huh?" Harried-Looking was looking more
harried. "Well, rise and shine, lady. Rise and shine. Because we're
=stuck= in this elevator."
        "Just a bad dream," the Cottony Lump soothed in grandmotherly
        "Lady, I wish it =was= a dream. You think I like being stuck
in an elevator?"
        "But you're not!" The Lumpy Grandmother beamed. "You're not
stuck, I am. I'm stuck in a bad dream. In a while I'll wake up and
        The Harried Harrier turned to the Senior Partner, a very
expensive-looking, very reserved gentleman. He said: "Do =you= say
this is happening?" The Senior Partner did not even look at Harrier.
Instead, he began to poke at the elevator's controls with his
umbrella. But the elevator had heat-sensitive buttons, the kind that
won't even work through gloves. With a slightly sheepish look, he
strode over to the control panel. He pushed door open twice,
saw that it did not work, then pushed the alarm button. He
held it down a long time, the loud ringing causing the child to cower
and Grandmother Lump to gasp. The Senior Partner gave two more long
rings, then resumed his place with a look of confidence.
        "Just a bad, bad dream." The Cottony Lump contemplated Harrier
with a look of compassion.
        "I'm going to =prove= to you that this is happening!" Snarl!
He turned to me. He said, "What about you... =Is= this happening?"
        Deep breath. "I know this is happening. My evidence is that I
am watching it happen. Will you please leave me alone to watch it?"
        "...yeah, okay." He turned to Mrs. Stern Reader. "What do you
say? Is this happening?"
        Mrs. Stern was very stern. She stared at her magazine with
even greater violence.
        Little Genderless looked disturbed. It whined, "Mom=my=. The
man asked you a question."
        "Shush, honey. Just pretend it isn't happening."
        "But M=om=. Answer him."
        Mrs. Stern Reader spoke through her teeth: "When Mommy says be
quiet, Mommy means be quiet. I =told= you to think about something
else." She stared at her magazine, plainly ignoring the Exasperated
        "But what does he =mean=?"
        She growled. "I =said= don't think about it!"
        "All a bad, bad dream...", the Lump crooned. "When I wake up,
I'll just laugh and laugh."
        Exasperated pulled at his necktie. It was getting stuffy in
the car. He looked to the only person left, a punky
bike-messenger-type who had been quietly slumbering in the far corner.
Losing His Cool poked at the bony youth. "Wake up!" He shook the
        "Leave him alone!" I said that. Mrs. Stern Reader read
sternly. The Senior Partner studied the ceiling. Lumpy looked inward.
"He's not hurting you."
        "I want to prove that this is happening!," said Belligerent
Edging Toward Violent.
        "Just a bad, bad dream..."
        Deep breath. "Look, if you want to do something useful, go
ring the bell. We =all= want to get out of here, whether we believe
we're here or not."
        He looked convinced. He made an effort to change his mein from
Thundering Thug to Responsible Bell Ringer. The sound was of every
wail for help ever, condensed and amplified.
        Just then the Punkster stirred. "Wha's happenin'?," he
        "Nothing," I said. "Go back to sleep."
        "Just a bad, bad dream..."

                                 # # #