Condemned

Chapter 3: Revelations

Chapter Three:

Revelations

Another day passes in much the same way- filled with porridge and small conversation and holy texts. As the sun sets over the cavern, men begin to drift into corners or back to cells. Two men approach the cell bars and signal for me to wake Bane, who is lying still with a book lay open beside his thigh. I doubt he's actually asleep, and when he sits up without persuasion, this is confirmed. He stretches over to the bars and the three of them mumble in a foreign tongue, before Bane hands them something through the bars from the inside of his shirt. Though I wonder in my mind, I decide not to ask what it was. Bane lies back down on his bed, bidding me a good night though it is only late afternoon. When I am certain he is asleep, his breathing soft, I carefully remove the book from beside his thigh and leaf open one of its delicate pages. I find that this one is in fact an ancient bible, with scuffed gold-shined binding and dog-eared, papyrus-like pages. This text is also covered with scribbles and markings, and I try my best to work them out- I catch the odd word, but begin to wonder if the majority of the text is in another language. The markings are very analytical, and cover almost every millimetre of spare paper to spare, the margins and headings filled, footers spilling over onto new pages. I read a few verses of Revelation, where the page falls open, leafing through a few pages until something catches my eye. An Arabic word scrawled in the margin;

'حفرة'

I decide to read the verse beside it, and almost scoff at its relevance;

'The fifth Angel blew his trumpet. And I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to the Earth, and the key of the Abyss was given to him. And he opened the pit of the Abyss, and smoke ascended out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun was darkened, also the air, by the smoke of the pit. And in those days, the men will seek death but will by no means find it, and they will desire to die but death keeps fleeing from them.'

I shut the book then, a sickened feeling rising in my stomach. I may not have understood the text in a Biblical sense, but applied to my own situation… is that really what is to become of me? That I will wish death upon myself?

Is that how Bane feels right now?

I sit for a few minutes, dwelling on these revelations. Then it occurs to me that I have not yet discovered the writings of the various papers scattered about the small cell. Curious, I creep to my feet and move about the room until I find a sheet. The hubaloo of the outside now is nearly dead, I recognise as I turn the page to its filled side.

Rather than reams of letters like the ones in his books, these papers of Bane's are each filled with drawings- the first I come across is the face of an ageing man, with one misty eye and a solemn face. Although the proportion is slightly off facially, the shading work is immaculate, giving depth to the image. Each wrinkle and line is thickly shaded so as they prop themselves above the page like mountains. The second I find it takes me a few minutes to place- as I turn, however, I realise it is the view from the cell bars. The bars themselves have not been drawn, instead the scene before them has cancelled the things out. I suppose Bane himself has drawn these- they are excellent. Without anything to do, though, I suppose one can truly home in on their skills and develop them, within reason.

I hear a light coughing sound and dismiss it at first as being Bane. But a few seconds later, another's voice gives a clear and very purposeful clearing of the throat, and I turn to see a man stood outside the bars. His face grazed by lengthy stubble; it is impossible to truly determine his age. Not only that, but the light of the setting sun casts shadows which fall on him heavily. He waves his hand in the air and mutters something in broken English which I don't quite catch, and I assume he wants Bane. Without properly thinking I place a hand over the man's broad right shoulder and give it a light shake, saying his name quietly. I can't help but marvel at the contouring muscle beneath his skin. Bane shudders slightly, and as I look back up the man at the cell doors gives an uneasy look then moves away. I stare at the space where he stood in confusion.

"What is it?" Mumbles the sleepy Bane, flexing his arm behind his head.

"Some guy wanted to see you, but he just walked off," I say apologetically. Bane's brow furrows and he stands, sleep fading quickly from him. He walks to the bars, muttering under his breath, and presses his face up against them. He catches a glimpse of the back of the man who is still walking away, then begins to cry out in Arabic, words I don't understand but are given a sinister tone.

"Ignore them," Bane says to me, his voice hardened by anger. He bangs his hand once against the metal in frustration. Simultaneously there are a couple of shouts from other cells of what I presume to be along the lines of 'shut up, I'm trying to sleep!' He shouts something defensive back, takes a step backwards and exhales loudly.

"Sorry for waking you," I whisper, quite scared by his attitude. He shrugs lightly.

"Go to sleep."

I nod without question and he lies back down, but even by the light of the blackening sunset I can tell his eyes are open, glistening in the semi-darkness.

~oOo~

That night is the first night I am woken by my own screams. It seems that after four days of relative peace my time is up, and the shuddering cold sweats return. I try to calm myself down, assuring myself of the light from the moon glowing down over the complex.

Just a dream. It was just a dream.

I realise I'm crying, tears of genuine distress streaming my face. I wipe them away with the backs of my hands, and in turn push them onto one of the folds of my skirt.

There's movement beside me. I look over to see Bane sat upright, facing me like he always seems to. His hands are clasped in front of him, his eyes looking across to me. I give him a weak smile through the darkness and he reaches his hand out in response, placing it on my forearm.

"Go to sleep," he says, his features highlighted in the pallid moonlight. I move a hand across the bones of my collar, shivering. "Lie down," he says comfortingly, and I give a small nod and follow his advice, burying back beneath my skirt again. My breathing is still faltered, but the hand on my arm is surprisingly calming. A few minutes later, Bane begins to ease his thumb backwards and forwards across the inner of my wrist in a circular motion. The light touch is almost hypnotic, and I find myself weaning back into sleep paralysis. As I finally drift off, Bane's comforting touch remains at my side.

AN: There will be plenty more Bane in the next chapter... also blood. But mostly Bane.

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