In Dreams: Crimson

He slowly stretched his hands out in front of his face as they began to shake. Every single sound seemed to slip awayas the trembling of his muscles took over. Engulfed in a silence so oppressive that he could feel every nerve in his body vibrating, the man curled and uncurled his fingers. His nails, perfect half moons, left deep grooves in the flesh of his hands. As the nails pulled away once again, the pain receptors in his skin began to scream out in agony.

As his deep brown eyes raked over the soft curves of his hands, a surge of relief flowed through his body. Nothing more than deep fingernail shaped grooves seemed to taint his skin. The trembling that had been manageable when it was only to his elbows rendered his hands useless as a manic smile crossed his angular face.

Just as quickly as the relief flooded through his body, the horror came rushing back. A single drop of blood had blossomed on the tip of his left index finger. Suddenly steady, the man felt the temperature of his skin drop, as the crimson bead slipped over the curve of his finger. Falling in a single perfect droplet, the liquid managed to glisten despite the fact that there was no light source to catch it. The moment it crashed to the floor, all of the sound that had been sucked from his universe came rushing back in full force.

Overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of sounds in what had been a silent world, Sylar's body violently jerked itself out of a very deep sleep. Sitting up in bed, the man clutched desperately at his chest. Wishing he could physically calm the desperate beating of his heart, he clawed at his skin. As the sweat rolled down the bare muscles of his shoulders and back, he savagely pushed the sheets twisting around his body towards the bottom of the bed. Slowly sinking back onto the mattress, Sylar stretched out his arms. Not wanting to close his eyes again so soon, he stared at the plain white stucco ceiling of his hotel room.

With his rapid breathing slowing from harsh puffs to controlled exhales, Sylar couldn't suppress the shiver slipping down his spine. The muscle tremors had less to do with the damp sheets beneath his body and more to do with the images that had just flashed before his sleeping eyes. Attempting to rub the remainder of the vision from his eyes, Sylar knew that he would return to that empty soundless plane again.

And that knowledge terrified him.

Gabriel Gray had always been a light sleeper whose dreams contained nothing more than green clouds and polka-dotted ducks. In fact, he could only remember ever having one nightmare in his entire life, and that was on the night his father had expressed his wish that Gabriel take over the family business.

That night the young man had been chased around his dreams by giant clocks and watches trying to wrap themselves around his body and smother him. Gabriel had known it was just his brain drawing on an old Dali painting he'd seen a picture of, but it was still terrifying. Even though he had come to accept his fate, the young Gray had still tried to outrun the ticking timepieces. Ticking timepieces that symbolized the death of his chance to be special. Waking up from that dream had been the single most terrifying moment of his life.

Since that night so many years ago, his mind's nighttime wanderings had returned to the sweeping fantasy of a wonderful nonsensical dreamscape.

Until a month ago that is.

At first he would wake up suddenly feeling panicked for no reason. But the nightly torture quickly escalated from unexplainable fear to thrashing terror.

He'd never been one to believe in subconscious messages or dream interpretation. But in the harsh light of day, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to these particular dreams. Unfortunately he didn't know what the dreams were telling him or how to make them stop.

So for now, he was stuck.

Stuck with bleeding fingertips and sweat soaked sheets and no way to escape either.

With his breathing back to normal and a thin layer of grime replacing the sweat on his body, Sylar felt more at ease. The terror of the dream was slipping away as his nerves began to calm. In retrospect, he'd only dreamed of a drop of blood and an absence of sound. Neither was terrifying, though the lack of noise had the potential to be unnerving. A small chuckle escaped the man's lips as he brushed off his earlier fears.

It was only a dream.

A stupid, childish dream. Twisting his fingers through the damp sheets of the bed, he couldn't help but feel slightly… ashamed. And embarrassed about his reaction to the dream.

Desperate to press the horror of the nightmare and the shame of his fear to the back of his mind, Sylar pressed his eyes tightly shut. He'd seen far worse things in his waking life and done most of them himself. He wasn't about to let a silly dream get the best of him.

Considering his state of near panic only a few minutes before, it took the man a surprisingly short time to slip back into the rhythm of relaxed sleep. With each gentle rise and fall of his chest, his breathing and heart rate slowed. The tension pulling his exhausted body taut slipped away, as the weight of his form sunk into the hard motel mattress beneath him.

