This is the prelude of an unfinished story I was writing back in 2004 called The Edge of Chaos. It’s a tad rambling, and the language feels forced in some places. I will either be updating this or completely rewriting it soon. I post it here only to receive feedback, and to show how far my writing has come. I will post two more chapters after this. Does the story interest you thus far? If so, let me know!
In the beginning there was darkness.
I was taught from childhood that the universe began in darkness. From the deep and formless black of the Void sprang forth beautiful, radiant Light that sliced through the endless night like a shimmering blade of daylight. In six days the Earth and the heavens and all that is in them were made. Order was brought to the chaos of the gloom. Structure and purpose were given to the formlessness that was… but before any of that, there was only darkness. All things began in darkness.
Dreams also begin in darkness. From the void of the mind, entire worlds of fiction are devised and events set into motion that may never be. The human subconscious, in a lesser imitation of God, conjures images from the formless, jumbled mass of the brain and projects them on the screen of the inner eyelids. Numerous interactive motion pictures are lived out as we sleep every night: fantastic illusions and audio hallucinations more vivid and realistic than anything that can be processed by the best known virtual reality systems. Yet, even these temporary mental wonders begin in darkness.
My dreams began like that. At least, they used to. I don’t really have what anyone could call “dreams” anymore. I’m not sure if there is a name for what I see when I (try to) sleep. I guess I call them “nightmares” just to have something to call them. I cannot recall the last time I had a good dream (or what I would consider a true dream, for that matter); I’d give anything for a dream these days. Darkness and the nightmares are all I’ve got anymore.
There was one nightmare (for lack of a better term) that plagued me two months ago… I remember coming from the darkness into the ebon-walled and crimson-carpeted Main Conference Room, being compelled by a force I did not understand. All the lights in the room were off, save the small overhead lights nearest the smooth onyx wall furthest from the door. I went gingerly to that wall and stopped; a strange albino man I have never seen before with short slicked-back, shockingly silver hair and a long, impossibly black raincoat leaned against the inky black wall near the corner to my left. His arms were folded casually across his chest and he seemed nonchalant and well at ease, and he stared at me with piercing eyes as clear and cool as diamond. Those crystalline eyes burned into my soul with a calm, still fire as he stared at me for several slow seconds. Once he was certain he had my attention, he quickly glanced at the wall he was leaning against and then returned his gaze to me as swiftly as he had withdrawn it.
I, too, looked at the wall, my eyes directed by his eyes. There was a thick cloud of some dust-like evanescence in the room, and the wall seemed covered thrice over in the dusty film. I could feel it on my skin, and it tingled and crawled all over me like a million insects. Yet, it wasn’t an unpleasant experience at all; it felt much like silk or satin. To my astonishment, I saw a letter slowly form in the dusty, silky film along the wall. I couldn’t tell what sort of letter it was; I only knew it was going to be the first letter of a word. The rest of the first word took shape very slowly, letter by letter, as though written by an invisible hand. Yet there was no one, and I watched in eerie fascination as the letters came one by one, forming a curious and rather frightening message on the Conference Room wall in a foreign language. I stared in dumbfounded awe at the mysterious message engraved in a language that seemed so familiar, almost like ancient Hebrew, yet seemed vastly different from anything I knew…
I turned to the silver-haired stranger in black, whose sword-like eyes pierced my spirit to its core. His thin lips curved in a small, wry smile as he asked, “Do you understand the message?”
“The message is written,” I told him, retracing the letters with my index finger, “but the meaning… is missing.” No matter how much I went over the letters with my fingers, they never wiped away. Somehow the silky stardust around us had etched the message into the wall itself. I stood there silently and struggled to grasp the message inscribed before me; the language looked so familiar to me, yet somehow it seemed so strange! The writing on the wall before me lingered in my mind like something I should have known but recently forgot.
