This one is more of an experiment. It has no real plot, but is intended more as a reflective piece, capturing a sense of emotion rather than action. Just warning!
Arkham Asylum was never quiet.
It never paused for breath, never stood at peace and never slept.
It reverberated with endless noise; the screech of wheels as trolleys were pushed over linoleum tiles, glass rattling gently against itself and the sinister whisper of plexiglass doors sliding shut.
Raised voices and frantic whispers; the buzz of machinery and the pounding of water against tiles. Doctors scribbling notes on reams of paper and pages rustling as they searched for answers that would never suffice.
Shrieks so distant they thrummed like moans, and groans so close they were as bloodcurdling as screams. The struggle of bound bodies against straps, the thunk of heads on thick padded walls. Two hundred hollow heartbeats rising and falling as a desperate chorus of life.
Beneath it all, the cavernous building constantly hummed as though the thousands of broken souls lost within its walls clamoured against their prison.
Doctor Harleen Quinzel would cast an anxious look at the time on her computer, then stand to ready herself. She would always take a few moments in preparation, to ensure her presentation was suitable to the occasion she was about to partake in.
She would smooth back the stray strands of hair into the neat, professional coif she wore, heedless of the tremble in her hands. She would straighten her glasses, pushing them up the bridge of her nose to rest squarely on her face, her breath coming in short gasps. She would pull down the hem of her suit skirt and ensure her blouse was neatly tucked in, her stomach queasy and cramping. She would finger the knot of her tie, adjust it as necessary and pull its length straight down her front, a lump in her throat that could not be swallowed.
Then, from the hook behind her office door, she would lift the mark of her pride and duty – the white doctor's coat that never failed to thrill her every time she slipped into it. It would settle softly about her shoulders like an embrace, wrapping her in its prestige like the robes of a priest.
Finally, she would step from her office, where the tree outside beat out a small, insistent rhythm against her window, the clack of her high heels echoing off the high stone walls; step out into the constant melody of the Asylum. It would surround her like a hymn as she moved toward her destination.
She would walk down the corridors to the rattling old staff elevator illuminated with a single red bulb that washed her in a blood rinse. Barely big enough for two people, it seemed almost to entomb her and as the elevator whined up the shaft she compared the experience to a rite of passage; the necessary journey in order to ascend, to be in the presence of the divine.
As she drew closer to her destination, her skin would start to tingle. She would shiver, at once hot and cold, feeling how anticipation sharpened her senses and brought her heart to her mouth where it beat like a processional drum.
Her stomach would tip up, spilling out in giddying waves as she reached the door and she would marvel every time at how intoxicating the sensation was and how it couldn't begin to compare with the delight she would soon experience when they brought Him to her.
There was nothing to remark the door from any other in the row embedded in the wall. It was solid steel, sturdily hinged and fixed with the same electronic lock. But as she approached it, it seemed to her it faintly glowed, imbued with a light that set it apart as the passage to a sacred place.
Her security card would sigh down the slot, the door would loudly buzz, the weight of it resisting slightly against her push as she entered.
Behind her, it would softly click shut and silence would encompass her.
The walls of their haven were sound proofed; she was equipped instead with a panic button in case of emergency. Even serial killers and freaks deserved confidential therapy.
It was a silence so complete it seemed like a pause in the motion of time. She would lean back against the door, its steel unforgivingly cold beneath the fabric of her professional white coat, and let it engulf her.
In deference to the holy quiet, she would make no movement to mar it; instead surveying her adored place with reverential eyes.
The single bulb overhead was only forty watts and the walls were painted a soft kiss-pink to create a soothing atmosphere for excitable, frenetic minds. The room was bathed in a muted light, as soft as the sun filtered through late-afternoon storm clouds.
In the centre of the room stood an over-sized, high-backed leather couch, securely fixed to the floor. In that chair she would sit, the leather softly whispering against her, and wait.
A full six feet from the couch, a long brown leather couch was also bolted to the linoleum, its sides patterned with fixed hooks through which were threaded sturdy straps. Running its circumference, painted on the stained linoleum, a yellow circle mapped out a boundary of safety.
To Doctor Quinzel's eyes, it instead marked the point at which she might transcend.
She would step over the linoleum as softly as she could, to where the couch awaited her, over the yellow line, drawing up close by it, her gaze softening and becoming tender as she reached out to run her hands lovingly over its worn leather surface. In her fervour, she believed she could almost see the imprint of His body on the material as though His likeness had been emblazoned there by the very strength of His presence. She fancied she could smell the warm, musky scent of Him still lingering, as though a tiny sliver of His being had been trapped within the room when last they had departed it. She ran her hands down the front of the couch back, kneading the leather and inhaled deeply, knowing soon the richness of His tangibility would be overwhelming her.
She would stroll around the couch, smoothing the leather down, brushing the straps off so they dangled by its side, assuring herself it was as comfortable as could be, then glance up to the silent clock set into the wall above the door.
She would take her place silently in her armchair and that strange sickness of anticipation would begin to well once more, rising inexorably within her like a hungry tide as she waited.
Those final moments seemed to stretch as endless as a dream, her shaking hands clasped on her lap and coiling threads of desire and yearning in her gut, awaiting the moment the door would open and He would enter, bringing with Him all the light and joy she'd ever known and more than she'd ever dreamt she could experience. His presence would radiate, seeming to consume the tiny room and rise like a roar, and she would revel in it, at once weakened and delirious.
And she would grow breathless as she waited, anticipation so fervent she thought its deliverance might end her.
Then finally, she would hold her breath, certain she knew the precise moment He stepped from the elevator that had brought Him up from His floor buried deep in the asylum, flanked on either side by men whose names she long ago forgot. As her head began to buzz and her chest grew tight, she swore she could feel the tremor of His footsteps as He drew near, and when the door clicked and slowly swept open she would release an exhalation of fulfilment and rise to receive Him and commence her hour of devotion.
I totally understand if this one isn't very popular. I wrote it as part of a set of prompt challenges I'm doing. The prompt is 'ritual' and I wanted to capture a sense of Harley as Harleen, in the first throes of her obsession and how her sessions with the Joker had become like a type of worship for her. Have I succeeded? Meh, I dunno. I like it, but feel like it could be shorter – but am loathe to cut anything (and I'm usually very good with the proverbial red pen!).
At least it's kinda short, right? ;)