Chapter 4: Blue

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.

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