“Don’t look with the eyes of Man,” he said to me, his prism-like eyes capturing my attention yet again. The pale man closed his eyelids for the briefest of moments, and when he opened them his eyes were as honey-colored hazel as mine are. “Look again with Another’s Eyes.”
I turned to look at the writing and jumped back in shock – it was in English now! The writing had changed from its strange-but-similar foreign language into perfect modern English within seconds, as if my eyes themselves had suddenly downloaded the ability to translate the characters there before.
Before I could read it, though, I awoke abruptly in the middle of the night. This nightmare repeated itself, the music of my mind skipping on a scratch in the brain. Every night, more and more detail was given; every night, more of the nightmare unfolded. Yet every night as I neared the wall and gained the “second sight”, I found to my extreme dismay that I would always wake before I could read the message. This bothered me to no end and nearly drove me insane. (I believe I once accidentally wrote the original untranslated message on one of my requisition forms. That gave the guys in Accounting a bit of a headache, I hear.) There were nights I prayed for this nightmare to be explained, there were nights I prayed it would end… And there were nights when I gave up on praying at all.
When that nightmare passed, I was granted darkness for a short time. No dreams, no visions, no nightmares, just a lovely view of the insides of my eyelids. It was peace, for a time, and I was thankful to have it.
Never get used to peace; it’s so fleeting a thing. If you don’t chase it and hold it strong it will slip from your grasp and flee to the wilderness. It wasn’t until I believed the nightmares had left me altogether that they returned. This time, the inhabitants of my nightmare world were more threatening than before.
The next nocturnal terror taxed my spirit and, over the course of the nightmare’s reign over my unconscious self, took me through the darkest alleys of my soul. In this claustrophobic corridor of my mind, the darkness oppressed and suffocated the spark of life within and I walked as one dead, my legs moving without any knowledge of where I was heading. I walked onward in a trance, my eyes not recognizing any signs of where my feet were carrying me. The narrow one-way city street I walked was as colorlessly dark and dingy as film noir, and everything was abandoned: shabby redneck pool halls, greasy pawn shops, battered gin joints and dead-end speakeasies, decaying sidewalk cafes, ancient run-down apartment buildings – all closed and unused. All the windows were blacked out – either by black curtains or black paint – and there were no signs of life anywhere around me. No children playing, no ragged bums begging for change, no pedestrians milling about… in fact, there didn’t seem to be any human beings anywhere except me. The dirty, crumbling alley walls towered over me like sentinels, crowding out thought and expression. The paved street below me was as impossibly dark black as the cloudy and moonless sky, absorbing all illumination as if light was as alien a concept here as life. Old newspapers filled with printed lies, crushed aluminum soda cans and other abundant litter – the corpses of modern society – lay meaninglessly on the street curbs, reminders of life once present. And no matter where I looked, darkness was present. It hung as a thick cloud over all places and things, and my eyes found no rest or refuge from it.
On the path before me, far in the distance beyond any dead marble building or any broken brick wall or rusted old chain-link fence, a vast pyramid reached for the heavens. Though it was too dark to tell, the pyramid seemed to be constructed entirely of golden bricks. The gold gave no glimmer, though; the corruption surrounding had long since engulfed the gold and it had lost its luster. In the midst of the ancient golden edifice, an immense unblinking Eye formed from tarnished brass stared at all things and saw nothing. Yet the Great Eye filled me with dread all the same, and I urgently sought to avoid its deep, dead gaze.
I turned on my heel with the Great Eye at my back and ran, my legs pumping hard to propel me forward in the drowning black. Far, far ahead of me I caught sight of a small gleam of brilliant light, and at its center stood an old wooden cross. There was nothing special about it; it was just a cross, crudely fashioned from sturdy acacia wood. The dazzling light that surrounded it dispelled the darkness of the alley and cut through the suffocating gloom in my mind. The small wooden edifice stood as far off in the distance as the pyramid opposite it, but in my eyes it was the better of the two. The warmth I felt from one glimpse of it overcame all of the murky twilight that had invaded my soul since the nightmare began, and I knew I had to make it to the cross. My mind struggled against the trancelike state that held me, my feet moving one step at a time at first, eyes centered on the cross before me as I tried to run from the Great Eye behind. But the decaying buildings loomed overhead like vultures separating me from the goal, and the shadows surrounding me – those deep and endless chasms of black – lurked behind every corner, waiting to devour whatever life was left within me.
