Morning After (Rest of the Story)

This is the rest of the story. Click here for the beginning

Once I’d finished up, flushed, washed and dried my hands I stood for a moment as more of the dream came back to me.  I knew it was a dream but this was one of those that sticks with you when you wake up.  Whether scary, strange or just plain stupid some dreams seem to stay wrapped around my mind even after I’ve woken up.  Sometimes I spend all day feeling like there’s unfinished business, something I have to do or something terrifying lurking around the corner.  I’ve always had an over active imagination though.  Despite being an avid reader I’ve read a grand total of two horror books in my life and both of those are still vividly with me.

The answer was simple enough.  Just look in the spare room.  I knew it would be empty.  From the daylight streaming in the windows to the normal sounds of traffic and kids outside I knew I was awake now.  Didn’t stop my heart being in my mouth as I approached the door though.  Didn’t stop me holding my breath, tensing my body, as I pushed open the door.

I looked in, let out the breath in one long sigh then closed the door again.  Calmer now I went downstairs, though carefully as my head still seemed to have an infernal drummer beating on the inside of my skull.

I made a cup of tea, swallowed down a couple of painkillers.  Thought about having something to eat then quickly changed my mind as my stomach made its feeling clear.  See what I mean?  Hangover doesn’t suggest roiling guts and acid in your throat at the thought of food does it?

Anyway, I sat at the kitchen table sipping the tea.  Feeling a growing urge to go back to the spare room and check.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much logic tells you otherwise, doesn’t matter what you know you’ve clearly seen with your own eyes, doesn’t matter that you’ve checked already you just have to go check again.  Or I do anyway, maybe it’s not everyone. 

Whatever.  I’d managed maybe half my mug of tea, leaving the rest I climbed the stairs.  Went to the spare room door again.  This time I felt calm though and a little silly for feeling the need to check.  I pushed the door open, confirmed that nothing had changed from my last look and closed the door again.  Went into the bathroom, filled the basin with cold water and plunged my face in.  As a hangover cure that approach has many drawbacks but it certainly clears your head, a bit like a jolt of electricity.

I dried my face and went back to the spare room.  Third time lucky I thought as I pushed the door open.  But no.  Not lucky.  It was still there.  It being the thing from my nightmare.  It was still laid out on the spare bedroom floor.  It was monstrous looking.  I had no idea what it really was but I could only think of it as the Monster.  In shape it was kind of human like, or ape like at least.  Two legs, torso, head.  Four arms all ending in multiple suckery appendages, very like those of an octopus or a starfish.  Its skin was greeny grey, slimy looking.  It wore no clothes.  It was bald, had no obvious ears or nose.  A slit of a mouth revealed sharp predator’s teeth.  Its eyes were very large and a deep red, though in my dream they had been much brighter.  Glowing with a fierce internal light.  Then again it hadn’t got a six inch carving knife stuck up through its chin and deep into its skull in that flashback, an accessory it now sported.

I gave it a nudge in the side with my foot, followed by more of a kick.  No response.  It was definitely dead.  I stepped back, closed the door and went back downstairs to finish my tea.

Sounds like a strange response doesn’t it?  But is it really?  What would you do if you woke up to find a dead monster in your spare room, a monster you remembered from what you thought was a nightmare?  Burglar?  Call the police.  Fire?  Call the fire brigade.  Fallen down the stairs?  Call an ambulance.  Dead monster in your spare bedroom?  Call… who exactly?

And it was more than that.  I was getting more flashbacks to my nightmare.  Though the thing upstairs strongly suggested it wasn’t a nightmare after all.  And the kitchen held several clues to my current state.  An empty bottle of vodka I knew had been half full.  A near empty bottle of Whisky that had been unopened the day before.  Three empty tubs of pringles.  And the knife block, tipped on its side. 

I could vaguely remember an overwhelming sense of dread as I got ready to head to bed.  I’d locked up.  Checked the doors and windows twice.  Still couldn’t shake that feeling though.  So I’d grabbed the carving knife from the block, swaying so much from the alcohol that I tipped the block over.  And I could just about remember staggering out of the kitchen and up the stairs knife in hand.  It’s a miracle I didn’t end up stabbing myself.  But I could remember feeling better for having the knife.

And now I could start to piece together the nightmare… except it hadn’t been one.  I knew that now.  It had been real. 

