((Maxim Kehlenbrink continued from Idiot Launch))
It was much of the same for the rest of the day for Maxim. After the business in the morning with Junko and the other boy, he repeated the familiar pattern of staying in the safe locale, resting, and getting trapped in his thoughts.
Of course, he made a little amount of effort to fix what wrong he'd done over the past day. He made sure he was safe in the office he'd holed up in, door notwithstanding. It locked, that was for certain, but the door itself, much like the entire building, was old and decrepit. If someone was strong, they could easily break it down, but if someone physically stronger than Maxim encountered him with the intent to do him harm, it was not as though any mere door could keep him safe.
He checked his food - with all that he'd taken from Junko, he had enough to last for an appropriate amount of time. Whether that amount of time was a week or until the final days dwindled down, he did not know. But he would not have to worry about starving anymore. It gave him a little bit of relief, something he could scarcely afford.
Relief. It was the same feeling he'd experienced when he heard the announcements each day and nobody he knew was dead. But at the same time, it was also the same feeling he'd experienced during the first set of these announcements and he tried to convince himself that the fact his best friend was dead was a good thing. It had lasted quite awhile as well, until that unfortunate accident the previous night.
That accident was something else he needed to fix. Once he was sure he was safe, he took one of the few bottles of water he'd stolen from Junko's bag and tossed it over in his hand. He needed to clean his shirt.
Without thinking on it too much, Maxim pulled his shirts over his head and tossed them to the ground. He felt a twinge of pain as it went - a strand of his hair had become attached to a loop in the thread of his overshirt as it went, going with it when he yanked it too hard off his body. He didn't feel like he needed to worry about it though. It was nothing. It was his hair, not his skin or his bones or his wounds or his blood. It would grow back.
Or at least he hoped it would. He wasn't sure if he had enough time for that.
Maxim looked silently at the shirts on the ground, before returning to his bag. He felt cold - the sun was going down already. He rummaged through his belongings, putting aside food and water and the bow, until he found one of his first aid kits. It was now being similarly rummaged through, until Maxim got his hands on much of its contents.
Saline. Soap. Sanitizer. Anything that didn't look like it would stain his clothing, but in fact do the opposite.
It was such an easy part of his life back home, but that was only because he never actually did it. His father did. In fact, Maxim couldn't remember a time when he actually did his own laundry. He always told himself he'd get around to it, but it never happened. He was going to have to guess.
He opened one of Junko's bottles and poured some of the water on his blue overshirt. It was absorbed right away, and Maxim repeated the process with his other shirt. Same thing. He followed it up with the soap. It was just a tiny bar, but it was just as white smelled just like the soap he used back home, only without the delicate patterns on either side, and with rough corners. He scraped it against the blue shirt, softly at first, then harder once he saw nothing was happening. White flakes began to chip off, softened by the damp cloth beneath them. He continued this pattern up the shirt, painstakingly slow, until the front of his shirt was covered by a mixture of crusted vomit chunks and large chips of soap.
He repeated this for his other one.
Maxim furrowed his brow. He tried again with the saline, pouring it over the soap. He followed it up again with the sanitizer. Soon, both of his shirts were a damp mess that smelt of a bathroom. It looked unfinished. Maxim flattened his palms and tried rubbing it all together. He continued with this for some time, only stopping to peel pieces of dried vomit from his hands, before continuing again.
After what could have been no less than 15 minutes each, he stopped. He was tired. He lifted his blue shirt from the ground and held it with one hand against the corner of the office bed. It hung there, soapy and disgustingly coloured, as Maxim grabbed half of the remaining water and poured it over the concoction. Some of it stayed where it was. But most of it drained to the floor, pooling. Once finished, he stood up, holding the shirt in his hands as the empty bottle rolled away.
It did resemble his shirt. It was still damp and covered in remnants of soap and tiny flecks of his vomit, but it was better than it had looked all day. He would feel much better sleeping in this tonight than the last night.
He repeated the process with the white shirt, washing the soap and vomit off. Only this time, it didnt look as good. While most of his vomit was stuck on the blue overshirt, it had the luxury of being blue. This was white. He'd done his best, but the seeping stains remained, where the vomit had sunk through while he slept. The wash had not fixed it enough. It was lucky he had a cleaner shirt to wear over the top of it.
