Ace – Monday – 4:16 am

This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series Equanimity

Ace Birnam awoke suddenly, his body covered in cold sweat.  For a moment his mind replayed the terrifying nightmare that had awoken him, and then, just as quickly as they had come, the thoughts disappeared from the conscious part of his mind.

It’s just a dream, he thought to himself.  A very intense and disturbing dream, but a dream nonetheless.

The retired soldier remained motionless for a few minutes, taking in deep breaths and giving his heart rate a chance to drop back to normal.  Eventually, he turned and opened his eyes, looking at the red glow of the alarm clock by his bed.

It read 4:16 am.

Ace sighed and turned onto his back, staring at the moldy curved ceiling above his bed.  He thought back at all the other stuffy apartments he’d laid in, how moldy and unpleasant they had been.  The thing was he couldn’t do good reconnaissance by staying at a five start hotel: they were too expensive and brought him too much attention.  No, the dirty, dusty and old apartments were the best for this kind of work.  In these apartments you could count on remaining anonymous, and there was always some vacancy.

And each and every one of them had mold, Ace thought, chuckling to himself.

His chuckle quickly turned into a cough, and Ace stared at the mold suspiciously.  There was a lot of mold in this apartment, most of which formed a roughly rectangular shape that spanned across the ceiling of the bedroom. If he had to guess, the upstairs tenants had a lot of problems with their water bed.

The retired soldier let out a few more coughs, then turned to his side and tried to get some sleep.  He mentally noted that he should get himself checked for the cough, then emptied his mind.  After only a few moments sleep had taken hold of him once more.

***

It wasn’t long before the dream began poisoning Ace’s mind again. His unconscious body soon began to breathe heavily, tossing and turning violently in the bed.  The muscles in his arms and legs began contracting, and his body flailed wildly, kicking his covers and pillow to the floor.  Then, in one instant, Ace simultaneously awoke and jumped out of bed, landing ungracefully onto his stomach, his arms flapping back and forth as he tried to pull himself away from the bed as fast as he could.

He managed to make his way to the opposite end of the room and hide under an old wooden desk.  Shaking, he realized the dream had come back, and this time he remembered it with amazing clarity.

It was a frighteningly simple dream, and with it came a revelation that filled Ace’s soul with absolute terror: in seven days Ace would be dead.

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