Thursday, July 27, 2006

Chapter 2: Wake-up Call

The blue glow of the computer display was the only light in the room. Martin didn't have an alarm clock anymore, and the program Culper had made for him was his preferred method of waking.

"Are you going to sleep all day?" asked the computer. The voice was soft and feminine.

Martin rolled over and signaled his intent to do just that. He must have had a dozen beers the night before and his body cried out for immobilization.

"Still dreaming, huh?" the computer prodded. "Tell me where you are."

"I'm in the dream place," Martin answered. Even as he spoke the dream was changing to make sense of this intrusion of consciousness.

"And who is there with you now?"

"Familiar faces." Martin heard himself say. His cell started going off. He took a deep breath and reached for it.

"Martin Dial."

"Martin? Humphreys here. Sorry to wake you, old man, but I need you to come in."

"What? I mean, it's Saturday. What's going on?"

"It's that Ito fellow. I sent him the fax last night with the name and... Martin, he's here... they're here."


Since it was Saturday, there was no guard at the main door of the office tower. Martin slipped his javacard through the reader slot and the door latch snapped open with a heavy electrical buzz.

His head was pounding as he pulled on the door and entered. It was like something dull and grating was after his attention and all it could think to do was send waves of discomfort to his defenseless brain. Inside, his shoes squeaked noisily on the empty expanse of marble leading up to the elevator door.

"He's here." he kept hearing Humphreys say. "They're here."

The elevator door closed and Martin leaned against the wall. The stainless steel felt cool against his cheek as he pressed the button for the 34th floor. It seemed like the ping of arrival came as soon as he closed his eyes.

They were in the lobby. Humphreys and Ito turned slowly as the elevator door opened. Martin took a step and froze.

He never heard the buzzers or felt the elevator doors trying to close on him as he stood there. On the couch at the far wall was a sleeping woman. It was Jennifer, his dead wife.