Floor 100 (Sci-Fi-Fri # 4)

Reads: 519  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 28

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
People living in an apartment complex, string on to the hope of surviving as a toxic poison slowly rises to each floor of the building.

Submitted: April 11, 2014

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 11, 2014

A A A

A A A


I was in the kitchen of my apartment complex, carefully trimming the stems off several vegetables that I had managed to obtain by trading some tissue with the family on the floor above me. One of my favorite things to do was cook, but unfortunately, as each day managed to elapse, the food shortage was increasingly beginning to limit the variety of meals that I was capable of cooking.

I gingerly placed the knife that I had been using on the counter top and then scooped up the tiny vegetables, that I had spent twenty minutes cutting, with my bare hands and dropped them into a pot of boiling water on the stove. After adding several seasonings to the pot, I stirred the favors around with a spoon, and realized that the only thing left that I needed to apply was time, then the soup would be complete. As the water boiled, I became convinced that the delicious aroma would leave a heavenly scent lingering in the air that would lure the people from the upper floors down to mine and plead with me to offer them some in exchange for some thing valuable of which they could trade.

My younger sister, Nicole, always joked with me about my passion for cooking. She regularly called me, “Mister Mom”, since I was the only male she knew that cooked for fun and didn't have any kind of a background in culinary arts. A dark thought quickly crossed my mind as I began to debunk her claim of me being the only male she to cook, as I thought. “Of course I'm the only guy she knows that cooks, there aren't that many men left for her to know.”

A programmed reflex caused my head to turn in the direction of the clock as it struck noon, causing the bell that sat on the top of the apartment complex's roof, that was scheduled to ring at noon and midnight everyday, to chime loudly. It was a large, brown, metal bell, that was the size of a car, stationed on top of the roof. Whenever it rang, the entire building heard it, since the sound to traveled downward through each floor.

Noon. The time caused my stomach to turn because everyone in the building knew what happened at noon. I abandoned the kitchen and made my way through my small family room that had one of the entire walls made of a glass window. The glass window overlooked the entire, deteriorating city, or in other words, what was left of it.

I carefully approached the window, reminding myself not to touch glass because past experience had taught me that the glass was extremely hot and had enough radiation from the outside to cause third degree burns, even from slightly poking your finger against the glass. Officials had advised everyone to avoid the windows and to keep them covered as an attempt to prevent people from touching them, but I was certain that everyone broke this rule because they wanted to see what was left of the world outside.

I had trained my eyes to avoid looking down right away because I knew that looking down would only cause me sadness. The first thing I glanced at were the deteriorating skyscrapers that surrounded our building. These buildings were empty of civilians and were standing pieces of desolate wreckage that simply need a strong wind to help them collapse.

The next thing that I dared myself to looked at was the sky, the sun had vanished months ago and the only type of weather that we were constantly exposed to were layers of heavy gray clouds that resembled a wall of grayness. After watching the empty, desolate sky for several minutes, there was only one place left for me to look...down.

In a steady movement that seemed to drag itself out, I managed to carefully move my eyes from the sky, then to lower them from the buildings, until I forced them to drop down to the ground. The ground was in capable of being seen and the only thing that was visible was the thick, yellow gas that managed to hover in the air surrounding the bottom floors.

Even though I was on floor fifty-eight, the gas that had managed to rise, and was currently surrounding floor forty-six, was still visible a dozen floors up. A shiver traveled up my spine at the realization that the gas was nearly twelve floors away from mine and that in twelve weeks, the gas would reach my floor and everyone on our floor would be choked to death by the poisonous cloud.

It started nearly a year ago, when the bombs began to fall from the sky. There had been a war taking place and pilots had been ordered to drop bombs on our city. As the bombs fell in the middle of the night, several nearby buildings exploded or decayed before anyone even had a chance to react. Our building, the Kinross Complex they called it, was a newly constructed building with the latest structural designs and it was barely five years old. It managed to withstand the explosions, however when a bomb hit a nearby nuclear plant, several poisonous spread across the city.

I clenched my fist, recalling the way the poisonous spread, killing instantly anyone who took a breath of the toxins in the air. Everyone ran for cover, taking shelter inside, however there was one toxic gas that was visible to the eye. It was a slow moving gas that worked it's way upwards at an extremely slow pace. It started at the bottom floor which was floor one, immediately killing everyone within that area, and each week the gas slowly rose, traveling it's way up to each floor.

The researchers said that at noon, every Saturday the gas would rise, reaching the next floor. People on the bottom floors panicked, trying to climb their way up to upper floors, only to find that they were denied access. Each floor in our technologically advanced building had password panels on the doors leading to the stairwell and only the members of each floor knew the passwords.

In the time of chaos, people began to panic, refusing to let outsiders of their floor come up due to a fear of food shortages or perhaps the extra weigh would cause their floor to collapse. Yes, everyone had become selfish and we were left on our floor to wait until the gas reached us. Sometimes people on other floors traded with one another, using the empty elevator shafts and a connection of ropes to send things up and down in baskets after agreeing to trade.

