Endless Elevators are a global legend of elevators which extend into floors below the basement of the building, often deep into the earth. The best known proponent of the idea was Richard Sharpe Shaver, whose stories in Amazing stories magazine featured an underground world of ruins, degraded reptilian creatures and robots. His work is considered a precursor to the flying saucer phenomena.
Endless Elevators extend deep into the earth, beyond the lowest floors of the buildings they are in. These are usually connected to underground caverns and tunnels. Although often considered to be an early proponent of the Hollow Earth theory, Shaver specifically rejected such speculations. His subbasement earth was honeycombed with antediluvian tunnels inhabited by cannibal sadists.
The concept has a special hold in Japanese urban folklore. Although much remains to be translated at least one type of legend, 'The Elevator Game' or 'Another World Game' is well known now in the English speaking world, especially since it was brought up in regards to the death of Elisa Lam in 2013.
There aren't many explanations as to what the phenomenon could be. Theories include:
- Exaggeration of pit depth
- Openings to unknown cave systems, secret military bases, ancient ruins or even a Hollow Earth.
- An extreme or otherwise paranormal phenomena, such as a wormhole, an entrance into another dimension or reality.
- A cognitive space with symbolic meaning, as evidenced by the prevalence of this image in dreams.
- It is said to be related to The Elevator Game.
- Shaver claimed to have entered the underground world but changed the method by which he reached it time and again, supposedly to protect the public from finding the entrance. And while Shaver was vague on just how much time he had spent in the cavern -- it seemed to vary from a "short stay" to as much as eight years -- he never wavered from his insistence that the Cavern World was a real place anyone can visit. In one account it was an elevator in an abandoned building, a motif shared by the urban legend of Michigan Blue Hell.
- In response to Shavers article correspondents claimed that they, too, had heard strange voices or encountered denizens of the Hollow Earth. One of the letters to Amazing Stories was from a woman who claimed to have gone into a deep subbasement of a Paris, France building via a secret elevator. After months of rape and other torture, she was freed by a benevolent Tero.
- Some claim to have had dreams of Endless Elevators long before hearing the phrase:
"Guys I know nano-UFOs are a thing but what the hell are endless elevators? like the thought genuinely made me tear the fuck up, if only because I would have reoccurring nightmares of endless elevators in an infinite void as a child. I don't even think I knew what elevators were back then, never saw them until later in life."
- There are a peculiar number of accounts from The Hypogeum;
"The Hypogeum, long on UNESCO's World Heritage list, is an enormous, three-level underground complex, carved from living rock, which is thought to have served as a temple and a burial chamber for at least 7,000 persons between about 3600 and 2500 B.C. The Hypogeum apparently is only the most spectacular of a number of underground chambers and passages carved from Malta's soft limestone; according to an August 1940 National Geographic article that Crabb quotes, it was once possible to "walk underground from one end of Malta to the other, but all entrances were closed by the [British] government because of a tragedy." In the mid-1930s, a number of school children and their teachers descended into these passages on a field trip, and were never seen again.
Crabb learned the rest of the story from Constance Lois Jessop, secretary of the New York Saucer Information Bureau. Shortly before the children's disappearance, Ms. Jessop toured the Hypogeum and explored a dark passage leading out of the temple's lowest chamber; emerging into a large opening, she saw far below her a group of shaggy humanoids she estimated were at least 25 feet tall. She fled. Soon a friend told her that the school party had disappeared after entering the same passage! And the next time Jessop entered the Hypogeum, the tunnel had been boarded up."
Harlan Ellison, a critic of Richard Sharpe Shaver's mystery writings, would nonetheless pick up his ideas for what Stephen King described as "jocular" urban legendry:
"E is for ELEVATOR PEOPLE. They never speak, and they cannot meet your gaze. There are five hundred buildings in the United States whose elevators go deeper than the basement. When you have pressed the basement button and reached the bottom, you must press the basement button twice more. The elevator doors will close and you will hear the sound of special relays being thrown, and the elevator will descend. Into the caverns. Chance has not looked favorably on occasional voyagers in those five hundred cages. They have pressed the wrong button, too many times. They have been seized by those who shuffle through the caverns, and they have been . . . treated. Now they ride the cages. They never speak, and they cannot meet your gaze. They stare up at the numbers as they light and then go off, riding up and down even after night has fallen. Their clothes are clean. There is a special dry cleaner who does the work. Once you saw one of them, and her eyes were filled with screams. London is a city filled with narrow, secure stairways."
The film Marebito explores the Shaver mythos and features a seemingly endless system of urban sub-structural space, eventually revealing a mythic world with human-like inhabitants.
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