Notes: Written in 15 minutes for the 15_minute_fic challenge. Sort of stream of conscious? Mostly just playing around in Herbert's mind a little. Pre-Beyond Re-Animator canon, while Herbert is adjusting to prison life.
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The night closed in tight around him as he lay on the small cot that was his bed in the silence of solitary confinement. He quite favored being alone to mixing in with the criminals, it was safer and for the most part meant that he would be undisturbed as he worked on his experiments under the shroud of secrecy. Every time he got mixed back into the general population, all it took was a few hours to convince the Warden he was still dangerous – and didn't care if he spent the rest of his miserable life in that tiny cell.
But sleep, that was a chore. The first two years, he'd barely slept at all – existing on adrenaline, fear, anger, and withdrawal from the reagent. Then, slowly, he'd learned to sleep again… he hadn't actually managed REM sleep since the earliest weeks of medical school and it scared him far worse than any monster of his own hand. Worse than any error, any possible loss of control of a subject; was loss of control of himself. That was all that sleep brought, not the restful slumber of the romantics that liked to dream of lying for hours, unconsciously hallucinating things that only a madman dared to bring to light. For Herbert West, there was no rest in sleep.
He had nightmares, frightful gripping visions that would wrap around his brain in the throes of exhausted sleep after two – sometimes three days without. Visions of experiments going wrong, of his research being uncovered and stopped by the Warden, of being unable to continue his life's work and being forced to rot in a godforsaken prison until he too became lifeless tissue full of promise but ultimately not to be rediscovered. But there, there were the memories; fewer in number but just as accurate as the events themselves. Dr. Hill, the first unsuccessful trials, explosions of entrails and cooled blood, Meg, dying – no… almost dying. And of course, Dan. Dan Cain, whom he killed for. Whom he very nearly died for. Dan who sat nearly-lifeless on the stand and stared blankly past him as he recounted the events of their time together without emotion – without even a hint of the spark of passion they had building life together. Dan who couldn't look at him, and stepped out of his sentencing with his head cowed in shame. He hadn't been to visit, didn't write – didn't even accept the letters written in Herbert's meticulous hand, each one sent back 'return to sender' without so much as a smudge fingerprint.
And then there was nothing. The empty blackness of rest… of sleep, of endlessness.