Dressed all in black, moving swiftly and silently down the corridor like a panther through the dense underbrush of a tropical jungle. I came to steal the painting.
Entering the building had been easy. So easy it was like I'd been escorted inside. From there all I'd had to do was make it to the painting undetected and ease it off the wall without activating any alarms. Now it's tucked securely under my arm as I try to make my escape. Getting out will definitely be more difficult than it was getting in. There will still be the alarms to bypass and the guards. I'll have to get past the fence with the barbed-wire. And I'll have to accomplish all of this without getting caught on the security cameras. If those nasty spying eyes steal a glimpse of my face, they'll go to the police with it and then it will only be a matter of time before they catch me.
I pause at the end of the hall, my back against the wall as I peer around the corner for any sign of the guards. I'm so close to escaping now. I can almost taste the fresh air that's just beyond the doors. My heart pounds in my chest as adrenaline courses through my veins.
I blink and I'm standing in a hallway. Dressed all in white, drifting through the corridor like a ghost, a shade moving through a world in which it used to belong. I'm staring at the painting. It hangs on the wall, the clean, white wall. It's a splash of color in the white, a window of existence on a wall of nothingness. I stare at it like I'm staring through a window. I'm not looking at a painting. I'm looking through the painting. It's hard to explain.
There are distant noises around me, but they are so removed from the moment I'm in that I am barely even aware of them. They're like the chirping off birds outside a closed window. If I think about them, focus on them, I know they are there, but it's easy to let that knowledge fade into my subconscious.
More distracting is the cool air that's bringing goosebumps to my arms. I shiver and run my hands over my skin. My skin feels like ice, much colder than the air around me. Maybe I'm chilling the air rather than the other way around. That's an interesting thought.
I focus my mind back on the painting.
She blinks. A girl in a hallway looks at a painting on the wall and blinks. That movement of her eyelids is like her breath, her pulse. It's a slight flutter in her form that lets the observer now she's still physically alive. Mentally is perhaps another story.
The girl in the sterile hallway wears a hospital gown. Her feet are bare. Her hair is disheveled. She stands in the corridor like an empty shell, just occupying space in a world that hardly pays her any mind. An orderly rounds the corner and sees her standing there. He moves towards her, lays a gentle hand on her shoulder and guides her away from the painting. He takes her back to her room. It's almost time for her medication and it's easier on the nurses if the patients are in their rooms when they make their rounds. Everything is very efficient at the mental hospital.
The girl sits down on her bed and stares. The orderly frowns at her for a moment before he turns to leave, this hollow creature he can only barely classify as a person.