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As the building grows, its suite numberings become increasingly arcane. At first it’s just negative numbers for the roots it’s thrusting out from the basement, but soon the ground-floor wings are changing hourly, by the time zones of Boston, Cairo and Beijing. Disgruntled tenants work time-dependent addresses onto their cards. Silk-screened cheap watches are suddenly scarce.

The suites that begin to sprout entirely within other suites are multiples of i; those accessible only by air get quadratic equations. And on the top floor, always the top floor, Gerry watches digits of pi mounting and begins to memorize despair.