He had worked out a mnemonic to keep the words close. The sheet would be gone before lunch, of course. Bastian imagined stacks of wrinkled messages lining the walls of a secret basement, a tangible polemic erected against the outside world.

He longed for a mirror, unsure if he had set his face in an expression of glazed indifference. Otherwise the other tenants might suspect he now knew the way out.

Somewhere near the ceiling the bell rang, a metallic grinding noise, and the door started to slide open behind him.

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