floor 14

I arrive at an apartment complex for an inspection. I text the agent, who buzzes me up. “Come to floor 14.”

A metal stairwell ascends a towering glass atrium. At each landing it turns back on itself, however the landings are not connected to the walls of the atrium – they offer no access to each floor. I find this only mildly curious. I wonder if floor 14 is the first accessible floor.

The landings are shrouded in a dense haze that seems to bleed into my lungs. I sense the drawn out, growling pulse of a depraved heart behind this place. A step is missing before each landing, and with each gap the required leap instils an ever-deepening sense of anguish and dread. My body can barely stand.

I reach for my phone to reassure myself of the agent’s directions. I find a text message he sent just after buzzing me in:

OK. Text ‘hurt now.’ It’s best you just do it now.