Trapped!

CEF language level: B2
Fun English language learning activities for students & teachers: TESOL Teaching Pack


It's 11 o’clock on a Friday night. Nicholas White is working very late. The 34 year-old manager is still in his office on the 43rd floor.

Down on the New York streets below people are having fun. Or they're at home in bed.

Nick still has work to finish. ‘Another half an hour,’ he tells himself. ‘Then I can go home.’

But he badly needs a cigarette. 'I'm going out for a smoke,’ he tells a
co-worker. ‘I’ll be back soon.’

Nicholas walks out of the office, leaving his coat on his chair. He takes the elevator down to the lobby and walks outside.

Returning to the lobby, he finds everything very quiet. The building is empty.

Nick gets into the express elevator. He presses the button for the 43rd floor.

The elevator accelerates up through the floors. There are no stops before the 39th floor, but everything seems fine.

Suddenly there's a
jolt. The lights flash off and then on again. The elevator stops.

Meanwhile, Nick’s
co-worker leaves the office and gets into the down elevator. He doesn't realise that Nick is trapped somewhere below the 39th floor.

Nobody comes

In the other elevator, Nick presses the alarm. The maintenance guy will come soon, he thinks.

But nobody comes because nobody is there. The maintenance staff have gone home for the weekend.

At first Nick waits patiently. Then he tries to climb up the side of the elevator. He wants to open the door in the ceiling.

There is no way out.He has no food or drink - and only three cigarettes!

Incredibly the elevator security camera is filming Nick all through the weekend.

But nobody is watching.

Finally on Sunday afternoon a security guard returns to the building. He notices Nick on a security camera. After 41 hours, Nick is finally rescued.

Remarkably, Nick does not need medical treatment. ‘I’m just happy to be out,’ he said. ‘And I want to go home!’

You can see Nick's 41 hours - sped up by time-lapse film to just 3 minutes. Go to the Video section of the Activities page.

Learning activities here

Read about the lucky escape of an elevator operator in the Empire State Building

First published in Ming Pao Daily. Illustrations by Iris Tsoi. Guide to IELTS & TOEFL levels here