1.8 - THE SLEEP-OVER
The combination of alcohol, a sense of worthlessness, cried-out eyes and anxiety, finally caused Becky to spiral into a restless slumber.
Echoes of conversations flitted through her mind mingled with images ranging from her heart-crushing discovery in Michael’s flat to the musical cavorting of her companions from earlier that evening. All back to front and upside down, of course, as such images often were to the mind which simply could not shut down.
Semi-conscious phases had her peeling her eyes open for mere seconds, wondering where she was before drifting off again to continue her journey through a lurid dreamscape.
One voice kept repeating the same words over and over - ”Look not upon him, for he is marked." She combed through her subconscious images, trying to locate the owner of that voice. It taunted her, circling, closing in.
She felt agitated. Unbeknown to her, a battle with the duvet had commenced - and the odds were not in her favour. Half of it lay on the floor already. The coolness of the night would soon seep into her bones.
Her dreams then took a very dark turn as she saw herself standing next to the mysterious stranger. A swell of dark liquid rippled and pooled towards her, slick and steamy. She was trying to dodge its persistent trajectory.
Glancing back at the man, she gasped. His eyes were black, the deepest obsidian, behind which she sensed an interminable sadness.
A sound like beating wings neared them; large, powerful. Oppressive. Both she and the man turned in the direction from whence it came. She knew not why, but she felt the onslaught of dread; not because of the man, but for what was closing in on them.
Rapid drumming escalated. Distantly, she heard her name being called. She felt herself pulling away from the dream, slowly at first, sluggish and a little unwilling. But, someone wanted her attention. She was projected forward and with a jolt, she was wide awake.
Disorientated for a moment, she looked to the door of her room. Someone was knocking on it, desperate, anxious. “Becky! Becky, wake up. Please!”
Instinctively, she reached for her phone. Notifications of messages and calls she’s missed from Michael sat glaring at her but she paid little heed, instead focusing on what ungodly hour the clock displayed. Three twenty-seven it read. Roughly three hours broken sleep which felt more like three minutes. The knocking continued.
She grabbed her dressing-gown and hauled herself out of bed, tripping on the duvet as her feet hit the ground. Quickly gathering it up, she dumped it on the bed before switching on the centre light. Tying her belt around her waist she moved to the door.
“Becky! It’s Nick and Craig.”
She opened the door to find the still costume-clad couple standing with two policemen and the proprietor of the guest house. She ran her fingers through her tousled hair. “What’s happened? What’s going on?” she asked all five at once.
Craig spat out that someone had broken into their room when they were out. On reporting it to the owners, the police were called.
She was asked what time she’d arrived back, had she seen anything out of the ordinary, or heard anything remotely suspicious? She shook her head, explaining she wasn’t sure the exact hour but thought it was around 11.30 when she got in. She’d showered then promptly went to bed. She didn’t admit to tossing and turning for about another hour before falling asleep, but it was irrelevant anyway as she’d truly heard nothing.
The police had asked Craig and Nick if anything seemed to have been taken. They didn’t think so, but could not be sure, nonetheless, the guys were obviously not keen to spend the night in their room, especially when advised that an emergency locksmith could take anything up to 2 hours to attend.
The boys in blue then said they would return in the morning to investigate further when everyone was calmer and less excitable. It was recommended the plague doctor and Frank N Furter should try to get some sleep.
Conversation then evolved into the proprietor apologising profusely for the inconvenience caused to his guests by such a violation.
Becky offered to put them up in her room, stating they were friends and she would rather they felt safe than stressed out any further. She inquired if the owner at least had a spare duvet and some pillows so she could sleep on the floor. He duly delivered the necessary.
Between their ample alcohol intake and shocks for the evening, thankfully the couple were keen to settle down. Nick kept expressing his gratitude to Becky, giving her hugs, kisses on her cheeks and more hugs.
Eventually, Craig told him to stop and come to bed. All were exhausted from their first evening at the festival, not all for the right reasons, but they had 2 more days of this to go and break-in or not, he was determined they were going to enjoy the rest of the weekend.
By the time soft snores emanated from them, Becky was beyond sleep. She dragged the pillows and duvet over to the armchair next to the bay window and pulling the drapes back just a little, she curled up and stared out of the window.
Her eyes drifted over the nearby buildings, all shuttered, or curtains and blinds closed. Few had slivers of light leaking from their windows, implying the majority of the neighbourhood was now fast asleep.
The moon was full, bright, almost golden. It hung over the sleepy town like a sentinel, guarding the little people as they slumbered.
Her gaze moved to the moors, a few miles north-west of her location. Giant cranes and drilling rigs, although distant, were still operational, the night-shift no doubt counting down the hours before they could swap out with the day workers. The security and roving vehicle headlights made the industrial site appear to be inhabited by monstrous metallic silhouettes. It was impossible to escape the spooky element no matter where you looked in the town.
And oddly that swung her thoughts to the incident on her way back to her room. The mysterious man seemed to haunt her whether it be during her waking hours or indeed her dreams. What was it about him? she wondered. Was it simply the costume, the dark and brooding vibes he emitted? Or his accent? She could not hazard a guess where that hailed from, but it sounded quite exotic for all he barely spoke. The tiniest of smiles tweaked the corners of her mouth. He had been her knight in shining armour though, rescuing her bag and shooing off the thief.
Another consideration, completely unbidden and unwelcome then crossed her mind. What if the person who had broken into Craig and Nick’s room was one and the same thief who snatched her bag? Should she have mentioned it to the police?
She snuggled down between the duvet and the pillows, plonking her feet on the small matching footstool. No, somehow she thought it highly unlikely to be the same person. If, what Craig and Nick described was the case, she doubted that skinny little thief had the strength nor the know-how to snap a lock in the manner which it had been done.
Finally, she felt the allure of sleep beckoning her again. She glanced at the bed, smiling as she thought of the occupants as her two newfound ‘Besties’, in for a sleepover. Strangely, they made her feel more relaxed than she had been since finding out her boyfriend was banging someone else.
Before long, her own little snores joined the chorus of her guest sleepers.