It was thumping away in my chest with such ferocity that I feared my heart may give in. Was I about to have a heart attack? I lay still for a moment until it slowed itself back down to a more sedate rhythm. I felt hot, sweaty, and scared. Some horrible nightmare had thrown me back into reality in a dazed and confused state. “I’m too old for these dreams,” I thought, “way too old.” Looking towards the window I tried to work out what time it was. The greyness told me that it was still too early to get up, so I pulled the covers off and lie naked on the now un-tucked bed sheet. I tried to push everything bad from my head, even though I knew I wouldn’t.
I lay there, listening to the smooth rhythm of the motorway traffic.
No more dreams...
TAP TAP TAP.
My eyes open wide. I distinctly hear three taps against the wooden door of our bedroom. To me, it sounds like a coin tapping on wood. My heart is racing once again. I’m facing away from the door, but I know the room, I know that sound came from over near the bedroom door. I whisper to Lou B.
Still no answer.
I roll over and face the door, expecting to see some shadowy form standing there or a ghostly figure, but there is nothing. My ears are straining for the slightest sound. I hear the occasional lorry whoosh past on the M3, but at the moment my ears would pick up a mouse turning a pebble over at two hundred metres.
The wind outside blows suddenly, and the curtains lift upwards just like in an old horror film. As the wind comes into the house the airing cupboard door moves ever so slightly.
TAP TAP TAP go the hinges as the door fights to close against them.
FUCK (again, this time smiling to myself).
I’m awake now, and get up to close the airing cupboard door so it doesn’t creak again. OK, nothing sinister there. Nobody tapping the door with a coin, just a squeaky door. I climb back into bed and pull the covers over me, at the same time reaching for my mobile phone. I press a random button and its friendly reassuring face lights up telling me the time: 02:59.
Years ago, when I was younger, I watched The Amityville Horror and it always stuck with me the time of night that the murders in the house happened: 03:15. Ever since, I’ve had a thing about the time between 2 and 3 am. If I’m going to wake during the night, chances are it’s between these times.
The witching hour.
I flick on the light on my side of the bed and the darkness is beaten back slightly. A book rests on the table next to the bed and I pick it up, opening it at a bookmark that is buried deep in its pages.
I might as well read for a while...
In the morning I’ll be tired, but I’m getting used to restless nights and a lack of sleep now.