Authors: Nick Pirog
Tags: #'short story, #funny, #political thriller, #washington dc, #nick pirog, #thomas prescott, #kindle single, #henry bins'
Copyright © 2014 Nick
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is a short novella, which only makes up 50% of this book. The
remaining 50% is a teaser from
a teaser from my #1
, and a teaser from my wildly popular sci-fi thriller series,
Maddy Young Saga
. Happy Reading! —Nick
One hour. Sixty minutes. Three
thousand, six hundred seconds. That’s how long I get each day.
How long I’m awake. I won’t bore you with the science of it all;
I’d rather get to the story. And what a story it is. And I only
have an hour to tell it. But just know that I have seen every
doctor and taken every medication in the book and nothing helps. I
wake up at 3:00 a.m. each morning and fall asleep an hour later.
Then I sleep for twenty-three hours. Then repeat. It isn’t much of
a life, but it is the only one I know.
By my age, most people have been awake for
over 200,000 hours. I’ve been awake for less than 14,000. According
to the doctors, there have only been three people in existence to
ever have the condition. Condition, that’s what they call it.
Not a disease, not an illness, a condition. A young girl in Taiwan
has it. And another guy in Iceland. But it’s named after
me. I had it first. Henry Bins. That’s what they call it. I’m
Henry Bins and I have Henry Bins.
Anyhow, you might be wondering how I can
string two sentences together if I’ve been awake fewer
hours than a normal three-year-old. Well, what can I
say, I’m a prodigy. And maybe because God gave me Henry Bins –
I’m Henry Bins and I have Henry Bins – He found it only fair to
compensate with a brilliant mind.
It’s now 3:02. I’d better get
I open my eyes with a jolt.
It’s April 18th. I know this because
yesterday was April 17th. And the big electronic clock on my
dresser tells me so. The glowing green embers also tell me it is
One minute gone.
I rip the covers off and jump out of bed. I
am fully clothed. I’m wearing gray sweat pants, a maroon hooded
sweatshirt, and lime green Asics. Next stop, the kitchen. My laptop
is sitting on the kitchen table. I hit the mouse pad and the black
screen vanishes, replaced by the frozen picture of a castle. I’ve
been watching Game of Thrones in ten-minute
intervals. I hit the spacebar and the show resumes. Keeping
an eye on the screen, I open the fridge and remove a sandwich –
roast beef, heavy on the mustard – and a peanut butter protein
shake. Both have been pre-made by Isabel, a Mexican woman who
cooks, cleans, and does countless other things I don’t have time
I pick up my cellphone. No calls. Three text
messages. All from my father. Two are pictures of his
dog. I message him back that he needs to find a woman and sit down
to the computer. I devour the sandwich and the smoothie as I open a
separate window and log into my E-Trade account. It’s all about
multitasking. I can’t help but glance at the clock in the bottom
Four minutes gone.
I check my stocks, which look good – I’ve
made roughly 8k in the last twenty-four hours – then make some
minor tweaks on the parameters I have in place for buys and sells,
then close the window. I log onto OkCupid, a dating site, and
go through the various messages. Nothing worthwhile. My screen
name, NGHTOWL3AM only attracts the crazies. As you might think,
meeting a woman has proved difficult. For many years I would try
twenty-four hour bookstores, coffee shops, or diners, but after
three trips to the emergency room and one woman calling her brother
to dispose of my dead body, I gave up.
I close the window and devote three minutes
of my undivided attention to Game of Thrones. I
At 3:10, I hit pause, grab my iPhone and
ear-buds and sprint out the door.
It’s the beginning of spring and the
Alexandria air is cold. I wish I’d worn a beanie, but I don’t dare
waste the time going to grab one. The streets are silent. Three in
the morning must be the quietest time of the day. Even the
nocturnal night people have turned in and the crazy, morning folk
are still tucked away. But then again, I don’t have anything to
compare it to. I just know the half hour I spend in the world, it
might as well be on mute. I run under the streetlights, the closest
thing I know to sunlight, and concentrate on every sensation. The
burn in my thighs, the cold air as it travels through my nostrils
and down into my lungs.
I force myself to stay in
the moment. I don’t have time for the past or the future. My life
is the present. For many years, I
game. What if I
had a normal life? Where would I be? Would I be married? Would I
have kids? But then twenty or thirty minutes would be gone. Wasted.
Thinking about things that I can’t change. That
I listen to three songs
by The Lumineers, my new favorite band, then five minutes
of Feed the Pig, an investment podcast. It is two miles to the
Potomac, a highway of water separating Virginia from Maryland, and
I spend a perfect minute watching a trawler sucked downstream by
the sweeping black current. I used to wonder what it would look
like during the light of day, how the water would look under a
burning sun and puffy white clouds, but day didn't exist in my
world. Only night. Only darkness.
As I head back, I see a car turn onto the
side street. This is the first car I’ve seen in six days. It is a
Ford Focus. A new one. The Ford stock closed at 13.02.
