Someone Dies In This Elevator is a spoiler-driven anthology podcast. We hope you enjoy The Board Meeting. Drastic measures are taken to avoid a stressful presentation.
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This episode contains depictions of anxiety, panic attacks, project presentations, and death in an elevator.
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Emma Sherr-Ziarko (she/her) as Jordan.
Bill Sunderland (he/they) as Winston.
Additional voices by Brad Colbroock (they/them/he).
Written and Directed by Brad Colbroock (they/them/he).
Script Editing by Jesse Schuschu (he/him).
Dialogue Editing and Sound Design by Brad Colbroock (they/them/he).
Scoring and Mastering by Anna Rodriguez (she/her).
Executive Produced by Colin J Kelly (he/him) and Tal Minear (they/them).
Artwork by Tal Minear (they/them).
Marketing by Ali Fuller (they/them)
Someone Dies In This Elevator Series Trailer is their Collective Work under Sound Escape Productions, a profit-sharing podcast collective.
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Transcript for The Board Meeting as follows:
(Inside a moderately busy large office building lobby. We follow a pair of semi-formal footsteps..)
JORDAN: (Nervous breathing)
(The Elevator call button is pressed, then pressed repeatedly a couple more times, urgently. The Elevator bell rings as the door opens.)
JORDAN: (deep, forcefully calming sigh that’s not as effective as it should be) I am going to be fine.
(Anxious button-pushing followed by door closing and elevator ascension. Office hubbub fades.)
JORDAN: I am going to walk into that meeting room, I am going to look all five of them in the eyes, I am going to present the work I know backwards and forwards and inverted underwater, and I will be fine. Mesaria said Mr. Winston has already given the project the go ahead, the meeting is just a formality.
JORDAN: The new compound is based on psychology, on human efficiency, we spent two years watching people walk around to design the footpaths for this thing, you have science behind you, Jordan!
JORDAN: Don’t talk to yourself in the third person, it’s unprofessional. You need to be professional in front of these people, even if it’s just a formality.
JORDAN: (Breathes intensely for a moment) I don’t know if I can do this!
JORDAN: I know I spent four years of my life working towards this, but I just can’t walk into that boardroom and face them with their fancy suits and their expensive liquor and–do you think maybe they’ll offer me a drink? Would that even help? I feel like that might make me throw up, I can’t throw up in front of the board.
JORDAN: (Deeeep breath) You already oversaw the model being put in yesterday. It was good. All the little trees were just the way they were supposed to be, the windows lit up correctly, the gravel was even, but what if someone tampered with it last night? What if one of the janitors bumped the table?
JORDAN: What if John went in and moved stuff around? Dammit Milligan if you think you can take this away from me with your stupid little over-land bridge I will…I will…I will do something to make you regret it! Who needs a bridge over a beautiful field anyway? It’s not like you’re going anywhere, it’s just a big bridge from one side of the field to the other!
JORDAN: But what if they ask about budget? You already know that you’re almost two hundred thousand over budget, where can you cut costs? Concrete? Maybe we could have a little less-NO! Stop changing things in the elevator on your way up! (Deeep breath, then imitating an executive)
Now, Jordan, how exactly have you integrated-NO! Stop thinking of hypotheticals! Stick to the script and you will be fine!
(Jordan’s dialogue begins to increasingly jump from ear to ear in stereo.)
JORDAN: But what about the outcry from the people who don’t want construction? What about your plans to move over to Nova’s project? Do you have replacements set up for yourself if this is delayed? What about your involvement with RGN Architecture? Do zoning laws exist for some of these new structures?
(Under Jordan’s nervous breathing, an increasingly fast heartbeat is heard. Elevator noises grow louder.)
JORDAN: Have you considered maybe moving this path over here? NO! Perhaps the parking area could be smaller-Focus Jordan!
(Jodan’s dialogue returns to mono. Breath and heartbeat continue, but less intensely. Elevator noise returns to normal.)
