The sky was an awesome blue, from this view.
It was a giant canvas of solid, crystal azure, the grand beginning for the masterpiece, made by God's hand. All for Red_Two to gaze upon at, and weep.
The clouds above were rolling. They were a pure, angelic white, with the smallest of grey shadows, reaching down towards him, bordered by, and held together by, a shining silver. They bloomed high up, and so far away, crafted into dragons, into trumpets, into turtles, and into halos. They carried so much free water, ready to burst like one of those fabled grapes, and allow those crystal droplets to fall to earth like diamonds.
Heaven was up there, as a garden of riches, glistening gold, and so, so bright. And so, so warm. The clouds framed it, like a spiral staircase, of which mortals like him could use to pull themselves up there, or maybe fly themselves up on that burning dragon. It could breathe fire, and warm him up in those cold, cold clouds. Would the water taste like morning dew, after running your hands through the fields of long grass, or would it be like the pouring water of a cold shower, after a long day?
He thought he would like that. The grass beneath him was warm and getting only warmer in the sun.
Red_Two felt like he could sleep forever. It was a lime colour, and soft, when he ran his hands through. He felt slightly nostalgic, remembering the snow angel he made, in the only winter it ever snowed. Snow clouds were heavier, he mused, and didn't have the wispy outlines that faded out, falling as a caress upon that azure, blue sky. He ran his hands through the grass once more, and turned his head to the right, off towards the endless vastness of the royal blue ocean.
Red_Two knew that the horizon was only eleven miles away, but that crystal mirror seemed so much larger. It was boundless, and immeasurable, and perfect, bringing tears to his eyes. He had never seen the ocean before, and from this view, from high above, on a cliffside, it looked like an image from a fantasy story. He felt so small, surrounded by colour, and warmth, like he was languishing on one of those clouds, near the sun and the heavens.
Like the heavens were looking down on him.
The breeze was warm, and gentle, fanning his skin, giving the most luxurious massage he had ever received. If he sank deeper into the calm, it was almost as if he could imagine a kind hand running through his hair, fingers undoing all the knots, and tangles, fanning out all his red strands in a circle, laying them out in the sun, to soak up the falling gold rays of light.
Revenge seemed so far away, and that frigid, crushing cold grey - the harsh, sharp weight of that grey world - was now gone. The engineer was warm, so far, far away from Sýnnefa, from the Sýnnefan guards, and the dead man in front of the library.
He was too warm. Heat burning through him, frying his nerves, but restoring the flush, that omnipresent red-pink hue, twenty years ago, nineteen years ago, and all the way until a year ago, back to his sallow skin. Red_Two, named for his red hair, and his red skin. The second child to born to his mother, but the first and only to survive the flushing red fevers of his infancy.
The grass was too warm, and the sun was too bright, searing his eyes, even the rolling waves of the ocean reflected too much.
The heavens, above and too far away, were hurting him. He couldn't reach up to them, his blood boiling in his hollow vessels, and back, chaining him down, to wallow in his pain. Red_Two closed his eyes, yet still saw blinding white.
It hurt. It was painful. He was scared.
The world spun around him when he opened his eyes again: white, gold, green and blue blurring together. The tears streaking down his face weren't cold at all, they were hot, and burning. The wind wasn't enough. It was too warm, against his sticky, sweaty skin. His throat felt as dry as desert sand, and only a raspy whispers escaped his mouth, the ghosts of what he wanted to be screams.
The engineer tried to reach over to the land, towards the hill and the tree line to his left. Maybe there was life over there. Maybe there was help. Maybe there were people, or maybe there were animals. He didn't know where he was, or when he was. The time machine rested lightly on his stomach, like a bouquet facing upwards. Maybe he would be found just as he found so many others, when he was forced to trek through the wilderness, as just another body to be buried, and just another corpse to be looted.
The engineer looked at it's familiar outer skin, a grey box with a charging port at one end, and a red button on the other, framing a black screen on the side between them, with a black button in the top, right corner. It wasn't pretty. It was a dull grey, and a blocky menace.
Red_Two knew he wasn't pretty either, a grey, murky stain on the landscape. He was too weak to take his ID card and dig out the microchip, buried under his skin in his back, he couldn't move himself off the edge of the cliff, to remove himself from the picture. He couldn't move. He couldn t do anything right.
His plan had failed. He knew he was making a risk, and he thought he could handle it. He thought he could hurt people, and now, he knew he couldn't. Sýnnefa needed to suffer, and be punished, but he couldn't be the one to do it. He couldn't pull the trigger. He couldn't kill. He couldn't do anything right.