I remembered waking up in agony, white hot pain searing through my body.  Making it convulse.  And as I opened my eyes that… creature… monster… was standing over me.  I must have forgotten to turn out the lights because they were still on, so I could see it clearly.  See its tentacled arms where they reached out to clasp my face.  See its brightly burning eyes.  And somehow through its connection to me I could feel its pleasure.  Pleasure at the awful pain it was inflicting on me.  And pleasure that I was awake to experience it now.  I’d thought the pain I woke to was excruciating.  I soon learned it was just a mild taster.  The next wave was far worse, and each wave after that increased the agony.  After each wave was a short pause.  A chance for me to fear what was coming next.  And all through it I could feel that thing’s sick enjoyment.

That wasn’t the worst of it though.  Not by far.  Unbelievable isn’t it?  That there could be something worse.  But there was.  Much, much worse.  It was the moment I realised that I had been through this before!  Many times.  Many, many times.  And that after each I forgot, or had no more than a dim recollection of a nightmare.  And that the same would happen again.  Come the morning my nocturnal tormentor would have vanished leaving no trace and I would have no memory of it.  Till the next time.

As yet another wave of indescribable pain finished I managed to twist my face away, trying to find a few seconds reprieve.  The monster seemed to have loosened its grip on my mind a little.  From the feedback I was getting the creature seemed almost drunk on the pain it had caused.  So I managed to turn my head.  My eyes fell on the carving knife – still sitting on my bedside table.

I didn’t think.  Didn’t hesitate.  Didn’t consider what I was doing.  If I had I’m sure that thing would have caught on, would have swamped me with pain or just frozen me in place with the force of its mind.  I just grabbed the knife and jabbed it in under the creatures chin.  By chance the knife had been sitting the right way for me to grab and strike in one smooth action.

Did I say by chance?  Maybe not.  Something, some dread memory, had made me take the knife up that evening.  I think the same part of my mind may have laid it out ready for exactly this use.  Either way, by accident or design, I struck cleanly.  The creature collapsed instantly, I felt it ripped away from my mind even as its foul body ended sprawled across me.  With a shout I pushed it off me onto the floor and sat up, swaying.  I was still more than a little drunk and the pain inflicted on me had left me even more light headed.

I was amazed that there was no blood, no fluids of any kind.  I remember that.  It was clearly dead though.  Something had gone out of its eyes, a spark.

As I sat there I could feel my eyelids drooping, my mind rapidly dropping towards sleep.  The combination of alcohol, shock and mental exhaustion from the pain made a powerful cocktail.  I had something to do first though.  No matter how tired I was there was no way I was sleeping next to that thing’s corpse.  So I dragged it into the spare room with only a few collisions with door frames, door handles and walls due to the state I was in.  I closed the spare room door, somehow got back to my room and I suspect was asleep even before my falling body hit the bed.

* * *

So there I was, sitting at the kitchen table with all that going through my head.  And knowing I had to call someone.  I couldn’t just leave that thing laying upstairs all day.  I got up, grabbed the phone, sat back at the kitchen table.

So… who to call.  Fire Brigade?  Hardly.  “I’ve got a dead monster stuck in my spare room…”  Yeah.  Right.

Ambulance?  “We can’t help you sir.  Firstly because it is clearly dead and secondly because it is clearly an it and not a person.”

Vets?  “I’m sorry sir, we don’t specialise in exotic creatures.  Though as you appear to have killed it we will be contacting the RSPCA.”

Police then.  Feeling rather strange, and not a little bit stupid, I dialled 999.  Asked for Police in answer to the operator’s question.  A few seconds later a female police operator asked how she could help.

“I’ve… umm… this is going to sound really strange but… I’ve got a dead Casha’nt…”

And with that a wave of dizziness washed over me.  I had never heard the word before, never spoken it, yet suddenly I’d known it was the name for the type of creature I’d killed.  Memories surfaced of it forcing its name into my mind.  Wanting me to know just what species had such power over me.  For a moment I was sure I would throw up, but the feeling passed.  I became aware of my surroundings again, and of a voice in my ear asking me if I was OK… if I was still there.

“Yes,” I replied.  “I’m still here.”

As to the other question… no I wasn’t all right.  The room felt like it was starting to spin and my hearing was off, the operators voice sounded fuzzier than before.  She asked me to repeat what I’d said.

“I’ve… there’s…”  I took a deep breath then jumped in with both feet.  “There’s some strange creature in my spare room.  I killed it.  Stabbed it.  It’s dead.  I don’t know what it is.  It was attacking me last night.” 