JORDAN: You’re going to walk in there, you are going to present the damn project, and then you are going to relax with a nice walk on the beach and watch the seabirds. You’ve got this.
(The elevator slows. Jordan’s heartbeat builds again.)
JORDAN: Do I though? I need to. Relax. Relax. RELAX! I can’t do it. Oh, my lucky stars, I can’t do it. I can’t walk into there and face them, they’re world-renowned architects! They’ll pull every little detail apart and focus in on every little flaw and I won’t be able to explain why I didn’t factor that in, and that could put my career in jeopardy if they-
(The elevator door opens and Mr. Winston enters)
WINSTON: (Jokingly sinister) Hello Jordan! Ready for your perfect pitch?
JORDAN: MR. WINSTON! (Anxious Breathing) No! I’m not ready – I need more time!
(Jordan’s anxious heartbeat swells before cutting out abruptly as Jordan stumbles. We hear a solid thump as Jordan falls.)
WINSTON: Oh, no! Not again! Jordan, don’t make me do this with you!
JORDAN: (quietly) I’m, okay, I’m okay, I’m okay It’s just you, I’m not presenting yet.
WINSTON: Jordan! Relax, You’ll be… you’ll be fine, this is just so upstairs doesn’t get upset about the paperwork. We’re all rooting for you – and you’ve still got some time here.
JORDAN: You-you really mean that?
WINSTON: Oh dear…you’re a nervous wreck, aren’t you? Listen, it’s going to be okay. Did I ever tell you what happened to me the first time I presented to the Board?
JORDAN: (calming down a little) Um…no. What happened?
WINSTON: Well, you see this was a bit bigger of a pitch. The first time I ever had to go in front of the entire board, I showed them The Durfric Hotel.
JORDAN: YOU worked on the Durfric?
WINSTON: Haha, well, I almost did. The Durfric actually went with a Dutch architect in the end, but that’s not important here. What’s important is that I was wearing a beige shirt that day
JORDAN: (calming down as the distraction works) I’m sorry, what? why was that important?
WINSTON: Well, Jordan, a long long time ago there was a rather cantankerous man on the board named James Esserman who had a very strict set of rules regarding how colors could match and all. If you dared to put any sort of plants into an interior space he would launch into a long tirade about how green is an exterior color and had no place inside.
WINSTON: I honestly don’t know why he hated beige so much, desert sand was perfectly fine and the man adored cream-colored walls. This is why you’re lucky you stuck to architecture, you don’t have to deal with interior designers.
JORDAN: Oh trust me, I’ve heard a horror story or two about that team.
WINSTON: I definitely feel like they’ve gotten worse over the years. The patterning they like on walls these days, hides all of the archetechural quirks. Anyway, I made the mistake of wearing my only beige shirt that I have ever owned that day. And that was…the first problem. You see, this was… oh my, almost thirty years ago now. The presentations were still being done with poster board, and I may have taken a turn too fast on my way up the stairs.
JORDAN: (chuckling) No elevators back then?
WINSTON: (chuckling) Yes, I’m not that old yet! I’m not sure I would trust that one if is was still around, but it was fine back in the day. No, I took the stairs because I didn’t trust Bob to not distract me with talk about the elevator music. Bizarre experience listening to him go on an on about how the music was supposed to relax you but not too much…Anyway, I bent a few pictures pre-tty badly.
JORDAN: I suppose I don’t have to worry about that, at least.
WINSTON: No, no, Mesaria’s already called up and said everything’s all set up. You just need to walk in there, give us your pitch, and then we’ll all celebrate. That was not the case after my presentation. You see, Esserman was in a particularly bad mood that day, so the first thing that happened when I walked in was he yelled “Winston! What is that ridiculous shade of beige!? This is an internationally renowned architecture firm, you expect to make a good impression with that shirt!? I hope you’ll be better dressed if you make it the Durfric pitch!”
