Someone Dies In This Elevator is a spoiler-driven anthology podcast. We hope you enjoy this episode. In Hot Wheels, what happens when you can’t take the stairs?
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This episode contains structural ableism, claustrophobia, smoke inhalation, cleithrophobia, fire, and death in an elevator.
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Rue Dickey (he/they) as Shannon.
Alice Wong (she/her) as Waverly.
Becca Marcus (she/her) as Sandy.
Written and Directed by Erin Kyan (he/him).
Script Editing by Jesse Schuschu (he/him).
Dialogue Editing by Erin Kyan (he/him).
Sound Design and Mastering by Tal Minear (they/them).
Music by Trace Callahan (they/she).
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.
Please support Audio Fiction Creators so they can continue making content and telling stories.
Transcript for Hot Wheels as follows:
(A modern elevator dings, and the doors open. A manual wheelchair user rolls into the elevator and turns around while the doors close. They press a button, and the elevator starts moving. After a few moments, it comes to a halt, and the doors ding and open again.)
WAVERLY: (Outside Elevator) Oh, is there room for me?
SHANNON: Yep, it’ll fit both of us!
WAVERLY: Ha, nice. Not often that happens, huh?
(Waverly wheels into the elevator. They use a powered wheelchair.)
SHANNON: Tell me about it! Going up?
WAVERLY: Oh yeah, level twenty-three, thanks.
SHANNON: No worries.
(The button is pressed, the doors close, and the elevator starts moving again.)
WAVERLY: Nice wheels, by the way!
SHANNON: Oh, thanks! It’s new actually, I’ve only had it for about six months. My funding finally came through, so I got to say goodbye to the off-the-rack chair and get one that, you know, actually suits my body properly!
WAVERLY: Oh, nice! Yeah, I’m still in an off-the-rack chair myself, but hey, can’t complain too much, it does the job. But it must be pretty amazing to have one that’s actually made for you!
SHANNON: It’s night and day, honestly. Fingers crossed you get one soon yourself!
WAVERLY: Fingers crossed!
There is a pause. The elevator hums.
WAVERLY: Why on earth do they always put these “do not use elevator in case of fire” posters on the inside of elevators? Wouldn’t they be more useful on the outside?
SHANNON: (Laughs) Right? And it always makes me wonder what we’re supposed to do in case of fire. Just… roll ourselves downstairs, somehow?
WAVERLY: (Laughs) Just wheel ourselves out the window and hope for the best.
SHANNON: (Laughs) Considering my work’s idea of an accessible evacuation plan is “oh, we’d probably carry you…”–
SHANNON: — I’d rather take my chances on the window.
WAVERLY: Way less likely to get injured that way, honestly. And hey, maybe we’d get lucky and some kid is having a birthday party outside and has like, a jumping castle we can land on, or something.
SHANNON: (Laughs) Seems about as likely as any other decent evac plan!
(The elevator groans. Clunking metal can be heard.)
WAVERLY: (Lightly) Well, that’s terrifying!
SHANNON: (Worried) Yeah…
(The elevator groans again, louder this time, before shuddering and coming to a halt.)
WAVERLY: (Startled yelp)
SHANNON: (Startled yelp)
(A moment of silence passes.)
WAVERLY: Well. That’s even worse.
(Shannon presses buttons urgently.)
SHANNON: None of the buttons are lighting up or anything!
WAVERLY: Does the emergency call button work?
(Shannon presses the call button, and a dial tone can be heard from the speaker.)
WAVERLY: Oh thank god.
(After a moment more of dial tone, there is a crackle of the line being picked up.)
SANDY: (Through speaker) You’ve reached Highland Vault Elevator Servicing, do you have an emergency?
SHANNON: Yes! We’re stuck in an elevator!
SANDY: Okay, let me just confirm where you are. There should be a serial number just beneath where all the buttons are. Can you see it?
SHANNON: Um… yes!
SANDY: Great, what’s that number, please?
SHANNON: (Reading) Um… 000426652.
(Typing can be heard through the speaker for a moment.)
SANDY: Okay, good. You’re in an elevator at 104 Cunningham Street, is that right?
SHANNON: Um… I think so?
WAVERLY: Yes, that’s right.
SANDY: Okay, good. We’re sending someone to that address right away. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes. Now, are you stuck because the door isn’t opening?
SANDY: Okay, hold down the floor one button for five seconds. See if that opens it.
(Shannon presses the button for five seconds. Nothing happens.)
SHANNON: Nothing is happening.
SANDY: Okay, that’s okay, that just means that this might take a little longer. I’m currently trying to call Maintenance in your building to find out if they have someone closer who can help you right now. But even if they don’t, our tech is still on the way. So stay calm, okay? We’ll get you out.
WAVERLY: It’s not going to involve climbing or anything, is it?
SANDY: It shouldn’t, no. It’s possible we might need you to climb up a little if the car has stopped between floors, but that’s a worst-case-scenario last resort.
WAVERLY: Yeah, that’s not going to work. We’re both wheelchair users.
WAVERLY: (Frustrated sigh) We’re both wheelchair users! I can walk a little bit, but I’m definitely not up to climbing anything!
