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Messages of Love

By Wendy Stone


Ian and Ashley met and fell in love in college. Now, ten years later, they had a good life. Ian works as an advertising agent and ends up going into the big city to meet with a client on Valentine's Day. The building explodes and Ian's trapped in a smashed elevator. Can Ashley get to him or will their text messages be the last messages of love they have?



If only he'd get home.

A lacy red silk negligee was on the bed, waiting for her to put it on after her bath.

In the dining room downstairs, candles graced a beautifully laid table, and vases of freesia perfumed the air. Cooling in a silver ice bucket, a bottle of a Puligny-Montrachet, was open so that it could breathe.

As if thinking of him somehow conjured him up, the phone rang. She grabbed the handset off the kitchen counter, dropping the spoon she'd been using to stir his favorite marinara sauce. She smiled when she saw his cell phone number on the caller ID.

"Hi, baby," she answered, smiling.

"Is that how you always answer the phone?" Ian's deep chuckle caused a little thrill in her stomach.

"Well, I thought it was my boyfriend calling to wish me a happy Valentine's Day. But it's only my husband." She let out a long, exaggerated sigh.

"Oh, well, if you're expecting his phone call, I could let you go."

"No, no." Ashley tried hard to keep the giggle out of her voice. A giggle he could get out of her easily, even after ten years of marriage. "Since you called, I suppose I can talk to you for a few minutes."

"I miss you, baby."

Ashley felt the fluttering squeeze of emotions that his words brought her. She smiled and held the receiver closer as if she could hug him through it. "I miss you, too, love. When will you be home?"

"Soon. I'm between meetings now. I have one more with the head of publicity. If everything works out right, I should be able to leave as soon as that's over. Did you get the reservations made? Someplace nice and out of our budget, with a dance floor?"

The smile on Ashley's face bloomed even wider as she thought of the evening she had planned for them tonight. "Oh, reservations were no problem, honey. They'll even hold our table for a while if you have to be a little late. I can't believe they even made you go to these meetings on a Saturday."

"It is a little creepy. We're in this big building, and there are only myself and the director here, besides the security guards. Everything echoes. Okay, hon, I gotta go, the director's ready for me. I love you, baby."

The connection was broken, and the dial tone took over before Ashley could answer him. She laughed. "I love you, too, knucklehead."

She ran over her list of things to do before he got home. The next thing was to dump the kids. Ruth, her best friend, had offered to take them for the night. The twins, Kelsey and Christopher, were nine and loved their Aunty Ruth. She never failed to show them a new way to have fun.

She turned the burner down under the sauce, washed her hands, and picked up the two backpacks she had put the kids' clothes in. Going to the stairwell, she hollered up at the kids, watched as they clomped their way down and hustled them out to the minivan.
* * * *

Ian stood waiting for the elevator, a smug smile on his face. He'd pulled it off, the biggest coup of his career. The contracts had been signed and now sat safely in his briefcase, along with the compact disc that held the ad designs his agency had come up with to woo Zap City Foods from its competitors. He'd be getting a big bonus that would make the last four days of grueling hours, reworking designs, and thinking on his feet more than worthwhile.

The door slid open, and he stepped into the empty car, turning to hit the button for the ground floor. He hadn't been teasing when he'd told Ashley that this place was giving him the creeps. It seemed too empty, almost as if it had died. He laughed to himself as the doors closed and the car started its trip downward. Next thing, he'd be seeing men with knives for fingers coming at him. He settled back against the wall, watching the digital numbers change slowly as the elevator descended.

The tremor was so slight he thought he'd imagined it at first. A loud clapping boom had him dropping his briefcase and covering his ears. The elevator shook and was buffeted about. Ian screamed as he was tossed around the car. It dropped at a terrifying speed, going faster and faster until it abruptly stopped. He was knocked off his feet, landing in a sprawl at the bottom of the car.

Ian glanced around, afraid to move, afraid to even breathe. He heard a creaking noise and felt the car shift slightly. His heart thumped hard in his chest as adrenaline rushed through his veins. What the fuck was going on?

A minute passed, the time almost seeming to stand still. He thought it was over. He started to get off the floor and reached towards his briefcase to get his phone to call for help. The lights flashed and went out, the creaking sound came again, but louder, and then the floor went out from under him as the car again plunged downward.

The car shook and began to rip itself apart, shards of metal and heavy cable coming into the car around him, cutting his face and his hands as he tried futilely to protect himself. He knew he was going to die, and he closed his eyes, wishing he could say goodbye to his wife and kids.

The elevator cab slammed into twisted metal thrown by the blast into the elevator track, one corner catching against a sharp edge. Sparks burst in a fanfare of light, shooting through the holes in the bottom of the car to land on his arms and legs. The metal slowed the car's descent enough that when it stopped, it stayed in one relative piece. Ian lay inside, his eyes closed, blo