The alarm barely registered. The sound was far away, reaching me deep underwater, in the depths of a narco-hypno dream. I woke in a sweat, my heart thumping in my chest. Shrapnel recollections of a nightmare flickered like bad neon as I struggled to consciousness.
False memories of being chased through an unlit parking lot, being stabbed by faceless people in the dark . . .
I smashed my alarm with my hand several times before realizing that I hadn’t set it the night before. I sat bolt upright in a start and staggered out of bed, searching for the source of the terrible noise. I rooted through two different gym bags before locating my phone in the pocket of a jacket I’d left in the bathroom.
I silenced the noise and dropped the phone into my hamper.
My heart was pounding. I hit the red lights over the mirror and leaned heavily on the sink. I splashed cold water on my face. It ran down my shirt and sent a shiver up my spine.
I scraped the stubble off my face the night before. I ran a wash cloth under the faucet and scrubbed the blood off my chin. I took a deep breath and exhaled. I didn’t smell coffee.
Motherfucker . . .
The coffee maker hadn’t been set up the night before. I looked at my watch. I didn’t have time to wait. I threw open one of my bathroom drawers and rifled through an assortment of hygiene products. Not there. I opened a second drawer. Then a third.
I sifted through Israeli bandages and old tourniquets. QuikClot. Doxycycline. I unzipped an old shaving kit and shook the contents free. Boot laces. A used razor. A disgusting toothbrush.
. . . And a bottle of anhydrous caffeine.
I rattled the contents and dumped several 200 milligram pills into my palm. They were old and going to powder. I sucked two off my hand and sorted the excess back into the bottle with the edge of the cap, letting it fall into the drawer. I drank water straight from the faucet and swallowed.
I paused at the door long enough to check my pockets for the essentials. ID. Money clip. Cell phone . . . I rushed back into the bathroom . . . and keys. Check.
I grabbed my gym bag on my way out the door.