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Going nuts.
Being slowly digested by his own self loathing juices.
There was absolutely no doubt in his mind, at this point in time that he was the scum of the earth. His own selfish whim was going to land him in here permanently, he just knew it. And, the Gods only knew where it was going to land Ethan and his Mother. He tried to pray for them, he really did, but each time he opened his mouth, eyes, some unpalatable sludge seeped down the peeling walls and rusting bars, and as if drawn by the feelings of possible redemption, crept into him, making him blind, muted.
He alone was responsible, and it scoulded to think that this was his only punishment, that an innocent and his mother might be ripped asunder.
He pulled his knees under his chin, and shuffled into the corner of the slab bed, metal enclosure groaning, growing satirically bigger, as Mikey sucked himself up.
He kept reminding himself, it was only for one night, one single night, that tomorrow he'd be back in his own, well, not his own bed, but a considerably more comfortable bed, in a room with slightly more tasteful decor. He'd told that to himself, mantra like, on the way to the jail that morning, cuffed and boiler suited in the back of the transport. How had he believed in that empty chant so ferverantly earlier? Right now, even the next morning seemed a million miles away.
He pressed back against the bars, wanting them to hurt, to somehow slice into his guilt infested flesh and let the sordid mucus which filled his veins ooze from the infected lacerations. Then, before he reached the depths of his despondancy, with cold metal clawing into his shoulder blades, the black hole of disjointed sleep over came him.

There was a corridor, a huge Oaken door looming at the end. Elaborately carved, and hinged with iron. He could tell that much from where he stood, even though the door was at least a mile away, it was that immense.
He started towards it, without knowing why, because the door, or rather what was beyond it, simply terrified him. It was a childish terror, with no grounds for existance, and nothing to complicate it. He only knew that he'd never been more scared, and yet could not stop himself from advancing.
There was a nettle garden, and he was standing in clearing, right in the centre. If he'd been in control, he'd have had a lawn mower, but as it happened, he had a ball of string. He crouched low, trying to see through the stinging jungle, which seemed to go on for miles in every direction. He stood, and was horrified to find that the nettles had grown whilst he'd been loafing around. They were taller than he was, and the trunks were thicker. Tree sized nettles, with colossal buzzing insects scurrying through them, towards his clearing. He gave a cry, not really surprised at the boy's voice which rang in his ears.
There was a library, vast and empty. He was alone, yet all around, whispers. The books were reading themselves to each other, but, it seemed not listening, not learning. Weren't books supposed to teach? Give knowledge? Enlighten? Just at the edge of his hearing, not quite audible over the verbose volumes preaching from the shelves, but most definately there, a scratching. Insectoid, insistant.
A large bristly limb, black and spindly, inched its way over from the top of the nearest column of words. Jerky, slow, sinister. Mikey gaped, he'd never seen a spider leg of such proportion. He stood, rooted to the spot, unable to understand why he couldn't move. At all. None of his limbs responded to the mental sirens going off in his brain. His eyes darted about him, wide at the silvery ropes which bound him, savagely to his fate.
Don't scream, he thought, no screaming. I'm not here. I'm not here! Here! Over here!

He couldn't remember anything of the dreams he'd had by the time the next morning slithered in through the miniscule hole which passed for a window in the one wall of his cell. His first thought, upon opening his eyes to the squalor, was that he had to surpress a scream, beyond all costs.
The sideshow aquarium he'd imagined his surroundings to be the day before had mutated whilst he'd been somnolent. The vacuumous waters which had previously amplified every noise had dissapated, and in their place, a heaving forest of scuttling things, clamouring squalls. The rust covered coops reminding him of a distant something that he couldn't quite recall. Eerie creeping memories.
He squeezed his eyes again, biting down on the back of his hand.
He was going crazy.

One night. Just one night, Mike. One. Just one.

The thought seemed to calm him a little, until he felt beyond the edges of it. There was a 'but', trying to get away from his knowledge seeking hand, and yet there, lurking just out of his reach, and he was sure that if he didn't catch it himself, it would sneek up behind him, craving to devour him whole and forever.
He rocked back and forth, no longer caring whether or not he was being watched, nor about the other occupant of the cell.
He supposed he had dozed again because the next thing he was aware of was the clank clank of heavy books along the scaffold gang way outside of his holding pen.
"Breakfast time, Mr. Movie Star."
Mikey blinked, and turned his head slowly. There were dark welts beneath his eyes, both from where he'd not slept properly, and from his knees being thrust fretfully into the all night long. His fellow scum were already filing their way along the walk ways, and down the ricketty stairs. Some looked at his, sneering, and Mikey froze contemplating their intentions. Some walked as if they weren't even there, robots, accustomed to the routine, and on automatic pilots, whilst their minds gambolled in a field somewhere, miles away, and filled with lambs and daisies.
The Warden glared at him, unsympathetically, as he cowered there. "Not hungry? What not looking forward to life without caviar?" he croaked, fiendishly.
Michel got to his feet, numb from the unrelenting night. He tried to smile, to protest that caviar was just not his thing, but what was the point? The screw wouldn't have cared.
He shuffled out to join the rest of the milling crowd, thinking to himself about the irony of Hollywood having gotten at least one stereo type down pat.

