Sam Markus’s body jerked as a hail of bullets tore into him.
“TRAV!” Sam screamed, bolting upright in his bed.
“God, not again,” he muttered. His body was covered in cold sweat and his heart pounded like a rapper’s bass. He shook his head, still trembling from the nightmare. Lying back down, he glanced at his phone which was cradled on the nightstand. 5:22.
“Crap.” Might as well get up.
He pushed himself out of bed and grabbed a t-shirt and jeans that didn’t smell too awful.
Twenty minutes later, he set an extra-large Coke on the roof of his Prius and retrieved his backpack from the rear seat. At this hour, of course, there was no one around except a large black and white cat, which watched him from a perch on a loading dock near the entrance door.
“Gotta make some physics,” Sam said as he passed the cat.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what my grant reviewers say.”
Originally built in the 1950s, Building 231 had been Sam’s home since he was an undergrad. His lab was in a Clinton-era addition to the original structure and was imaginatively dubbed The New Lab.
He sipped on his Coke, idly scrolling his phone as his computer whirred to life.
The building was quiet at this time of the morning so the sound of footsteps walking in the hall made Sam’s eyes swing toward the door. He sighed as the steps passed and receded.
It was ridiculous, of course, but for just a second, he had expected the door to open and Trav Becker to walk in carrying a fresh Coke. And maybe a pizza.
God, I miss him. That’s what sucks about death. No matter how much you tell yourself you’re going to keep the memory of someone alive, there comes a day when you can’t even remember what they looked like, let alone the last words you said to them.
What had been the last thing he’d said to Trav?
They’d been…in a park.
A park? What were we doing in a park?
Yes, it had definitely been in a park. Because there had been a couple of kids, and… someone else.
Sam chewed on his straw in frustration as he tried to draw the memory out.
A woman. Two girls and a woman. Why couldn’t he remember?
Of course, right after that, Trav had died so suddenly. No wonder everything was kind of fuzzy. But it was funny he hadn’t given this much thought in the days since. In fact, not since the funeral.
When had the funeral been?
Why can’t I remember my best friend’s funeral?
His straw was now a chewed-on mess and completely failing in its function of Coke-delivery. Sam popped the top off the cup. He took a big swig of Coke and ice, crunching down with satisfaction.
His computer began beeping.
“What the hell is wrong now?”
His fingers danced desperately across the keyboard, Trav forgotten as he tried to save a hard drive which for some reason had picked that exact moment to fail.