Harley hid under the flimsy Arkham sheets as the guard walked past, squeezing her fists tight so they wouldn't shake. Just a few more hours. She could do that. She got up and peered out the bars, searching futilely for a clock. There wasn't one on any walls and inmates only got personal stuff like that when they had been good, and Bolton never thought they had been good. She was too upset to try to get Ivy's attention, or check to see if anyone wanted her's. She paced her cell in her socks, wishing she at least had some bubblegum or something. It felt like half an hour had passed.
"Excuse me?" Her voice cracked and barely made it past her lips before disappearing. She coughed into her hand and tried again, pressing her face against the bars as he walked past. "Excuse me?"
"What, scum?" He snarled, one hand on his remote control and the other on his baton.
"Wh-what time is it?" She forced out, her throat dry and tight.
"What?" He made no move to improve his hearing, not even turning an ear toward her.
"What t-t-time is it?" She felt as if she was shouting. He took his hand off his baton to check his watch, bringing it up to face height rather than lower his gaze.
"One." He continued patrolling. Harley stumbled over to her bed, shaking. She had asked another guard earlier, and Bolton was working a double shift today. 9 to 5 and 5 to 1. The word had quickly spread around the cell block. She hugged her Harley doll tight, happy it hadn't been taken away from her. Yet. Professor Crane nodded at her solemnly. They could probably talk in a few hours, if they were careful about it. All Bolton had yelled about today was the inmates in general, no one person had gotten his wrath. Yet. She curled up on her bed and pulled the sheet over her, hoping to sleep until she could go to the lounge. She clutched Harley Doll to her chest. Hopefully she and Professor Crane could talk. Or she could talk to Ivy, hopefully. She pulled her pigtails out and finger-combed her blonde hair. The flat Arkham pillows were not good for wearing your hair up to bed. The elastics went on her wrist, so she wouldn't lose them. She held Harley Doll and stared at the wall, finding pictures in the imperfections.
"What?" She winced as Bolton shouted. Please, please, please... "It's one-thirty, you sick freak! Maybe I should give you a beating every fifteen minutes like a grandfather clock, then you won't bother nobody, will you?" She peeked out to see Bolton at Scarface and The Ventriloquist's cell. Bad day. Bolton really didn't understand their relationship, that Scarface was a real person. He yelled at them a lot. Liked to threaten with fire, or a woodchipper, or termites. Professor Crane shot her a sympathetic look. Bolton didn't like him either, for some reason. Her old psych classes told her he probably feared Crane, but that was Scarecrow's thing, fear. He wasn't scared of hardly anything, not the dark, or creepy-crawlies, or even Batsy. But he was scared of Bolton. They all were.
When Bolton started unlocking cells they all stood up and got ready to go to the lounge for an hour. She hoped no-one would mess with the TV while Ivy was watching it.
Bolton walked around and unlocked their cell doors individually. It was a game of his to go out of order, and walk slow. They learned to keep quiet, because complaining would just get their bars electrified, or the lounge taken away from their cell block for a week or something.
When he unlocked her door she walked out quick, on her best behavior. Bolton twisted her arm behind her and pushed her into a wall. She cried out in surprise and pain. "No personal items in the group areas!" He shouted, ripping Harley Doll from her grasp. She had forgotten she was even holding it. He shoved her back into her cell and she tripped and fell on the floor. The door closed with a clang that hurt her ears. Looking out at her friends, they all wanted to help, but they were too scared of Bolton. He dropped Harley Doll on the ground and spit on it. Harley cried out and stood up.
"Stop! Stop it!" He smirked and looked at the doll, then her.
"I ought to do /this/ to every last one of you, keep you in line." He ground his heel into Harley Doll's face.
"Stop it!" She screamed, reaching through the bars. She felt tears welling up, and through the corner of her eye, she noticed The Ventriloquist looking sick.
Pain shot through her, her muscles froze, she couldn't do anything but wait for it to end. Please let it end soon. Everything hurt so bad. It was still going, please end, please, please, please. When the current stopped flowing through the bars, her muscles relaxed and she crumpled to the floor, her cry still echoing around the large room.
"Miserable filth." Bolton spat on her, removing his hand from the remote control on his belt. They all knew what happened when you were electrocuted by now. Your muscles contracted, meaning you held onto whatever was shocking you, and you screamed. It was completely involuntary, she had heard everyone in her cell block scream a few times in the past month or so. Luckily the security at Arkham was set up so they only got shocked for 5 seconds maximum. But it was the longest 5 seconds of your entire life; even if you weren't the one holding the bars, you had to listen to your friend in pain. She sat up and wiped her face. She always cried, it was a combination of the physical pain, and the emotional pain of her friends looking at her with such pity. She tried to stand, but her knees were still wobbly from the fear and electricity, and she fell against the bars.
