Back to sleep

I was being chased again, but this time the murky figure, yet to rear his ugly face, has a weapon. A sharpened blade. Every night he chases me, but somehow I have been out-running him for 15 years. I have never met him, in fact, I’m not even sure it is a man. However, I will still refer to the elusive “Blade-runner” as a man. As the low level fog descends upon my earthly soul, I have the intense sensation of mortality. Each part of my body is engulfed with fear and choked with anxiety, the already full-flowing adrenaline increases in its potency and spirals out of control to the inevitable crescendo of fear, shock and relief.

The cold sweat, which continually soaks my forehead, only adds to the never-ending list of problems. I know he is chasing me and I know he will not stop until he catches me. But the question is, “Why? Why is he chasing me? ” Ever since I can remember, he has been chasing me. I remember not wanting to go to bed, making up all manner of equally unreasonable and unbelievable scenarios in which I would not have to sleep. As everyone knows who has ever experienced someone chasing them in their sleep, going without sleep only adds to the intensity and fear of the situation.

So what choice do I have? As the increasingly dramatic events unfold, I am standing at the top of the alleyway, kicking a ball aimlessly at the fence, when all of a sudden the oh-so familiar footsteps beat against the uneven concrete, like a drumstick on a drum. When my head reluctantly swivels to reveal the murky figure, the cold breath that fills my lungs cannot even get close to the reality of fear. The trembling legs, the chilled hairs on my back stand up like pitch-forks and tears fill my eyes. What ensues is something so scary and terrifying, it would make the hardiest of people quake.

The reason it is so horrifying is the not knowing. Being left in the dark, hearing the deadly precise steps that not only unnerve, but freeze you where you stand. He cannot be more than 20 metres away. As our eyes meet, his show the burning desire of retribution and contempt, but where do I fit in? The pace of his footsteps increases, as I wish mine would, but still locked onto his gaze I feel paralysed. The ability to walk, let alone run, was swiftly taken away by my fear. However hard I try, I cannot not move. He breaks into a sprint.

Every second, he gets closer and closer. I am mentally exhausted and just willing myself to move. I muster all my strength in a last attempt at escape. He cannot be more than 10 metres away. My legs are starting to move, but not at the pace I want. He is still chasing me, but this is wrong, very wrong. I have passed the withered old tree without waking up. A high pitched siren echoes through the alleyway, but in my current situation I don’t take much notice of it. I have never got to the end of the alley before, but I am trying to put all of my effort into running.

The siren is getting louder and louder, making it harder to concentrate. I figure I need to establish how far ahead I am, but before I can look back, I feel the hot breath from his mouth. When I manage to turn my head, I see my aggressor close up. Thoughts of shock fill me. It is a man, unshaven, in his thirties, wearing a torn jumper with paint-spattered trousers. He draws his knife and proceeds to go for me. A car, screeching its brakes tears off the road, into the alley. To my relief it is a police-car.

In film-like style a tall, black man draws his pistol from the car, takes aim and fires, and fires again, and again. The gun-shots echo through the silence of the alley. A thud a second later, accompanied by the clattering of metal, can only be one thing. I swing round to see him slumped on the ground, lying next to his knife. Blood spills from his many wounds. I am still shaking as the other officer puts a blanket round me. My eyes flash open to see my mother putting a blanket over me. She smiles and says, “You were shaking, dear. I thought you were cold”.

As she turns the radio on and leaves the room, my ears pricked up to hear . . . “News just in – a convict from Wormwood Scrubbs who has been on the run for 15 years was shot dead in the early hours of this morning when neighbours alerted the police to a man wielding a knife, chasing a teenage boy. Chief Superintendent John Redford reported, ‘It has taken 15 years to catch this man. His time has now run out. Once again, we can sleep without fear in our beds. ‘” Upon hearing this, instead of getting ready for school, I switch off the radio, roll over, and go back to sleep.

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