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It was the ninth night in a row that Rick had woken up in a sweat like this. His bed creaked as he sat up and stared at the floor in disbelief. It had seemed so real, the dream he had. Or was it a dream? He could recall that he was sitting in his room but not in his bed. But a darkness lurked behind him just out of sight. It taunted him speaking vile and horrid things in a way that implied that it didn't need to talk, it just...forwarded it's dark thoughts to him. Telepathy? Hah! His degrees in science that hung on his office walls ensured that he thought nothing of it besides the fleeting twilight fantasy that strikes when the brain is in the world between wake and sleep. A world of semi-conscious where thoughts are trying to form but they are not connected to anything rational. Even as he was trying to remember the details they faded from his mind, leaving him with a sense of unease.

That had to be what it was. Once he felt firmly grounded in reality again he stood up and stretched feeling his back realign and his hips with soft audible cracks. He had a lot of work to do today and these sleepless nights weren't of any help. He glanced at the tired, dim, digital alarm clock that had sat on his nightstand since he was 12 and noted that it was only 3:43 AM. Far too early to be awake but something told him that sleep was going to be impossible again. He glanced around his room and noted that he was the only one there. His breathing the only sound as the rest of the world slumbered outside of his house.

He went downstairs and turned on a few lights. The house was still and quiet. He didn't suspect that it would be otherwise, but the dream still haunted him. He tried to shake off the feeling that the dream left him with as he walked first to the bathroom to relieve his bladder and then to the kitchen to seek something to eat and some coffee. There was no doubt that his morning had started early again.

As he ate in the dining room by himself he found his thoughts drifting to Michelle and he wondered how she was doing now. It wasn't a hard breakup, they both had come to terms that it was over long before they put it into words. His mother of course was very adamant that they could reconcile their differences, but as time went on they realized that it simply wasn't working for them and they parted ways amicably. However she had a certain affect on a house that made it feel more lively than he did living alone. These deep and retrospective thoughts kept returning to him as he sat alone these mornings. Maybe it was time to start dating again. As if his time allowed him such follies.

He glanced at his watch and went back upstairs to get dressed. The clock on his nightstand read nearly 5 AM. He had to start working at least by 7 AM. One advantage to working as a paper reviewer for various media outlets is that he only had to go to his corporate office once a week, the rest of the time he was perfectly able to work from home and he was going to take full advantage of it today, since he didn't feel like dealing with the rest of the world on his current reduced level of restful sleep.

When he returned to his office at a little before 6 AM he was fully dressed and a had another cup of coffee in hand. While it was a bit earlier than he usually started working he was already expecting to have work waiting for him. It was once remarked to him that the scientific community never slept and the fact that their papers came in for review and assembling into journals made it clear that they never really did. Of course some of their finds were exciting to read about, not that he could ever remark on them to the world at large. Very specific non-disclosure agreements with very strict and painful punishments made him well aware of the costs of revealing information before they were ready. While he worked from home had to remotely and securely access his computer at the office. Everything was monitored and recorded. If they even suspected that there was another connection attempting to pilfer his data he would be disconnected and a very angry technician would be calling him. It would probably be Rob, poor guy really needs to watch his blood pressure. When he's disgruntled he turns the most vibrant shade of red and the veins stand out in his neck. It would be impressive if it weren't so annoying.

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