As quickly as he'd woken up, Sylar slipped back into the cycles of REM. Completely immersed in the soft arms of sleep, his mind began to play and do what it could not while he was awake…

Barefoot on a beach made of blue sand, Sylar pulled a piece of pink bread out of a bag he hadn't noticed he'd been carrying. Holding out a chunk of the food, he watched as three zebra striped geese came waddling out of the purple ocean before him.

When the birds opened their bills to honk, the meows of a cat filled the ocean air, adding to the whimsy of the scene. Of the three, only two would accept his offering. Tearing off a larger piece of the treat, the man tried once again to get the third animal to eat. But when it opened its mouth, instead of taking the morsel, he bit the feeder's skin.

Pulling his hand back, Sylar looked down at the assaulted digits to see a single drop of blood blossoming forth from the tip of his left index finger. It was a wound that shouldn't have bled, and the moment that fact hit him, everything around him turned to a sickening shade of crimson. Absentmindedly dropping the plastic bag, Sylar walked in a circle around himself, gasping in horror, as the rainbow world began to melt a away like oil paint slipping down a canvas.

As the last reminders of the beach slipped away in a wash of color, the man tried to run. Tried to pull his bare feet off of the now white ground. But they wouldn't budge. Trying to fight back the wave of panic filling his chest, Sylar reached down to try and physically pull his legs free of the invisible vice holding him hostage.

Grabbing at his thigh with increasing terror, Sylar tried to block out the world around him. But eyes pressed desperately shut could not block out the familiar screams of his victims. The sounds that had once put a smile on his angular face now felt like a million knives all cutting into his body at once. Fighting back a scream of his own, the man continued to try and break free.

All at once, just as quickly as it began, everything stopped. The tortured voices that had been begging for salvation. The unmovable grip on his feet and legs. Everything. Frozen in shock and horror, with his eyes still pressed tightly shut, the only thing that Sylar could feel was the terrible pounding of his heart. It was only then that he recognized the all too familiar absence of sound.

But instead of the deafening silence from before, this one held a single pounding heart beat. One that seemed weaker and calmer than his own. Echoing through his ears, the sound threatened to burst his eardrums.

Slowly opening his eyes, Sylar stared around in horror at the vast white landscape now surrounding him. Though he didn't want to, the man couldn't help but look down at the palms of his hands. The droplet of blood he'd expected to see on the tip of his fingers was already falling to the floor. And though there was no reason for it, Sylar dreaded the moment when it would splatter onto the white ground.

The moment of impact came all too soon, and, as the blood crashed into the pristine floor, it fractured into a million tiny drops. The quickly multiplying drips formed a thrashing crimson river that seemed to flow from one end of the earth to the other. It had no visible beginning or end.

Though his feet were no longer stuck to the ground, Sylar couldn't move. Soaked to the bone in what could only have been the blood of his past victims, he was frozen in his place, begging anyone that would listen for release. And while he could hear his voice inside of his head, it wasn't able to penetrate the world surrounding him.

With his mouth working frantically, soundlessly, Sylar stopped mid-yell, as someone else entered his world. Walking serenely through the river of blood was a young boy. Dressed in white cotton pants and a t-shirt that were untouched by the shimmering blood flowing around him, his deathly pale skin seemed to blend into his clothing.

Mouth hanging open, Sylar looked on in wonderment as the boy came walking towards him. For some reason, the child's face looked familiar despite the fact that he couldn't place him. As his brain began to search frantically for the name that went along with the pale face, a soft voice began to mingle with the horrid beating of his heart.

Sylar barely noticed that the boy's lips weren't moving, as his words finally separated themselves from his own heartbeat.

"I know what you are, Gabriel."

Sitting up bolt right in his bed, Gabriel Gray didn't bother to wipe away the sweat that was dripping into his eyes or attempt to steady his trembling hands. Chest heaving, he could barely find voice or breath for the two words that were fighting their way out. On one labored exhale, he was able to whisper the name of the boy who had been haunting his dreams. "Billy Miles."

Squeeka Cuomo's Notes

- This was originally written for the lj community "heroesprompts" (Prompt: I've just seen a face. I can't forget the time or place where we just met.).

- Katie: My beta, my Quack. Thank you so much for all of your help and support. I can't tell you how much it means to me. :duck: