With neither rhyme nor reason, Barker awoke. Pitiable attempts to will himself back to sleep met stiff resistence from something deeper, more primal. A huff and a sigh preceded his reticent roll onto his back.
High above the thin clouds had all but disappeared. In their absence the heavens of old shone down, stars without number practically mushed together into a deceptively bright tableau in pointillism. The sight made Barker feel primitive, momentarily imagining his government-issue blanket a bear skin and his clothes a collection of raggedy hides.
He felt small.
“You feel it too?” Richards rasped.
“Them,” came the ominous reply, “They’re coming.”
Though he knew the answer, Barker asked, “Who? Pak-mil?”
No answer came, only the rustling of his friend’s preparations, a quiet, contained ritual before the time to kill. Richards did both well.
Barker struggled, both to ready his things and his soul. This was the time, a dark hour for killing.
He didn’t feel ready, only felt dead.