WINSTON: Now keep in mind, I was competing with three other architects for this, and this was just to pitch to the actual client who had us competing against at least a dozen other companies. So my pitch is already off to a terrible start, and I haven’t even said anything to them yet. Your pitch is off to a great start and you haven’t actually said a thing.
JORDAN: I know, but what if I screw up? This is a pivotal point for me here, if I lose this- then I’ll have-
WINSTON: Then you lose it. That’s all. You won’t cause a financial crisis. You won’t hold up a little old lady for her social security checks, you won’t hurt anyone, Jordan.
JORDAN: Well, when you put it like that, yeah, it’s not a huge thing. But what if someone pulls something amazing out and I lose the project?
WINSTON: You won’t lose the project. Who were you even up against? Tessa? Charles? I know Dan moved over to that educational project a few months ago. You definitely don’t have to worry about him.
JORDAN: John Milligan.
WINSTON: …who the hell is John Milligan?
JORDAN: The blonde guy? Medium height, works across from Dan?
WINSTON: You were up against the new guy?? With that stupid bridge? Jordan, come on, I can’t believe you were even worried. You’re going to be just fine.
JORDAN: You say that, but it’s not helping my nerves any.
WINSTON: (sigh) Jordan… relax! Do you want to give me the elevator pitch one last time? Get all of your mistakes now before the big reveal?
JORDAN: You want me to give you the elevator pitch now? Mr Winston, I don’t know–
WINSTON: Jordan, please, call me Lawrence, you don’t need to be so formal. We’ve still got plenty of time before the elevator reaches the top floor. What did you have for us?
JORDAN: Well, um… (confidence boosting breath) The Ten Benches Company Complex. A new home for TBC incorperated. Designed with public interest and structured to provide seamless integration of corporate laboratories, office spaces, and opportunities for public gathering. We have plans to partner with Carlson and Veers Industries to integrate new, environmentally sustainable breathing insulation which has a programmable R value depending on the season.
WINSTON: And how else are you regulating the temperature?
JORDAN: The main courtyard incorporates native, nonflowering plants to minimize cleanup, while reducing pavement heat, and three terraces provide private greenhouses with local and endangered plants from around the world.
WINSTON: Excellent. When Dixon asks about the potential for wildlife integration you’d tell him about how you’ve designed those greenhouses with the built in…what’s the fancy beehive word?
JORDAN: The apiaries? We spent so much time on those, I’m really happy with how they they’re able to extend over multiple floors.
WINSTON: You should be proud of yourself. That’s the sort of innovation the newspapers still go crazy over. Go on.
JORDAN: We’ve developed a state of the art HVAC system which saves us nearly 20% on material consumption.
WINSTON: Always a popular one with the accountants.
JORDAN: Our walkways have been specially designed using data from nearly two years of observational studies across 57 corporate and university campuses around the country to make people feel as at home as they possibly can in the workplace. We’re truly hoping to build a place where you don’t feel like you’re at work until you start working.
WINSTON: See, nothing at all in this world to worry about. Jordan, the Board is going to accept your project. Most of us already approved the preliminary plans, your only challenge would have been Johnson, but then again Johnson’s like that with everyone. Ten Benches is going to be a wonderful project and we’ll be proud to put your name on it.
JORDAN: You-what? You don’t mean that literally, do you?
WINSTON: Jordan, it’s a 70 million dollar complex. If it doesn’t get named after you, you’ll at least get an exterior plaque and an interior biography somewhere.
JORDAN: Don’t they usually reserve that for… famous people? Or dead people?
WINSTON: Jordan, you were a good architect. This project will make you famous.
(The elevator slows down almost to a halt)
JORDAN: (nervous gasp) I’m not ready.
WINSTON: Nope! Nope! No- No more people right now.
(Winston hastily pulls out a key and inserts it into the elevator. The elevator resumes normal speed.)
WINSTON Don’t worry, we’ve still got six more floors. Someone in advertising must be taking an early lunch. One of the perks of being on the board, they give you a private override key. I figure you’d appreciate not adding more people to the ride up. I really should’ve done that earlier, sorry.
