I was dreaming of Billy. Billy in his last minutes on Earth. Billy as a fucking duck, squawking and flailing about as his wings erupted into flames. I was back there again, in the college cafeteria watching Suzie, Sandra, Marvin, Gregory and the others screaming and pleading and crying for help, as they burned or bled from their broken bodies. And there was nothing I could do. Because I, again, had been blown back from the circle, bodily, right into a concrete pillar. I was laying on the floor watching them, with a leg broken in three places and a fractured hip. Pretty young for one of those, I might add.
There was no way for me to help, but I could watch, watch in horror as they died. But Billy was the worst. It’s bad enough to die, to burn to death. But… to be transformed into a goddamned duck before you’re roasted, that stayed with me.
I awoke from that horrific dream the way I always did, face mashed into a pillow, gasping for breath, covered in a cold sweat. And alone.
“It was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream,” I repeated, chanting the terrible imagery out of my mind. Yeah, it’d been real, once. And that had been enough to give me this nightmare, over and over again, for years.
I turned over in the dim light, the repetition calming down my racing heart. I hated that dream, had hoped I’d never have it again. How long had it been since I’d had it last, five years, six? What could have possibly made me have it again?
At least my condition wasn’t an actual repeat of that terrible night. I seemed otherwise fine, nothing at all broken or bruised. And when I looked around my bedroom, there was nothing out of place. No alarm was ringing; the air didn’t smell at all of smoke and burning human flesh.
And then I remembered what was going on this particular November morning.
I looked over at the clock. It was 7:56, four minutes before I my alarm was set to go off. Not unprecedented, even expected, all things considered.
I had to get up, had to be in the office by nine, and so pulled my unwilling body out of bed, went through all my morning routine, even knowing I was going to have to face again, what forced that 2 a.m. wake up call.
It was chilly, even for this time of year. The news said five degrees tops, but, in my flannel robe and armed with a hot cup of coffee, I ventured out onto my balcony, into the cold and crisp fall air to look down, and remind myself this wasn’t at all a good morning to be the building manager of 23 Pangbourne Place.
Yes, the police cars were still there, in fact, they’d multiplied since two. There were four now, plus what looked like it could be a crime scene van. There was also a Pulse 247 news van as well, parked up the street. Great, we’d be chatted about breezily all through the local the morning news. That would certainly mean a long call with Emily. And what was that, amongst the marked vehicles? Something white and brown, a convertible helping to block the building’s circular entranceway. Looked like it was long enough to be some vintage 60s model.
I shook my head, went back inside to finish my Tarrazu Dark Roast.
Hmm. Maybe Teresa would know what it was. She’d had more than one boyfriend who’d been a car buff, or so she’d claimed.
Ah, Teresa. I looked back out the window. The moon was still in the sky, low on the horizon. Almost full. But I already knew a full moon was on its way.
How do you tell what phase the moon is going to be in? Do you check your calendar? Look up at night? Do you glance at the top of your newspaper? Or, is there a nice animated icon on your computer screen that tells you quarter, half or full?
Me, I don’t need that stuff.
You see, typically, my admin assistant, Teresa, tends to wear, clothes that show a fair bit of her smooth and silky Mediterranean olive tinged skin, whether it be a dressy tank top, skirt with a slit, I think you get the idea. Pretty much whatever she can get away with and still look like she worked in an office – not a cocktail bar.
Because, to be fair, she could easily be described as hot, slim, decently built, still on the better side of thirty and relatively single. Something that my girlfriend Antonia has pointed out, almost jealously, more than once.
I’ve always told her not to worry, though. Why? Because I get a lesson of what Teresa is really like three days a month. Yesterday she’d subtly increased her clothing coverage. Come this Thursday, November 2nd, she’d be wearing that style again, as she had for each of the last six full moons since I hired her.