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The insistent vibration on his bedside table poked at the corners of Mark’s dream, the same dream he’d had all this life, and the reason he was studying geospatial analytics at North Carolina State University.
He was flying a drone above a strange land that was only familiar because he’d seen it in his dreams so many times. Except instead of holding the controller for his drone, like he would in real life, he was in the sky as if he were riding on the drone. The dream never really ended; something always woke him up.
A soft but firm object hit him in the head, and Mark startled awake to find a Teddy bear staring at him. What the heck?
“Answer your dang phone, Mark,” Alexander growled from the next bed over. “It’s been vibrating off and on for five minutes. Somebody’s obviously trying to reach you.”
Mark sat up and turned on the lamp beside his bed before grabbing his phone. Alex cringed away, pulling his blanket over his head.
“Shut off that light,” Noah grumbled from across their dorm room, and Drew grunted something and turned over to block the intrusive light.
“It’s my dad,” Mark said, glancing down at the caller ID. He noted the time. Three o’clock in the morning. No one called in the middle of the night to share good news. There were no voicemails, just ten missed calls. With trepidation, he touched the green button to answer his father.
“Son, thank goodness,” his father answered without preamble. “Your grandfather is very sick and has requested the family gather. I already have a private jet on route to retrieve you.”
“A private jet? Grandfather? What?” Mark tried to shake the fog from his brain. His three college roommates slowly emerged from their cocoons and sat up, concern and shock on their faces. “What’s wrong with Grandfather?”
“He’s not going to live much longer, son. He’s been sick for a long time. You’ve known that.”
“If you would just bring him to the United States like I’ve been begging you for years, the modern medicines here could save him.”
“You know he will not leave Mexico,” Benjamin said. “You must come here. Today.”
“You want me to just climb on your private jet and fly to Cancun today?”
“Yes, immediately! He insists.”
“He insists? Or you insist?” Mark grumbled.
“You will not speak to me that way, my son.”
Mark knew he had crossed a line and fell back to the ways of his childhood, lowering his tone in respect. “My apologies, Your Highness.”
“Son, I have never asked you to do anything I have not been willing to do myself.”
“I know, father. I’m sorry.”
“Now we must honor your grandfather’s request. Come to his side.”
“As you wish, Your Highness,” Mark said. “I will make haste.”
“Thank you, my son.”
Mark ended his call and was met with three very confused and suddenly wide-awake roommates. Their gaping jaws hung open. Mark set his phone aside and tossed Alexander’s Teddy bear over to him.
“Get dressed,” Mark said to his friends. “We’re flying to Cancun.”