The Shadows… That’s the only name I can really give them, for they seemed more like shadows and less like men. There were two of them, painfully thin and hollow wraithlike beings darker than the soulless void of deep space. The fear they produced is indescribable; their shining, catlike crimson eyes pierced my soul like smoldering hot knives. When they sprang from the ether before me and their eyes locked onto mine… every horrible secret sin, every mistake or misdeed, every unspoken thought and every word I ever wished I could take back poured into my mind as though a great dam had burst. The vile shades appeared to be without substance, like air, but I discovered firsthand their immense strength; I tried to break into a full run to get away, but unbelievably strong hands grabbed my shoulders and whisked me around to face the pyramid and that horrible unblinking eye once again. In that moment, with the shining eyes of the Shadows stabbing my spirit and the Great Evil Eye of the pyramid raining doom upon me, I felt terror unlike any I had ever known before.
Then he stepped out of the shadows, the ebon-clad white devil with the sickening grin of a shark and the dull, gray eyes of one possessed. He never told me his name; he never had to, somehow I knew it to be “Cull”. That was what he preferred to be called – Mister Cull. I had never seen his face, but I recognized it, like I had known him further back than I could remember. His fedora hat, black business suit and deep crimson necktie were crisp and new, as clean as clothing never worn before. He stepped out of the great black Shadows that had taken hold of me, his movements eerily slow yet simultaneously unbelievably swift, as though he wasn’t in phase with the dimension of Time as we know it. The deep dark of the black trenchcoat draped over his shoulders like a mantle of authority blended with the murky black of the Shadows from whence he came; I found it difficult to tell where he ended and the Shadows began. “You can trust me,” he whispered in my right ear, his voice so hushed but resonating, “for all I say is truth and all else are lies.” As he spoke, I shut my eyes hard enough to make them bleed and tried to ignore him, but my eyes bled inky black and his words surged in a torrent of vile thoughts that raped and poisoned my mind with his deceit. His thoughts oppressed me, his attack suppressed me, then he and his strong Shadows dragged me toward the darkness of the Great Eye to die.
Yet off in the distance, the cross shone like a beacon. Still the Shadows held me fast, and the further they moved toward the pyramid with me in their grasp the further I was taken from the hope of the cross. The shadows engulfed me, the alley drowned in the deep inky darkness until there was nothing left but black…
…And I awoke screaming, the bed sheets drenched in sweat. That first night I curled into a fetal position, pulling my knees to my chest and burying my head to hide my face from the darkness of my bedroom, and wept and prayed for help until the morning came.
Too often that nightmare repeated itself; I guess that one’s the nightmare that first got you involved, Doctor. I know how I must have seemed… Well, you probably thought I was insane. Looking back on how I reacted, I wouldn’t blame you if you did. If you had that to go through night after night, wouldn’t you feel a tad less “sane” when waking? Define sanity for me? Does sanity exist? If it doesn’t, how can one be less or more sane at one time than at others? How can one be any more or less sane than others? Maybe we’re all insane?
I know I felt insane at the time. I couldn’t sleep as well; I started averaging three hours of sleep a night (or less). I didn’t have the energy to be with my friends, so I lost my friends. I had stopped attending church services long before and no longer had any social outlet of any kind. (And you already know what happened before that, so I’ll refrain from writing about it here.) The only thing left was my work – a “promotion” I never wanted in the first place. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m thankful for the fewer scheduled hours and increase in pay… but it’s just not the same for me. Still, when work is all that’s left then that is where my passion will be. It was around that time when I started working lots of overtime. Easier to do that than deal with the nightmares, right?
