Well, I have been 'enjoying' my first lot of negative reviews for this one.
We'll call it a failed experiment. It doesn't seem to be striking many chords. I still like the concept behind it but it probably wasn't as well executed as it could've been. Live and learn!
He smelt her first.
A delicate spray of scent upon the crawling air of the asylum.
After a six-month stretch there his nostrils were finely tuned to all the mingling odours that Arkham was made up of. The cold stone of the walls, the cotton of his sheets and the porcelain of his toilet bowl; the slightly dank smell of the water in its basin. The crispness of the toilet paper and the smooth shimmer of the glass that made up one wall of his cell. And when he put his nose up against the holes which ran its length, he could pick up others - the individual guards, their greasy hair and sweaty necks, the doctors with their ink pens and syringes full of drugs; the orderlies in their crisp white uniforms and trolleys loaded with watery steamed vegetables and broiled chicken, oatmeal and sugar-free orange juice. If the door at the end of his wing was open and he drew in especially deep he could even catch the faint whispering smell of the electrolysis machines and the leather straps of the gurneys.
So he knew when she arrived.
So long with no change on the wind, and she intrigued him. He knelt before the glass door of his cell and sniffed through the air holes, the cold of the stone floor burning through the thin fabric of his standard issue pyjamas. Cheap leather shoes and nylon pantyhose. A silk blouse, the regulation white doctor's coat. An expensive shampoo and the faint tinge of bleach. He changed his mind and decided she wore nylon stockings, rather than pantyhose. Perfume, too flowery and light for a serious doctor, for a serious job at a serious asylum. More suited to a flashy nightclub and a cheap, short red dress passing as sophisticated vamp rather than the cheesecake splash it was. Lipstick, nail varnish and mascara; peppermint mouthwash and something gold - earrings, perhaps, or a locket. She was young. Quite young. An intern. An unscented, roll-on deodorant, scrubbed skin and the fresh, luscious warmth of her sex at the very base of it all. The scents of her rubbed against the hairs of his nostrils and became embedded there, curling up, hot and spicy and following him long after she had gone back to the city and the lights were out.
Next, he heard her.
It confirmed all his suppositions.
Just as confinement sensitised his sense of smell, so did it heighten his hearing. He detected pitches that the ears of those constantly assaulted by the cacophony of the outside world could not. Accents rubbed away by years of travel or displaced living or by practice were obvious to him. The faint tremor of fear, or of deceit was clear as a bell, likewise anger dressed as disinterest or hope disguised as excitement.
It was a light voice, almost fragrant in its airiness. Feminine and youthful - rather childish, actually, especially in the way it was concertedly pitched lower than its natural range, in the effort to sound mature and sophisticated.
It adopted clinical dispassion in careful, modulated tones that it wore like an ill-fitting dress. It sounded forced and unnatural to his sensitive ears, veering wildly away from the worldly intellectualism it aimed for to being merely pretentious and amateurish. It was oddly endearing. A voice that struggled to never betray self-doubt, to never waver or diminish. A heavily armoured voice with a hundred little chinks startlingly apparent when one tuned in properly, requiring only the gentlest of pressure to crack and fissure.
A girlish giggle that betrayed her when her meticulous and carefully rehearsed façade did not otherwise falter. He liked it best of all. In that pretty little laugh there was long-subdued effusiveness and hope, the desire for amusement, for liberty. The longing for simplicity and freedom from accountability long suffocated beneath ambition and the lust for glory. There was vulnerability, soft and squishy as cream cake. It tickled his eardrums like the caress of a tongue, warm and wet and making him shiver so that gooseflesh rose along his neck and his nipples puckered beneath his standard issue gunmetal blue Arkham pyjamas.
Then, he saw her.
When he did he knew the long months of boredom were at an end. She did not disappoint him, on any level. Whipped cream and strawberries she was, fresh, flushed and straight out of the earth, still with dew glistening in her sun-blonde hair and on her eyelashes. Brand new, she looked, as though she had been made just that very morning, and not even the powder on her cheeks or the lacquer on her lips could harden her baby softness. She wore skirts that were a little too short for a serious doctor, in a serious job in a serious asylum, blouses that were a little too tight or that she didn't button all the way up to her chin. The hilarious part of that was he could tell it wasn't conscious or deliberate. Not that she'd never been so calculated in the past, but that she was making every effort now to move away from such visual manipulations - and really believed that she had. She moved gracefully, like an athlete, but her curves were natural, and as lusciously slippery as a water slide, dipping in and out generously. He knew she must be driving the guards crazy, confounding the doctors and confusing the inmates, and his dark little nugget of a heart warmed to her.
But he not only saw her, he saw through her. Saw what was beneath the peachy skin and baby blues, beneath the blonde, combed back hair, the eggshell white nail varnish and the strawberry lipstick. What fluttered beneath the tailored two-piece suits and silk blouses, the sedate, two-inch court heels. Her armour was flawless to the ordinary person at first glance, a shiny veneer of strength and ambition, self-assured confidence in the half-raised brow and ever-so-slightly smug smirk that played about her lips. Yes, at the first glance of the ordinary person, it would seem nothing could penetrate that rock-solid facade, the iron-will and independence of a driven, career-oriented young woman, determined to have it all and to get it quickly. No hurdle too high - or low - for one such as her.