He wasn't expecting to feel as if he was being pulled apart, molecule at a time, and then reassembled, like some cheap machine made by a child, feeling as if he hadn't slept in weeks. He felt as if he needed a shower, lying in a puddle of his own fluids. He felt like a disgusting, soiled, dirty, used mess. He couldn't do anything right.
Red_Two closed his eyes, and waited. He felt the flames of hell underneath him, licking up and encasing his limbs, trapping them in scorching, burning heat. His heart was stuttering every other beat, and his scalp was raw, and too tender, too aware of every strand of hair glued to it, and almost fused in.
There was no light anymore, only darkness, a black ooze which Red_Two found himself sinking into, as he felt himself descending into hell.
This was the end, and just maybe, he was alright. He lived his life, and it was hard, but there were good times. There were good moments. He had his mother. He had his father. He had birthday cards. He had snow. He had insects. And he had love. If only a distant memory, far, far away, he had love. He was loved, even if he didn't deserve it.
He wasn't worthy of his country. He wasn't worthy of his people. He wasn't worthy of his dead comrade. But, lying there, dying, he was alright. He felt so small, and worthless, and stupid. But, he would be seeing his mother soon. Or his father. Or maybe not. Maybe they were in heaven. Maybe they were in hell. Either way, he knew he would be going to hell.
It was a shame that nobody was going to place his body in those deferent, purple mountains, nor the technicolour cliffs of the gorge. He would have a long walk, wherever he ended up, to find his parents again. He was dying alone, with nobody to greet him on the other side as he passed.
Red_Two felt something on his face. Just a light touch, as if a flower petal had just grazed his cheek. His eye lids were welded shut, and he couldn't move. Too weak to. Too much in pain to. And he didn't want to.
But, he hadn't seen flowers for so, so long. He hadn't seen a flower in a year. He hadn't ever seen the ocean before either. To see flower petals, flying off the edge of land, to travel the ocean, and then settle on the waves. He tried to open his eyes. He wanted to see this miracle.
He struggled, and his muscles burned as they twitched, but even the smallest slit was enough. He was in the cool shade, and looking into his soul was an eye. The most tender of blues. It looked as soft as satin, and so different from his own grey eyes. It was as if an entire sea was in them, swirling, and reflecting all the gold flecks of the sun in them.
That sea was warm but it didn't hurt him. Maybe Red_Two wasn't going to die alone, lifted to the chest of the ocean-eyed man, cradled in his arms, feeling loved.
When he awoke, Red_Two found himself shivering, laying down on his stomach, on a soft, albeit cold, bed. He didn't feel a blanket over him, and he could feel a cold breeze on his feet, but not his legs. Without opening his eyes, he slowly inched his right hand towards his torso. He felt the intersection of two lines of bandages. An engulfing warmth surrounded his hand, and moved it back to his side.He was alive. Red_Two blinked his eyes open slowly, looking down at his pillow."I know you're awake," an unknown voice rang, slightly high pitched, light and cheery, definitively male, and speaking in English."I'm awake," Red_Two replied, voice slightly raspy, turning his head towards the right, in direction of the voice. He was on a bed with white pillows and sheets, with a bedside cabinet and chair next to him.On that chair was a man with an average build, matching his own, in a lilac shirt and dark blue trousers - part of a matching suit with the shiny,
The bedframe was grey."Oh,"Red_Two stopped moving. He stopped breathing.He was in Sýnnefa. In the past. Back when it was a small island.The bedframe was grey.He could still carry out his revenge. He could kill all the people on the island and prevent the future of happening. He could save Gryaz. He could save his mother and father. He could save the dead man in the library, and the second mechanic. He could save everybody. He could stop all the deaths from happening, and stop the gorge from being destroyed. He could save those deferent, purple mountains from being levelled. All he had to do was kill everybody.The bedframe was grey.But he couldn't kill. He couldn't hurt. And he didn't want to hurt the ocean-eyed man, the man he was preparing to die in the arms of, after waxing beauty about his eyes. He had a crush, didn't he.The bedframe was grey.The bedframe was starting to go black. The whole world was g
"Should I kill you?" echoed Red_Two's hollow voice, as Emmet strolled the room with breakfast, balancing a tray of two porridge bowls and spoons on one arm. Despite the entire night of tranquiliser induced sleep, Red_Two looked exhausted, pulling himself out of the blanket shroud he had made himself, like life itself was a taxing effort.Emmet laughed, then smiled brightly at him, shutting the door, filing away the comment to analyse later, during his mandatory nanobot project shift.He twirled around to place the tray on the table. "I didn't know what fruit you liked, so I put a little bit of everything in here, then added honey to sweeten the pot, and get your blood sugar levels up," Emmet explained cheerily, bouncing over to pull the curtains open, flicking open the window to let the morning sea breeze run amok.Red_Two shivered and pulled himself under the blanket hoping to shield himself from the cold wind, and the world. Emmet turned back to him and watche
