The Sleeper in the Dark

by James Beattie Morison
© 2009 James Beattie Morison

Someone wakes up to find that they are not alone in a dark room.

The snoring dominated his thoughts for a long time. What it was, he dared not think. He wished to see light. He could remember nothing from his short life that could help him identify the beast he could hear snoring in the darkness. The faint memories of his happy life had but little connection to his present existence. He tried to link his last memories to the room in an effort to find some escape. He failed to discover even one clue.

Through all his thoughts the snoring continued, carrying with them the realization they were far beyond his feeble resources of control. His only desire was to live to see again the light of day.

Again and again his mind drifted back to what could be sleeping so close to him in the dark. Each second magnified his desire to leave the room. Still, the even greater fear of waking the beast and unleashing untold fury, held him back. He knew he would die just as horrorably if he stayed as he would if caught trying to leave. Still he delayed, hoping that in some way he might wake up.

As he slowly began to realize that he was awake as he would ever be, he found that he could no longer contain his growing desire to leave. He shifted his weight on the bed. He turned and slowly lowered his feet to the floor, trying to maintain the silence of the grave. He stood up and listened to the snoring to detect any indications of his imminent demise. The unchanged snoring seemed to taunt him onto greater risks.

Somewhat embolden by his success at standing up he started to move slowly across the floor away from the snoring. After what seemed years of slow shuffling over an infinite plane, he seemed no further from the beast in the dark. As he continued on his way, he wondered if he would make it to the side of the room in his lifetime, however short it might be.

He reached the wall. It was a cold and slightly damp stonewall, but never had he been so relived by the cold mouldy dampness that momentarily dominated his senses. With contact of the wall, he began to entertain a thought that could explain the snores that still rumbled through the room. As he followed the wall, he slowly began to convince himself the snoring was all in his mind. He was still determined to leave at his first chance.

When he reached the door, he almost yelled aloud for joy. He reached for the handle and turned it. Then he went to pull it open. It refused to budge. He was beginning to doubt his rationalisation of the snoring. He now began to pull harder on the handle as he tried to control his panic. He found himself lying on the floor with the handle loose in his hand. He froze as he realized the snoring had stopped.

He knew now it was no figment of his imagination. He lay there on the cold floor waiting for the sound of the beast coming to have his feast. The silence was more fearful than the sound, which had preceded it. He wished he would die quickly as sound continued its absence

He nearly fainted when he heard the snoring start. It was a reprieve from a death sentence. He waited still. Fearful lest his breathing stop the snoring again. After a short time he, he decided to risk standing. He reached his feet without any sound.

He did not bother checking the door, it obviously being useless as an egress from the room. He began moving along the wall in the direction he had been going.

He had become slightly hypnotized by the snoring when he nearly walked into the next wall. It took a surprisingly long time before he realised he had come to a corner. The snoring continued. He started out along the new wall thinking that the room must cover an entire planet.

He thought he had finally found a real exit. It was a window! If he could not open it, he could smash it. After several ineffective tries, he decided only a super man could open it.

Looking out the window, he could see the faint glow in the east that prophesied dawn. He then turned his eyes downward to the dark waters far below. He thought he would gain nothing by dying in the fall than by dying in the room. He turned and looked into the dark to await the first glimpse of the sleeper

He was puzzled, for as it grew lighter, he became more fearful, rather than bolder as he had expected. He stared at the room, trying to visualize what monstrosity it concealed. He listened to the now irregular snoring coming from the not so dark room. He could see the bed now. He wished the light had not come. He gazed to the back of the room as the climbing sun revealed the room’s secrets to the young man.

He marvelled at the room’s enormity and apparent functions as he prepared for the last secret. He now thought of half-forgotten tales of the gods, who had built such buildings in the eons before man came. All memories ceased as the sun revealed the room’s last and darkest secret to the young man’s battered conscience. He didn’t notice the snoring had stopped.

Slowly the sleeper’s eyes opened and blinked in the unaccustomed light. The sleeper glanced about the empty room. The eyes finally focussed on the open window as the sleeper rose to greet the long awaited dawn.

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