The walls of the corridor were familiar to Brida. She had been there countless times; everytime she was called into the cafeteria to eat a meal or to stretch her legs by running outside, she had to pass through that corridor. Along the walls, pictures of past wardens and examiners stared at Brida, as she uncomfortably made her way through. As many times as she saw those pictures, she would never cease being unnerved by them.
Out here, in the hallways, the sunlight barely slithered inside. The corridors were kept lit by a few wall-held torches, whose fire bravely flickered in an attempt to chase away the hands of darkness. But not even fire was capable of completely dispelling the shadows.
The warden trailed behind Brida, occasionally stopping in order to fall back aways and thereby keep several feet behind her. Brida had once been bothered by the warden's cautious treatment; now, she only cared about getting her meeting with the Examiner done and over with. She knew what the Examiner would ask. Was she still exhibiting symptoms of insanity? Were her emotions still worrisome? Did the warden still see fit to place Brida in solitary confinement?
Yes, yes, and probably yes.
Pausing before the door to the Examiner's office, Brida waited for the warden to catch up. The warden reached out and opened the door to the office, and Brida hesitated, then entered. Balking would only earn her fewer grains of rice at dinnertime.
Just as Brida remembered, the Examiner's office was filled with the scent of some sort of disgusting potpourri. Tempted to hold her nose, but knowing that doing so would be considered rude, Brida waited for the Examiner to wave her over to a small bench, on the far side of the room. Seating herself on the left side of the bench, as she always did, Brida waited for the first round of questions.
There was a small candle on the Examiner's desk.
The Examiner was waiting, holding a sheet of paper and a rough pencil. Eyebrows raised, the one who would interrogate Brida did not hesitate to begin the inquiries.
"How are you, Brida?"
If only the Examiner would forgo the meaningless pleasantries! Brida replied with an equally perfunctory response: "I am well, thank-you. And yourself?"
"Quite well. I understand, however, that you are still showing signs of abnormal behavior."
The candle on the desk burned steadily.
Overwhelmed by a sudden sense of rebellion, Brida's anger flared ever so slightly, causing the flame of the candle to flicker and burn more brightly for a moment. In immediate response, the warden gasped, hand on the doorknob, as though preparing for a hasty exit. Brida was both amused by the warden's response and discouraged that she had controlled fire. Again. She would probably be sentenced to more time in solitary confinement, for her act of controlling the flame.
The Examiner's eyebrows were raised higher. Tapping the pencil against the sheet of paper, the Examiner's face contorted in a mask of thinking. "Interesting." A pause. "Last time you were here, you were so anxious that you made the floor rumble. This time, it seems you are feeling angry. Why is that?" The Examiner leaned forward. "Are you fostering feelings of rebellion, Brida?"