Who’s afraid of the dark?
You go to bed at night, fall into a deep dream-filled sleep. Suddenly you wake up, heart thumping in your chest, because something or someone sinister has startled you back into reality.
This happened to me quite recently. I think I was really tired after a rather (unusually) busy day. I fell into bed and was asleep long before I could think about counting sheep. If you ask me now what I was dreaming about, I would not be able to tell you. This is quite common for me if I am jolted awake. Try as I might, I cannot get that dream back.
I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was that woke me up. Was it a noise? Perhaps. I had the sensation that someone was standing over me. Impossible really as I sleep on the far side of the bed, against the wall (I don’t like being near the door.) Nevertheless my brain, in that state of adrenalin-fueled TERROR, was telling me that someone was in my room.
It was the strangest sensation. I did not bolt out of bed. I did not even sit up. No, the fear that coursed my veins forced me to lie there, as still as possible. My eyes were still closed and I hardly took a breath. Although it was a rather cold evening, I could feel the beads of perspiration forming on my skin, drawing together and dribbling down toward the bed sheet beneath me. I don’t know how long I lay there like that, listening carefully to the sounds of the night.
Eventually, after a long session of debating with myself, I finally decided that there was nothing for it – I had to open my eyes. Slowly, I opened one eye, then the other. Still I did not move. I allowed myself some time for my eyes to adjust to the gloom. I was staring straight at the wall. My eyes moved rapidly over the blank space before me. My brain had calculated that if someone was in the room, I would see their shadow. OK, I was still half asleep, despite being wide awake. I do realise that you actually need some light for a figure to cast a shadow. At the time, however, my brain satisfied itself that it was safe for me to turn over. I did, rapidly. Slowly, I exhaled – I had been holding my breath the entire time that my eyes had been open (which, in reality, would probably only have been a few seconds but felt substantially longer).
There was no one standing menacingly over me. I looked around the room. It was empty. I listened again. I calmed myself by naming the sounds I could hear: My husband snoring softly next to me, my daughters’ bed creaking as she played in her dreams, an occasional drip from the tap in the bathroom, the sigh of the fridge settling down in the kitchen, the rattle of the hamster’s wheel further away. All was well and I started to drift off again.
This time I leaped out of bed in one move (not an easy feat when you’re jammed against the wall). My heart hammered loudly on the drums of my ears. All the blood in my body seeped out through my toes and the hair on my skin pricked. I knew then – SOMEONE WAS DEFINITELY IN THE HOUSE.
I did what any human would do in that situation – I found someone to share my fears with. I shook my husband awake and hoarsely whispered, “Did you hear that noise?”
“Hmm?” Came the reply.
“Did you hear that noise?!” I repeated, impatiently.
“Go see what it is.”
THANKS – A – LOT. Hesitantly, I crept to the door. I stopped and listened. Nothing. I peeped round the corner. The socket light in the passage eerily lit the way. All clear so far. I slinked along the wall as far as my daughters’ room and peered inside. She was sleeping soundly, even giggling now and again . At least someone was having good dreams. I stopped outside the bathroom. I was not going any further, not without a weapon. I grabbed the can of air freshener and held it menacingly in front of me. I progressed toward the door of the lounge and carefully opened it. Weapon at the ready, I threw the door open and ran inside (How brave am I?). There wasn’t a single soul in sight. My bodily functions returned to normal and I casually examined the room, searching for clues as to the source of the mysterious sound.
After some time I realised the hamster had been going nuts in her cage and had managed to loosen her water bottle which had gone crashing down next to the radiator. At that point I think the last of my marbles dropped and I began laughing hysterically whilst readjusting the hamster’s water bottle. The hamster sat there, in her buddha-like pose, eyeing me warily. “Cheeky monkey”, I whispered.
I went back to bed and straight to sleep. I did sleep soundly the rest of the night although my husband probably wondered why, when he awoke in the morning, I was tightly hugging my vanilla scented can of air freshener.
Who’s afraid of the dark? Not I
Copyright © by 030412 Karen Payze