In the yellow, incandescent light of the grimy stairwell, three friends stand at the bottom of the stairs, looking up through the crack in between each flight of stairs.
You are there too, but not in any meaningful way. You are only there to watch, to observe, to learn. You know nothing except for what you can see and hear.
One of them speaks. He is a boy of about sixteen, and he looks fairly well-off. He wears a striped polo shirt, collar down.
"Alright," he says, "we can do this. We just have to resist the urge to call the elevator. Is everyone alright with that?"
The girl next to him looks about his age. She smiles and nods.
The boy looks over at his third companion and repeats his question. "Calvin, is that okay with you?"
Calvin once again regards the flights of stairs above him by staring through the crack. He looks, expressionless, at the other boy. He nods.
"Alright," says the other boy, "let's do this".
There are seven stairs in between the first floor and the landing in between floors. The boy takes the first seven stairs two at a time, and comes to the landing between the first and second floor in a very short time. He swings himself around using the grimy green banister and continues up the next seven stairs.
Calvin follows him very quickly, keeping pace easily. The girl follows behind, taking the stairs as quickly as she can one at a time.
While Calvin catches up with the other boy by the third floor, the girl falls behind. The boy yells to her.
"Hurry up, Amy! Could you go any slower?"
Amy pouts and tries to quicken her pace. The boy starts up again, and though Calvin gives a little glance at the girl, he continues as well.
At the fifth floor, the boy has slowed down a little, but he continues. Calvin dutifully follows behind him, and Amy is now less than a flight behind them.
You, of course, have no trouble following any of them. You effortlessly zoom around the stairwell, but you have no desire to go higher than they are.
On the first flight of stairs in between the seventh and eighth floors, the boy trips on his shoelaces. He swears and sits down to tie them. He is looking a little red, and when Amy catches up to them she too is somewhat out of breath. Only Calvin looks like the climb has had little effect on him.
"This is going to be great for my calves," Amy says cheerfully as she stretches a little.
The boy gives a slight sneer as he stands back up. "We'll rest every ten flights, okay?"
Without waiting for confirmation, he begins climbing again, once more taking the stairs two at a time. Calvin ushers Amy in front of him and follows behind.
At the ninth floor the boy trips again. He swears loudly as his knee hits the edge of a stair.
Amy and Calvin are a flight below him and do not see the accident. Calvin passes Amy easily and runs up to the boy. Amy is a little too slow.
"Peter!" she yells, "Peter, are you alright?"
He winces as he stands up. "Yeah, I'm good".
He climbs the next flight a little slower, taking the stairs only one at a time. Calvin follows next to him. At the tenth floor he stops and sits down. Calvin stands awkwardly next to him, and when Amy arrives she sits opposite Peter.
"Are you sure you're okay?" she asks.
"I'm fine" he replies. He stands up and tests his leg. "It doesn't hurt at all".
He takes a swig from a bottle of water.
"Calvin," he asks, "how're you doing?"
"Alright," Peter says, "let's keep going".
He keeps going.