JORDAN Thank you. It’s just… I don’t do well with presentations, and this is a BIG one and even though I know the deck is stacked in my favor-
WINSTON: Please, the deck’s practically been gift-wrapped for you.
JORDAN: You say that, but I didn’t take the board’s idea of the company image into account, right? What if someone comes up with something that wow’s you all more than my project?
WINSTON: Who? The new guy? If the rumors that he’s actually pitching a giant bridge that crosses a field are true, he’ll be out of here before TBC even breaks ground. Most of the other feasible projects proposals would work so much better elsewhere. Dan already tweaked his for west blueside zoning because it’ll fit better over there. Yours is designed perfectly for where it’s going. You have nothing to be nervous about.
JORDAN: But what if-
WINSTON: It won’t happen.
JORDAN: How can you possibly know that?
WINSTON: I can say, with absolute certainty, that your career can not be harmed by anything that happens in that board room today.
JORDAN: Mr. Winston, I know you have a lot of pull with the board, but not even you can cover me if I manage to screw this up.
WINSTON: I won’t have to explain to the board why we should take TBC even if you do screw up, because you’re not going to screw up. And I promise, I will cover you.
JORDAN: Why do you say it like that?
WINSTON: It’s just one of those things-
(The elevator slows down)
WINSTON: Well, here we go then, I guess.
JORDAN: I don’t know if I can do it. No. I can’t do it. I’m too nervous for this.
(The elevator door opens)
WINSTON: Jordan, listen to me. I’m going to shut the doors. When they open up again, everything is going to be fine. It’s perfectly natural. I know it’s terrifying, everyone is afraid to do this. But you don’t have to be nervous.
JORDAN: I’m scared.
WINSTON: I know. And whatever happens… you’ll be fine.
JORDAN: (forcefully bright) See you in a minute!
WINSTON: (Tearful, forcing a smile) Goodbye, Jordan.
(Winston hits a button, the elevator doors close)
WINSTON: (sad sigh) I hate being a medium.
(Winston pulls out their phone and dials)
WINSTON: Mesaria, I need you call maintenance and have them shut down the north elevator.
MESARIA: (On the other end) That’s our busiest elevator, I can’t just have them shut it down
WINSTON: Mesaria! There is a dead body in there, they can shut it down so nobody else stumbles onto a corpse.
MESARIA: (On the other end) Oh my! I’ll call emergency services as soon as I finish with maintenance!
WINSTON: I’m calling the coroner’s office now, so don’t worry about that.
(Winston hangs up)
WINSTON: I have them on speed dial after all
(Winston dials a new number)
WINSTON: Hello there, I’m going to need a coroner at Etid’s Architecture. One of our employees has had an accident…
The Coronor’s Receptionist: (On the other end) Could you describe the accident?
WINSTON: No…no I don’t know what, exactly. I would guess that it was either a heart-attack or stroke, but they seemed awfully young for either of those.
The Coronor’s Receptionist: (On the other end) Have you moved the body at all?
WINSTON: We’ve not moved the body except for…covering it… oh dear… I’m sorry, we’ve shut down the elevator where the body was found, my secretary will give you directions once you get here…
The Coronor’s Receptionist: (On the other end) Alright, we’ll send someone right over. Can I have your name please?
WINSTON: My name is Lawrence Winston, my secretary’s name is Mesaria. Thank you, I’ll see you soon.
(Winston rushes over and presses the elevator call button)
WINSTON: I did promise I’d cover you, didn’t I?
(The elevator door opens)
WINSTON: Maintenance hasn’t had the chance to lock it yet, good. (sighs heavily) You were a good architect, Jordan.
(Fabric rustles gently as Winston puts his jacket over Jordan’s corpse.)
WINSTON: The TCB Complex will be your legacy. I’ll make sure of that.
(Winston hits the door close button and walks towards the boardroom. We hear a door open and brief executive chatter before the elevator door closes all the way.)