#133 Checking in at the Hotel Cantor

by Kevlin Henney

“But... hang on... what?” Puzzled, Maurits Cornelis looked up at the jigsaw stairwell zigzagging out of sight above him.

“I was sure...” He took a few steps back the way he’d come. And there it wasn’t. He walked forwards again. And there it was. The staircase, in all its puzzling presence and corners and ascent.

He picked up his suitcase and easel and headed back to reception. What had the receptionist said?

“Third floor... possibly fourth. Although I did see it on the seventh the week before last.”

“Sorry?”

“Just along the corridor to get to the stairs. Can’t miss them.”

“Stairs?”

“Yes, sorry, no lift. Doesn’t fit the building’s architecture. But don’t worry, you won’t be going in circles all day. Never quite as far as it seems.”

“Never quite as it seems,” echoed Maurits. “I’m sure the walk will do me good. Out of interest, how many rooms do you have? The hotel didn’t seem... quite as extensive from the outside.”

“Not sure. It varies. Depends on how you count it.”

“I see.” He didn’t.

As he headed off down the staircase-free corridor he realised he’d forgotten to ask about breakfast. But without stairs, without a room of certain location, tomorrow morning’s concerns seemed abstract at best. He’d come away seeking solitude and inspiration, but his quest was now more concrete.

And there it was. The staircase, as promised.

“But... hang on... what?” Puzzled, Maurits Cornelis looked up at the jigsaw stairwell zigzagging out of sight above him.

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