When I woke I didn't open my eyes for a few seconds. I came around slowly and lazily. It felt as though I'd been sleeping for such a long time. I had a violent banging headache; I could definitely do with a headache tablet. I resolved there and then not to drink any more alcohol - ever!
Something though had disturbed me. Some kind of motion, like the aftershock from an earth tremor. Did we have earth tremors in Yorkshire? I really didn't know, I'd never felt one before. Did the earth move for you darling?
It was quiet, really quiet, and almost too quiet. I opened my eyes and couldn't see a blessed thing. It was so dark, so very dark. Where was I, I wondered? Where was everybody? Where were my wife and children?
I felt a bit uncomfortable and tried turning over but couldn't. Have you ever had that experience where you wake in the morning and you can't move? You are fully awake; fully conscious but you can't move a muscle. You're aware of your surroundings but can't even open your eyes. I once read that this phenomenon happens when the brain wakes but the body doesn't. Anyway, whatever the cause, when it happens it is absolutely terrifying.
I don't think that's the case now though. I seemed to be hemmed in on either side. I considered where I could be. I was obviously lying in bed, in a dark room, with the bed sheets holding me so tight that I couldn't move.
I thought for a second that I could hear voices. Somewhere near but far away at the same time. A boring voice that droned on and on and on. I tried to concentrate but couldn't it was so difficult to hear anything. I certainly couldn't make out any words, only the funny thing is I thought I heard my name mentioned. Sobbing too; I could definitely hear the sounds of crying.
It was hot, not overbearingly hot but stiflingly. No air in the room, which was probably why I had a headache. They could do with a window open I thought. I wished someone would come along and let me know what was happening.
I must be dreaming, nightmare more like. Where was everybody, why can't I move? Is this reality, has the world ended, am I in limbo? The questions bounced round my brain. I closed my eyes and opened them again, still nothing. Absolutely pitch black; Dylan Thomas bible black.
I must have drifted off, for how long I have no idea, but when I came round again I could hear music, a familiar tune for sure, but what was it? I strained to listen. Not only music but singing as well, it was a bit wonky and off key but pleasant all the same.
"And did those feet in ancient times.
Walk upon England's mountains green"
It was Jerusalem, of course, my all time favourite hymn. A must have at my funeral, not that I'd know of course if they played it at mine or not. I relaxed then and stopped worrying. It couldn't be all bad if I could hear Jerusalem. I just lay back and drank in the music and those wonderful words of William Blake's before joining in for the last couple of lines.
"'Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land"
What next, I wondered, for my entertainment? Another noise. What was it? I know, it sounds just like curtains opening. Hello, I'm moving, or at least the bed I'm lying in was. Backwards as well: I was moving backwards. I jerked to a halt. What next? The curtain noise again but closing this time, then silence. I'm getting good at these noises I thought.
Nothing for a while, no noises, no music, or singing, but then gradually, very gradually I heard a soft whooshing sound that seemed to increase in volume and intensity and finally it seemed like an express train was thundering through the room. Now what could this be? The temperature increased along with the whooshing noise until I almost expected flames to burst through the ceiling…
Copyright (c) Chris Gallagher