Compos Mentis

I gradually became aware of someone moving about in my room.  I heard muffled footsteps on the carpet that came closer and closer to me.  It wasn’t long before I felt someone hovering above me.  The breathing got closer and louder.  Slow, steady, but loud.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  It got closer still, until I could feel its warmth and wetness against the back of my neck.  My hairs stood on their ends as I felt a chill crawl up my spine.  My mind raced, not knowing what to think, but I kept still, as if I was sleeping.

I woke with a start.  My eyes were closed, but I was aware of my surroundings.  I could feel the soft linen against my skin.  The fluffy duvet wrapped between my legs.  My eyes were still closed.  I tried to open them, but I couldn’t.  I started to panic.  I tried to move, but I couldn’t.  My mind was fully alert then.  Every sound in the room seemed to be amplified.  The ticking of my alarm clock, the sound of the late traffic cruising in the street, even the rumble of my neighbour’s washing machine.  I couldn’t move a muscle, but I could hear so clearly that it seemed like I could see what I heard.

I concentrated on my breathing and calmed myself.  I recalled someone being in my room, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just now, or on a different night.  Was it real or a dream?  I heard someone cough and immediately I could see.  It was my neighbour Bob.  Sitting alone in his living room, reading and smoking.  He coughed again.  I realised that I had never been into Bob’s apartment, but how did I just see it?  The details were vivid.  The painting of a pair of mandarin ducks on his wall, just over a small square table with a single stool propped against it.  The dirty plate on the table, with a smearing of baked beans; fork and knife sprawled on the plate, as if the meal is not done.  How can I see it?

My mind was racing again.  I heard an ambulance and saw the paramedic at the back of the vehicle holding an old lady’s hand.  I heard a dog bark and I saw a boy climbing up a tree, trying to steal into a bedroom window.  I heard loud music for an instant and saw the bouncer of our local club escorting someone out of the building.  The feeling was overwhelming.  I needed to stop and I did, as suddenly as it started.  Except, I was not in my room.  I could still see the club.  I was flying.

I felt exhilarated.  Unquestioning.  I remembered that I was sleeping and that was when I heard the sound of a gentle snore.  That was also when I saw myself, lying in bed with the duvet wrapped between my legs and my face against my pillow.

In an instant, my eyes opened.

In an instant, I was awake.

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