Geraldinium’s footsteps were squelches on the concrete floor and even tiptoeing didn’t help, so she walked normally and listened hard in case there was anyone else in there. There were doors at regular intervals; some plain wooden doors with blistered round handles, some had frosted glass windows through which dim light fell, and some were made of metal. Geraldinium tried the handle of the first metal door she came to, but the door was locked again. She rattled it a little against the frame, wondering if she should try to force it open, and decided she would only if she couldn’t find anything to inspire her elsewhere. She walked further along the corridor until she saw a door with frosted windows that was already ajar, and she pushed it further open and went inside.
The room was mostly empty save for a padded plastic couch on a thin metal frame pushed up against a wall. There were deep rips in the padding exposing yellowing foam that spilled out like pus infecting a wound. Against the other wall was a rotting wooden leg, seemingly all that remained of a desk that had been there at sometime. Geraldinium pulled her camera free again, and snapped a couple of pictures, moving around the room to vary her angles. The lack of a desk intrigued her more than the examination couch, but she took pictures of both.
Further along the corridor she found another door ajar, and stepping through this one found herself in another, shorter corridor that opened out into a lobby where the lifts where. There were four sets of doors all in the one wall, and each of them had long black streaks running down. Looking up, Geraldinium saw holes in the ceiling where lumps of plaster had dropped out, and that the black streaks all started there. Staring for a moment she thought the streaks were moving, writhing, and then her vision resolved like staring at an optical illusion and she realised that the rainwater from outside was running down the walls and doors now, carrying the black muck from the ceiling to the floor. Her camera was back out again, and she snapped more shots, smiling to herself as she did so. Assigning a name to this room and creating a history for it would be easy.
She couldn’t resist pushing the lift-call button, but nothing responded, as she’d expected. There was another way out of the lift-lobby so she walked that way. The lumps of plaster that must have fallen from the ceiling were scattered on the floor of the corridor that way, which puzzled her slightly. Why would anyone move them? Another short corridor opened out into a long corridor running at right-angles, and she realised that the basic layout of the hospital must be roughly H-shaped. She turned right, heading back the way she’d come but on the new corridor, and this time tried the handle of the first door she came to. Slightly to her surprise it opened at a touch, revealing what was once a private room.
The wallpaper was peeling off from the bottom of the wall and there was a musty, mouldy smell like the room hadn’t been aired. Which, Geraldinium thought, was probably true. The bed frame, a white-painted metal contraption that looked more like it was for confinement than rest, was underneath a barred window. It was divided into several small squares, three of which were broken. The plaster around an electrical socket was exposed and gouged as though something had been dragged from it, Pages from a magazine, yellowing and torn, were scattered beneath the bed frame, growing steadily damper from the rain blown in through the broken window. Geraldinium hissed with delight, taking more pictures again, the digital clicking of the imaginary shutter a counterpoint to her joy.