Seventy-six, seventy-seven.

Seventy-eight. Was seventy-six really seventy-six? Is seventy-eight really seventy-eight? I'm past the seventh floor. Seventy-eight steps are not enough for that. Am I counting the steps as two when I skip one? What is it with arithmetic these days that it has become so complicated?

Oh, screw it.

My attempt at high-precision progress-tracking fails. Maybe I should have been counting my heartbeats instead of the steps. The beating against my chest is so loud that people must be opening doors up to a block away.

I keep going. The eighth floor is behind me now.

As I advance upstairs in a slow panting-fueled movement, I wonder who was the idiot that invented the stairs. Wasn't there some kind of a shortcut they could come up with, say, after the second floor? Some sort of trampoline?

Ninth floor.

And don't get me started on the guy who invented the elevator.

Tenth floor.

A jetpack, a jetpack, my kingdom for a jetpack.

Eleven. Finally. A bell goes off in my head, then a voice. Thank you for traveling with Cardiac Arrest, it says, and have a pleasant day.

Past the door, people that are waiting for the elevator look at me emerge from the stairwell in a quiet awe. As far as they're concerned, I'm some sort of 19th century adventurer, someone who braves the Amazon, the Deserts of Africa, and ...stairs. As I walk past the group, somebody grabs me by the arm. Do you know what's going on? He says. A dozen eyes turn in my direction. We heard it might be a mechanical problem, says someone else. I look at the numbers above the door. The only elevator that works is still up there, stuck in fifteen, just where I left it. I shrug. I don't know, I say. Sorry.

I keep walking.

I came here alone, but there's the upside: I got here first. I win.