Solid grey walls assault my eyes. They are meant to be neutral, impartial, completely forgettable in a time of dire distress. They are my clearest memory of that day. Plain grey cement walls, grey with grey paint, no trim, nothing to break up their monopolization of the hallway except plain grey doors with silver handles. Light grey tiles on the floor slightly longer than my foot, arranged into squares like my grandmother's quilt. It is amazing the thoughts that flit into my mind in this impossible task. I am awash in the lack of colour, I am adrift in the surreality of the moment. The soft click of my boots against the floor is the loudest sound in existence. It almost drowns out the sound of weeping in one of the closed rooms. Is it to my left or right? Does it matter?
The detective in front of me is Hispanic, with a kind, intelligent face, today set only to grim. He walks at a normal pace, that I match easily, but the hallway seems to go on into infinity. In the ignorance that exists in living through a memory, I start to feel uneasy. The hallway is too long. The doors are too wide apart, in too large of number. I try to take bigger steps, but I feel resistance against my legs, and I don't gain any distance. I try to look down to see if my skirt is perhaps caught on my legs, but I can't move my head. I can only look forward, walk the same pace, follow these footsteps again. Again.
The uneasiness blooms into a flower of panic in my head. I've done this before. My breath seems to be the only thing I can directly influence, and I start to breathe too fast. I look ahead, and finally I see an end to the hallway, a door that I am intended to pass through. A door that I cannot pass through. The sound of my footsteps echoes so loud in my ears that I want to slap my hands over my ears. The muffled crying increases, seeps under the cracks of every room. The grey of the walls presses into me oppressively. I am sweating. The detective is oblivious to my discontent: he seems to be trapped in this repeating scenario without self-awareness. The door slowly grows closer, and inside my head, I start to scream. I yank, pull, wrench with all my might to force my body to stop walking, to end this torturous slow-motion parade. I might as well throw feathers at a steam roller. I continue to shriek in my head: nonsensical, mental manifestations of terror, a last resort after all efforts to free oneself have failed. I am hyperventilating, and tears start to gather in my eyes from the rebellion I am waging against my body. We have almost reached the door, and the detective turns towards me with concern on his face. He can see my wet cheeks, my too-fast breath. He gently pats my arm, but cannot do anything. We are both locked in this nightmare.
It all runs together as one word, a holy chant to ward off evil. Evil is indifferent.
Don'topenthedoordon'topenthedoordon'topenthedoordon'topenthedoor DON'T. OPEN. THE. DOOR.
The detective swings open the door silently to a room filled with more grey. The wails of suffering, having reached a crescendo, are abruptly cut off as the door shuts behind us with a dull thud. There are different kinds of grey in this room: the dull metallic grey of steel. Dark grey plastic bags. Grey cotton scrubs, even grey sprinkling the heads of the technicians as they mill around a table set up in the center of the room. There appears to be some kind of arguing going on, but my attention has zeroed in on the zipper in the middle of the bag on the table. There is something wrong with the bag: it seems too loose and empty for the devastation it contains. Now that I am through the door, I am ignored, and I am as trapped in the sequence as the detective was before. I watch in gaping horror as I step behind the personnel having a terse discussion and put my hand on the zipper. I draw it back, and this time my scream rips apart the veil between all worlds and shatters the night.