This was all an attempt to survive until rescuers could to come and save us. We weren't even sure if anyone outside of our building even knew that we were in danger, but that was the sense hope that kept us strong, the hope that rescuers were coming to save us.

There were rumors that the people on the one hundredth floor would live no matter what happened because the poison wouldn't incline that high. They were only rumors, but the people on the one hundredth floor had the least to worry because they had over a year, before the gas was scheduled to reach their floor. A sharp pang of fear erupted in my stomach, over the reminder that I had barely three months until I was scheduled to have the gas reach my floor.

Feeling disgusted by the sight of the gas, I closed my curtains, dragging long sheet across the entire window. After words, I was heading for the kitchen when my door bell rang. I moved to the window and glanced through the peep hole at the sight of my twenty-two year old sister, Nicole. She was a tall, slim girl with dark, thin hair that gently hung from head. She had lost her complexion, I think we all have, from lack of exposure to the sun.

I opened the door and before I had a chance to properly greet her, she rushed into my apartment and headed straight for the window.

“Um, hi?” I said.

“Bro,” she said peering through a slit in my curtains to look outside the window. “Aren't you worried?”

I locked the door and returned the kitchen, choosing to raise my voice and speak to her from there.

“Who isn't worried? We have twelve weeks until the gas reaches our floor.”

Nicole reluctantly left the window and found me in the kitchen. She took a seat on one of the stools I had positioned in front of the counter top and she watched me with curious eyes as I stirred the soup that I was cooking. Nicole lived on the same floor as me, but over the last couple of months, she had been trying to devise plans or schemes that could possibly get us onto the upper floors.

I wasn't sure what she could possibly trade with the people on the uppers that would make them willingly allow her access to their floor. It was impossible, but Nicole was determined and was known for not giving up, even when things seemed impossible.

“Max,” she said slowly. “I thought of something...,”

“Yeah?”

“You're cooking...maybe, if you offered some of your food to the people on the upper floors, they'll let us on their floor.”

“I doubt it, once they eat the food it'll be gone. If we trade something with them, they'd probably want something better than a meal.”

“No!” said Nicole. “I mean, maybe you could be a chef. You know, cook for them regularly.”

“In other words, you want me to be a slave?”

“That's not what I said,” snapped Nicole angrily. “Max, it's either that or we stay here and we choke to death in a few months. Can you at least try to help me?!”

My sister stared at me with a mix of anger and determination in her eyes. I had to admit that she was working harder than I was to secure us a spot on the upper floors, but part of me didn't believe it was possible.

“Fine,” I said, realizing that I had to at least try for her sake. “What do I have to do?”

“Just cook,” she said eagerly. “Leave the rest to me.”

I spent the next several days cooking my best dishes while Nicole lingered nearby. I was unsure of what she was doing, but after a short investigation, I realized that she was taking the dishes that I was cooking to the elevator shaft, and fanning the aroma upwards with a home made paper fan.

She insisted that I only cook hot meals, since they had a steam that could help the aroma float upwards. I wasn't convinced that this would work, mainly because she was trying to direct the smell of my food nearly fifty floors up and I doubted the scent was strong enough to float that far up. However, Nicole did managed to draw the attention of neighbors on our floor. There were about one hundred apartments on each floor and each day that Nicole made her way to the elevator shaft, twenty minutes later, one of our neighbors would exit their apartment, question us about what it was that we were doing, then ask to join us for dinner.

I'd kindly allow them, but we left them in the dark about what we were doing. It wasn't until two weeks after we began this tedious task that we finally received some type of response from someone on the upper floors. To be honest, I has half surprised that it was someone from as high up as it was.

Nicole opened the elevator doors, that lead to the empty elevator shaft, holding a pot of chilli that I had cooked in one hand. I stood helplessly behind her, glancing up into the shaft that stretched upwards for miles.

“I don't think this is working,” I said.

“Of course it's not, with that attitude, now this time you fan.” she said while handing me the paper fan.

Nicole held the pot with both hands while I rapidly fanned the scent of the chilli. My arms quickly grew exhausted as I rapidly fanned the chilli’s scent with all the strength that my arms could produce. I fanned the pot for nearly fifteen minutes, glancing over my shoulder every now and then waiting for a neighbor to wander from their apartment complex as they usually did, but I was caught off guard when a voice from upwards in the elevator shaft began to call out to us.

“Who's down there? Are you the one with the food?!” called a male voice.

Nicole jumped from being startled at the sound of the voice, nearly falling forward, plunging several feet downward to her death, but I grabbed a hold of her by a handful of her shirt, before she had a chance to fall. She muttered a quick thank you to me, then took several steps backwards to secure herself on the floor, and she glanced upward at the voice. The distance was too far for us to put a face to the voice, but his words echoed through the shaft making everything that he said coherent.

“Yes! It's us! My brother and I, we have the food. Would you like some?”

The voice was silent for a second, then the man's words echoed down the shaft. “Come to my floor and we'll talk.”

“Of course!! Of course!!” my sister practically cheered from joy. “We'll need the password to the panels.”

“Alright, but come alone...don't bring anyone else with you. I will give you the access code to the stairwell, but I won't open the door to my floor unless your alone. Understand?”

