This morning, at 3am, I awoke to the sound of someone being murdered.
How's that for a hook-line?
It had been a most eventful Friday evening indeed. After leaving work, I braved the hordes of meandering, slack-jawed oiks in Sainsbury's to purchase supplies for the weekend.
Now, ordinarily I'm uncomfortable with using the phrase 'purchase supplies' as I consider it most disagreeable and aggravating. Rather like the phrase 'a good bit of kit' I find that it's used largely by armchair warriors with an unnatural predilection for spouting vaguely-military sounding jargon in the vain hope, presumably, that it will make them sound dangerous, knowledgeable and exotic.
Well it doesn't. It simply makes them sound like idiotic wannabes, re-reading Andy McNab books and mentally masturbating over pictures of MIG 29's. Such people will often claim that they are "going out to 'recce' the pub situation" before trotting off down the road to smugly quaff warm ale while standing at the bar, surveying the other punters and considering which ones they could take out with a well-aimed karate chop to the neck. (Answer: none)
Nobody is impressed, so stop it at once.
However, in this particular case, the 'supplies' comment was actually fairly accurate for the following reason. When I go home on a Friday night, my ultimate plan is to walk in through the front door, close it and then not re-open it until Monday morning. To spend the whole weekend indoors (or partly out on the balcony if I'm feeling particularly adventurous) without having to rub shoulders, look at or talk to another human being is a thing of joy and I recommend it to all. And, of course, getting in enough food, booze and cigarettes to see you through is an integral part of this.
Having purchased lasagna, milk, bread, eggs, booze and plentiful cigarettes, I was ready to 'dig in'* for a couple of days.
*Yes, another military term. I was using it ironically. Fuck off.
Due to a minor week-long obsession with coconut which has involved the consumption of several bounty bars, I took the unusual measure of buying a small bottle of Malibu as the thought of delicious coconutty alcoholic drinks seemed like rather a jolly idea. Sadly, the reality wasn't as satisfying as the fantasy. Despite the deliciousness of Malibu, it is only 21% proof which means you have to drink 3 litres of it just to dull the shame of actually having bought the stuff in the first place.
Still, it was rather pleasant and I topped up my alcohol quotient with several very large, very harsh, dark rums, whilst eating a pleasingly cheesy lasagna, to which I had added extra cheese for the lovely bubbly, crispy topping effect.
I was in bed asleep by about midnight, belly full, and was dreaming by 3:00. I seem to recall that I was involved in a telephone call about work in which I was talking on my mobile to a group of people in the next room. For reasons unknown, one of the people was Simon Cowell, so it already had something of the nightmare about it. I was explaining the work I do, why it's important to the organisation, how I 'add value' and various other things that had me cringing in embarrassment as I remembered the details this morning.
As I schmoozed my way through the telephone call, I was staggered to suddenly hear the sound of someone being attacked.
A high-pitched shrieking could be heard over the phone, punctuated with furious, frenzied growling and roaring. In my dream, I ran into the other room to see what the hell was going on.
As I entered the room, I immediately saw several mutilated corpses littering the chintzy sofa and one person in particular being savaged to death by some sort of invisible force, rips and gouges opening up in their flesh right in front of my eyes.
It was such a shocking visual image that it actually woke me up and I lay there in bed, on my right hand side, eyes wide open. It took 2 or 3 seconds for me to fully move from dream-state to wide-awake, during which time I came to an awful dawning realisation that I could still hear the screaming.
This was no dream.
I froze, absolutely rigid, eyes like saucers, breath caught in my throat. There, unmistakeably, was the sound of some horrific creature roaring, spitting and shrieking. I listened, blinking myopically, still rooted to the bed, desperately trying to ascertain where the sound was coming from.
Was it outside? No, too close for that. Too loud. Which meant that...it was inside.
I still lay there, hearing that awful sound, as my brain flickered through the possibilities - was it in the living room? The kitchen? The bathroom?
The answer to every one of these questions was a resounding 'no'.
It was coming from the bedroom - the very room I was in.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that I was absolutely terrified. In a ridiculous, instinctual move, I slowly started to lift the duvet over my head in the hope that it would make the sound go away. I stopped after a few seconds though, scared that I might attract the attention of whatever was in the room. I hesitate to admit this, but I was almost on the verge of tears.
What is this? What's making this noise? Am I going to die?
I was half-asleep, confused, frightened out of my wits and sort of wished that I was already dead so I wouldn't have to listen to it anymore. I know that you're all used to my exaggerations for comic effect, but I'm telling the absolute truth when I say that I can't ever remember being that frightened in my life, and I genuinely thought I was going to die.
I played out my own death in my imagination and it seemed to go on for hours. In reality, of course, it was merely seconds. But I lay there and almost accepted that I would probably no longer be alive in a few more moments. All common sense and rationality completely evaporated. I kept telling myself "there simply can't be something in the room. It's impossible", but my mind wasn't listening. A deep, primal fear had kicked in and I was convinced of my impending doom.
Then, after a few more seconds, my eyes adjusted slightly and I realised that the room wasn't in complete darkness; there was, in fact, a bluish tinge to the walls, rather like the one you get when the television is on...
If I hadn't been clutching the duvet between my fists and silently weeping into the pillow, I would have slapped myself on the forehead with a sound like a starting pistol.
All at once, I recalled what I'd been doing when I'd gone to sleep 3 hours earlier...
...I'd been laying in bed watching An American Werewolf in London on DVD.
Turning over, I looked to my left and saw the TV was still on, and the DVD was endlessly looping. Griffin Dunne was on the screen, slathered with blood and gently steaming in the cold air of the moors.
I almost wept with relief.
Yes, folks, I fell asleep watching a horror film and woke up thinking there was a monster in my bedroom. I appear to have reverted to being 8 years old again.
I'd hoped that if I wrote about this, it would somehow cathartically absolve me of the enormous shame that I feel. Sadly, it hasn't worked. I am a moron. A blithering idiot of such extraordinary magnitude that I can barely believe it.
Thus, we learn these important lessons:
1) Don't eat 'extra cheese' before bedtime.
2) Don't fall asleep watching a horror film.
3) Don't use military jargon. Ever.
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