But he was not an ordinary person and it took only a first glance for him to see it all, as certain as if she'd torn off her smart suit, popped the buttons on her silk blouse, ripped away her stockings and panties and stood before him naked and bare to the bone. He saw the way the surface was cracked, was peeling just a little at the edges. He saw the will and effort it took her to maintain this image she'd adopted. She was a little thing, a teensy, tiny ickle little lumpling beneath the hard casing of her womanhood. He could see her life as if it had played out before his eyes; of being taken for granted and underestimated, her Barbie Doll beauty at once her biggest asset and greatest hindrance; of frustration and longing, for respect, for recognition, to be taken seriously. Of the decision made to pursue this career path and the ridicule it had earned her, of the determination poured into it, the ubiquitous blood, sweat and tears that had been spilled in its pursuit. Yes, he could even see there'd been something less than ethical enacted in the name of respectability, as there so often was by those who so hungered for it. She was a little girl playing a grown-up's game.
He saw all that in a glance, and knew he would stay in Arkham a while longer. She promised such fun.
Sure enough, it wasn't long before he touched her.
Velvety soft she was, squishy beneath his palpitating fingertips, the frantic workings of her tawdry brain fluttering in his cupped hands like a butterfly he'd ensnared. It was positively charming. Her arrogance was like sand, cascading powder fine through his fingers; her naivety and fragility like little pearls, smooth and shining, catching in the gaps where finger met hand. He rolled them about in his palms, feeling their glistening surfaces massaging the muscles of his hands. The brittleness of her strength was like glass but he took his time tenderly tapping against it, enjoying the sight of the fissures spreading steadily out like cobwebs, rough and almost sharp beneath his touch. The gooey softness of her tenderness was sticky and moist as chocolate pudding; reminiscent of another part of her he hadn't touched yet but knew she wanted him to. Her transparency was like a dip in cool spring water, left him near gasping and refreshed.
Her hopeful faith, her innocent awe, for in the end she was almost slavishly impressed, was like plunging his hands into warm dough, kneading, rolling and stretching it, shaping and crushing, reforming and moulding, an experience of such sensual sensory delight that at times he could not resist laying his actual hands upon her, feeling the hot fluttering of her heart, and the slender fragility of her pretty neck. Her breast was firm and high cupped in one palm and when he did that her breath was very hot on his cheek. The inside of her thigh was smooth as silk, depressing gently beneath the push of his fingertips.
She was warm and she was soft, like fresh baked bread, she was slippery and still, resisting and compliant. She was like rolling around on mown grass or upon silk sheets, naked; she was dancing in the rain so that wool suit clung wetly to soaked flesh, she was the collapse of a throat beneath his hands and the heated gush of blood spraying across his face, a slick, wet and still throbbing heart vibrating against his palm.
But the experience of her was culminated in the taste of her.
She exceeded all expectations, in that, and it delighted him.
The tang of her sweat beneath the artificialness of her perfume beneath his tongue, her gloss-slicked lips as he chewed and sucked on them, her tender earlobes like chewy little morsels of goodness, her neck sweet and tasty as honey, each of her pink little toes like toffees for him to suck upon.
But even better were the little gasps that pumped up from her throat; he gulped them down hungrily, lining his belly with her lust and her desire and her awe, glutting on the full-bodied flavour of her gradual acquiescing, the sumptuousness of her intimidation and admiration and reverence a perfectly complementary composition. She was so tender, so tasty, so very, very luscious as she slowly relented to him, tentative at first, and slightly dubious and then with ever-increasing fervour, unquestioning and vibrant hot. Her love, as it first ignited, was smoky and delicate then became quickly richer, stronger, more and more overwhelming until he felt himself almost begin to choke upon it, unable to stem the tide as she poured herself into him, and yet he couldn't stop himself from trying to swallow her more, and more. Late at night, unsleeping, he would lie on his cot in his standard issue inmate's pyjamas, and lick the bittersweet tang of her from off his lips and chuckle, low and soft beneath his breath.
She was just so very delicious.
And he knew it would not be so long until he was finished, until the final dish of her innocence was served up for him to gorge upon, picking the strings of her sanity out from between his teeth.
He anticipated it keenly, knowing it would be the cherry on top of the sensory delights Dr. Quinzel had so delighted him with.
He'd swallow it whole.
In response to the Hannibal Lecter comparisons:
Okay, I wasn't thinking of ole Cannibal when I wrote this but yes, I can see why people think so.
The truth is, when you spend any time in a confined environment with a limited realm of stimuli, your senses are heightened. Think about sitting in the dark for a while and how your eyes slowly adjust. Now imagine if you sat in the dark for a week.
To my way of thinking, ALL of the Arkham inmates' senses would be heightened after a couple of months alone in those dark cells with no open windows and only a controlled number of people coming in and out. It just stands to reason. Especially with a lot as obsessive and fixated and compulsive as the Rogues gallery.
And I'm pretty sure this sort of thing has been done in the comics, though I'm damned if I can remember who… though I have the feeling Joker might've made some sort of scent-based observation in at least one story…
ANYWAY. The idea of people in confinement developing these insane sensory responses really intrigues me. I like it. Nyeh.