Breakfast, it turned out, was another stereo type personified. Porridge.
It did, however, Mikey was forced to admit, set one up for the grim determination needed to get through another day in Limbo.
There had been plenty of talk, and tomfoolery, at the ancient and time warped eating tables, although none which directly involved him. He was quite used to being talked about as if he wasn't there, or as extremely hard of hearing, but normally, people had enough civility to whisper behind cupped hands. Not here, it seemed people were as honest and vocal about it as they possibly could be at the times when they were permitted to be.
For his part, he kept his face entirely occupied in his meal, and his expression impassive. All machismo lost to the unremembered monstrosities of oblivion.

Herded back to their cells, after the meagre bowl of stodge, Mikey would have been content to go back to his rocking, and tortured insides, his cell mate however had other plans.
Beady eyes were waiting for him to scuttle back.
He was sat on the bed, in precisely the spot Mikey had spent the night, hunched in exactly the same way. A vicious toothy grin was smeared across the immate's battered face.
"S'true, then? 'Ollywood stuff, is you?" he cackled, squinting over as Michel crossed the concrete floor, and sat beneath the square of daylight.
He gave a grudging nod. The man could have been old, but it was hard to tell, with the grime etched into the crevices of his face. There were cuts on his chin, where Mikey presumed he'd been roughly shaven, else shaven with a blunt razor. He expected that they were shawn once a week, or something. The orange prison issue digs hung from the man's shoulders, scarecrow like, as though he were a pile of sticks animated to live. He cackled again.
"Don't be ascared o' them 'Ollywood. They smells it. An' if you lets 'em, they'll smash you up good. An' don't be frighted o' me. Not ol' Mad Merv. I ain't never 'urt no one. Tho' you tell that Judge that. In for murder, me. But, nope. Weren't me, y'Honour." He shook his balding head.
Mikey looked at him, intensely from his defensive huddle. The bizzarre creature looked too angular to be possible, kind of-
The thought was cut off abruptly, as Mad Merv moved suddenly, thrusting himself forward on his knuckles, a malformed silver back in a teritorial charge. He stopped at Mikey's crumbling form.
"Weren't you, was it?"
Mikey flustered, was he being accused? "No!"
"Knew it. You looks too clean t' be a crim." He mosied back to the bunk, still on all fours. Mikey was now more scared than ever, not by the man's threatening behaviour, he was sure the man's arms would snap at the slightest impact, but by what the man was. How long? How long had it taken for him to be reduced to that incoherant jibbering skeleton? Had he been a little crazy before he went inside? How long would it take for Mikey to be consumed by his incarceration, knowing he was suffering for no reason?
"Won't be seein' y' after t'day, 'nyway. You'll be baillin' I 'spect. Man like you can 'ford a decent lawyer. S' not fair. Not fair." The thing began to wail, lamenting on lost time, and voices suppressed.

"Mackenzie. Suprise, suprise, you just made bail. Say good bye to your friend."
Mikey glanced over at Merv, who appeared to have fallen asleep, in the corner of the bed.
"So long," he muttered as he passed through the iron door way. "Thanks."
The strange hermit like man may have nodded, or simply snored, but Mikey hoped he had heard the gratitude, even if he didn't understand the meaning behind it.

Air.
Not fresh, not even clean, but free. Free air. He took huge great lungfuls of the stuff, as if creating a stock pile in case of emergencies. Of course, he was not so naive as to think thatthat was the end, or that he was out of the woods, but-

Godamn, if that isn't the greatest feeling in the world.

He laughed, looking up at the vast, almost cloudless, sky. Too clean, he'd said. And it was amazing how Mikey had taken those words into himself, and absorbed their absolute certainty. Mikey wasn't guilty of anything short of being a good human being. He'd meant to thank, that was all. He hadn't intended any harm, and therefore was innocent of what he was being charged with.
As for misleading, he was quite happy to let the Press corner that particular market.

