The Story That Must be Told ( End)
A few months after the nose bleed incident we moved house. I was relieved. I had always believed that the old house was in some way connected to the night experiences I was having.
We moved to a much bigger council house. It had three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a big lounge and kitchen downstairs. So, no more tin baths and outside toilets. For the first time in my life I had my own bedroom. Luxury.
I remember the first night at the new house, it was November and we had no central heating back then so it was cold. As usual, I couldn’t sleep, and when mum and dad came up to bed later than usual around midnight I was still wide awake.
This time it was a mixture of fear at the thought of what sleep would bring and excitement at being in the new house in my own bedroom.
I eventually got to sleep at two o’clock; I slept soundly and woke at nine. It was a Saturday so there was no school. I convinced myself that the night experiences were over.
For the next three months nothing happened. Then in February it changed.
In my dream I was with my parents and sister at a fair, we were on the waltzers. Everyone was laughing, the music was playing and we were being spun round by one of the fairground men.
It started with a sound.
Above the music, I suddenly heard the familiar sound, a rhythmic beat getting louder. Then the darkness came and I was alone. I knew what was coming next and tried to open my eyes but I couldn’t. I woke and curled up tight in my bed.
The heart beat sound grew louder, but took longer to get into my room. Bigger hallway, more stairs, big landing, all this took more time. This made it worse for me; there was more of a build-up. I could feel myself shaking with fright. Eventually it came into my room and knelt beside me and the usual process occurred. Head lifted, pillow turned, head placed back. It stood up to leave but the noise didn’t fade so I knew it was still in my room. Then for the first and only time it spoke. It was a deep whisper. Two words only. “Found you.”
When I was sure it was gone, for the first time in years I ran into mum and dads room and cuddled up to mum. I was ten years old and scared to death.
She asked me the next morning what it was all about. I said it was just a nightmare. I wasn’t telling a lie, it was just that, a nightmare.
It happened a couple of times a week from then on, but it never spoke again. By the time I was sixteen I had gotten used to it. It was only once a week by then and no big deal, just something that I had to live with. I learnt to control it over time.
As soon as I saw the darkness coming, or the first sound of the noise I learnt to quickly open my eyes and sit up. Straightaway the noise would go away and I knew I was safe. Unfortunately there was a thin line between it "happening" and safety. If I left it a second too long, then it was too late. No matter how hard I tried to open my eyes I couldn’t and the experience would begin.
At twenty one I was married. We moved into a large terraced three bedroomed house, surely now it would stop. I would be sleeping every night with someone at my side, no longer alone.
Yet it still came.
It took a while, many months in fact. Often I would have a dream and “sense” that something was about to happen and I would wake myself up just in time. But one night I left it too late.
Cockiness or arrogance perhaps, but I was convinced that I would be able to deal with it once and for all. I let it happen. I sensed something was going wrong in the dream and would normally wake myself up. But I let it go on, the noise came, the beating, getting closer and closer. I convinced myself that I would open my eyes when it was beside me and confront it. But I couldn’t. It did what it always did. Lifted my head, turned my pillow, then left. Only then could I open my eyes.
The next morning my wife, as she made the bed, made a comment.
We had a “Laura Ashley” duvet set. It had a small floral design on it. But the pattern was only on one side of the pillow cases. My pillow case was on the plain side, hers was, as it should be, showing the pattern. She laughed and asked me what on earth I’d been doing with the pillow during the night. I just laughed it off. But once again to me it was proof that this thing was real.
Bizarrely, there was one good thing that came out of all of this.
I can now control my dreams. Because of the fear of drifting into an unpleasant situation, I found I could “steer” myself clear and carry on the dream into another direction.
For example, if I’m having a dream that looks like it could turn a bit nasty, I can stop the dream and decide to dream about something else.
An example would be, I may be walking along a path that I don’t recognise, in the distance it may be dark, like storm clouds are about to erupt. I can now stop on the path and say to myself, I don’t like the look of this, so can turn round and go in a different direction. I can also come out of a dream, wake up, go to the toilet and then get myself back into the dream exactly where I left off.
Until a few years ago I thought this was perfectly normal and that everyone could do it.
But it’s all because of my night experiences that I have somehow taught myself to do it.
Even now in my fifties I still get the feeling in my dreams that something is wrong and that if I don’t wake up or change direction, it will come.
My last “visit” was fifteen years ago just before my fortieth birthday. I was alone in bed and having a good dream about my beloved butcher’s shop (I used to be a butcher). A customer came in and asked for neck of lamb. There was none in the window display and I had to go into one of the large walk in fridges. Once inside, the door closed and I was plunged into darkness. I knew what was coming next but decided to go with it.
The noise started, getting closer and closer until I knew it was beside me. I wanted to open my eyes but couldn’t. It did its usual, the pillow turning thing. But this time for some reason I wasn’t scared. It was like an old friend re-visiting.