"You HAD to push the button, didn't you?" the PFY snaps angrily at the Boss in the dark of the elevator.
"I only just TOUCHED it!" the Boss snivels. "It's not like I actually PRESSED it!"
"Now, now," I say. "No use crying over fried control panels. We need to take a look at how bad it is before we start getting upset. And bear in mind that they're bound to find out one of the lifts isn't working in a day or two..."
One of the hazards of trying out experimental technology is the inevitable risk that it will somehow backfire on you, and in this case we have a doozy. After a whirlwind tour of the beancounters' floor, a number of underground vending machines, the kebab guy with the radio that's always a bit off-channel and finally the location of a congestion camera via the open deck of a tourist bus, the Boss, PFY and I have set off back for the comfort of mission control safe in the knowledge of a job well done. The only mistake we made in the process was charging the PFY's makeshift pinch up again in case we'd need its services on the way.
"What about the security camera?" the Boss says, pointing at the lift ceiling.
"Good point," the PFY says. "It may have missed the full force of the pinch."
"So we could maybe write a note?" the Boss suggests.
. . .
"Nothing," the PFY says half an hour later. "I think it's fair to assume that Security has not seen our messages."
"So the camera's broken too then?" the Boss asks.
"It would seem so," I concur.
"And the alarm button doesn't work?"
"If the panel's dead it's all dead."
"You mean you took yours with you!" the PFY gasps. "After about 30 discharges of this baby I'm surprised the battery didn't explode!"
The boss checks his phone only to find it completely dead.
"So surely security will come to investigate?"
"Yeah, I don't think you really understand how security guards work," the PFY says carefully. "Say they've got 20 images to keep an eye on and one of them suddenly goes blank. That's like giving them the morning off. They're not likely to fix that problem as doing so will cut into their cartoon time."
"Or their 'reading The Sun at childishly slow rate' time," the PFY adds.
"So they're not going to come?"
"Not before we're drinking each other's sock-filtered urine, no," I feel obliged to reply. "So how do we get out then?"
"Hmm?" the PFY says.
"Well you two have apparently been trapped in more lifts than anyone in the building. You must have escaped somehow."
"Ah yes, you mean like they do in the movies?" I ask.
"OK, well you know how movies aren't real?"
"And that 99.99 per cent of lifts have their roof access hatch locked from the outside to prevent people from damaging the lift - or themselves."
"I didn't know that," the Boss sighs.
"No, and I'm betting you also didn't know that OUR access hatches are spot welded shut in any case?"
"Why would someone do that?" the Boss asks.
"I don't know," I say, looking pointedly at the PFY. "Why WOULD someone do that?"
"YOU did it!" the Boss gasps.
"It was a long time ago," the PFY says. "I hadn't thought to change it."
"So we're REALLY stuck here?"
"Possibly – and possibly not. Givvus a hand muscling this door open will you?"
The PFY, Boss and I pry the door open to reveal the slab wall of the lift shaft.
"Bugger," the PFY says. "We might have been able to lever open an outside door and exit that way."
"So socks off and watertight containers out!" the PFY replies, trying to add a bit of levity to the situation...
"You can't be serious!"
...Four hours later...
"Where are they?" the Boss moans.
"Oh it's early days yet!" the PFY says, getting a comfortable position on the floor.
...Two hours later...
"Are there any pipes we could maybe tap on?" the Boss asks, before going silent under a barrage of withering looks.
"The fire alarm," the PFY says, pointing at the detector above us.
"Electronic," I say. "If only we still used the old mechanical ones. Still, can't hurt to give it a bash!" >CRUNCH<
Less than half an hour later we hear some thumping from above and the clatter of the hatch - which doesn't open, of course. Luckily however, our rescuer tells us he's going to flip the lift over to master then trip the return-to-ground signal – whatever the hell that means.
"Oh thank goodness!" the Boss gasps, mopping away at his brow furiously.
A minute or so later we're safely on the ground floor and a couple of minutes later our rescuer from the fire safety contractors has made his way back to us.
"The hatch is welded shut!" he says. "I've noted it on my report along with the faulty fire sensor."
"I have to say, I'm impressed with the speed of your response," I say.
"What do you mean?" the fire bloke says, acting a bit defensive.
"Half an hour – unheard of!"
"Half an hour?" he replies. "I got the sensor failure call just under seven hours ago, was onsite about four hours ago - but the blokes from security wouldn't let me sort it out at the time."
"Why not?" the PFY asks.
"They said something about operational security but in reality I think they just had a bet running on what would happen in the lift. I've been here before, you see."
"RIGHT!" the PFY says, plugging his luggage into the nearest power socket.
"You didn't happen to leave anything of any value at the security desk did you?""
"Just my laptop."
"You might want to just go and grab that. Quickly!" I say, as the PFY sets out for security with a determined expression on his face...