His eyes burned.
A sharp sting that sunk into the squishy surface of his pupils and wormed its way through his retinas and slid like venom down his veins, skating his skull and besetting with sharp biting teeth upon his brain. Ravenous poison tipped knives that he had to see through, had to envision the past. To blink would be a death sentence, throwing away his map in the middle of the densest jungle ever known.
Oliver Banks must follow the trail of fleshy black vines that only he can see, now whether waking or asleep, follow it even as his feet ache and his bones whine at the constant hike through the desecrated remains of London. He stumbles, slow and unsteady upon his feet, exhaustion having made him too lackadaisical and graceless as his heavy shoes scrape the now cracked and uneven pavement.
Each breath a fluttering wheeze, he is struggling.
A heat radiated from the twisting spiralic structure of the tower that leered above the city's streets, the Panopticon, a hub of scorching temperature that seemed to redden the sky beneath it’s constant, unwavering stare. It gazed and watched, Oliver could feel its observations even now in such a lucid state just as intensely as he could feel that all encompassing heat that the structure so willingly gifted to all caught beneath it’s many shadows. Oliver was drawn to it, following the thickest vine he’d yet seen before as it led him down a narrowing and perplexing path through the labyrinth of terror he was as of yet, unfamiliar to. To turn back felt like something akin to blasphemy as even now, in his waking hours, he could feel the tendril beneath his fingers as it’s cool skin pulsed a dull hum and carried him forwards, dragged him forwards, through asymmetric alleyways and impossible streets. He wouldn’t have managed this before, but now, in the midst of such a dense city with the apocalypse burrowing pain into the marrow of his bones, Oliver could see and touch the inevitable. Feel a concept far older than him and let it’s physicality guide him. To what? He did not know.
All he could do was walk. Constantly. Always. Walking. Negotiating past terrors he could barely conceive and ignore the screams of the innocent and the dying. Sometimes even the innocent dying.
It was as if his destination was a magnet, and he were a series of metal filings constantly struggling across the rugged surface of a highschooler’s desk. A crude science experiment with sentience, nothing more.
His throat is tight, arid and dry. He is thirsty.
Must he truly walk this path? Following the inky line given volume towards whatever destination it may desire, knowing both where he is going and dreading it to the point of refusing to acknowledge it. He is so warm, would it not do to sit in the shade and close his eyes, sink into the cool expanse of sleep? Replenish himself. Not have dreams for once in his life, perhaps this growing exhaustion would chase them away? Or was he already asleep? Dreaming about walking, awake but not. Could he open his eyes any further? Could he wake up? The heat is insufferable as is the constant sentinel within the sky, black pupil not traced upon him but watching all the same.
Perhaps the tendril was it’s? Prophesying the death of the end days.
Ironic. Moronic. Natural. He wasn’t sure anymore. Oliver was tired in the very depths of his bones.
There is depth of black that comes with sleep or perhaps even death, Oliver did not know, it is a sheet as thick as a chunk of ice and just as frozen as it encompassed everything he could ever perceive. For once the darkness of unconscious is not monochromatic but simply midnight shaded in colour with none of the stars or clouds to shade it. It feels hard beneath his back and beneath his feet, forceful as it pushes up again his skin like a strong gust of wind. He does not fall back, he is unable to fall back, but he does lie back, embracing the cool as it sucked that bristling heat out from where it had boiled his skin with sweat.
Relished it like a blanket or a pillow.
What was so soft against the back of his skull?
Oliver cracked his eyelids open and winced at the brightness of what must be morning. Below him is a mattress, above him a cream painted ceiling that he had so often complained about in shade, having whined and begged for perhaps a navy blue as to suit the walls, the apartment was so familiar even if he’d left it and closure back what felt like years ago. Graham laid beside him, heavy and still with deep rumbling snores emanating from his soft lips. He was calm and peaceful, tranquil despite all that Oliver had been through though he wasn’t even sure at this point, memories feeling hazy, fading away.
Shifting upon his side he snuggled closer, wrapping his arm around the slightly older man’s midriff and chuckling softly as the man smiled within his sleep- ever so fragile but ever so happy.
Dream or nightmare, Oliver could not decide, but right now, cuddling close to the one he thought he’d lost for so long, the death avatar did not care.
It was not a blasphemy to be happy.