The university was structured like a dream, infinite and incoherent, broken around the edges, a ruin and a metropolis folded into one narrow building which towered over the city and glided like a needle into the clouds. Central to the floorplan was the staircase, the highway between uncountable (yet meticulously labeled) floors, which thousands, perhaps millions, of students ascended and descended every period, creating traffic jams which took hours to disperse. Worsening matters were the workmen in orange suits who worked tirelessly on the staircase, perpetually renovating and restrengthening the concrete, tightening the passageways where they laboured such that only one student could slip by at a time, slowing the stampede to a trickle.
Beyond the stairway, each floor was its own labyrinth, the well-lit and central classrooms giving way to increasingly dilapidated corridors as one wandered further outwards. Dark and damp, in the outer walls of the building were alternate stairwells, which few dared to climb due to the lack of electricity and the way they crumbled underfoot.
Rising too far upwards through the university resulted in a similar gradient of decay. The upper floors were often abandoned and unelectrified, though the plumbing of the entire building was remarkably uniform. There were rumors of grand reservoirs in the topmost sections performing fresh water catchment, though all architectural details had long since been lost. Not even the exact number of floors was known for certain.
Thus, when plague began travelling through the city below, I knew that the university’s aeries, far from civilization, were where I wanted to hide. I ascended until traffic was obsolete, and made camp in a shadowed lounge, lit only by moonlight streaming through a filthy window.