Toby Jury Morgan

Clearer

Clearer


As he turned the corner, the lights in the corridor were casting their usual mundane, resigned glow over the panelled walls. They seemed to be humming to themselves in a sinister manner, wide- eyed and emaciated. In fact, he felt like most of the corridor, with it's tick-box potted plant frozen in the sterile air, was unpleasant. He didn't fit the mould, and the mould knew it. There was a very minor, almost ignorable sense of expectation. Everything seemed to be waiting with a suspended disinterest, to see if something was going to go horribly wrong.

He wondered, not for the first time, whether what he was experiencing was intentional, by design. He thought about how he might keep someone on their toes, and the results were similar. The carpeted panels slid past him like glucose, the three conjoined padded chairs, their shiny unassailable veneered wooden supports meeting the even firm padding of the backs and seats easily. No doubt they met all fireproofing and EU standards regulations. His sense of unease increased. No cracks there, he thought, no allies.
Most jarringly of all, the plant seemed to ignore his attempts for solace. It's purpose unclear, it sat there, unsettling hims immensely with it's lack of answers or explanations. Not from this world, yet so calmly involved. It's long leaves arced away from the base, a deep green set in even, brown soil. The leaves were slightly dusty, the white pot it sat in and the white dish this sat on not quite sterilely clean. He regarded it with a deep suspicion reserved for defectors and traitors. He looked away, anywhere, up. Above him, panels of light shone down, boxed groups of three, evenly spaced and equally distanced from the sides. The mottled texture of the plastic distorted the lights into long frosty halos, deconstructing them into pixel blocks, evenly varied. The lights screamed silently down at him through their filter, one frozen square in the middle of five across, evenly spaced every fourth square along the length of the hallway. On the edge of the ceiling, a strip of moulded grey material, three or four angles on it, rushed along like a train track.

Four porous white squares, then one portal of light. Four, then one. They glided along above him like a slow metronome. Then two. Then one. He stopped, looked again. Above him, the hatchway poured down light from a source outside his remit. Then four, even, plastic strip-spaced textured squares, then another outpouring of light. Then Two. He moved closer, and stopped just as he noticed a join in the carpet by his feet.
He looked up, and couldn't quite see the end of the hallway, and wondered why he'd trusted it so unquestioningly before. He light seemed to be ignoring his demands to reflect of things in the usual manner, simply refusing to function. The four salient lines of the space, where the walls met the ceiling and floor, shot away without hesitation, but seemed to get muddled where they should have joined. He thought for a minute, then looked back the way he'd come. That way, too, there seemed something unsettled in the distance, like a curdling of matter and light that he simply could not focus on. He tried to remember where it was that he'd come from, and what had been before the corner, but much as he furrowed his brow he couldn't picture what he'd left behind. He tapped a finger on his chin, and began to slowly walk back the way he thought he'd come.

As he passed the join in the carpet, he heard a slight crackling noise over the silent din of the corridor that was otherwise only broken by his light static shuffle on the carpet. He stopped, and stepped back. Nothing. All around him the particles of the corridor seemed to be holding their breath, and he had the unshakable sense of being in a long rectangle surrounded by space. His rational mind told him that on the other side of the panelling were more offices, more corridors, and eventually an end to the building and the outside, which might be raining or sunny or windy or dark. But his imagination sensed otherwise, sensed an infinite realm of possibility hovering on the other side of the single-celled walls either side of him.

A sense of vertigo overtook him at the image from outside the corridor looking back at it, floating in space as it tapered from one point of perspective to the other, never fully in view, it's depth futilely immeasurable. He stepped toward the wall, the wall he'd never touched as he'd never had any need to touch, with his hand outstretched. The paper's he'd forgotten he had under his arm all this time slid silently one after another to the floor behind him as he moved forward, scattering like the leaves of shedding tree in a flurrying breeze. As his hand neared the white wall, he felt the space between him and it stretch away from each other like and opening concertina, and a dull echo of nothingness, of the nothingness that the corridor embodied rang louder and louder in his ears until, with a flash, it froze, then blinked out of existence, and he was left in a a blank space, faced only with possibility.