Delusions of Terror (Part One)
Drenched in a shroud of perspiration, he opened his eyes and surveyed the unfamiliar bedroom. The bare, damp walls, the windows without curtains, and the solitary wooden table deemed this establishment could be portrayed as a hovel.
Movement within the bed confirmed he was not alone. He glanced across at the thin girl who groped for the sparse, solitary, woollen blanket. She shifted uncomfortably before she sat up.
He attempted to speak, but no words were delivered. It was as if his vocal chords were paralysed. The girl, who cannot have been more than ten years old, removed the blanket and wept softly when she saw the red stain tarnishing her white nightgown.
His curious eyes were attracted to the patch of crimson, his inquisitiveness great. He reached out to the girl and noticed his own tiny hands; the hands of a child. Endeavouring to scream, once more, no sound was forthcoming.
“Maurice. Maurice, wake up.”
He opened his eyes and welcomed the solace of more familiar surroundings. He looked across at his wife, who showed concern.
“Another nightmare, Maurice?”
He nodded and reached to his bedside table for a glass of water. His wife brushed away his soaking fringe with her warm hand.
“You’re burning up. You ought to see a doctor.”
“I am a doctor, Cheryl.”
“I mean a psychiatrist. These nightmares are becoming more frequent.”
“They’re just nightmares... What time is it?”
“Just after three... Did you dream of the child?”
“Yes... Listen, it’s probably just the stress of my work. I’m due a couple of weeks off. How does a weekend in London sound to you?”
“I agree, on one condition.”
Cheryl kissed her husband on the lips and smiled. “Talk to Philip.”
“I’ve told you, I don’t need a shrink.”
“Talk to him as a friend. Perhaps he can determine why you’re having these nightmares.”
Maurice Rowlands left his bed and shivered, his sodden pyjamas partly to blame. He undressed, the vision of his nightmare still haunting him. “Go to sleep. I’ll take a shower.”
Maurice Rowlands, at the age of thirty-five was considered to be a brilliant gynaecologist by his colleagues. Based at the Princess Anne hospital in Southampton, he had been offered various tempting positions, but so far had remained loyal to his post.
Sitting at the bar of his local pub, The Eight Bells, he sipped his whisky and water and awaited his meeting with his friend, Philip Darling. The tall psychiatrist made his entrance and strode briskly towards the bar. Maurice abandoned his barstool and shook the hand of his brother in law. The psychiatrist, although a little over six feet tall, towered over his short, slender friend.
“A gin and tonic,” said Philip to the barman, and briskly rubbed his hands together.
The ever-smiling psychiatrist addressed his brother in law. “Cheryl told me about your nightmares. Well?”
Maurice led his companion towards the roaring, open fire. He was thankful for the early evening solitude of the pub, even though Christmas was just two weeks away. The two medical men squatted on their seats and Philip opened up. “I’m in a charitable mood and so I’ll overlook your fee.”
“I should bloody think so. Look, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.”
“Nonsense,” barked Philip. “I’m intrigued to hear just what fantasies invade the thoughts of a gynaecologist at night.”
Maurice stared into his whisky glass. His turned-up nose and pocked-face prevented him from being classed as handsome. “I wouldn’t call them fantasies.”
“Well?” urged Philip. “I now have your undivided attention. Talk to me... When did these nightmares start?”
“About a month ago.”
“Tell me about them.”
Maurice swallowed a mouthful of his whisky and focused on the orange, gyrating flames. “I always appear as a child; a small child. This place I dream of is an awful place. So dismal and depressing. I’m certain it’s a third world country, some years ago.”
“The location is consistent?” asked Philip.
“I think so... I see things, but cannot hear them. Everything is black and white; so bleak. My family are afraid to venture outdoors.”
“We’re persecuted… So much hatred and bitterness is directed towards us.”
“Your family. You recognise them? I mean, are they consistent throughout your dreams?”
“I prefer to call them nightmares... Yes, they are.”
“And their names?”
“I...I don’t know. You see, I hear no words. I only see things.”
“Tell me about the persecution.”