When that nightmare passed and whatever few hours of sleep I obtained yielded their familiar peaceful darkness I didn’t get as hopeful about the situation as I had before. I had been betrayed by this calm before; already I could feel another storm coming. I did enjoy that peace while it was with me, however short-lived it was. My mother always told me that bad things come in threes. She was right; my peaceful slumber was once more shattered by terrifying nightmares.
Want to know the most disturbing thing about this recent nightmare? I often have it when I’m awake…
This imaginary hell begins, like so many before it, in deep darkness. I know I am somewhere other than my bedroom because I can feel the change in my surroundings. My eyes cannot register anything because of the darkness; I can only feel the knee-deep water that I wade through. As my vision adjusts to the murky gloom, I find myself moving through a knee-deep ocean of blood. The crimson tide swirls around my legs, staining my clothing and my soul, slowing my pace and evoking nausea so strong I have to fight the urge to vomit. The bile rises within me as vertigo takes hold, and my hands reach out to take hold of the dark walls nearby to keep from falling to my knees. I ignore the spinning and churning of the red ocean beneath me and tightly cling to those black walls, which (as my eyes grow more accustomed to the dim light) I discover are made of coarse obsidian rock. The walls tower into the sky, forming a claustrophobically narrow canyon passage leading to… I don’t know where it leads to, but I am possessed of a strange and powerful determination to find out.
As I wade toward the mouth of the canyon, treading through a river of blood that threatens to sweep me violently downstream, the slope of the canyon chasm declines sharply and unexpectedly. I am quickly plunged into a vast inland sea of dark crimson as the passage opens into a flat, submerged plain surrounded by foreboding black mountains. I fight to keep from drowning, vigorously kicking my legs in the dark ocean as my feet seek purchase on the ground below. When my feet regain their tread and my head finally breaks the surface, my drained lungs sucking in new air, my eyes – burning wet with blood – immediately scan the area around me for orientation.
It is then that I notice the slaves. Naked and chained together at the waists and wrists, they slowly dance in the chest-level blood, thrashing about blindly with red-stained sickles gripped tightly in their skeletally thin arms. They are neither male nor female; their pale forms are emaciated beyond sexual distinction and completely hairless, their eyelids and lips sewn shut by thick red thread. They stomp and slice at the air in a stupor, completely oblivious to my presence in their midst.
In the center of the ocean of blood stands a large, flat plateau as unfathomably obsidian black as the surrounding mountains. A strange creature unlike anything I had ever seen sits atop the plateau, snarling ferociously yet making no threatening movement. This strange creature has the torso and the markings of a leopard, and its paws are mighty and strong like those of a bear. A lion’s mane streams from its neck like a mantle of fierce and dreadful authority. Emerging from this striking mane are the creature’s seven fearsome heads – four speckled leopard heads (two on each side), a lion’s head facing forward, a bear’s head facing backward, and directly in the center sat the head of the most wicked and alien beast I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing. Each head possesses at least one massive horn sprouting from between its eyes: the lion’s head has two and the head of the strange beast has three (the centermost horn rather short comparatively but very sturdy and strong). The seven beastly heads gnash restlessly about with great iron teeth; the lion’s head (which seems to be the most vocal of the seven) gnashes frequently to the left and right, uttering obscene growlings and wicked snarls. Whatever color the strange creature’s fur displayed long ago was painted red over years of watching over the slaves below, and with each thrash of a slave’s sickle the great beast’s coat grew redder and redder.
Reclining comfortably atop this vicious crimson monster, a woman both dreadfully alluring and breathtakingly frightening drinks deeply from a bejeweled golden chalice. Luxurious and revealing silk garments of scarlet and violet are draped like royal robes over her voluptuous form, and she is richly attired in fine golden jewelry and sparkling diamond baubles, brilliant soft white pearls (which she twirls in her hands like a blasphemous rosary), sparkling medallions and other costly array.
