2020: Target announces employees will not return to downtown HQ until the middle of 2021. Unfortunately, because you can't return an item after 90 days, this means no one will be able to return.

2021: Six major downtown firms, citing "chronic habitual pantlessness" from people used to Zoom meetings, announce employees can work from home if they wish.

2022: All downtown restaurants are closed except for the little hot dog stand in the Northstar Center, which expands to three tables.

2023: The owners of the IDS Center announce they will be demolishing the iconic skyscraper because upkeep and maintenance are not covered by the rent. The building's sole tenant is Emperor Shoe Repair, which took out the entire 51st floor for $10 a month. As the owner noted, "There's not a lot of walk-in traffic."

Deconstruction of the IDS is expected to take a year. "We could just blow it up," said project manager Rob Rollembach, "but Minneapolitans are attached to that building. They're used to seeing it. To wake up one day, and it's gone — that's confusing. People would think they were in St. Paul. They'd drive around looking for that big blue tower, thinking 'It was just here! It has to be around somewhere.' So we're doing one floor at a time."

Negotiations with Emperor Shoe Repair were touchy, because the owner had secured a 50-year lease. Rather than remove the floors from the bottom, the Shoe Repair outlet — the downtown core's primary employer as of 2023 — agreed to move down a floor each week.

2024: In a strange twist on past skyscraper booms, property developers downtown race to deconstruct their towers. Downtown is bustling with cranes and deconstruction equipment. The former Multifoods tower, long reviled as a dull, unhappy building, is jacked up and put on a truck for relocation; it will be laid on its side and converted to chicken coops.

The IDS is fully removed by the end of 2024, and the Wells Fargo tower soon follows. By 2026, according to the Downtown Revitalization Plan, all the towers will be replaced by green space.

"The skyways will stay up, though" said Rollembach. "It's not downtown Minneapolis without the skyways. I know that'll irritate the people who don't like them, but they play an important role in our city's identity."

2025: Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue are replaced by canals; the Dayton's Project finally opens for a gala, two-week "Going Out of Business" sale.

The opening credits of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" are now run backward in reruns. When the credits end, her hat falls from the sky, she puts it on her head, turns around several times, walks backwards to her car and drives in reverse out of downtown. For good.

2020: I wake from a nightmare, soaked with sweat. I head downtown after breakfast, admire the towers glinting in the sun, empty though they may be. For now.

Lunch at the hot dog stand. There's a line! It's an actual line!

Two people, granted. But it's a start.