You are meant to be bloody luminous! In the pitch, bitumen-black darkness, Abby brought her watch right up to her face, until she felt the cold steel and glass against her nose, and still she could not see a damned thing.
I paid money for a luminous watch, damn you!
Curled up on the hard floor, she had a feeling she might have slept, but she had no idea for how long. Was it day or night?
Her muscles felt as if they had seized and her arm was dead. She swung it through the air, trying to shake circulation back into it. It was like a lead weight. She crawled a couple of feet and swung it again, then winced in pain as it struck the side of the lift with a dull boom.
‘Hello!’ she croaked.
She banged again, then again and again.
Felt the lift swaying at her exertion.
Banged again. Again. Again.
Felt the urge to pee once more. One boot was already full. The reek of stale urine was growing stronger. Her mouth was parched. She closed her eyes, then opened them again, brought the watch up close until she could feel the coldness on her nose. But still she couldn’t see it.
Squirming in sudden panic, she wondered if she could have gone blind.
What the hell time was it? When she had last looked, before the lights went out, it had been 3.08 a.m. Some time after then she had peed into her boot. Or at least as best she could in the darkness.
She had felt better then and had been able to think clearly. Now the need to pee was muzzing her thoughts again. She tried to push the desire from her mind. Some years ago she had watched a documentary on television about people who had survived disasters. A young woman her own age had been one of the few survivors from an aircraft that had crash-landed and caught fire. The woman reckoned she had lived because she kept calm when everyone else was panicking, had thought logically, figured out through the smoke and darkness which way the exit was.
The same theme had been echoed by all the other survivors. Keeping calm, thinking clearly. That was what you had to do.
Easier said than done.
They had exit doors on planes. And stewardesses with Stepford Wives expressions who pointed out the exits and held up orange life jackets and tugged at oxygen masks, as if they were addressing a convention of mentally retarded deaf mutes on every flight. England was a bloody nanny state now, so why hadn’t they passed a law ensuring that every lift had a stewardess on board? Why didn’t you find a robotic blonde standing inside each time you entered, handing you a laminated card that told you where the doors were? Giving you an orange life jacket in case the lift got flooded while you were in it? Waving oxygen masks in your face?
Suddenly she heard a sharp beep-beep.
She fumbled for her handbag. Light spilled out of it. Her phone was working! There was a signal! And, of course, there was a clock on the phone – she had totally forgotten about in her panic!
She pulled it out and stared at it. On the display were the words:
Barely able to contain her excitement, she clicked it open.
She did not recognize the number. The message read:
I know where you are.