Around her pale neck she wears the various dazzling amulets of those who practice the black arts and demonic imaginings, and on the fingers of both hands are the signet rings of the many kings and honorable warriors she had taken captive through her low affairs. Even from my vantage point far away from the obsidian plateau, I can see the sultry, drunken gaze of the whore in her eyes. She wears a golden ringlet around her head, partially hidden by the soft curls of her dark ruby hair. An inscription was engraved on her ringlet, but I could not understand the language it had been written in.
Many younger women attired in soft robes of black and wearing lavish gold and silver charms, who bore a strong familial resemblance to the harlot reclining atop the beast, attend to the needs of their mistress and her monster. Whenever the harlot drains her golden chalice, one of her attendants scurries away with it to the end of the plateau. This ebon-robed young maiden dips the chalice into the ocean of blood below and carries it carefully back to her mistress, who – much to my horror – drains it quickly with one satisfied swallow.
Words cannot convey my revulsion as this spectacle unfolds before me. I fight back the impulse to retch once more, and as my stomach churns with new violence I look up beyond the harlot and her handmaidens. Towering above the surrounding mountains like a sentinel, just behind the obsidian plateau in the midst of the crimson ocean of slaves, stands a massive pyramid of gold tarnished with blood. Near the apex of this structure, far above the drunken harlot and her crimson beast, sits an enormous Evil Eye of spoiled silver that surveys all and sees nothing. This pyramid seems so familiar to me, yet so wretched and alien that I cannot possibly know it. (Only now do I realize this is the same contemptible construct seen in my prior nightmare…) The Eye peers into my soul and offers darkness in return, and I hide my eyes from its gaze lest I be pulled from life into that black void.
As I cast my eyes down to escape the great eye that burned into me, I catch sight of something struggling within the ocean of blood I stand in. My vision readjusting to the new movement, I notice for the first time that the ocean itself is alive. A teeming, fluid mass of humanity – broken men, battered women and abused children – surge helplessly beneath, drowning in the endless wash of red. They crawl about like wretched animals seeking refuge from the scythe-wielding slaves, and each time one of them is sliced by a sickle blade the ocean grows deeper. Newborn children fresh from the womb, emaciated men branded with six-pointed stars, countless others clutching to tattered shreds of clothing or black leather books… none of these are safe from the blade. All the while, the mindless drones thrash and slash at their sickening harvest of flesh in a cavernous trance. For them, death becomes a dance, and those who fall out of step are trampled on the dance floor – I watched many slaves grow weary and fall, only to become fodder for the sickles of the others. All the while, the young handmaidens laugh and play as the harlot grows inebriated on the blood of her victims. I stare at the faces of the slaves, seeking answers, and at the faces of the dying, asking questions. I scream in horror at the realization that these martyrs are the families of the slaves…
My piercing scream rattles through the obsidian sentinels encircling the crimson sea, awakening the harlot from her drunken stupor. Her young handmaidens flee in fear of the wrath of their mistress as she arises and hurls her chalice at me. Even the massive red creature she lays atop is furious, and the lion’s head roars in anger. As its terrible voice is made known in its fullness, shadows are summoned from the rocks and crags of the black stone mountains to silence me.
The Shadows respond with swiftness, creeping toward me at the speed of darkness, the familiar ebon wraiths of nightmares past. These terrifying devil-men in black attire and cloaks of dusk surround me, gripping my limbs with ice-cold talons, their soulless hollow eyes filled deep with void pouring dread and fear into my soul. I am pinned to a black wall of stone, and no kicking or screaming will help me now. The Shadows close in, scarring my flesh and assaulting my mind as I struggle in vain.
