It was an uneasy sleep without dreams or nightmares. There was only that feeling of unease chasing him from thought to thought, always one step behind in front and to either side. He was close to the surface but not yet breaking where he felt the presence of the world, and it terrified him.
His stomach churned around twice and inside his head he screamed in ice cold fear.
Now he was awake. He was awake, but his eyes were closed.
They were closed tightly and through sheer strength they remained closed. His duvet covered him and kept him warm but terror caressed him until his blood was chilled and his spine tried to pull away, to run away. He needed to be asleep, he couldn’t be awake. He shouldn’t be awake at this hour but he was and he could feel the presence that consciousness attracted.
He needed to get back to sleep yet all he could only think of being awake. Being awake was bad so he kept his eyes closed, it was only through sheer strength they remained so.
The blood patterns formed and moved and deformed and vanished in an endless dance of the darkness. He saw his room, the outlines of furniture, the CD rack standing tall and the light fitting hanging above OH GOD ARE THEY OPEN?
They were closed, his eyes, but were they? The outlines were so clear his eyes had to be open, but they felt closed. His façade of sleep remained but his eyes couldn’t accept the reality. He clenched tightly as a tell to convince himself they were shut. Still his mind coaxed and tempted him to open up. He couldn’t open up, fear drove him to clench tighter but still doubt remained. He couldn’t open them because then he might see.
But if he opened them, at least he’d know if they were open or not, he’d know if it was there or not. He kept them closed, longing to open, mind still toying, baiting him with self doubt.
Now he wanted to move. The urge came from nowhere and as such was uncontrollable. When asleep surely a person moves a little, therefore when faking sleep one should move a little. But how much is a little? How average is the average person? How average is the average person trying to fake sleep because they shouldn’t be awake and how much would that average person move during fake sleep?
He remained still, longing to move, with his eyes closed, longing to open. He didn’t know what time it was. He could easily look at the digital clock next to the bed but that was impossible and so the time remained beyond him. He only knew that he shouldn’t be awake at this time and he was. He wanted to cry.
He wanted to sob and wail and scream but he couldn’t. If he did any of those things he would announce his conscious self. Such an announcement would condemn him to It’s grasp. It was there, he knew it was. He’d felt it through the layer of sleep and now it’s presence was ever more clear. He could feel it boring into him with it’s glare, waiting to pounce once it knew he was awake.
He wanted so badly to steal a glance, to open his eyes a little and see there was nothing to be afraid of. But what if there was? What if the thing he felt was there as he felt it was? What if he opened his eyes and his fears were a reality? What if he opened his eyes and it was there, six inches from his face, staring down at him?
Creaks and cracks and taps were the music of the night and the orchestra was in full flow but who was conducting? Even darkness has a conductor and he felt it here, in his room, waiting for the sleeping to stir awake.
He wanted to move, he wanted to cry, he wanted so much to be asleep and for it to morning so he could open his eyes. He wanted to know for sure. He needed to know he was alone. He needed to open his eyes to know. He needed to be awake, and he was.
Darkness and shadow.
Not much shadow for there was very little light. A touch of red from the clock, which lit up his face and the outline of his body beneath the duvet. A dash of silver from the moon which was full but partially covered in cloud. And on the other side of the room a red dot, the TV on standby.
A satisfied curiosity is like a satisfied hunger. He saw the room draped in darkness, and satisfaction filled him to the brim. A smile broke out and his whole body relaxed. Now he could close his eyes. Now he could sleep for real for now he knew. Now he could move, in certainty.
He rolled over and closed his eyes before his brain registered what they’d seen. He’d been tricked. The relaxation fled and terror returned, sweat broke out all over and the duvet was stifling. Had he seen? Had he been caught awake at this hour or had his mind picked another game with which to taunt him? He had to remain still lest he be caught awake but he had to know, he had to see if what he’d seen was really there.
Against the current of fear he rolled slowly and craned his neck towards the door. His eyes were wide, he was clearly awake at a time when he should have been sleeping.
Darkness and shadow, and in the shadow another shadow, a darker shadow, so dark it was barely visible. But he saw it and he knew it was looking straight at him.
It knew he was awake and now it moved towards him, a shadowy figure in a monk’s cloak, hooded. It peeled through the darkness until the red glow of the clock revealed an ancient smiling face, pale and sagging. The wrinkles curled upwards as the smile grew, the figure began to laugh hysterically and in a high pitch.
It laughed at him as he cowered in his bed, now able to cry and scream and piss all over himself but not to move or close his eyes. Terror choked him and it was the last time he ever woke at a time he should have been sleeping.
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