"Hello? Ma?" He held the phone nervously with both hands, sure that because this was him doing the phoning that she'd be unavailable.
"Michel?"
"It's me, Ma," he said, relieved that his paranoia had been wrong on this occassion.
"Oh, my dear Michel. Are you alright?"
"I'm good, Ma. Don't you worry about me, ok?"
"Mikey," she tutted, and he envisioned her hand on hip as she used to do when he was a boy and up to no good. "I'm your Mother, as you are my son. I know what you get up to, and I worry. It's part of my job."
"Ok. But, honestly, Ma. I'm fine. I just called to tell you that. And, to say..." The words wouldn't come. There was a 'something' lodged in his throat, and it spiked him as he tried to speak.
"Michel?"
"I just wanted to say, thanks, Ma. Thanks, and I'm sorry."
"Oh, Mikey," she sighed. "Whatever for?"
"I don't know, Ma. For forgetting you were there, I guess."
"Silly Boy."
"I know, Ma. I know. I've been very silly. About too many things." he sighed, mentally swamped suddenly by all that had happened, and that which was still to come. On top of everything else, he still had a career to sort out. He hoped he still had a career to sort out, at least.
"Do you know what your trouble is, Mikey, my boy?" He dreaded to think.
"No, Ma. What's that?"
"You want to please everybody. And, the Good Lord knows, Michel, there are just too many people in the world to please them all. Some of them aren't even going to be pleased, doesn't matter what you do for them."
"I know, Ma. You're right, I guess. I just got to think about pleasing the important ones, right?"
"Right, Mike."

The peachy puke coloured bedroom of the Holiday Inn didn't look any more inviting than it had when he'd left it the day before, but he gave thanks for everything that had brought him back there so quickly. Especially Paula.
She'd been waiting in the lobby for him with a big enveloping hug, when he'd arrived early that afternoon. He'd squeezed her so hard that he thought her lungs would explode.
Mikey knew it was an overactive response, that he'd only been gone for the one night, that he'd not, well, that they'd been apart for so much longer than that without him going to pieces over a hug, but he couldn't stop himself. It felt so good to have bee missed, even for that one night.
She looked drawn, as if she'd been right there with him, though she'd tried her best to conceal the fact with make up and expensive clothes.
Almost impecable, Paw, he'd thought at the time, not really caring.

"Whenever you need," she had said.
And here he was sat on the bed, clutching his phone, and needing.
At first, he'd thought air, light, and thrown open the window, and switched on every light in the rooms, but it hadn't really helped.
He leaned across the bed, to pick up the hotel phone.
"Hello, room service? Hi, listen, would you mind doing me a favour?"

She yawned, stretching, and rubbed the back of her neck. What a couple of days she'd had. Not quite so bad, she supposed, as his days had been, but pretty distressing.
That was why she'd done it, she was sure. She wasn't thinking straight, but even as it was happening she had been chiding herself. And she agreed, it had been irresponsible of her. And, yet, it had been just a look, and her look at that. She didn't even think he'd noticed, being so relieved as he was.
But she had noticed herself looking, looking at her practically ex-husband in a way that no woman should look at something she shouldn't have.

She jumped as the phone rang out from the adjoining room.
She glanced at her watch. Almost ten. She had her suspicions about who would be calling her room so long after normal working hours, but daren't give voice to them lest she was wrong.
She tossed her head, as she lounged over the bed to answer it.
"Hello?"
"Yes, Miss. Clarke?" It was a female. paula sat up, recoilling slightly. A reporter? "This is front desk, Miss. Clarke, we have been requested to enquire as to whether you are still awake."
"Evidently, I'd say." Her brow furrowed, not quite ready to accept what she thought was happening.
"Very good, Miss. Clarke. In this case, and if you have no objections, we been instructed to request that you open your door."
"Erm, okay." She hung up, uneasiness creeping into her previous almost certainty.
She slid off of the bed, and tiptoed into the bathroom, checking herself in the mirror.

What are you doing, you silly woman?
It could be anything out there, you know that, right?
A bomb. A reporter. A stalker. No wait, only Mikey gets those.
Shit, just stop that. What if it is him?

She turned away from herself, ashamed at her mental behaviour. It was selfish, no matter which way you looked at it. Mikey had probably just had the worst night ever, and here she was, either still sniping at him, or fixing to get him in the sack.
She strode back into the bedroom, eye catching on the bathrobe, but she dismissed it as prudish. It's not like nobody ever saw a woman in red pajamas before.
She paused, her hand on the door handle, and took a deep breath before turning it.

Mikey was sat against the wall opposite her door, next to a serving trolley.
He looked up at the sudden breeze caused by the door opening.
Paula had stood for a moment, looking left, right, not seeing him.
Her auburn hair was lose, touselled, cascading down over her shoulders, lustrous against the red satin pj's. She looked rested now, her green eyes alert, zesty, and vivid against the freshness of her skin.

Christ, did she have to answer wearing those?

Mikey suppressed the urge to gulp. "Well, the coffee is a bit cool, and the ice cream's a little melted, but want to share anyway?" he grinned, humour in an attempt to hide his awe. She held out her hand to help him up.

------
It's not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.- Frank N. Furter.

--Jasmine


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by Jasmine





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