As I awoke, I found myself delirious. I rolled over, head spinning, desperately waiting for something to come into focus. I squinted and tried to force the red blur on my alarm clock to be numbers. 4:27AM. I reached for the paper on my bedside desk. 6. This was the sixth time I awoke during the evening. I gave up trying to get any rest.
Rest does not come easy for me.
Aching, I got up out of bed. I threw some clothes and my coat on and began walking. As I walked, it was as if I was gliding. I was floating forward in my perpetual state of sleeplessness, not knowing where I was headed, not really putting much thought to it, either.
The tall buildings overwhelmed me. There was something about the city in early morning, when it is free from the hustle and bustle, that leaves me uneasy. It is quiet and peaceful but I can’t help but feel a sense of unrest.
Maybe it was the lack of sleep….
I walked further, past sleepy shops and streets just waking themselves. I reached a corner, and a chameleon. The chameleon greeted me with kind words, but I’m no fool. No, I know all too well about his games. His color changes with every shift in surroundings. He’d just as soon invite you in for “a cup o’ Joe and some delightful pastries” as stab you right in the back a moment later. Coward. He has no spine, no reason of his own to be here, no existence.
I politely turned down the Joe and pastries and continued along my path to nowhere. Soon and suddenly I realize I was not traveling alone (not anymore, anyway). I turned to my left and noticed a young lady in stride with me. She had a mask over her face, so I could not see who she was. We began to talk. As our conversation progressed, I began to see that she was lonely. She was very, very lonely. I wanted to help her. But as we went further, and my desire to help her increased, I began to hear a whisper in my ear. It was very faint at first.
I kept walking.
The whisper soon began to be louder and louder and suddenly was a murmur. It was saying, “No! Don’t go! Don’t do it! Be careful! She’ll get you! Be careful! She’s not what she seems! She’s evil! Don’t go! Don’t do it! Be careful! She’ll get you! Be careful! She’s not what she seems! She’s evil! No! Don’t go…” louder and louder each time. I ignored best I could, because I really wanted to help her. The voice did not cease. No, it kept getting louder and louder. “NO! DON’T GO! DON’T DO IT! BE CARFUL! SHE’LL GET YOU! BE CAREFUL! SHE’S NOT WHAT SHE SEEMS! SHE’S EVIL!”
I turned and looked at the lady and saw all things vile and deceitful standing where she stood! I began running with all I had, fleeing from the very demon that had been haunting my sleep. I understood my nightmares now, and yet was more confused than ever before. I ran until my legs gave way underneath me, and I collapsed, sprawling out onto the cool pavement…
“Sir…sir…is all well? Sir?” The voice nudged me just as much as his cane. The chameleon with which I had briefly visited prior was standing over me. “Do you need some assistance, sir?” He asked in his crazy British accent. “You gave me a bloody fright, sir…” Yeah, right. He probably searched my pockets first, the lousy… “wanker”. “Here, let me help you up. Follow me, here, sir…” I felt ill. I didn’t have the strength to resist.
So I went along.
He led me down a dark series of long winding corridors, and into a room. The room was dark, except for one window near the ceiling. A white light streamed through the window, not lighting the room more than to allow me to realize that the room was empty except for the small table and chair that the light shone upon. There were no other doors, no other entrances or exits…at least it did not appear that way. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a judge appears. He had on that long white wig like they used to wear in Britain.
I began to see a theme.
The judge had a large gavel, which he was banging while yelling, “The guilty are innocent, the innocent are guilty! Everyone is innocent; nobody’s guilty! Everyone is guilty; nobody’s innocent."
And then I woke up.