"So, what do we do now?" Emmet asked, looking down at his half empty bowl.Red_Two struggled in his arms for a moment before looking up at him, still appearing somewhat dead. His eyes were still wet, red rimmed, and in pain.To Emmet, his eyes were like mercury, reflective and clear, and so different from the drab grey of the bedframe.His mouth moved to attempt making words before sealing shut. He had retreated into his mind, where Emmet couldn't follow him. Emmet tightened his arms, bringing Red_Two into a proper hug. He just wanted to learn all he could about him: his story, the world of the future, and what he was going to do in the past.But, if the world was that painful, Emmet wasn't sure if he even wanted to know.Away on their tiny island, cut off from the rest of the world , it was almost possible that they could ignore what was happening outside, but now, that wasn't possible. He placed his hand over Red_Two's head."Why do you wa
When Doctor Johnstone arrived to fix the damage of the hug, she first glared at Emmet, accusing and without saying a word. This time, Emmet was sure that she was going make good on her prior threats to put laxatives in his coffee.Doctor Johnstone had resewn the torn stitches on Red_Two's upper back and then tightened the bandages to the point of restricting his movement, pulled out his IV and had conducted her tests, silently, unreactive to any of the duo's attempts to stutter out apologies.The whole process took twenty minutes. Twenty long, awkward, silent minutes where not even the howling wind outside dared to disturb her.Red_Two looked down, despondent at upsetting her. She had moved him back to his original position whenever he shifted to alleviate the pain of his cramping legs, unrepenting, regardless of his apologetic expression.Emmet sat still on his chair, with his own legs crossed in solitude for the full twenty minutes, taking every opportu
Emmet Islington, much to Red_Two's surprise, turned out to be the facility director, and the head scientist, and had been neglecting his work: hours on the nanobot project that had been neglected; papers and reports had piled up on his desk, and the many spreadsheets on his computer needed to be reformatted with graphs, and summaries.He also had the best office on the island. A single door leading into a rectangular room with a set up of sofas and a coffee table in the centre, flanked by two walls chock full of books, and desk at the far end with a computer with a fancy swivel chair, the computer screen facing the final wall: a sheet of shining, translucent glass looking out over the cliffs of the island and directly into the sunset.Unfortunately for Emmet, swathes of piled papers had overtaken and drowned both his desk and coffee table in the three days of his ignored work."What've you been doing for so much work to be here?" Red_Two asked incredulously from
When the atlas was suitably modified, and Red_Two's initial rage and sadness had run its course, he placed the book down on Emmet's desk gently, and handed Emmet his pen back even more so, looking down off to the side. His throat made a quiet noise, before he turned back to the bookshelf and looked down into his lap.Emmet now properly looked over the atlas: lace names were crossed out with new, unfamiliar ones replacing them; full swathes of coastal land was scribbled out, presumably underwater and new borders were drawn on, particularly centred around mountainous areas. He was surprised to see particular rivers swollen up, and new lakes and estuaries where there were previously none.He looked back at Red_Two, his face crumpling. Pain medication or not, the man was sat hunched over, back shaking and soaked with sweat. His hands were laid limp at his side on the floor, fists unclenched, but elbows and wrists wobbling regardless, telling him all he needed to know.
Red_Two wasn't sleeping, Emmet noticed. Black bags hung under his eyes, in stark contrast to the slow recovery of the rest of his body. The more he seemed to heal, and the less grey his skin was, the more exhausted he seemed, though that didn't dim his excitement in the morning when he first entered the office.When Emmet had handed him his medical report though after their little façade of a deal, he had just stared at it, not even reading a single word, as Emmet had analysed his new map, mentally traced possible etymologies of the new place names, and guessed at the events which would occur in the future that would keep Switzerland mostly intact but would massacre England into a collection of tiny states. Even as he placed it aside, and begun battling through his piles of paperwork, Red_Two had not moved.His inner world must be at least rich, Emmet had mused, before scolding himself for his insensitivity. The man was suffering trauma, and he was making jokes