SHANNON: Yeah, I… I can basically just transfer from one thing to another. Climbing isn’t in my wheelhouse either.
WAVERLY: (Short Chuckle): Ha, wheelhouse.
SHANNON: (Amused exhale despite themself)
SANDY: Okay, well, that complicates things a bit, but that should be okay. We’ll figure something out. (PAUSE) Okay, I’ve gotten through to the maintenance crew, so I’ll be right back, okay?
(The line goes dead.)
WAVERLY: I’m Waverly, by the way.
SHANNON: Oh… I’m Shannon. Nice to meet you?
WAVERLY: Sure wish it was under better circumstances, huh?
(After a long pause, the speaker crackles to life again.)
SANDY: (Through speaker) Hello, are you there?
WAVERLY: Where else would we be?
SANDY: Okay, I’ve been informed there’s a fire in the building. That will be why the elevator has stopped, it has an automatic lockdown function for situations like this.
WAVERLY: We’re trapped in here by design!?
SANDY: Our technician might not be allowed into the building until the fire crew says it’s safe, so it might be a little longer than 30 minutes. I don’t know how long. Apparently it’s a pretty big fire, and it’s on the same side of the building as the elevator and the phone line we’re using, so there’s a chance it might damage the line and this call might end. But unless that happens, I’m going to stay on the line with you, okay? Are you all doing okay?
WAVERLY: Will the firefighters be able to get us out?
SANDY: I don’t know. I hope so. They certainly have the equipment and training for it. Maintenance assured me that they’ll tell them that you’re in there, so they’ll know to come and get you.
WAVERLY: Oh, great.
SHANNON: So what are we supposed to do?
SANDY: Well, considering the situation, it might be worth trying that last resort option. Do you think you can pry the doors apart? They’re only locked from electronic use, you should still be able to open them manually with a bit of effort.
WAVERLY: I don’t think I’ll have the strength for that.
SHANNON: I might be able to… hang on, let me try.
(Shannon wheels closer to the doors and pries them apart with some effort.)
SHANNON: Come on… yes! Got it!
SANDY: Okay, tell me what you see. Are you between floors?
(There is silence for a moment except for Shannon breathing.)
SANDY: Hello? Are you still there?
SHANNON: (Quietly) We’re done for.
WAVERLY: We’re between floors. There’s an opening at the top, but neither of us will be able to reach it.
SANDY: Is there any way you could climb it, at all? Maybe there’s a railing nearby you could use? Could you help each other somehow?
(A moment of silence.)
WAVERLY: No. I don’t think we can.
SHANNON: Oh, god.
SANDY: Okay, just stay calm. Everything will be–
(The line cuts out.)
SHANNON: Hello? Hello? Are you there?
(A moment of silence)
WAVERLY: I guess the fire got to the phone line.
SHANNON: (Strained) No!!
WAVERLY: Hey, it’s okay, I’m here. You’re not alone.
SHANNON: It’s not okay! That just means you’re going to die with me!
WAVERLY: Yeah, maybe.
(Faint sounds of metal clanking.)
SHANNON: You’re not trying to convince me that it will be okay.
WAVERLY: (PAUSE) No. (PAUSE) We both know how things are. No one makes emergency plans for people like us. We’d rather take a chance on a jumping castle, remember?
SHANNON: (QUIETLY) I don’t think there’s going to be a jumping castle.
WAVERLY: No, I don’t think there will.
(They go quiet. Faint metal clanking and other destructive sounds can be heard in the distance. The very early slow fade in of a roaring fire may begin to fade in here but it should be so subtle that it is barely noticed. Waverly’s ventilator starts beeping.)
WAVERLY: Oh, great, now my ventilator’s out of power, too.
SHANNON: Does it seem like it’s getting hotter in here?
WAVERLY: Yeah. I guess the fire is working its way closer to us.
(The fire sound may become more noticeable now.)
SHANNON: (Quietly) I don’t want to die.
WAVERLY: Me either.
SHANNON: Do you think it will hurt?
(A pause while Waverly thinks.)
WAVERLY: I… (Exhale) Unfortunately, yes, I think it will hurt.
SHANNON: (Quiet) Oh, god… (Shaky breath)
(The fire gets louder.)
WAVERLY: It’s strange, isn’t it.
SHANNON: What is?
WAVERLY: We didn’t even know each other an hour ago. And now…
SHANNON: We’re going to die together.
(A pause. The fire gets louder. More twisting metal can be heard.)
WAVERLY: It’s a kind of forever, in a way. If a last moment has nothing after it, how can it really end?
SHANNON: I guess we’ll find out.
WAVERLY: I guess we will.
(The fire gets louder. More twisting metal can be heard.)
SHANNON: I’m scared. Hold my hand?
WAVERLY: Of course. (coughs as smoke reaches the car)
(A pause. The fire gets louder. More twisting metal can be heard.)
SHANNON: I’m sorry you’re here. But… I’m glad I’m not alone.
WAVERLY: Me too.
SHANNON: (Coughing as the car fills with smoke)
WAVERLY: (Coughing as the car fills with smoke)
(The fire gets louder and louder, the twisting metal is loud as well; and it reaches a loud crescendo before suddenly cutting to absolute silence. We sit within it for a while before the credits begin.)