I didn’t get a good night’s sleep that night. The baby kept me awake.
Things were getting curious. And curiouser. I knew that something was happening to my mind, but I didn’t have any way of really knowing what was going on. I just didn’t have any frame of reference for it. Growing up at home, about the deepest we ever got was Dad ranting about how the Liberal government was screwing the country. He always voted Labour.
The thought did occur to me that maybe I was starting to lose it.
Take the baby, for instance. Because of the headache I went to bed really early that night at around 9. Besides feeling distinctly edgy after the run in with Commandant Blackpool, I was just dog tired. I decided to put myself out of my own misery and hit the sack.
I began to doze off almost immediately. That was until the baby stated crying. It was disturbing to tell you the truth. At first I dismissed it in my half-slumber. But it kept coming back. Through the blackness it came, a kind of pathetic weeping, as if the poor thing were cold and unfed. The baby seemed awfully close, almost as it was right there in my room.
The same thing happened three times. I would hear the crying, I would sit up in bed, and the crying would stop immediately. The third time this happened I looked about the dimly lit room, squinting in the darkness, half expecting to find a baby crawling onto my bed. But there was nothing. The room, the building, was quiet.
I lay there half asleep half awake, tossing and turning. What was a baby doing in Edwards Hall? Was someone’s kid relative sleeping in their room?
At around midnight the crying got so loud I started to get pissed off, so I got up, turned on the light and stuck my head out the door. It had to be coming from someone else’s room. I had a mind to make a formal complaint. Just at the moment Bernt Eisen, the affable but very quiet German PhD student who lived in the room opposite me, came strolling down the corridor.
“You hear that?” I said.
“Hear what?” Bernt said, as he stuck the key in his door.
“The baby. What, you didn’t hear it?”
Bernt looked at me in a slightly disturbed way, his forehead furrowing up, but still smiling nonetheless. “Baby? I think you must be dreaming.” He laughed.
“Oh, strange, I thought I heard something.”
I quickly pulled my head inside and stood there for a moment, confused. Blinking a lot didn’t help. I told myself it must have had something to do with the headache. It still felt like someone was slamming me over the head with a cricket bat.
I palmed my forehead. Yes, definitely a bit warm. It must be a fever, With that thought a sense of relief descended. I made a mental note to go to the campus doctor the next day.
Feeling more relaxed, I retired once more, and fell into a much deeper sleep.
I dreamed. Or perhaps nightmared might be a better description.
There were dark, angry eyes. They came to destroy. To destroy me! I felt the hot breath against my neck, and I ran. I could hear the thing behind me, its heaviness pounding the earth. Faster and faster I ran, desperate, striving to find the energy to keep going, keep escaping. When the roar came, it was monstrous, murderous. I turned my head and saw it from the corner of my eye, a huge, dark primate; primal and deadly. Desperate I ran on. I knew that I was running for my life. Darting down dim alleys, jumping fences, leaping over anything in my path, I ran this way, that way. Then, when I could run no more, I stopped and turned to face the demon, exhausted, defeated. The huge creature towered over me. It whacked me with its great hand, striking me in the back of the head. I knew that I was about to die. There was no use in fighting. All was lost. I looked into that great bloodshot primate eye, resigning myself to what would follow; and suddently I could see its fear and pain. And in that moment I felt something like compassion, even as the monster lifted its great hand again, about to strike me with all its mighty strength. Then it opened its giant jaws and screamed “Get out!”…
I sat up, the dreamworld and real world blurring together for a confused moment. Strangely, all I could do was laugh. My headache was gone. It was as if a great blanket of darkness had lifted from me.
“Get out?” I whispered quietly to myself. In the early morning light an image filled my mind’s eye; and image of someone I’d had an encounter with just hours before.
A soft voice came.
“Love your fear.”
I lay back down, resting my head on the pillow.
Love your fear. The words somehow comforted me. I relaxed, surrendering peacefully to early morning sleep.