Photo from here.
I was living in Syquia, where quite a number of old friends and acquaintances from my salad days also resided. Christiane was still my roommate and partner-in-crime, and Rafael, an old college classmate whom I didn't really like but was civil to, lived in the apartment across the hall.
Elsewhere in the building lived a motley crew of friends - designers, fellow advertising people, artists, writers. It was a good time to be alive; we were young, artsy, and ruled Malate with an arched brow and a snide smirk. And it was good to live in Syquia. Our lives were interesting, enviable. Lives full of promise, pride, and privilege.
And we knew it.
I was living on one of the middle floors and had been in Jojo's unit retrieving my cameras, which I had somehow left there from one of his previous wild and raucous parties. I went to the lobby and waited for the ancient elevator to arrive, too lazy to take the stairs down to my unit.
The heavy, creaking sound indicated that the venerable old elevator had finally arrived . Its doors opened and inside, I saw Richie - a photographer - a Brazilian girl I vaguely knew, her boyfriend-of-the-moment, and the old elevator man.
Before stepping in, there was a quick flash in my mind - no more than a nanosecond - that something was about to go terribly wrong. But I paid it no heed and absently got in, nodding to Richie as I did so.
No sooner had the doors closed when quick as a thought, the carriage immediately plummeted in a freefall. As in most life-threatening incidents, everything happened in slow motion, although in reality, everything was happening very, very quickly.
I hoped and waited that the carriage would suddenly come to an abrupt stop midway, jolting us with its immediacy, but no. We just kept on falling. Falling. Falling.
I remember the Brazilian girl with her mouth open in a terrified scream - only there was no sound. Richie was in front of me, huddled over, frozen in fear. I remember turning to the elevator man as I held on to the braces, asking if there was some way we could activate an emergency stop. He merely shook his head, tears in his eyes, and cried "No, no, no!"
It was then, with a sinking heart, that I knew we were going to die.
It felt like we were falling forever, and everything in the elevator was curiously white - the kind you'd think a soul sees when it ascends into the great hereafter.
I remember regretting not listening to that warning flash in my head earlier, that something was going to go terribly, terrifyingly wrong. And that because I didn't listen to my instincts, I was most certainly - along with my fellow passengers - going to die a horrible death.
I remember the feeling of utter helplessness, but there was no panicked desperation to somehow find a way out of the elevator. There was just a numb, pleading resignation. And the bitter agony of waiting for everything to be over.
I remember thinking that it was taking an awfully long time for us to hit the ground. Yet the freefall continued, all hope lost, but the gruesome end still nowhere in sight.
I remember that I heard myself uttering the last lines of Padre Nuestro, which I remembered as being especially tragic because I never prayed in Spanish except to mock my grandmothers. And among my panicked yet strangely-calm thoughts, there was a cold realization that these were to be my final moments on earth. My last seconds of life, waiting for the inevitable.
Waiting for death.
Then I woke up.