She creeps through
the corridor, feeling her way into the dark. Her bare feet make no sound. She is trying to be invisible against her backdrop of pure white sheets, cold, barren tiles and concrete walls.
The fluorescent lights buzz behind her. She remembers the sickly green cast of the ones in her room, as though they held something, preternatural, and just beginning to rot. She remembers the quiet of that place, that complete silence you hear just after a bell stops ringing. Only once before had she heard that kind of stillness. She had been at a funeral. It was important, and several people had been buried. She remembered that someone had made a joke, and it had seemed funny to her, so she had laughed. She had laughed and laughed and laughed. For a moment she thought that she wouldnt be able to stop until she realized that nobody else was laughing. When she had finally stopped, there was that awful, dead silence.
For a moment, she remains there, remembering. But she shakes off her daze. She has a job to do.
The moldy gleam behind her turns the hall ahead of her black. The hall leads off the main area like an inky black tentacle spiralling off an octopus. It sits before her, long, forbidding, snakelike, with one red eye at the end, gleaming at her balefully while offering her sanctuary in the same breath. It frightens her, the profane, malevolent darkness of it, where anything could hide and the unknown is prolific in the silent corners. But it is the only way out and she must escape.
The hospital robe flows around her with every step. It is patterned with tiny flowers that fade in their brightness against the stark white background. She thinks this place is like a giant leech the government has made as an experiment. She walks almost sluggishly, trying to overcome the sedatives and tranquilizers that flow through her system. They are insidious, creeper vines slowly crawling under her skin. She didnt want to take them. They made her.
The sterile interns in sensible shoes scuttle behind her, like ants shifting under their group consciousness, a macabre ballet, every gesture so planned, so swift and efficient. They do not see the woman moving away from them. The second they do, the alarms will go off and they will come to imprison her in her cell again, where there are no hangers. Then she will lose her body and mind to the ants in sensible shoes and the men in dark suits and ties. They dont wear sunglasses, but she feels they should. She is amazed that she can feel at all.
The door says alarmed, but she knows it isnt. Shes seen them bringing the brain juice in through that door, and no alarms went off, not ever. So she reaches out her hand and stares at it. It looks pale and red, under that light, and she turns it, over and over and over, until it reaches the handle of the door. Its one of those doors you cant open without some hideous screech, with the bar across it for a handle, as if she were blind and couldnt see a doorknob. Her hand rests on that metal, so cold it seems like she shouldnt keep her hand on it or else itll stick. She wonders why its so cold. She thinks its August, after all.
The handle glides down. Well oiled, it makes no sound. At first she is surprised. She opens the door, closing it behind her. It makes a strange sound for a door. A final, muted boom.
It is dark beyond the door. A wave of frigid air hits her. It smells crisp and faintly metallic. She has reached the parking lot. Apparently it is not August. She creeps forward, trying to blend in with the things around her. There is some metal framework around her. It seems fragile and bulgy. Here it seems unduly dark, somewhat confined and a little too cold. She is a little concerned. She didnt think shed make it this far. It doesnt seem real. She frowns a little. She thinks that perhaps by walking through the door, she has entered another dimension where she sees only the dark side of the moon, and it is always winter. She sits down by one of the frames and hugs herself to ward off the chill. She finds herself sleepy, and decides to rest here for a while. She thinks to herself that perhaps the schedule will be thrown off in some small way by her disappearance. That makes her happy. She smiles and closes her eyes. She is not afraid.
Felicia strides briskly by the corridor, another nurse among many, sneaking a quick look to the end. Felicia catches a glimpse of white sheets and clipboards, police badges and doctors, before reaching her goal, the admitting counter. Felicia reaches behind the smooth counter top and begins to sign herself in. The nurse on duty approaches her. Felicia knows Glynis from the PTA meetings on Fridays. Their sons are in boy scouts together. Glynis looks sad. Felicia is concerned and inquires.
Glynis, whats wrong?
Oh, Felicia, havent you heard? Its horrible. Do you remember that poor woman up in twelve? The one with the plane crash and the husband and children who died?
Yes . . . what happened to her?
Well, when we did wakeup today, nobody answered her door. We broke the door in, and the room was empty, so we rounded up the orderlies and went looking for her.
Yes . . . go on . . .
Well, we couldnt find her. We were about to give up when Patty . . . you remember Patty, the new girl from the Sisters of Mercy . . . anyway, Patty was going to get the sucrose IV for the anorexic lady in five and . . .
No . . . !
Im afraid so. Curled up in a little ball in the plasma freezer. Isnt it just awful?