No. It hurt too much. She couldn't stand it. Not again. God, everything hurt, from her toenails to her scalp. She swore even her hair hurt. She was going to explode from the pain built up inside of her. It was too much. She wanted to explode, just to get away from the pain. Let me explode. Let my heart explode, let me die. Let me escape. Let me escape this pain.
She collapsed again, sobbing, but rolled away from the bars. She smelled the awful aroma of burnt hair and it made her throat hurt even worse. The rest of the cell block got sent back to their cells. No reason was given.
She crawled over to her bed and pulled the sheet off. She wrapped it around her and rolled under the bed, taking any meager protection she could. The tight hug the sheet gave her helped her to calm down. She took deep, shuddering breaths as she worked to stop crying. She wished she had Professor Crane or Ivy to talk to, or even Harley Doll to hug. She hadn't meant to take it out of her cell. She wished Mistah J would bust her out, far away from Bolton. She usually didn't mind hanging out in Arkham, but Bolton was mean and unfair. She would have to wait until her shower tomorrow to inspect her hair. She knew Ivy would commiserate with her. She laid her head on the cold concrete floor, waiting to fall asleep. They all slept a lot, for lack of anything else to do. Bolton couldn't threaten or electrocute them in their dreams.
She shrieked and kicked as she was woken up by someone pulling her across the floor by her ankle. They dropped her ankle and her heelbone vibrated like a bell as it struck concrete. She screamed in pain but someone grabbed the sheet wrapped around her and hauled her to her feet. She balanced carefully and tried to untangle herself but Bolton literally ripped the sheet off her. She fell to the floor again and stared at the two pieces of cloth in the Head of Security's hands. Grumbling, he threw them behind him, picked Harley up by her arms and shoved her on the bed before radioing for a wheelchair. He didn't help her into it, and pushed her into the crowd of waiting inmates, leaving them to either stop her or get out of the way. Professor Crane and The Ventriloquist and Ivy caught her and squeezed her hands. Ivy walked behind her and pushed the wheelchair when her arms got tired. They walked into the cafeteria and got dinner from the serving tables and sat at the dining tables. Harley sat at the end of the table and Bolton stood at the other end, keeping an eye on them.
"Hey, Pam." She muttered, pulling her hair into pigtails. Ivy glanced up and saw her singed hair, murmuring a small 'mm-hmm' as she took a bite of spaghetti. Harley picked up her plastic spoon and dug into her cut-up spaghetti. None of the inmates got forks, just in case someone got mad. All their food had to be edible with spoons, or finger food. Professor Crane whispered apologies for her lost Harley Doll and overall bad day. After everyone finished eating they went back to their cells.
"Mistah B, I think I need to see someone about my foot." She said as he wheeled her into her cell.
"'S your own fault, it can wait until tomorrow." He grumbled as he picked her up and dropped her on the bed, and radioed for another sheet to be brought. She rubbed her back, the Arkham mattresses were barely thick enough to sleep on, when she fell she felt every spring poking her. She looked at the tattered sheet and debated using it to wrap her heel. Bolton saw where she was looking and wadded up the cloth.
"If I had my way, you wouldn't get another sheet until you earned it. Unfortunately policy states that you have to have one. Hell, if I had my way, you'd think this was paradise!" He roared. Harley shrank back into the corner, curling up and using her pillow as a shield.
Tears pricked her eyes, but she couldn't wipe them now. She whimpered as he snatched her pillow away, but looked up as the door creaked open. Bolton handed her the pillow gently and took the sheet from the nurse. He smiled and waved her off before shaking the folded sheet open with an ominous crack. He glared at her and she obediently lay down on her back, shaking. She pulled her pigtails out before she was stuck wearing them all night. He locked the restraints around her chest and wrists, but when he grabbed her right ankle it jerked involuntarily and she shrieked in pain. He ignored her screams and fastened her ankles down before throwing the sheet over her. "No one cares, you lunatic scum!" He shouted over her hiccuping sobs. It was true, no one paid attention to a screaming inmate. Her cries were drowned out by the din of other patients, screaming, yelling, throwing things and generally having temper-tantrums. She eventually calmed down and even managed to get semi-comfortable. Bolton left at 1. Bed was normally at 10:30. Dinner was at 6:30, so it was probably 7 to 7:15-ish. She didn't know why Bolton had tied her down for the night early, except for the fact that he didn't like her. Probably because she was girlfriend of the Clown Prince of Crime. She only had to wait a few more hours. Her face tightened as the tears dried. She faintly heard Ivy humming a lullaby and she smiled weakly. It was one of her favorites, Hush Little Baby. A lullaby meant she was trying to cheer everyone up from the bad day. Harley started to hum along, feeling a tiny bit better, but Bolton yelled at them to shut up and entered her cell. She began to cry again and tried to squirm away, but the restraints held her firmly in place. "What were you two doing?" He growled.