“Yes! Yes!” my sister was jumping up and down now.

“The code to the stairwell panel is 1-9-8-4.”

“Okay, we're coming!” my sister shouted.

Nicole gently pushed me back into the hallway, closing the elevator doors behind her. She then placed the pot of chilli into my hands and grabbed a hold of my arm, pulling me in the direction of the stairwell.

“Wait!” I said quickly. “We're just going to leave? Should we take anything with us?”

“No, we don't have time for that. Come on bro, this is a once in a life time opportunity. Let's go,” Nicole managed to drag me to the stairwell door and she happily entered the code, allowing the door to open, revealing a stair well that we hadn't seen in months.

“What about the others?” I asked as we stepped into the gray stairwell.

“He said to come alone.” Nicole reminded me.

“But Nicole...the others on this floor don't deserve to be left here.”

“Max,” she said sternly. “You're going to ruin things for us, now come on!”

Nicole closed the door behind us, locking the door to the stairwell, preventing our neighbors from entering. I was then reluctantly dragged by my arm up dozens of flights of stairs until we reached the second floor landing of floor one hundred. By the time we reached the floor, my legs were exhausted and my entire body was aching from not having properly exercised in months.

Nicole didn't appear to be the least bit famished, perhaps feeling far more excitement than exhausted over the fact that her plan had actually worked. When we reached the one hundredth floor landing, I noticed the number one hundred was scribbled on the wall next to the door. Nicole turned the door knob only to find that it was locked. She carefully began to knock on the door, waiting for someone on the other side to answer.

“It's us!” she announced, aware that our voices echoed throughout the stairwell.

“One second,” said the familiar voice on the other side of the door.

A second later, the door swung open and Nicole entered the hallway with me trailing after her holding a pot of chilli. The man who had granted us access to his floor was a short man with a roly poly body and a full beard of hair. He had moist, black hair that sat gently on the top of his head, covering up visible bald spots that were still seen through imperfections in his thin hair. The over weight man's body reminded me of a snow man as he carefully jiggled his weight from foot to foot.

He closed the door behind us and then without saying a word he took the pot of chilli from my hands. The man dipped two of his fingers into the pot, covering them with the warm chilli, then shoved his fingers into his mouth. He closed his eyes, appearing as though he were in a magical world, and then he opened his eyes to take another taste.

“Yeah...yeah...this is the good stuff,” he said while sticking handfuls of the chilli into his mouth with his bare fingers.

Nicole and I awkwardly watched the man eat, while glancing down the hallway that appeared identical to our own, the only difference being that it was on the one hundredth floor of the building.

“We thought that maybe...if you let us stay on your floor, then my brother could cook for you.”

“Oh!” said the man aloud. “Where are my manners? My names Nathan Franks. And that...sounds like a good idea.” The man continued to dip his fingers into the chilli as he spoke. “I was trading with someone on the lower floors a week ago, when I first smelled this random scent. Every day I came back and there was something new there and I just had to taste it.”

“Yeah, that was us.” my sister said quickly and then asked. “So it's agreed then?”

“Huh?” he said baffledly then remembered. “Oh yes of course!! Come to my apartment complex, it's just down the hall.”

As the man led us down the hallway I couldn’t help the bad taste that I had in my mouth. We had selfishly left our neighbors on the fifty-eighth floor to die, while we bribed our way up to one hundredth floor. We didn't even say a word to them and some of them had offered whatever it was they could to help us, when we were in need. I mentioned this to Nicole, but she didn't seem to share the same guilt that I did.

“Max, they would have done the same thing to us if they had the opportunity.”

“You don't know that!” I said fiercely.

“Look,” she said in soothing voice. “Maybe rescuers will come and save them before the gas can reach that floor.”

“Rescuers?” said Nathan who had paused outside an open door that appeared to be his home. “There are no rescuers. Didn't you people on the lower floor hear the news?”

Nicole and I watched him with blank expressions, baffled by what it was that he was saying.

“One of my neighbor’s radio signal picked up a call from a government base. It said that our town is too much of toxic risk to send rescuers in, so we're trapped here until the gas can get us.”

“Wait...,” Nicole asked in a small voice. “So you're saying that no one is coming for us?”

“Nope!” said Nathan, lacking emotion. “We're here until the gas gets us.”

Nathan then entered his apartment complex, murmuring over how delicious the chilli was that we had made. Nicole dropped to her knees, appearing defeated and drained after having put so much effort into helping us stay alive only to learn that we were going to suffer the same fate as everyone else on the lower floors, we just had the miserable privilege of having to wait longer to die.

I left her sobbing on the floor and made my way over to one of the windows that were stationed at the end of the hallway. I glanced out the window at the gas that seemed miles away, but at the same time it was very close.

After everything that we had done, all the cheating we had performed to get ahead, we were still going to die. I took a seat in a nearby recliner that was sitting in front of the window and I stared out the window. The only thing left that we could do was wait. Wait until it was our turn.  


© Copyright 2020 Daisy Ink. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

More Science Fiction Short Stories