I could hear the hysteria building in my voice.  The operator obviously could too but she was very good.  She calmly talked me through a few deep breaths. Asked me my address.  Told me someone was on their way and would be with me shortly, and to try and relax until they arrived.

As I hung up the phone it occurred to me that either they thought I was a nutter, in which case they wouldn’t turn up for a long while, or they thought I was a nutter with a knife who may have stabbed someone, in which case I could expect my door to be pounded down within a few minutes.

So what did I do?  I made a fresh cup of tea.  I know, I know.  But I was hardly in a normal state of mind and it kept me busy for a few minutes.  As it turned out until just before a polite knock at my door.

I opened it to a smart man in a suit, a detective, who showed me his identification.  Behind him were two workmen in jeans carrying some empty bags.  I let them all in.  The detective seemed very nice and not particularly concerned that I might be dangerous.  He just asked me to show them where it was.

As I started to lead them upstairs a horrible feeling settled into my stomach.  A certainty that I really had imagined it all.  That when I opened the spare room door the thing would be gone, or worse still be there but only I would be able to see it.  A figment of a diseased mind.  By the top of the stairs the feeling became a certainty.  My legs were full of lead as I moved to the spare room doorway and opened the door.  Saw the body still lying there.  Turned back to the detective and his two scruffy colleagues expecting to see the polite puzzlement on their faces as they gazed at an empty room.  Unable to see my hallucination.

What I saw instead was a grim smile on the detectives face as he nodded his head slowly.  He put his hand on my shoulder and drew me out of the room.

“Let’s go downstairs and leave my friends to clean up this mess.  I could murder a cup of tea.”

Relieved but head in a whirl I let him lead me downstairs again and made him his tea, aware all the while of thuds and other noises from upstairs.  As I gave him his tea and joined him in sitting at the table the other two came down the stairs. I caught a glimpse of them carrying a now full rubbish sack out the door.  No prizes for guessing what was in it.  I turned back to the detective to ask a question… many questions… but he stopped me with a raised hand.

“Sir, I must tell you that I can’t answer any of your questions.  I can tell you very little.  But there are a few things I can say which should help you.”

He took a sip of his tea, sighed then looked me in the eyes.

“Firstly I can tell you that you are not mad.  You did not imagine that creature.  Did not imagine what I’m sure it did to you last night and probably on many others.

I can also tell you that you are not the first.  While rare these creatures have been encountered before.  Others have had experiences very similar to yours.

Next is a piece of advice.  Tell no one.  Don’t talk about this.  Don’t go to the press, your doctor, the police.” 

He looked embarrassed.

“That is… the regular police.  In case you haven’t already guessed your call was intercepted by our monitoring.  Tell no one.  No one will believe you.  Even if they are suffering the same assaults as you, night after night, they will have no memory of it.  Talking is just going to get you labelled, cut off.  Maybe committed.

“Finally, a piece of good news.  These things seem to each latch onto one person.  To be attracted to the… well the mental taste of that person I guess.  Once one of them is killed we have never seen a case where the victim is targeted again.”

He took a large drink from his tea and stood.  Headed for the kitchen door then stopped, turned back and cast his eyes over the kitchen.

“Alcohol?” he asked.  “And a carving knife?”

I just nodded.  He stood for a moment in thought then reached into his pocket and handed over a black business card with just a mobile number printed in white.

“I’m impressed,” he said.  “Very few people have the strength of mind to fight back at all.  You found a way.”

“What’s this for?” I asked.  “What happens if I call this number?”

“You get answers.  Answers to the questions already building in your head.  Answers you may wish you’d never known.  And one day in the future you may get to stand in someone’s kitchen giving them the same talk I’ve just given you.  Giving them one of those cards.”  He paused, then grinned.  “That’s what happened to me.”

And then he was gone.  Leaving me with the card, my memories and two cooling cups of tea.  What did I do?  I went back to bed and slept most of the day away.  With no nightmares.

* * *

Three days later I called the number on the card.  Of course.  How could I not?  And that lead me to… well.  That’s a whole other story, and not one I can tell you.  I’ll just wish you a good night and pleasant dreams. 

And if they aren’t pleasant then try alcohol and a kitchen knife, but be ready for the hangover from hell.

The End

More Speculative Stories…

3 thoughts on “Morning After (Rest of the Story)

  1. Shades of Men in Black – a “who dun it” that you don’t know “who dun it”!

    This was a good short read that leaves you hanging – and that is not all bad. At least I don’t have a hangover and I can be satisfied with the ending, while still wanting more. I did enjoy it!

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