Sunday, 27 March 2011

Journey VII – A Bad Dream

It was a horrible shock when I awoke. It was still dark out and I seemed to be alone in one of the upstairs rooms. It occurred to me that maybe I’d never been downstairs and the woman had been a dream, but of course there’s no dreaming in the afterlife. I looked down and my shorts were still very damp and had been split from front to back. I clearly remembered her ripping them to get better access to me. I felt terribly exposed and I felt sure there was something else there with me, waiting.
I think back now and I try to work out how to describe it. Hackneyed phrases come to mind – “Night Terrors”, “Nameless Dread” but they’re too obvious. I’d co-existed with this fear since that first night but had learned to ignore it because I felt safe enough at the hostel and I was rarely alone at night. I’d locked my door and pulled the curtains of my room. I’d kept music playing. Sometimes I’d kept a light on. Now I was alone, in a strange house, at night, virtually naked, and cold and wet too. Why was that? I’d read of female ejaculation somewhere but never experienced it. It didn’t smell at all bad – rather good actually – warm and fleshy and not at all pissy. The scent gave me a powerful thrill. I supposed most blokes were used to this sort of thing – women flooding the place when they had an orgasm, but it was new to me. It was all new to me. I wanted to call out for her but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and also didn’t know her name. I scurried to the door and opened it a fraction. There was a light on, a hallway but no sign of the stairs, lots of doorways. I couldn’t find my boots or vest. I did my shorts up as best I could but still felt very vulnerable. The zip did up but my nuts fell out the rip. I was walking with my legs crossed. It was ridiculous. I’d wandered around naked at festivals before – around the saunas. It’d always felt quite a powerful thing to do – strong, individual, defiant. I knew I’d feel better like that than I would crouched down trying to hold my trousers together so I took them off and carried them. It was exactly like one of those dreams where you’re in a strange place and you’ve somehow mislaid all your clothes. I thought maybe I could find a towel or something to put around myself later.
I started off down the corridor, keeping an eye out for nails and broken glass on the bare, paint-splattered floorboards. I padded silently along, peering cautiously into the doorways, if they were open, as I went along. I saw nothing but knew there was something about. Sounds took me by surprise but were impossible to locate. The air felt terribly hot and close. The wall behind me was warm to the touch. I swivelled around to try to catch them out but just saw the other end of the corridor with its broom cupboard at the far end, silent and somehow waiting – the reason I hadn’t gone that way to begin with. I stood against the wall, my hands pressed against it, trying to concentrate. Everything was dusty and stained – not like the second floor I’d seen before. Old cobwebs choked with sooty dust hung from the ceiling. The unshaded bulb showed dust on everything. Crumbled plaster revealed broken laths and worrying holes in the walls. Decomposing and singed carpet lay in a heap in the far corner. An ugly bedside cabinet stood incongruous by a window. The broom cupboard had a pile of junk in it and a mop, head up, standing in the middle. (How was it doing that?) I carried on away toward the far end of the corridor. I needn’t have worried about my penis hanging out – it’d shrunk to the size of an acorn.
At the end of the corridor was a landing and a staircase down. I leaned over the banisters. The floor below was in darkness. There was some rubbish at the bottom but I couldn’t see any further. That was when I heard it behind me – like a rush of breath in a throat. I snapped around and immediately noticed that the pile of old carpets was in a different place and the broom cupboard’s contents had spilled out onto the floor. Some of the things were right beside me. It made absolutely no sense and seemed laughable but I hadn’t actually seen anything move and I was terrified. I looked down the stairs. There was nowhere else to go and I was panicking now anyway. Only later did I survey the damage to my feet where the little nails had gone in. At the bottom of the stairs I found a corridor going back the way I’d come and more doorways. The sound behind me I can only liken to a babble of voices, coming from the stairs and the floor above. They knew I was there – maybe not exactly where I was, but it was only a matter of time. I moved forward into the dark corridor. I had a feeling that I might be safer in the darkness. There was a sound like something big coming down from above, not using the stairs, just falling, and I ran. I didn’t see it, I just ran. I was running toward where the broom cupboard was above but this corridor took a right turn and I found myself in a once plush dining room, dimly lit by the street lamps outside. I went to the window and found I was not at the front of the house as I’d expected. There seemed to be a back garden instead, one floor below. The garden was dark and overgrown as far as I could tell, with more trash lying about. I tried the window but it wouldn’t budge. There were sounds in the corridor briefly and the light was now on out there. I considered breaking the window. Maybe later, if all else failed. I looked around me – stacked chairs, tables. I considered wrapping myself in a tablecloth but modesty really didn’t seem a high priority. I still had my shorts gripped tight in my hand. I sniffed them. She smelt fantastic. Maybe this is hell, I thought. Maybe they have that woman already. Or maybe she was bait, getting me ready for them. I didn’t want to think about it. Anyway they didn’t seem to be very bright. I was utterly defenceless and lost and yet they didn’t seem to know where I was. Or maybe they knew I had nowhere to go and this was part of the game, part of the torture – letting me stew in her juices.
As I stood there, trying to breathe silently I realised I’d known this was coming all along. I knew if I let myself be lost and alone they’d find me, like all the others, being kept and tortured somewhere alone. We would never see each other again but we would be all around, in the walls, under the floors, gagged and trussed. Maybe in all these dead-eyed houses it had been going on around me all along. That’s how I knew about it.
‘Stop’ I said to myself. I needed to think. I needed to get out. I looked around for some sort of weapon but couldn’t imagine a way to defend myself. I couldn’t imagine a way to hide. All I could think of was to keep moving. A door at the far end was open and I looked through. There was a narrow flight of stairs down, a light on, and muffled voices. I heard a man’s laugh. They could well be waiting down there. I could smell blood and shit. That was where they wanted me to go. I went toward the door I’d come in by and looked down the brightly lit passage. I looked toward the stairs I’d come down. They could be waiting there too. I didn’t know what to do. I was completely stuck. Why weren’t there guides with us? They should have come off the boat with us. This shouldn’t have been able to happen. I crouched down by the window and covered myself with a tablecloth and stared at the door, and waited.

