Night Terrors (one for the cat)

Abed in the night-time I heard or thought I heard a strange noise. It was creaking, a moaning, like hinges or the rusty limbs of trees moving against each other. It might have come from anywhere; it came from outside the window, I thought.

Sometimes in bed I hear the jingling of a bell in the darkness beyond and then my heart freezes a little. I do not want to hear his paws scraping against the glass, making it shake.

This night it was and it wasn’t the cat. Not the noise a cat makes at all, yet too scared and yet not quite scared exactly, but tense, alert, abruptly awakened; I could not bring myself to move or turn around for fear of the face in the window.

Night terrors crouch on your chest or stand by your bedside, behind you, out of sight. It was not of this kind (‘if I could just lift my little finger’ – if I could just, it will be all alright. But I couldn’t, all the same).

Once in childhood I convinced myself that E.T. was inside the cupboard in my sister’s bedroom. It started out as a joke and a fancy*, and it only could have been just that. So why did it grow so quickly terrifying; why could I just not bring myself to open the cupboard and prove what I knew? Why of all the bumbling aliens was E.T. so bloody threatening this time, when I have categorically never been scared of him before or since? Disturbed, I quickly left.

This uncanny night which rattles at the window, makes ghouls out of what is unalarming and makes mockery of the clarity of what we call reality. At times even now I have difficulty separating the reality from the fantasy; especially when I am ‘in the cups’, but even when quite sober.

We all have to move eventually (only the dead are still). Walk away, turn around, lift the little finger or the pencil to write. And this is true: when I turned on the reddish light to see, the noise was altogether and absolutely gone.

*Thinking about it, I was probably rehearsing for a later attempt to convince my sister that E.T. was in the cupboard, in which case it served me right. (I bet it would have worked, though)


4 thoughts on “Night Terrors (one for the cat)

  1. sometimes, balanced on the cusp between awake and asleep, between conscious and unconscious, i hear screams in my mind’s ear. short, terrified screams. and clawing my way out of the mire of nearly-sleep (if i can) banishes them.
    your prose is trippily interesting – i look forward to more of it. 🙂

    1. ‘mire screams cusp’ – three words that struck me; I think you could write something rather good out of those three words. I may well be writing my MA dissertation on ‘cuspness’…
      Trippily interesting eh? After reading a piece I wrote for my Utopia seminar the professor’s first reaction was to proclaim himself feeling ‘stoned after that’ – make of it what you will! :-/

  2. I wish you had been here last night when Adam, the Mothership and myself were talking about night terrors and uncanny nighttime happenings. 🙂

    I love this:
    “This uncanny night which rattles at the window, makes ghouls out of what is unalarming and makes mockery of the clarity of what we call reality.”

    Thinking about this, I know that you scared me with the snake under the bed, once, but I can’t remember if you ever actually tried the E.T.-in-the-wardrobe trick on me. Did it scare you so much that you gave it up? 😉

    I love this.

    1. Best that I wasn’t- would have turned into a three-hour-long essay on the phenomenon of the uncanny (of his Freudship). I never did try E.T. on you; I freaked myself out far too much to repeat it!

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