Jars had set his alarm to go off at six forty-five. He needn’t have bothered. Although he had fallen asleep more easily than he imagined he might, he found himself waking long before the alarm. If all went well he would be meeting Nikki for breakfast at eight.
Rousing had come in stages; from somewhere in the world of sleep to a growing sense of something important, something worth considering. The urging caused his eyes to flutter open. In the place between sleep and wakefulness his mind began searching for clues as to the growing apprehension hovering over him as an early morning fog clings to the surface of the mountain lake that gave it form. Then he remembered. In less than an hour the Peacemaker program would spin the cylinder of the digital Colt 45 implanted in his chest where, inside one of its six chambers, there nestled a deadly nano-bullet aimed at his heart.
He was now wide awake. Memories of the previous evening swept into his consciousness like a returning tide. He hadn’t known what the future might hold when he first conceived his deadly experiment. In all his speculations, never had they included a member of the opposite sex—at least not in any romantic sense. Not that he was in love with Nicole Clark. He wasn’t. After all, he barely knew Nikki. But he was attracted to her. Would he have been under different circumstances? He couldn’t say. What he did know was that he hoped to still be alive come breakfast. If all went well he would be.
If all went well…
How curious to have intentionally strapped a biological bomb to his body only to find himself translating a failure to detonate as going well. Strange how one’s perspective could change based on a chance encounter.
From the standpoint of probability, from now on each morning would find him facing a one-sixth chance of death. If his math was right, within two weeks the odds of the bullet firing was over ninety percent. In three weeks the percentage rose to nearly ninety-eight. Given a month it was a statistical near-certainty. Of course, probability was one thing and reality another. Probability claimed he had a good chance of eating breakfast. Reality, not content to stay in the background, reminded him in a firm voice that he wasn’t the one in control and anything could happen. In arming the program he’d surrendered his future to an unfeeling, unthinking string of bits and bytes. True, he had initially thought of death, of escaping the growing malaise that dogged him, as the successful conclusion of his novel experiment. He supposed he still did. A single meal shared with an intelligent, good-looking woman had proven itself a lovely diversion but he wasn’t about to be fooled. No doubt, the experiment was already working its wonders and the potential of each day being his last was heightening sensations, no matter what form they took.