The yellow line did seem to pass through different worlds. From the bright and airy entrance she entered corridors lined with artwork; black and white prints of faraway worlds, Africa, Asia, the Americas. Colourful mosaics of mythical beings and interpretations that were more grounded in reality, still life, wildlife. All around people limped by on crutches, rolled by in wheelchairs or rushed by in uniforms. The further away she got from the main entrance the emptier the corridors were becoming, with people diverging into their own chosen areas, disappearing into shadowy little alcoves. She passed the restaurant where people emerged still chewing, and then the pharmacy where people escaped with bulging paper bags of drugs. She was still following that sunny yellow strip of tape. At times it ran with other lines; blue black green. But soon it was in solitude, leading her deeper into the hospital, into areas that didn’t even appear to be finished yet. Tunnels where there was limited lighting and no artwork and no signposting. The walls weren’t even painted and the floor had not even been laid over completely. The odd person passed her way but mostly they were pushing hospital vehicles, trolleys. Somewhere along the way she got caught up in the sound of her own footsteps. Another porter approached, barely five foot tall and hunched over purposefully pushing a heavy uneven load which made the wheels of the trolley echo angrily within the cavernous corridor. Without looking at Murella, he overtook her and for some strange reason she found herself blindly trudging along behind him. She suddenly stopped and realised that the yellow line had ended some way back, mid corridor. She turned to retrace her steps. Looking at the floor she saw a strip of light periodically blinking across the floor, cutting through the dimness of the tunnel. A door was stood open, to her right. Was this where she was supposed to be? There were very few doors on this stretch but all the others stood closed. There was now no-one to ask. The yellow line had stopped twenty maybe thirty metres back. She pushed the door gently and then more forcefully till it swung open to its full extent falling just short of a little desk that stood behind it. Stepping into the room she could see that the light was coming from a large projector screen. Click…click…click. The light now cut across her face and she blinked like someone who had just emerged from the darkness of a deep cave into the harshness of the midday sunshine. The projector blinked back at her as it cycled through a series of images. Click…click…click…click…a pony…click…a sleeping cat…a baby with untainted joy written across its face. Then…a picture of an electric plug, a dessert spoon, a toothbrush. She stepped closer until she was directly in front of the screen. In the centre of the room stood a desk, a larger desk than the one that was behind the door. This desk was made of wood that had seen many years, the kind that was reliable and trustworthy, natural and unvarnished. She felt the grain of the wood underneath her fingertips as she ran her hand along it. There were photographs lying there slightly scattered and untidy. She picked them up, flicked through a few. The baby again, the electric plug. She looked back at the screen and this time was rather alarmed. The pictures had continued to cycle through of course, the machine oblivious to her presence. Click…a man with one of the bones of his lower leg protruding through the skin, exploding from fat, muscle, blood vessels. Click… a machine gun…click…a woman with blood coursing down one side of her face from a three inch scar she would probably carry for the remainder of her life. Murella’s eyes blinked furiously at the scenes and she wanted to look away but who among us can resist the attraction of unpleasantness? We helplessly stare at things that we would rather not see.
Behind her a door opened uneasily, its bottom edge scraping against the unevenness of the floor. A man, about thirty something, mousy hair, shirt and tie, with his hand still on the door handle, peered out at her from an inner room she hadn’t even noticed was there. She charted his changing expression.
“What are you doing in here?” He slipped his body through the tight space that the door allowed. “Please leave.” He walked towards her and she took an instinctive step backwards and all but collided with the chair that sat at the old desk. The photographs fell from Murella’s hands; some landed on the desk, the rest on the floor. A young woman had now appeared at the doorway of the inner room. She had wires coming from her eyelids and was looking out at Murella curiously, blinking at the scene.
“You have to leave. You must be lost.” He took another step forward and looked like he wanted to reach for her arm. Instead he gestured towards the door with his other arm. The projector continued to click…click…click. Without saying a word Murella finally made moves towards the door back out into the dim tunnel. She could feel the man’s hand guiding her there, raised to the small of her back. Without touching her, the space that was created between her flesh and the palm of his hand seemed to hold an invisible force which propelled her back out of the room towards the yellow line. He closed the door behind her and she dared one last look towards the inner room. The woman had disappeared.