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Hallucinations / 17 March 2013

I remember a time I was in Dartford Unit, floating about in the corridors, late on my first night. I looked down the dark corridor from the nurses station where I'd been annoying a young nurse who was trying to read her book. I'd interupt her every few moments; well, fair play, they wouldn't let me go home!

So, this dark corridor, doors either side with patients enjoying their medicated sleep. I looked towards the glass fire door at the very end and saw an old man with a stick, the other side of the door. Strangely, he seemed to be walking on the spot.

Bearing in mind this was a secure unit in the middle of no man's land and there shouldn't have been anybody the other side of the security doors.  I kept checking that he was still there, without making it too obvious what I was doing. Well, he might not have been there, and I was supposed to be ill!

I could see the old man starting to get more stressed and I wondered about breaking cover and telling the nurse. But she beat me too it.

"You can see someone trying to get in can't you?" she asked.

I nodded, somewhat relieved that I hadn't been imagining him after all. "An old man with a stick" I said.

She laughed and said "Can you see the radiators on the wall down near the door?"

I nodded.

"Well" she said, "when the lighting is turned down at night, the heated air from the radiators flows down the hall and takes the shape of an old man trying to walk through the door. Spooky isn't it?!"

I nodded.

"I bet you thought you were seeing things?!"

I nodded again.

"Most people do here" she added with a grin, and went back to her book.

I wondered if she told everyone who'd seen the old man that it was a trick of the light? Probably not, I decided.