Paranoia, paranoia everybody’s coming to get me,
Just say you never met me,
I’m going underground with the moles digging holes.
The lyrics go around my head over and over, like a scratched CD that just won’t move on to the next verse.
I started singing it to remind myself that it’s just in my head. Instead, since I only know those first three lines courtesy of yesterday’s Peep Show binge, the same lyrics play on an unending loop and are only contributing to the fear that’s been squeezing at my chest and churning the acid in my stomach for minutes.
My forehead is sticky with moisture, but I’m unsure how much is perspiration and how much is condensation from my anxious, rasping breath which has nowhere to escape to beneath the comforting heaviness of the duvet. The backs of my knees are certainly sweaty – that’s what happens when you desperately maintain the foetal position for, what – an hour, two?
It’s too hot to be wrapped up in bed, but poking my head out into the cold emptiness of the night is not an option. Not while I can still hear the faint scratches coming from inside the wardrobe.
I thought they stopped a little while ago. I held my breath, pricked my ears and listened out for the muffled sound. It didn’t come. It didn’t come for several minutes. But just as I was about to pull the duvet down from over my head I heard it again, and chose to remain tucked up in my safe spot for a while longer.
I call it a safe spot, but it’s actually the opposite. If there is something dangerous lurking in the pits of the wardrobe, hiding beneath the mounds of unworn clothes that should have been hung up weeks ago, then being in the same room as it is perhaps the stupidest thing I could do. But I can’t move. Moving might alert it to my presence. Maybe it was ignorant of me lying here trying to sleep, and moving would mean I was practically feeding myself to it.
Or maybe it has never been ignorant of me. Maybe it knows I’m here and is simply waiting for an opportune moment to strike, which is when I get out of bed and try to escape from the room. Maybe it knows its sounds are frightening me, and it’s waiting for me to get really good and scared before it pounces. I can’t give it that satisfaction.
And I mean, really, I can’t. I couldn’t move out of this bed if I tried. I curled up, foetus-style, with the duvet pulled high up above my head several hours ago – maybe even days ago – and I’ve been unable to move since. I’m starting to wonder if my joints and muscles have started to seize up.
Is blood even reaching my limbs? I’m probably going to develop bed sores or thrombosis from my lack of movement. Do you even notice when a clot starts to build in your veins, or is the first you hear of it when you’re clutching your chest, breathing your last? My calf is aching. It’s starting.
I’m going to die here. I might as well come to terms with it. I will die tonight, either at the hands of the mystery wardrobe dweller, or as a result of health complications arising from my stupid paranoia, paranoia everybody’s coming to get me…
The words won’t stop. I can’t stop them. Over and over, louder and louder every minute until I can no longer hear my own breath or even the scratching at the wardrobe. But I won’t fall for the tricks. I’m not listening out for silence. Even if there was silence I wouldn’t hear it over my own paranoia, paranoia…
There’s a creak.
I’m sure that was a creak.
Maybe it’s coming out to say hello.
That was definitely the creak of my wardrobe door.
It’s going to come to destroy me. To devour me. To send me straight to the pits of hell.
The lyrics have stopped. The scratching has stopped. My breath is held.
I can hear nothing except the dull whoosh, whoosh, whoosh of my heartbeat in my ears.
Is that normal? They say if you can hear your heartbeat there’s something wrong with your heart. It must be the sound of blood rushing around the clot which has creeped into my brain.
A dull thud and the bed shakes, ever so gently. It’s coming for me.
Will the clot get me first, or the wardrobe monster? Perhaps both will strike at the same time.
I feel pressure on my legs. It’s coming from outside the duvet. Light pressure. It’s climbing me. I can feel its feet clambering up my hip, across the top of arm, over my head.
I knew I should have clamped the upper end the duvet down with my hand, the same as I did at the bottom end with my feet. Now it has an easy entrance. It simply needs to wriggle under the sheets and it will be down here with me in my hot, sticky hideout, killing me slowly and painfully, or even eating me alive.
But I can’t move my arms now to secure the duvet. I’ve been turned to stone by paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s coming to get me…
I hear snuffles as it begins to nudge its nose beneath the duvet. It’s sniffing me out. It can smell my fear and the blood which by now must be pooling in my brain.
I’ll face it. I have to face it. I need to see the thing that kills me.
With monumental effort and a creak of my stiff spine, I raise my head to face the creature.
I expel relieved breath straight into her face and she chirrups her distaste to me. My body unwinds and I only realise now just how tight my muscles had been clenched.
The cat’s paws pat reassuringly on the mattress as she slinks into the centre of my cocoon and curls up in the crook of my torso. I’ll remain in foetal position, I suppose, since she’s settled down to sleep beside me. But I’ll pull the duvet down, just a little, so that I can breathe in some fresh air.
The chilly lungful soothes my body more and my sticky forehead relishes the cool touch of the night.
The cat remains by my torso, already slipping into an ignorant slumber.
It isn’t over yet.
This post was inspired by prompt no. 287 from ThinkWritten.com.