* * *
Munir took a small sip from the clay cup in his hands, breathing in the earthy smell of the sikaru as he looked out at the sunrise. The fermented
drink made his head feel warm, charming his headache away and affording him the opportunity to think more clearly about his dreams.
They came sporadically, providing him extended snapshots of the next hour, or the next week, or the next year. Often they were vivid enough to allow
Munir to pick out details, brilliant colors and vibrant sound, leaving a pounding headache in their wake which Munir would stifle with cup after cup
The first dream had come when Munir was only five, a morbid vision of his village engulfed in a raging inferno. Munir was seven years old at the time
and could not get out of bed for several days following the dream. The headache was ungodly, and the visions of horror sat in his head like vultures.
Munir’s mother considered it to be a fever when her son told her that the village would be burned to the ground on the next night of the new
He could still remember the look in her eyes as she stood among the ash of their village, face stained with soot and a crying baby in her arms. She
sneered at Munir and jabbed her index finger at him.
Munir was sent away by his mother, convinced that he was a harbinger of death, a mouthpiece of wickedness. Over time, he learned to analyze his
dreams. He would replay them in his mind, scouring for details that would make the dream useful, picking through the sounds and images for a nugget
of wisdom that might prove practical in the present.
Unfortunately, his dreams were often incoherent in their chronology, and random in their topics. It was difficult to quilt together a meaningful
picture of the future…of his
future. Many had benefited from the visions that passed through his sleep like lightning, but not Munir. Munir
was just as lost as the day his mother ordered him away from the smoking remnants of his home.
There was one dream in particular that hung like dust over his head. It was a rare dream of Munir’s own future, of his fate…of his death. There
was a dagger. Munir could still feel it entering just between his shoulder blades and making its way through his torso like a mole.
The sun took another step up the smooth line of the horizon. Munir scooped out another cup of sikaru and breathed in deeply through his nose.
But there were other dreams as well. New dreams of a distant future. Strange dreams that could provide him the guidance he so often offered to
* * *
The document room in the Sharjah Museum was filled with a constant hum that filled Grant’s ears like a drum roll as he stood, arms folded across his
chest, in the far corner of the room. The hum was the climate control, built to keep the room cool and dry to protect the antiquities within.
Grant’s breath came in shallow tugs as his eyes shifted from the door, to the clock above the door, to the book on the table. It was the book from
the dig. The team had playfully labeled it the “Barker Book” in homage to the odd gibberish on the front that could be twisted into a simplistic
version of Andy’s name in Aramaic.
Grant had spent every waking moment translating the book, successfully deciphering the first two pages after conquering the dialect of the author.
Now Grant was doubting himself, doubting his skill. Doubting his sanity.
The message the book contained was impossible.
The clock above the door clicked softly toward 4:15pm. Grant heard footsteps in the hall and he slowly raised a shaking hand to his mouth. The door
opened and Andy walked in.
Grant’s jaw hung open as he stared at Andy. Andy froze, immediately terrified by this strange greeting.
“How can that be, Andy…? It’s impossible.” Grant whispered.
Then he fainted.
* * *
Andy and Grant sat together on the cool floor of the museum’s document room. As an archeologist, Andy had an almost endless supply of patience, but
that well was being quickly drained by his friend.
Something had shocked Grant enough to make his brain forsake consciousness. Andy needed to know the origin of that shock, and Grant was shuffling his
way back to reality far too slowly for Andy’s flaring sense of curiosity. Finally Andy gave up and pulled away the wet towel that he had previously
laid across Grant’s forehead.
“Okay Grant. Enough’s enough. What’s wrong?”
Grant looked long and hard at Andy then shook his head. He grabbed the towel back from his boss and put it over his eyes. After a deep breath, Grant
came clean, his mouth delivering the news that his eyes had promised before they were covered.
“It’s your name, Andy.”
“It’s your name on the book. For real. All that “Barker Book” crap, it’s balls on. It’s not a joke…it’s true Andy.”
Andy was disappointed by this lame attempt at…what was it…humor? He rubbed his temples, feeling duped and a little angry.
“I’m dead serious, Andy.”
“There is no time for this.”
“I’m telling you-”
“So what now, somebody planted
this book to make us look stupid.”
Grant yanked the towel off of his face, his voice rising in frustration. “No no. I’m telling you Andy this is legit Akkadian 3000 BC text…I
it is and it is talking about you
“It is describing-”
“I have journals lining up for interviews and you-”
” Andy’s voice echoed off the walls. He was officially furious. “What is your problem, Grant? Listen to yourself. It’s
rubbish…what you’re saying…it’s not possible.”
“I know Andy…I know…” Grant bowed his head and shook it in disbelief. Finally, he looked up at Andy and the two locked eyes. “It
describes you Andy. It describes your hair, your clothes, your shoes…”
“It describes what you’re wearing right now
, Andy. It said what time
you were going to show up here. It talks about this
conversation. It talks about this room and our dig and…”
The room fell into silence, only the hum of the climate control moved against the gray walls. Grant stood up and walked cautiously over to the book
on the table.
After a moment, Grant began to read, his eyes slowly cycling across the Aramaic text from right to left.
“I am the nabu
of King Sargon, the first of Akkad. I see you in my dreams, And-Dee Baa-kur, and measure your thoughts in my own. You hold
as relics the common tools of my day, and view as past what to me is future. It is under these rarest of circumstances that I reach to you for
Andy covered his face with his hands. Grant peeked up from the book, shook his head, took a deep breath, and continued.
“Cover not your face, And-Dee Baa-kur, for I must see your mouth and face for your words to be translated. You must relay to me a name. A name
beyond importance to me. You must tell me who it is that commits my murder.
Andy’s hands slid away from his face, his jaw slack, his face ashen. Grant looked up from the book.
“It looks a lot like this guy is watching us right now
Andy, who killed him
Andy’s eyes traced the ceiling as his brain scrambled to retrieve what once was a trivial piece of history, but had now become a personal favor.
His teeth clenched.
“I don’t know. I don’t know.
Andy’s face blurred into a shade of gray and the walls of the room slowly faded into black.
Munir’s eyes fluttered open. He found himself breathless and sweating. A fresh headache advanced on his brain like a thunder cloud.