I was sitting behind my desk, contemplating a case, when Charlie walked into the room.
"Hey, Don." He said as he knocked on the door to alert me to his appearance.
"Hey, man. What's going on?" I asked, knowing that he wasn't here for a case.
"I thought I might be able to take you out to lunch."
"I think so. We're not too involved in any case. If they need me, they know where to reach me. I'm hungry, anyway."
"Good. It's not every day I get to take you out to lunch. Luckily, I got the day off today."
"Oh, yeah? How come?"
"The power went out in our building. No one knows why. They just figure someone messed with the circuits or something. Maybe it has to do with that storm coming up."
"Yeah, that could be. I guess all your students were thrilled?"
"Unfortunately so. I'll just have to weigh them down with extra homework in our next class."
"Well, let's go." I said as I got up and walked around the desk.
We were almost to the elevator, when Colby called my name.
"I'll meet you in the lobby." I told Charlie as the elevator doors opened.
"Okay." He said, hesitantly getting into the elevator.
I walked over to Colby.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"I just wanted to warn you about the power outages. We got an anonymous call saying that they're not accidental."
"Oh, yeah? So the power outage at CalSci-"
"We're not sure, Don, but that storm couldn't have had anything to do with it. It's miles from here right now, though it's headed this way."
"Okay. Just keep your eyes open. Get a team over to CalSci to see if they can find anything."
"I'm on it."
"I'll be back in a while. Call me if something comes up."
I walked away and toward the elevator. I was almost there when everything went black.
The power was out.
I stood in the elevator, twitching nervously. I looked up at the sign the told what floor I was on. Only five more to go.
Why did Don's floor have to be so high up?
I was down to floor 3 when the elevator stopped moving and the lights went out.
"Oh, God." I breathed, panic already setting in.
I grabbed at the handle bars and, finding them, braced myself, trying to keep from falling down.
Suddenly, the lights came back on, but the elevator did not move.
I looked around the elevator, almost wishing the lights to go off again. My breathing was haggard, the walls were closing in.
I sank to my knees and buried my face in my arms.
The emergency lights came back on.
"Thank God." I breathed.
"He strikes again." Colby said from behind me.
"What's going on with this guy?" I asked. What motive would the criminal have?
I was about to call in another team to investigate the FBI offices, but then I remembered Charlie.
"Would someone call down to the lobby and see if Charlie is there?" I asked, hoping he would be there.
"He's not there, Don!" Megan called to me after calling downstairs.
"Damn it. Charlie's in the elevator!" I exclaimed, knowing that the regenerator didn't work on the elevators.
"Call the electrician or someone! We gotta get him out of there." I said, moving to the steps.
"Where are you going?" Megan asked me.
"I'm going to the security room. I want to talk to Charlie."
I took the steps two at a time. I hated Charlie being stuck in the elevator by himself. It would get extremely boring after a while.
I reached the sixth floor out of breath.
"Agent Eppes, what are you doing here?" Jeff Grey, head of security, asked.
"My brother is stuck in the elevator. I want to talk to him."
"Okay." He said, moving to the controls to the elevator.
"Right here." He said, pointing to a button for the intercom.
He stepped back, allowing me some privacy.
"Charlie? Charlie can you hear me? It's Don." I said through the intercom. A few seconds later, Charlie came on the intercom.
"Don? I'm stuck in the elevator." He said shakily.
"I know, buddy. We're trying our best to get you out. I've got men coming in as we speak to try to get you out. What floor are you on?"
"Okay. That's good. We'll get you out as soon as we can, okay?"
"I'll tell them to, Charlie. Just hang in there. We'll get you out soon enough. If you need anything, Jeff Grey is up here. Just talk to him on the intercom if you need something."
"Okay." He said meekly.
"You all right?" I asked.
"I'll be okay."
"All right, I'm going to go now. I'll be there when they get you out."
"Thanks, Jeff." I said before leaving.
I ran back up to the tenth floor that I worked on.
"Anyone here yet?"
"The elevator repairmen are here in the lobby. They're waiting for someone to fill them in. I figured you'd be the one to do the job."
"And go down ten flights of stairs? I see how your mind works, Reeves."
"Busted." She said, not even denying it.
I laughed at her and made my way to the steps. It was a good thing I was in shape.
I rocked back in forth, trying to ease my breathing. It wasn't working too well, though.
I tried sitting in the middle of the elevator, to give me the illusion that I had more room. It didn't seem to help. It just made it seem like there were more walls, which was a bad thing.
I backed into the corner of the elevator and tried to keep my eyes closed. I still knew I was boxed in. I hated the feeling. I shook uncontrollably.
Please, Don, hurry!
"Hello, gentlemen. My brother's stuck on the third floor in an elevator. The power is out, except for the use of our regenerator. Unfortunately, it doesn't work on the elevators."
The men took their heavy equipment and moved to the stair way. I led the way, though the process was slow. Their machinery had to be maneuvered just so to get it up the steps.
Twenty minutes later, we were on the third floor. They took a brief break to catch their breath, and then began to work on the elevator.
I called up to Jeff and told him to inform Charlie what was going on.
I sat down against the wall, waiting for them to finish so I could see Charlie. He hadn't sounded well on the intercom, and that scared me.
A half an hour later, the elevator doors swung open. The men stepped back as I rushed forward.
What I found in the elevator scared me. Charlie was curled into a ball, shaking like a leaf.
"Charlie!" I exclaimed as I rushed forward.
He didn't look up at me when I said his name.
"Charlie, come on, buddy. Look at me." I pleaded.
I took his chin in my hand and tilted his face until I could look into his eyes. The haunted fear shown brightly in his brown eyes.
"Come on, let's get you out of here." I suggested, pulling him to his feet and guiding him out of the elevator.
Charlie continued to shake, and I squeezed his shoulder to reassure him that he was okay.
I sat him down in one of the chairs.
"Deep breaths, Charlie." I ordered as I noticed his haggard breathing.
His breathing slowly calmed. I brought him a glass of water and he took it from me gratefully.
"What's going on? Are you all right?" I asked when he seemed conscious of my presence.
"What's going on, buddy?" I was worried something was seriously wrong.
"I'm claustrophobic." He said quietly, looking down to the floor.
I backed up a step, not fully comprehending what he just said. Charlie is claustrophobic? How come I never knew that?
"Claustrophobic. I have been since the fifth grade."
"Oh, Charlie, I'm so sorry." I said, realizing what torture he must have gone through in that elevator.
"You remember that time I was missing for hours after school? The teachers all thought I had left school, but I was there the whole time."
Remembering the incident and how worried we all had been, I nodded.
"One of the older kids had pushed me into his locker. He had put a piece of tape across my mouth, so no one ever heard me scream for help. If it hadn't been for that janitor, who had to check the lockers, I don't know what would have happened." He shivered in fear of the memory.
"Dad was so mad. He wanted to punish me for scaring you guys half to death, but when he saw how terrified I had been, he knew that was punish enough. It wasn't my fault, anyway."
"Geez, Charlie. How come I never knew this? You seem okay every time we're in an elevator before."
"I do math problems in my head to keep me occupied. It keeps my mind off the fear."
"That must have been hell today."
"It was." He said, shaking once more.
"Come here, buddy." I said, wrapping him in a hug.
"You're okay now." I soothed.
Charlie held onto me tightly, then finally let go when he stopped shaking.
"How about getting that lunch?" I suggested.
"Sure." Charlie agreed.