He's still not clean enough.

He's been in here for half an hour at the least, maybe longer. He's scrubbed every speck of dirt from his skin, he's picked everything out from under his fingernails, he's washed his hair so many times it's starting to come out when he runs his hands through it.

Lloyd Henreid is falling apart. The first few weeks were fine. Good, almost; something blossomed in him and suddenly he had potential. Sure, there were the constant nightmares and being leery of closed spaces, but it wasn't that bad. Flagg was… well, he was terrifying, but he was nice. Somehow, he managed to bring out something inside of Lloyd that he hadn't known had been there. He'd never been good at anything before. He'd been a dropout, a criminal, nobody worth anything, that was for sure.

But then Flagg had come along. The superflu had come along. And it was horrible, that cell and alone and hungry and scared and starved to the brink of unspeakable things, and, really, this is why he'll never be clean enough.

They have a few of the people from the other side. The good guys, Lloyd supposes – he's certainly a criminal, and a lot of the other guys are here too, as well as Flagg being… well, something.

They crucify people.

Lloyd's pretty sure that's not what the good guys do, but until recently he was too wrapped up in being able to do something he didn't really care. The first time he did care. The first time he swallowed back the puke and forced himself to watch. To get himself used to it – he doesn't remember the word, there's a word that's perfect for it, he knows it, but he doesn't remember it, just like he can't remember anything without that goddamned black notebook – and because it's expected of him. Why shouldn't he watch them? He is, after all, the man to go to on official business. Flagg can't see everyone.

Either way, he's standing in the shower, the boiling hot water pouring down on his already sunburned skin, the room is hot the place is hot everything's so hot and the heat is supposed to cleanse but he's still not clean. He's a hell of a lot more useful now than he ever was before the superflu. He'll acknowledge that. But that doesn't mean he's not falling apart. It doesn't mean that he doesn't have to work very, very hard not to flinch away when Flagg's hand goes near him, because it could either be a friendly shoulder pat that leaves him feeling relieved and a little proud, or a friendly toss into a wall that leaves him picking glass out of his arms.

Flagg isn't that bad of a boss, not really. Lloyd does what he's supposed to, so he rarely gets hurt. Unless he's bringing bad news. Lately it's like everyone has been so unhinged. It started with the first spy the guys from Boulder sent over – the old guy. The one that was practically fucking obliterated. Then Dayna, fucking Dayna who he still can't forgive for just using him, sure, the sex was great, but he still feels betrayed in spite of himself.

She managed to outwit Flagg in some way. She was outwitting Flagg, Trash was a wild card and blowing up pilots and planes all over the place, and now he's in the shower and not doing a goddam thing except scrubbing his body and trying to feel clean.

It's sort of a hopeless task. He's never going to be clean. He ate part of someone's leg, the feeling of that is never going to go away. He barely remembers it, he remembers how the rat's tail wouldn't go down and staring at the dwindling supply of real food, but it's like he's pr

He shivers and goes through another round of soap. After this he'll get out of the shower – after all, the hot water's going to run out soon and the cold water… the cold water just doesn't do it for him. So, he'll get out. He'll try not to completely fall apart. He'll try to pretend to be clean. He'll try to pretend that he doesn't shower four or five times a day, whenever he gets the chance. He'll try to pretend that he still doesn't have the occasional nightmare of that cell, and he'll try to pretend that he's not totally fucking terrified whenever they go around to the cells.

And, overall? Maybe he'll be okay. Maybe he'll pretend so well he'll fool himself, and maybe, then maybe, he can get out of this goddam shower and do his goddam job.

I just finished my third re-read of The Stand and I think Lloyd beat out Nick for favorite character? It's a little weird. Nick Andros was my very first favorite Stephen King character, and Lloyd Henreid just beat him.

Either way, little Lloyd-centric piece because why not.