It was Saturday
afternoon. I looked at the clock hanging on the wall above a picture of
a mountain scene. Almost ten to three. There were a few things I needed
from the Miracle Mart across the road. Might as well go over right now
and stock up on cereal, bread and milk, I thought. I grabbed my wallet
and the keys lying on the counter.
Looking through the kitchen window I peered at the wind driven sleet. It
looked like the middle of January, not one bit as if spring was well
under way. I could dimly make out five moving vans waiting their turn to
unload their contents. They’ll probably have two of the three elevators
tied up, I thought.
It was the end of April, and like every month end, people were moving in
and out of the building. Having two out of the three elevators on
service was the only unpleasant aspect of living in an apartment
building on the fifteenth floor. Well, you can’t have everything, I told
I slipped into my parka and put on my beret. On impulse I grabbed the
umbrella hanging by the door. Then I stepped into the corridor,
carefully locking the door behind me.
At precisely 2:50 I pushed button for the elevator in the hallway and
prepared myself for a lengthy wait. I was greatly surprised when the
elevator door opened before I had taken two steps towards the window
from where on a clear day one could see busy Warden Avenue and the
traffic light at the corner. I found it even more astonishing that the
elevator was empty.
Naturally I expected it to stop at every floor, quickly filling up and
then, despite having reached its capacity, still stopping at floor after
floor until it arrived at the street level. To my utter surprise it did
not halt once. It took precisely thirty seconds to descend the fifteen
floors. At street level a number of people were waiting and pressed
I pushed through the crowd and crossed the lobby. My apartment building
had a vestibule like many modern apartment buildings have. It was quite
large and had a couple of benches along one wall. Usually one could find
several people lounging around there, studying the large alphabetical
listing of tenants or waiting to meet somebody. On this particular
afternoon the vestibule was deserted.
Through the glass of the front door I could barely see the flower beds
and the two mountain ashes, only twenty meters away. The wind drove the
sleet directly towards the entrance. It was a veritable blizzard. And
now, being at ground level, I could see the accumulation of fresh snow
on the pavement. The moving vans were parked along the bend in the
driveway and were not visible from here.
I pulled my parka tightly around me, making sure that all the buttons
were closed. For an instant I was debating with myself whether I should
go back upstairs and forget about going to the store. But having come
this far I decided against it. I was thankful for having the beret on my
head. It seemed to be too stormy outside for the umbrella. Putting on my
gloves and turning up the collar of my parka I reached for the door. In
the distance I could see a shadowy figure approaching through the
As I stretched out my arm to open the door to the outside I happened to
glance at my watch. 2:50:59. I shall never forget the digital display.
At precisely the instant when the time changed to 2:51:00 I stepped
across the threshold of the door to the outside and ...