I’m about to head out to work, just putting my shoes on, when I hear the familiar creak of the elevator’s hydraulic system, and the clunk of doors opening on my floor. My apartment is right next to the elevator, and usually it’s just one of the other tenants. Still, I can’t help but tense a little.
I hear footsteps shamble past my door. The scritch-clump scritch-clump of heavy, clawed feet, and then a guttural croak like the great-grandfather of all ravens.
“Shut up, Bob,” I say.
I hear a deep “awk,” and then nothing. No more footsteps. Bob heard me. Of course he did. He mostly hunts by sight, but he can hear.
I look at my phone. At this point I have no choice but to wait until Bob loses interest and leaves, but I think I can still catch my bus if I hurry. Bob usually doesn’t hang around for more than a minute or two.
As per usual, it isn’t long before I hear the scritch-clump of Bob’s footsteps again. I wait until I hear the creak of the fire door opening, the rustle of feathers as Bob pushes through, and then the door swing closed behind him.
I wait until Bob is well on his way down the hallway, heading towards the stairwell on the east side of the building. It’s actually fairly unusual for Bob to take the elevator. We suspect it only happens when Bob accidentally bumps the car call button, and the elevator is already on that floor and opens immediately.
Cautiously, I slip into the hallway, and peek through the fire door. Bob can’t open doors, so we leave them propped open so he can stick his beak through the gap and push through.
The hallway is clear, so I hurry over to the elevator and check the monitors mounted next to the elevator. They show live feed from all the buildings’ CCTV cameras. There are other displays next to each elevator and stairwell door on every floor.
Bob is in the east stairwell, shambling up towards the fourth floor.
What is Bob? I don’t know; nobody knows. He looks like a nine-foot tall Maribou stork with claws on his wings that would make a therizinosaurus feel inadequate. He will eat anything made of meat, but we haven’t had a death or the loss of a pet in a long time. This means either he is something unnatural and will never die or go away, or someone is feeding him. I’m not sure which I find more appalling.
I could use the elevator, but Bob has a habit of making a mess in there. Maybe he gets motion sick, or maybe he thinks of it as a kind of litter-box. I can’t tell what. So I hustle to the west stairwell, and down the stairs before Bob has time to arrive at the fourth floor and traverse the length of the building to the west stairwell. Unless he takes the elevator again, there’s nowhere else for him to go.
I know I have plenty of time to leave before Bob even enters the stairwell, but even so, knowing he is coming propels me out the door faster than any coffee could.