Chapter 58: I'm so hungry

From underneath the linens, Lawson had not yet been able to close his eyes.  He felt that this night, everything was in between him and a restful sleep:  Everything from the jetlag, the meetings, and the bad news of the previous day, the weird discussion with the woman at the restaurant, the cryptic phone call she had received, the lunatic warning, and the even more voodoo nonsense about him going hungry.  But that last part was the one driving his brains for laps around the track.  She had mentioned it as if it was going to be a fact, and it was, but why?  Why was he feeling hungry and weak?

He had observed her the entire time.  If she had slipped something in his drink, he would have seen it.  But the hunger was there and it was growing.  It was not fear that gripped him; only a strong instinct for survival.  If she had given him something that made him feel hungry and offered that he order room service in the middle of the night, it would be the last thing he would do.  Luckily for him, he remembered having a chocolate bar and a few Nutri-Grain bars, and he ate them all before sunrise.  As the alarm clock switched to 0600 hours, he was already in the elevator, heading to the breakfast buffet.  He was now feeling hungrier than he had been during a military exercise in Colorado, where he had not been given food for four days, and still required to perform his duties and run his five miles daily.

As he entered, he gave his room number to the hostess and didn’t wait for her to show him his seat or let her ask what he wanted to drink.  Instead, he made a beeline for the buffet and grabbed in spades everything that you will never find on a doctor’s recommended list for a healthy living.  After his second plate full of bacon, sausages, ham and four eggs, he returned for more of the same.

At the end of breakfast, he felt his stomach on the point of bursting, but only for a few minutes.  Then as he walked back to his room, his body was telling him that he could squeeze in some more.  He fought the urge and didn’t return to the buffet.  He continued his way down the corridor.  In his room, he packed one luggage and left for the airport, where he assumed he would wait in the lounge until the announcement of his flight to Norway was made.

As he checked out using the television system and made his way to the lobby, he stopped to buy four more chocolate bars.  He was slowly starting to feel concerned about his condition, but relieved by the thought that he would be well fed on the plane and tended by Doctor Novikov upon his return.

With his luggage in hand, he exited through the automatic double glass doors at the front of the hotel.  The traffic was light and he had already asked the bellman for the shuttle schedule.  Ten minutes was all he would have to wait.  He stood on the wide sidewalk near the hotel’s entrance as he waited for the shuttle to arrive.  He passed the time by watching various people buzz around apathetically in this urban jungle, the despondence and monotony of their daily routines easily read on their faces.  On the other side of the street, he could see another hotel bathed in the morning sunlight.  He knew it was from a three-star chain and he had never used it during his trips to Washington.  The hotel was only four stories high and rather in disrepute.  As he casually scanned the facade of the building and then the roof, a brief flash of light caught his attention.  He cupped his free hand over his eyes and squinted to focus his field of vision, and resumed scanning the roof.  His gaze first landed on a matte silver aluminum roof vent, and then on the massive generator that lay behind it.  As he shifted his eyes to the rest of the rooftop, he paused a second longer on the access door, which was a bit ajar from his perspective.  Soon, his gaze reached the edge of the roof, and there it was, something moving and reflecting against the sun.  It took him another moment to adjust his vision and caught sight of what appears to be a person peering down from the roof, its body partly hidden by a raised ledge.  Its face was half covered by something that looked like a mirror in the distance.  The flash was repeated once more as the person moved slightly.  At that moment, everything became clear to him.  Not a car crash, he thought, remembering Kiki’s last words.  His mind was now fully alert and he lowered his eyes to street level.  It’s as if time suddenly slowed down for him as survival instincts started to kick in, heightening his senses and making him more spatially aware.  His brain was now pumping all the blood it could to find cover.  He saw the parked car to his right and, at that instant, he knew that it was the only thing that would provide shelter for what was coming.  Preparing to make a fool of himself by jumping behind the rear tire of the navy blue limousine, he pivoted to the right and moved to dive forward, opening his hands at the same time to let go of the cumbersome luggage.  But his body had not moved forward as he willed it to—instead he felt his chest violently jerking backward as the impact made him lose balance and fall on his side, half of his body slumped over his luggage and the leather case.  Everything went black for him at that moment and no more thoughts entered his mind.  No tunnels, no white light... just oblivion.