The Lift of Terror and Horror and Fear and Other Words That Mean Scary

Posted on March 26, 2014



Maja refuses to go into it. She is a girl of immense confidence, but still she would rather trudge up the five flights of stairs than risk her very existence using it. She isn’t alone. Many an out-of-breath soul has lumbered through the Chillton2 door, their swollen backpacks increasing their resembling a tortoise reaching the end of a begrudgingly tiresome existence. For some, it is better to leave oxygen behind on the dark circular stairs than to dare enter the elevator. Better to decipher the scrawled graffiti messages on the way up than to put your life in the hands of neglected technology. Better to live uncomfortably than to die in the claustrophobia of the lift.

Even from the entrance to the building it looks foreboding. An all but abandoned downward staircase sits next to it, leading down into what can only be assumed to be some sort of dungeon. It is locked. It’s always been locked. From the outside, the lift resembles something from the darkest parts of Orwell or Huxley, an apparatus that would come across as being dark regardless of how much light shines on it. It’s an aesthetic and technological Muldoon. When stepping in, it’s always a surprise and a relief that there isn’t a whispered voice echoing around its chamber, uttering but two words; ‘clever girl’. The flip-side of this is that when you do step into the lift, it takes an all-too-noticeable drop. Not far, but far enough to rattle your composure.

The warnings compound this. The top one is in lift form, with a number of things you aren’t to do. Please do not use your hand to open the door. Please don’t force the door open. If the lift breaks down etc. These points are addressed on paper, highlighted and with big red exclamation marks besides them. Immediately, alarm bells begin to ring. These aren’t the recommended safety guidelines from the company who made the lift. No, these are guidelines put there by the hostel, meaning at some point someone has violated all of the above. A second notice sits underneath.

‘Ovaj lift je predvidjen za 2 osobe maksimalno! ili za jednu sa koferima.
Molimo vas da postujete njegove mogucnosti.
Hvala vam!’

This translates as ‘This lift is for 2 people only, or 1 with luggage. Do not exceed his limit, or the lift will break down’. Most people in a foreign country will have their paranoia senses on ultra-sensitive, so immediately the stairs begin to look like a great option. The red pen underlining key parts of the warning doesn’t exactly help. If you’ve braved this far though, turning back just isn’t an option. Especially if you’re British, and the only thing more important than staying alive is making sure you look like you know what you’re doing. Chillton2 is on the top floor, so you’re in this for the whole ride. You press the button for Chillton2’s floor. Well, you hope you do, there’s no number on it. The elevator thrusts itself up, all the while sounding as if it would rather be doing anything else. It is the resentful teenager, stomping on each and every stair on his way to tidy his room.

The journey to the top gives plenty chance to evaluate your surroundings. The inside of the door has more of that terrible graffiti that seems to have found its way into Europe. Some of it is vulgar. Some of it is impossible to understand. You look up at the light on the roof, and you are acutely aware that part of the roof is missing. Sure, there are some nice posters in the gap, but a solid roof would be a lot more calming. Before you know it, the top has been reached and the lift jolts to a halt. The door reluctantly opens. You quickly jump out, with the all-too-noticeable drop returning as you do. You survived, because its a lift and come on, let’s not be ridiculous here.

Things are much less terrifying when the ordeal is over.