I do the four miles in just under
twenty-eight minutes and when I reach my condo steps it is 3:38
Twenty-two minutes left.
I do push-ups and sit-ups for three
I jerk off in two minutes.
I take a four minute shower.
When I pull on a clean set of nearly the
same outfit and head back to the kitchen, it is 3:48.
I pull a salad from the fridge: greens,
carrots, tomatoes, quinoa, and chicken. Healthy stuff. I grab an
apple, two chocolate chips cookies, and a big glass of milk. I sit
down at the table and click on my Kindle. I’m reading Lone
Survivor, about a Navy SEAL who survives a shootout against the
Taliban in the Afghanistan mountains. Amazing stuff.
I eat slowly, soak up each
I take the last bite of my second chocolate
chip cookie at 3:58.
I turn the Kindle off, stand up, and walk
towards the bedroom.
I sit down on my bed at 3:59 a.m.
That’s when I hear the woman’s
I stand up and run to the window. Directly
across from my condo is a ranch style house with a gate. The Ford
Focus I saw earlier is parked on the street directly in front. I
have no idea who lives there. I’ve never seen them. That could be
said for all my neighbors.
I know I should go back to my bed,
that I am going to fall over any moment. But I can’t. I’m
glued to the window. I might as well be stuck between the two
panes. I tick off seconds.
The gate opens and a man walks briskly
As he opens the door to the Ford Focus, he
walks directly under the streetlight. As if sensing my gaze, he
turns, and looks up. We lock eyes. Then he gets in the car and
My last thought as my eyes close and I start
falling is the chiseled features and piercing stare of the man.
The President of the United States.
By the time I get to my feet, the first
minute of my day has already come and gone. My neck is stiff,
consequence of sleeping in such an awkward position, but I count
myself lucky. I hadn't hit my head on anything. No blood. No
I rub my neck as I peer out the window. An
echo of the President's face plays over my eyes and I shake my
head, eliciting a shooting pain through
my sternocleidomastoideus - the long muscle running from
the clavicle to just below the ear. Could that really have been
him? But it was. There wasn't a shadow of a doubt that the man I'd
seen was Connor Sullivan. The 44th President of the United
I walk to the kitchen and sit down in front
of the laptop. After a short couple seconds I have pulled up the
bio of Connor Sullivan on Wikipedia. The once three-term governor
of Virginia has dark brown hair parted on the left and gray-green
eyes that aren't unlike my own. But that's where the similarities
end. Sullivan is the tallest president, dwarfing Lincoln by three
inches and Madison by nearly fifteen. He is a head taller than me,
which would put me eye-level with the most famous chin dimple in
the free world. It only added to his allure that he was an
All-American small forward at Dayton.
I thought about adding a
quick update to his long and tedious Wikipedia page: April
– murders woman in Alexandria, VA.
On this note, I search the local news
outlets for an attack or murder, but come up empty.
My cellphone chirps and I
quickly respond to my father's “are-you-still-alive?” texts and
know that he will finally be able to sleep knowing his baby boy is
alive and well. My mother left when I was six, unable to cope with
my disease, leaving my father to care for me. He worked two
jobs, sixteen hour days, but he was there every night
when I woke up at 3 a.m. He tried to make my life as normal as
possible. When I was young, I had twenty minutes of school each
morning with Professor Bins. Math, science, spelling – he
covered everything. My father was adamant that I develop social
skills and would pay parents, literally pay them, to get
their kids to come play video games or tag
or ping-pong with me for a half-hour. (I actually still
keep in touch with a couple of them on Facebook.) My dad would call
in favors or shell out grand sums of money for establishments to
make special arrangements for me. On my tenth birthday I woke up at
an amusement park. For an hour the two of us had the whole park to
ourselves. When I was 18 he set up a prom for me. The girl was the
daughter of a woman he worked with, and she wasn't all that cute,
but it had been exciting nonetheless and I did get a quick kiss out
of it. He administered my SATs to me over the course of ten nights,
standing over me with a stopwatch. (I got a 1420 by the way.)
On my 21
birthday I woke up and my dad had turned the house into
a bar and it was full of coeds. I later found out he paid a
University of Virginia sorority a couple thousand dollars to pack
I contemplate calling him and telling him
about his favorite President, but my father would bury me in a
thousand questions and my hour would dissolve like sugar in
I grab a sandwich from the fridge and try to
shake last night from my mind. Last night was the past. I don't
deal in the past. I deal in the present. And presently, I'd wasted
eighteen minutes of my day.
back on and watch as Jon Snow
performs oral sex on a redhead Wildling. I feel a sensation in my
pants, but decide that with my limited supply of time masturbation
isn't going to make the cut.
I grab my phone, slip on my Asics, remember
to grab a beanie, and run out the door.
It is 3:26 a.m.
I will have to cut my run short. I do a
seven-minute mile out, then a six-minute mile back. By the time I
stand beneath the streetlight, the same streetlight Connor
Sullivan parked his car under a day earlier, it is 3:39.