The Depths :
A cloth of mist draped over the promenade and enshrouded the red brick lift shaft in front of them. The glossed red doors to the entrance were locked. Vonnie shivered and flung her scarf end over her shoulder. The guy from Blackpool Civic Trust had said seven o’clock, and it was twenty past. She felt Jez’s glare almost melt the side of her face.
“This was your chuffing idea. I shouldn’t be exposed to weather like this. Blackpool prom in February? Damp castles I can handle, but I can’t feel my bloomin’ feet Von.” He blew into his cupped hands and stamped his feet theatrically.
“He’ll be here. Stop moaning.”
She wondered where the Civic Trust guy was. He had seemed keen for Slightly Haunted to feature the Cabin Lift. He had contacted them, he would turn up surely? A burst of music came from Vonnie’s bag. As she grabbed for her phone she saw a man in a white shirt approach from across the road. “Just a text, I’ll get it later, he’s here now.” Jez was holding his mobile; it was probably another snipe about the cold. Typical psychic, she thought; a prima-donna. He always complained on their fact gathering trips but insisted on coming every time.
The small lean man beamed. “Hello there, I’m Edward, pleased to meet you. If you’d like to follow me I’ll take you down now.” Edward rooted round in his sack-like pockets and pulled out a huge bunch of clanging keys. Jez tutted and rolled his eyes.
“In your own time, it’s not as if we’ve been stood here long is it?” Jez rolled his eyes and tutted. Edward didn’t seem to notice, and waved the key around with triumph a few minutes later.
Jez’s mouth by this point resembled a cat’s backside. He folded his arms with a loud sigh. Vonnie chuckled as Edward unlocked door and swung it open. It creaked and scraped the floor. Jez lagged behind as they entered the windowless corridor. It wasn’t completely dark outside yet. The surrounding mist made Vonnie feel wrapped in cotton wool. It was a relief to step into the echoing entrance. Ahead stood the lift door, vintage but in pristine condition. Jez shifted his weight between his feet and held back as Edward ushered them into the open mouth of the lift.
“So, who was it that designed this place?” She smirked at Edward.
“It was a gentleman called John Charles Robinson,” he replied.”It was built in 1930. As you can see it’s designed to carry folk down Bispham cliffs to the lower promenade. It’s not used anymore, shame really.” He slid the concertina lift door shut with a clatter. Inside the light glowed amber. Vonnie made a mental note of the architect’s name. Edward leaned past Jez who took a step backwards. He pressed a button and the squealing of old mechanisms began as they journeyed slowly down.
“Yes he designed quite a few of the art deco buildings in Blackpool, Bispham library, Stanley Park cafe, amongst others. This is his least known work.” He carried on. “He was and still is a much undervalued artist.” Vonnie hoped this architect wasn’t so undervalued that he wasn’t on Google. It did seem creepy enough in here though, so the night-vision cameras would have the desired effect if she could make sure there were no light in the lift.
“Could the lights be turned off with the lift still running?” Jez jumped in with the question before she could ask. Edward turned slowly to the lift controls and smiled mischievously.
“Of course,” he said. The lift went black.
Vonnie felt her stomach suddenly rise to her throat as the lift dropped. A shriek came from the lift mechanisms above. Her fingers pressed against the icy metal box around her as she grasped for purchase. It sped up. Faster and faster they plummeted.
“No help help stop!” Jez screamed. On and on they plunged. Then it stopped. Vonnie crashed to the floor and felt Jez land on her leg.
“You lunatic what are you doing?” he screeched at Edward.
“Put the lights on Edward please” Vonnie said, her voice wavering. There was no response. Jez pulled Vonnie’s arm and clung to her. The sound of the waves smashing against the sea wall grew closer.
The sea grew louder. Vonnie felt the box begin to sway as if engulfed in the tide. The acoustics inside the metal casing sounded hollow. As if they were submerged. Jez shrieked and threw himself around the metal box hammering the walls with his fists. Vonnie felt cool wetness touch her foot, seeping through the lift door. She sobbed and curled into a ball, rocking gently back and forth with the sound of the water trickling inside.
The lights flickered and filled the box. Silence. Vonnie looked at the bone dry floor and stood up quickly. She scanned around then looked at Jez’s puffy red face. They were alone. Jez whimpered and began to wail. Vonnie yanked the lift door open and ran through the dark tunnel to the door; Jez clung limpet-like to her arm. They crashed through the wooden doors back outside to the lower promenade. For a few long seconds they stood under the cool moonlight and stared at the tide far in the horizon. Beyond; the damp empty beach. A screeching gull broke the silence.
Without looking back, they ran to their hotel.
Jez and Vonnie sat opposite each other in the Hotel bar. Neither could make eye contact. Jez held his brandy glass so tightly his knuckles blanched.
“It was a clever trick. Hilarious. Well they got us good and proper, they’ve made it on to the next series,” he mumbled.
Vonnie threw her vodka down her throat in one action, and then thrust her phone in Jez’s face. The last text, from the Civic Trust, said;
7.24pm: SORRY CAN’T MAKE IT TONIGHT. REGARDS, FRANK