One more walk-through and the demolition of the building can go ahead as planned next Tuesday. 77 Bleaker Avenue. Once home to people; soon to be re-zoned commercial real estate. The inspector, Bill Davison, almost sheds a tear strolling through its empty hallways, peering into vacant rooms, calling, “Anyone there?” with no expectation of an answer.
What Bill Davison doesn’t know is that this is the third time someone’s started these rounds. He is the third inspector. The previous two: disappeared, or maybe no-shows. Nobody really knows.
Tuesday is 77 Bleaker Avenue’s third appointment with death.
Somewhere far away, the building’s owner, Raza Ahmet, sips brandy and wishes for the building’s final destruction, knowing full well how much it doesn’t want to die. But he’ll persevere. Perhaps one of these times…
Then the machines can raze it, flatten the terrain. Maybe they’ll put up a parking lot or a mall. Not that he’d ever go within ten miles of it—
Bill Davison is on the last unit of the sixth floor when he senses something change. Something subtle yet definite, like the moment you start to hunger. One minute you’re not thinking about food; the next, you’re wondering where to order pizza.
Raza Ahmet can’t eat. Not today. Which isn’t to say he’s not hungry. He is; he hasn’t eaten since yesterday afternoon, but he can’t bring himself to put food into his mouth. Even if he did, it wouldn’t stay down. If it’s anything like the last two times…
Bill Davison stops and looks behind.
The hallway is empty.
But it’s not a comfortable emptiness. It’s an emptiness yearning to be filled.
When he returns to face the door to unit 607—it’s gone.
He rubs his chin. His heart is beating faster despite his reason explaining the disappearance of the door. It was never there, his reason says. Doors don’t disappear. If it’s not there now, it was never there.
Raza Ahmet has lost his faith in reason. Some things, he knows, resist explanation. Resist it the way animals resist death: to the end.
As Bill Davison backs away from where the door to unit 607 used to be he sees the doors to 606 and 605 disappearing, melting into puddles of saliva on the floor, which, in soaking them up, softens and becomes organic, trembling, pinkifying and sprouting tiny pustules.
His own saliva has abandoned him. His mouth is dry.
He needs to get to the elevator—
He needs to—
—ning only brings him to where the elevator used to be: where now is endless void through which it rushes, uncoiling; gaining impossible velocity in the seconds it takes Bill Davison to even comprehend the horrible geography: wrapping itself around his waist: constricting—his eyes popping only after seeing its stalactite fangs, row upon row until, into the endless—
Raza Ahmet knows.
He sets down his empty glass.
Maybe next time, he thinks. Maybe next time it won’t be so hungry.