“Stones; the stones hurt so much. I see so much hatred etched on the faces of the people... And then...”
“They raped my mother.”
“Who did, Maurice?”
The troubled man drained his glass. “The bad men.” He looked into the eyes of the psychiatrist. “I watched as they raped my mother.”
Philip left his seat and headed once more to the bar. He returned minutes later with fresh drinks. “Here, I think you may need this... This family. There’s a father?”
Maurice shook his head. “No. My mother, two sisters and a brother... Why, Philip? Why is this family constantly in my dreams?”
Philip considered his patient. “Do you believe in reincarnation?”
“No, of course not... No, you don’t think...”
“I’ve an open mind, Maurice. Perhaps you’ve lived this life before. There have been many instances of rational people who have recalled events from the past. Events they could not have...”
“No. They’re merely nightmares.”
“Perhaps... Do you have any idea of the era your family are living?”
Maurice pondered. “Judging by the clothes they wear, I’d estimate it’s possibly late nineteenth century.”
There was another long pause before the psychiatrist continued. “Have you anything else to tell me?”
Maurice nodded. “This...this latest nightmare, it was later in years. My sister was older by some six years. She was lying beside me in bed, and her menstrual cycle had begun. I recall trying to scream. You see, I was confused. So much blood.”
Philip smiled. “Don’t you see?”
“Your bloody occupation, damn it. You’re a gynaecologist and you operate on women, do you not? Perhaps you’re working too hard and you’re shielding your emotions until night. Your attempt to scream may not have been because of the sight of blood, but merely an attempt to relieve your hectic workload.”
“No. I know what I see, and I’m living this nightmare.”
“Okay, Maurice. I have a suggestion. I’ve a friend who is a hypnotherapist.”
“No. Absolutely not. I knew this was an utter waste of time.”
Maurice tied up his scarf and put on his overcoat.
“You need help, Maurice.”
“What I need is a hot bath. A good day to you, Philip.”
He watched from the obscurity of the shop doorway as the mob moved in on their prey. The flickering flames of the torches illuminated the night sky and displayed the terror that registered on the young boy’s face.
The young child wept and begged for mercy, but the baying mob was insensitive towards his pleas. They seized the infant and punctured his head randomly with their sharp knives.
He witnessed the ritual, and prayed to God they would release the child, who could not have been more than four years old. The blood trickled down the boy’s face, his eyes seemingly focused on the shop doorway.
One of the mob yanked at the hair of the child and swiftly ran his blade across the young throat. He collapsed to the ground, but the butchery was incomplete. An elderly man who wore a skullcap, tore away the boy’s shirt and made a long slit along his abdomen.
He watched in horror, his mouth agape, and the words refusing to form. The boy laid in a pool of blood, and the mob gloated over the body, until every drop had left the tiny body. Only then did they disperse.
“Maurice. Wake up, Maurice.”
The trembling man sat up in bed and wept openly, his body as usual saturated in sweat. Cheryl embraced her troubled husband.
“It’s okay, darling. Everything’s going to be okay.”
Maurice stared into the sad eyes of his wife. “I think I’m losing my mind.”
Cheryl kissed his hand. “Do you want to talk about it?”
He held his head in his hands and recalled the terror. “Please, God; please don’t let these awful nightmares be true. Don’t let them be true.”
“Maurice, I think you should hear this.”
Cheryl reached onto the dressing table for the tape recorder.
“What’s this?” quizzed Maurice.
“You should hear this.” She turned on the recorder, and there was a prolonged silence before the eerie words were uttered.
“Pozwalany on udaje sie!.. Pozwalany on udaje sie!”
Maurice narrowed his eyes and asked, “What is this?”
“That was you. You spoke those words before I woke you up.”
“You recorded me?”
“I’m sorry, but Philip thought it was a good idea.”
“I don’t know this language.”
“Nor do I,” shrugged Cheryl.
Maurice strolled towards the window, let in the cold air of the early morning, and watched as a flurry of snowflakes settled on the pristine, white road. “Who was I? Who am I?”