Time passes. It’s a very long night. I hear nothing. I can’t sense them any more but I still can’t risk moving. Maybe day will come and I’ll be ok. I think about the woman. I don’t regret it. It was the most amazing sexual experience I ever had and we didn’t even fuck. We hardly even spoke. That was a good thing. She just came and took me and it happened, just like that, just right – no words, no opportunity for me to say something stupid, fluff my lines. What a woman. A faint grey light seeps in through the window without me really noticing. I must have dozed off. I look about me – plaster dust and spilt paint on a worn out wine red carpet. I can still smell offal and excrement. It gets lighter out and I move to the door, and look out. It feels safe, cool and airy, not like last night. I pad quickly along to the far end and find a main staircase down on the right. I take it and stand in the morning light in a hallway with the front door ahead. Outside on the step I turn and see that the house where the party was is next door. I’m in a run-down guesthouse. I don’t remember coming here. I put the shorts on as best I can and walk down the path, along the pavement and up to the front door, which is ajar. Two or three guests are still about and music (sounds like something by the Apricot Wallflowers) is playing quietly. Someone is making coffee, thank whoever. I find my vest on the floor and put it on. It also smells strongly of her, and of wine.
‘You look like shit my man’ says the coffee maker, grinning. He’s a tall man with a ponytail and what I’ve always thought of as a very Australian face. There’s definitely something of the Great Grey about him.
‘Thanks’ I say, wearily. ‘Did you see the woman I was with last night?’
‘Hard to miss’ he says. ‘What did you do with her?’ and I explain my exploits next door and that I’m worried about her. I leave out the bit about the torture – I don’t want to seem completely insane. The man – Aaron, hands me a coffee, indicates the sugar bowl and goes to ask his ‘lady friend’ if she knows where Sophie went, for that’s her name apparently.
‘Next door’ is the answer. ‘She said she was going next door to crash. I thought she was with you.’
‘We got separated’ I say, lamely. ‘Can you come and help me look? I’m a bit...’ and I shake my head and look dazed. It’s not entirely an act.
‘Sure. Give us a mo. Drink your coffee – it’ll get cold.’
I can’t help worrying that we’ll be too late, but I wait anyway and I drink my coffee. It’s really getting light now. She’s probably in no more danger now than she was five minutes ago. At least I know she’s a real person, with a name and all, not just some demon temptress come to lure me to hell. My exploits quickly come to seem absurd in the chilly morning light. It feels like a bad dream. The details are already receding. I ask a bit more about her. Gina, the ‘lady friend’, has met her a few times at parties and says she seems really nice. Last night was unusual – she’s not seen her do that before, ‘but she does tend to approach things in a fairly unorthodox way’ apparently.
‘If she wants something badly enough she does tend to go for it full on’ adds Aaron admiringly.
Evidently she wanted me badly enough, I think to myself, and feel very chuffed. I do like a woman who knows her own mind.

We go next door, Aaron, Gina and I, and we find Sophie sitting on the front step looking, if anything even blearier than I do.
‘Hey babe what happened to you?’ she says looking sleepily up at me.
‘I got completely lost’ I say. ‘Long story. I’ll tell you later. Do you want breakfast?’ She nods happily and I give her a hand up. One of her breasts has come free again and the demolished state of my shorts quickly becomes apparent. She giggles, pulls her strap up and reaches down to cover my modesty. ‘Oops’ she says. ‘Better get you sorted out. Sorry about that. I got a bit carried away didn’t I.’ and we walk back with her giggling, bending down, holding her dress out in front of me like a curtain, while I pretend to try to look dignified.
The four of us ate an excellent breakfast and I dismissed the previous night’s horrors from my thoughts.

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A life backwards

It's in the nature of blogs of course that you come across the latest postings first (or you find yourself in the middle.) Normally it doesn't matter but if you want to read my novel in order, the first installment is as you'd expect, the oldest posting.
Thanks for your patience.