"H-h-hummin', sir." She rasped out.
"You weren't passing some sort of message-" he poked her right heel with his baton and she shrieked. "Through code?" He poked her heel again.
"No, sir!" She cried.
"I don't trust you." They stared at each other, her blue eyes wide and crying, his brown eyes small, hard and unforgiving. She had almost given a sassy comeback to his statement, but that might make him 'accidentally' nudge her foot, or 'forget' to take her to the infirmary at some point. At the very least, it meant more shouting and threats. She stayed quiet and tried not to shake in fear. "Can't trust you degenerate scum." He scowled and left. She strained and lifted her head enough to see Ivy across the hall, smiling pityingly and being careful not to touch the bars. They were always electrified after dinner, since the patients had no-where to go. Bolton glared at Ivy. Harley lay back and tried to sleep, humming the lullaby in her brain.
She was almost asleep when a little warning went off in her head.
"Mistah B?" She called. "I need to use the ladies' room."
"Me, too." Ivy said. Bolton unelectrified their cells and let Ivy out first. Once Harley was unstrapped from the bed and seated in the wheelchair, Ivy pushed her as she examined her heel. Red and swollen, warm, and very very painful. She hoped she hadn't fractured her heelbone or something.
A female orderly lounged against the wall in the ladies' room, there to help inmates and make sure they didn't get into a fight or anything. Harley rolled herself into the handicapped stall and did what needed to be done, and was washing her hands when Pam began rubbing her shoulders. The orderly kept an eye on them, but didn't say anything. It wasn't against the rules. Harley smiled and leaned against her friend. Ivy used the sink next to hers and Harley continued washing her hands to provide more sound to mask their whispered conversation.
"Your hair's fixable, Harl. I'll try to grow some aloe outside the window."
"Sorry about today."
"Not your fault." Harley dried her hands at one of the air dryers. "S'cuse me, would you happen to have the time?" She asked the orderly.
"Eight." Monotoned the woman.
"Thanks." Harley wheeled herself out and played with the wheelchair while she waited for Ivy. She rolled forward and back, she turned, and she was just about to try spinning in circles when her chair jerked to a hard stop. She put her hands in her lap and looked down. If she was lucky, Pam had snuck behind her and grabbed the handles. If she was unlucky, Bolton had gotten mad. Again. She swallowed hard as Ivy's familiar green socks exited the washroom.
Again, Bolton ignored her screams of pain when he grabbed her right foot to strap her down. When she had gotten herself calm, she hummed Hush Little Baby in her head again, trying to get to sleep. Bolton would be gone when she woke up. She smelled coffee, all the guards drank it on the night shifts. She figured they must get really bad caffeine headaches if they didn't drink it on their days off. Bolton must be doubly horrible with a caffeine headache.
She lay in bed, waiting for sleep to come. She hoped sleep would come soon tonight. None of the inmates had gotten a good night in months, not since Bolton started working here. She jumped awake, limbs jerking against the restraints in surprise as Bolton ran his baton along the inmates' bars, chuckling to himself. She scowled and blew some hair out of her face. Besides electrocuting them and restraining them at night, he liked depriving them of sleep, or having them have accidents. The Mad Hatter 'tripped' down the stairs after he told the docs about what went on. They didn't believe him, even though he only ever hallucinated about Wonderland. Bolton was too good of an actor, and he was in charge of people declared criminally insane. He was smart enough to get away with it.
She tried to do math to get to sleep. If she was 27 now, and her birthday had been 3 months and… 14 days ago, how many days old was she? 365 days in 1 year made 7… 30 days in 2 years, 1095 days in three years… Her face screwed up and she got a headache trying to figure out how many days in 4 years. She had never had a head for math. She tried just counting… 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66…