A familiar voice whispers softly into my ear with the voice of alien waters, “You can trust me, for all I say is truth and all else are lies.” My limbs go limp as he speaks to me and the futility of my fight sinks in. When the lone slave comes to finish me, I am willing prey. The last image I see is the face of the slave as his blood-stained sickle flashes toward my chest, and as the darkness claims me, drowning me into the Void that was before Creation…
I know that his face is mine.
— From the Journal of
Ian Andrew Kincaid
He awoke in silence, his breathing very labored; he began forcing himself to breathe normally, being used to waking in such a state. He had spent the past three months screaming every time his nightmares ripped him from slumber; his lungs were sore from the exertion and his spirit heavily taxed. He sat upright in bed for almost half an hour staring about with gaping bloodshot eyes, perfectly still (save for his breathing), waiting for his mind to refocus. No longer was he asleep; the world before him was reality, the other was the figment. His eyes adjusted to the low gloom of his bedroom as though he was seeing it for the very first time, so used to the nightmares was he. Once he recognized the safety of the apartment around him, his breathing and his heartbeat slowed to their normal pace. Ian Kincaid had missed much sleep of late, and discerning waking from dreaming had become increasingly difficult.
The glowing red digital numbers on the small, cube-shaped black chrome alarm clock resting on the bedside table read 05:37. Ian sighed deeply in frustration; he had only been asleep for three hours. Except for the clock and the diffused red glow of the twin black lava lamps at opposite sides of the bed, Ian’s room was almost perfectly pitch black. The lava lamps – which were always on – cast eerie shadows across Ian’s haggard, drained features as he reached to turn on the small sculpted marble angel lamp resting next to the alarm clock.
Soft pale light illuminated the bedroom. Pools of sweat soaked the black silk bed sheets Ian was lying on and the black tee-shirt and slacks he typically wore clung to his husky young frame. Surrounding him on the bed were various books, black spiral notebooks, manila file folders stuffed with documents and photographs, and various pens, pencils and highlighters; Ian had been working hard on completing requisition forms and office paperwork for the month ahead – and torturing himself by reviewing and reliving old case files – when exhaustion and lack of concentration had finally forced him to sleep.
Technically, Ian was supposed to be on vacation. Over the past three years he had refused whatever vacation time became available, preferring to put in countless hours of overtime instead. As a result he had nine weeks of paid vacation accumulated (not to mention the countless weekends he worked as well). “You just won’t stop until you give yourself another breakdown!” Jason West, Ian’s supervisor, yelled at Ian loudly almost a week ago. “I’m ordering you to spend that vacation time now, Ian. And if you don’t, I swear to God I’ll shoot you!”
West meant well, of course; he was not the only one in upper management worried about Ian’s health. For the sake of inter-office peace (and to cut back on the constant nagging from both West and Doctor Eliza Madden, staff senior psychiatrist) Ian promised to spend his nine weeks relaxing at home and catching up on his many hours of missed sleep.
Ian had spent four days of that vacation time puzzling over recent staff requisitions, keeping a watchful eye on his division’s budget, reviewing case file after case file, worrying about the upcoming month’s forms and preparing for the inevitable paperwork pile-up that would await him upon his return. Many books Ian purchased over the past year sat unread on his bookshelf. There were close family members (and once-close friends) he had not spoken to in months who were waiting for a phone call or an email from him. Numerous films had circulated through the local theaters and were already being sold in retail stores since the last time someone managed to keep him in one place long enough to watch a movie. His car was in good shape and he had plenty of money saved up for a road trip, and there were many places he could go in nine weeks. Yet, he stayed at home working. When he was not at home working, Ian gathered his case files and dreary forms in his weathered old black backpack and went to his favorite coffee shop to work there. Even on vacation Ian worked; he had no idea what he would do with the rest of his vacation time once he was finished with his paperwork…
Before these tedious thoughts could seep into his sleep-addled mind, the tiny black cellular phone sitting beside the lamp rang shrilly. He quickly grabbed it before it could ring any more, pressed the “Talk” button and answered in a weary voice,
“Kincaid. What is it?”
