© 2014 Daniel Verastiqui

The email was waiting for Jake when he woke up, but instead of grabbing his palette and reading over the latest threats from Perion Synthetics, he grabbed a pair of socks from the dresser and headed down to the gym on the first floor.

The lights in the house ebbed and flowed as he moved through the rooms, ramping up to a reasonable brightness for the unreasonable hour. The clock in the kitchen read 4:34 as he filled a bottle with water, 4:37 as he pulled his pills from the cabinet, and 4:42 when he finally stepped into the gym. Here, the lights pegged as high as they could go, and with a swipe of the panel by the door, up-tempo music began to rain down from the ceiling.

Jake stripped to his underwear, pulled on the socks and an old pair of running shoes, and stepped onto the treadmill. He started slow, taking an entire quarter mile to warm up his muscles. It wasn’t until he was bouncing along at seven miles per hour that he finally...

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