As I mentioned on Day 1 of this series, Driving in Neutral is a love story about claustrophobia. While there are those who fear elevators (or lifts if you prefer), Naughty Rhyll Biest, author of Risk and Russian Heat explains why she fears going down in another way.
Phobias, phobias, phobias, I think I’m mostly afraid of being afraid…
But no, there is one thing I’m totally afraid of, though not irrationally so (if you ask me, anyway).
Escalaphobia: I hate down escalators, and I don’t allow anyone to stand too close behind me on one. The second I know I have to take a ‘downie’, I’ll ease off to one side, let the crowd rushing to ride the steel steps to Hell pass by, and then creep on once it’s safe.
Often I’ll do a little shuffle, a tap dance at the edge of the escalator abyss, knowing I’m going to put my big hoof in the wrong place and fall ass-over-tit down all three thousand sharp-edged steel steps. Have you looked at the edges of those steps closely? They look like freaking prehistoric shark teeth.
In the US I’ve met some ‘downies’ of epic proportions. The memory of one Pentagon ‘downie’ haunts me, its sphincter-puckering steep descent stretching for mile after mile. My hands stiffened into rigor mortis on the handrail. And those claw marks in the handrail rubber that baffled Pentagon staff for days? I’ll admit, those were mine.
Many of the subway systems in the US also have terrifying ‘downies’ and I learned to dread the lean fitness fanatics of San Francisco. They’d run by, high on wheat grass juice, jostling me as I fought the vortex trying to pull me forward off balance, the vortex that wanted to make me eat escalator tread. As they’d run by, I’d cling more tightly to the handrail, a human sloth, and lovingly picture spiking their wheat grass with trans fats. Yes, I’m vicious when trapped on a ‘downie’, and I tend to lash out like a wounded animal at those who threaten my escalator survival.
As for children who run the wrong way up the ‘downies’ towards me, they too are an abomination, all part of the global conspiracy to reduce me to nothing more than a red smear and a few clumps of hair stuck in escalator tracks.
So, my friends, ask me to jump in an aging elevator, or buy me an Aeroflot ticket, but forget about holding my hand while we’re riding the downward escalator. It just ain’t ever gonna happen.
Rhyll Biest writes saucy contemporary and fantasy romances devoid of escalators. You can find her at biestbooks.com and everywhere…