"Heh...look at me, Papa, I've finally learned to clean my own clothes."
Maxim wasn't sure what let his thoughts become words, but as they left his mouth he became increasingly aware of the cameras sitting in the top corners of the room. With that, he was reminded of the black line surrounding his neck, threatening to blow his neck open at any given moment, but had the dual pleasure of a microphone inside. That meant that every word he said was not only being caught by the people who put him here, but anyone who was watching him right now from home.
Would Papa be watching? Would Dr. Woolsey? Would - and Maxim did not like to think this possibility in the positive - Alex?
He didn't want to think about it, but with the lack of people in his vicinity, it would eventually have returned to his subconscious and then back to the forefront of his consciousness. That was one of the negatives of his plan, he so sparingly spent company with other people that he was starting to remember things he wanted to forget.
Maybe if he focused on something else, he could forget.
Maxim turned back to his bag and started putting everything back. The unused water bottles, the remaining food, the bow that was still on his person with the copious insults and filthy words he wanted to not think about just as much as Alex.
When he was done with that, he moved himself to the bed. It was not so much a mattress on a bed frame as it was a padded metal frame that bore fleeting resemblance to a bed, but it was more than he had had for days now. He curled his body onto the parts with the thickest padding and faced the door.
Within minutes, he had willed himself to sleep.
He was already beginning to twitch when he woke up.
It happened sometimes, his body twitched while he slept and the force was so great it propelled him to consciousness. This time, it just so happened at a time when he had taken his fill. Light seeped into the room through the thin windows. The door remained on its hinges. No voice boomed from the speakers across the island. Once again, hed woken up before the announcements.
Maxim sat up on his bed. His shirt was no longer damp and stuck to his torso, from water or vomit. It was mostly dry. It was a small comfort in this trying time.
It only took a few seconds for his mind to remember what he had obsessed over the previous evening, and that was Alex. Alex had entered his thoughts when he looked at those cameras.
Alex. The boy who was his friend for so long, the boy he had a crush on, and the boy he tried to kiss against his own will at Benjamin Fields party and which had ruined everything because it turns out that Alex hated everything he was. It hurt him. The level to which he had been humiliated had not been reached until he saw Junko examining him yesterday, covered in his own vomit.
But now he was alive and she was dead, so who was being judgemental now? Not her.
It felt odd that it came across that way in his mind, but it was true. She couldnt judge him anymore.
Maxim sat on the bed for quite a while longer, trying to construct his thoughts, give them structure. Every time he thought of an event in the recent history that was his life, he couldnt help but blame himself. The reason why he spent so long near the end of his high school life without any friends was because he had kissed Alex. The reason why he spent those exhausting humiliating hours trying to clean his shirt last night was because he tried to tell himself several days before that Cristos death wasnt affecting him in any way, and he spent days obsessing over how little Cristos death meant to him until it spilled out onto his front.
Was he to blame for everything that had gone wrong?
No, that wasnt possible. Maxim wasnt the most socially adept person in the world, but he knew he couldnt have been the only one to kiss their friend in a drunken stupor. He couldnt have been the only one to try and pretend they were fine when they were in fact the very opposite of fine.
But then why had everything gone so wrong in the past few years?
He felt the cameras glassy gaze sink deep into his skin. He felt the worlds weight on his shoulders, like Jean Valjean as he escaped Inspector Javert time and time again. Like the actors who countlessly played Jean Valjean, or the understudies who were called to the stage at nary a moments notice to play Jean Valjean, or the ones who sat in the audience judging Jean Valjean so they could write about Jean Valjean and be judged by others for judging Jean Valjean. Maxim had always had a thing for musicals, but the very thought of being centre stage terrified him. He wanted to observe a story, not become a part of it.
But he was already a part of the story that was unraveling as he sat by and contemplated the world, or the miserable.
Maxim looked up at the nearest camera. He stared at the lens, and the lens stared back. He did not break his gaze. The more he stared, the more he thought.
And the more these thoughts ruled his head, the more they became ideas nobody could dissuade him from.