“Ian, I know you’re on vacation”, Jason West began from his end, skipping the pleasantries, “but an important case just arrived from the D.C. district offices and I need you to come in this morning.”
Thank God, Ian thought, biting his tongue softly to keep from expressing his great relief. “A case? West, I’m a desk jockey; I don’t work cases anymore.”
“I know, Ian, but this one’s crucial and we need you on it as soon as possible.” West sounded tense, edgy – under duress. If Ian’s guess was right, his supervisor was probably instructed to call him by Doctor Kurtzweil himself, and if he was involved the case had to be important – far too important to hand it to a middle management paper pusher like Ian had become. Something about this situation felt wrong to Ian.
“What kind of case is it?” Ian asked, his curiosity getting the better of his caution.
“Just… come in, you’ll find out.”
Ian hated when West responded like that; he hated surprises even more, especially job-related ones. “It better be pretty significant, Jason. I was beginning to enjoy my time off,” he lied, hoping for more information.
“It’s significant, alright – it’s an LE-Five.”
This gave Ian pause. Cases classified under the LE designation generally involved scientific or research-oriented assistance to a law enforcement agency. LE-One was the lowest grade, usually involving contracted work as research assistants for local constabulary. LE-Five was the highest and most critical of the LE type, a label given only to cases involving very Top Secret information and the involvement of law enforcement agencies at the federal or international level. West was risking official censure and forced leave just mentioning this over an unsecured communication channel.
“What time you need me to come in?” Ian asked, the gravity of the matter rousing him fully from slumber. He nervously ran his right hand through his matted dark brown hair as his mind puzzled frantically over the diverse negative connotations the title LE-Five could evoke.
“Kurtzweil wants to meet with you at nine,” West said. Be here by eight-thirty.”
Ian had been given almost three hours for preparation and travel. Far too much spare time. “I’ll be there at eight,” he replied, already out of bed and heading for the closet.
“Great. I appreciate this, Ian. I’ll see you at eight,” West answered, hanging up.
A heavy sigh escaped Ian’s lips and he nearly collapsed into the nearest wall, sleeplessness taking its costly physical toll. In the two years and eight months he had spent toiling listlessly in middle management Ian’s division had never before dealt with an LE-Five. He had no idea what to expect – let alone why he was desired for this case – and was caught completely off guard. Ian was proud of his reputation for over-preparedness. Ian Andrew Kincaid was never caught off guard.
He despised being caught off guard.
In the early days of his career, he would have spent time in cautious prayer before walking blindly into unpredictable circumstances… but that was a long time ago, back when he believed his prayers were actually heard.
Instead, Ian pulled a new set of clothes from his closet – the standard black slacks, black button-up business shirt and dark gray sport coat he wore as a “uniform” – and slipped into them as quickly as possible while wiping the sweat from his limbs and forehead with a fuzzy black bath towel embroidered with crimson red roses at the edges. He probably could have gotten one more hour of sleep, but he knew he would never be able to sleep until this new case was resolved. As he swiftly brushed his teeth (his honey-brown eyes averting the four days’ growth of beard dotting his chin), he thought ahead to the trip to work. If he left now – and he would – he would get there far too early. Most likely, he would spend the extra time driving around aimlessly, gathering his wayward thoughts and formulating strategies.
Ian grabbed his black military issue trenchcoat and dark brown gloves as he strode from his bedroom to the apartment’s front door, his nightmares forgotten for the moment. Yet, as he fumbled around for his set of keys, he could not shake the growing fear that gnawed at his heart. He had a very bad feeling about this case; he could not tell what brought this feeling on or if it had anything to do with the Feds that would be involved, but he had a strange and unexplainable hunch that nothing good would come of Jason West’s morning call…