The animal kingdom around snarled, barked, moaned, screamed; faces and bodies so distorted they could barely be called human. Look to the right, there’s a lion with gray greasy mane, bony and toothless. Look to the left, there’s a worm, body long and thin and glistening with sweaty slime, slopping noises escaping a mouth opening. Despite this cacophony, the words of the guard were still ringing in Edward’s ears. He pushed him towards the door of the ward and said them, as silent as a whisper among the noise made by Arkham inmates.
“He lived in this ward, when he was here, that penguin guy.”
The door closed with a metallic clank, shutting up the beasts and leaving him in weird, almost unnatural silence. Ed felt as if he suddenly became deaf and was grateful to his heart that started beating wildly, filling this giant black hole of silence. Or, more accurately, white. White was the ceiling of the ward, white were the walls, white was the floor. Black stripes on his uniform looked like filth among this whiteness, a shameful brand, a mark that even here he wasn’t welcomed.
Ed looked back and carefully went forward, though he understood that guards wouldn’t be able to hear him over these bestial shrieks. He looked at the ceiling and walls and floor, his eyes dry and sore. Too white. Too clean. Had they cleaned everything here thoroughly? Ed ran his fingers over rough surface, hoping to palpate something he wasn’t able to see. Had they really removed everything Oswald left here?
Ed breathed in, trying to catch Oswald’s smell. He didn’t remember it well. He remembered him smelling of blood and sweat and medications, unpleasant smells mixed with scents of Ed’s own cologne and shampoo, emanating from his pajamas he dressed Oswald in. He remembered Oswald smelling of smoke, filthy clothes and unwashed body, when he was sitting behind the bars, awaiting his departure to Arkham. Edward inhaled and inhaled until his head started spinning, but everything he could smell here was odor of cleansers and wet wipers.
No fingerprints on the walls. Ed knelt and pressed his face to the floor, imagining Oswald standing exactly here. He rubbed this spot with his nose, as if waiting for cold stone to turn into soft leather of the shoes Oswald wore here. No tracks on the floor.
Edward stood up and went to the narrow bed. He collapsed onto it, too short for his thin long-limbed body, absorbing the sensations Oswald had every time he laid himself down here. The grayish white bed linen smelt of cheap wash powder and stuffiness. Ed looked through the sheets and pillow case and blanket, searching for one single hair or an eyelash, but found nothing.
No traces of Oswald. If there had been, they cleaned them up, leaving him even more lonesome that he would be if he didn’t know that this ward belonged to Oswald once. They left him only a ghost, a fragile memory, impalpable and almost nonexistent. Ed turned sideways in one harsh movement and gasped, when bed moved with him, backing away from the wall.
Ed squinted through his glasses at it and felt the smile cutting his face in two halves. It seemed, janitors in Arkham were not so through, after all.
He made himself comfortable on his side and reached out for the barely visible stains on the wall, as white as its paint. Once sticky and hot as it escaped Oswald’s body, now the liquid became dry and dead. Edward touched the faint traces that Oswald’s semen left, outrageously distinctive now on the faceless wall.
Ed imagined him lying on the same bed as days turned into weeks, screams echoing from the outside day and night. Working on his cock, teeth biting his bottom lip, uniform sticking to his sweaty skin, fingers squeezing his flesh tighter, wet noises his palm made becoming louder and more rapid. Until the release came, splashing awkwardly on this wall, drops rolling down the white ugliness of the ward around him.
Had he remembered Edward in these moments?
Ed scratched the stains, as if hoping to peel away traces of Oswald’s orgasms he missed.
Because he would certainly remember Oswald now.