I am lying in the dark. The firm roll-mat mattress fails to disguise the wooden slats that are holding my back a few inches off the ground. Eyes tight open and air stoppered into my lungs; I have not breathed out for years; I am still lying in the dark.
The first night I slept I sensed a wall above my head. The wall was extraordinary in that it was real while the rest of the room merely ghosted with the solidity of a security camera recording. The floor and ceiling, even the other walls, were blurred and smudged and makeshift. Weightless. I stayed perfectly motionless until dawn with my lips closed and lids open. My mouth was hot and dry.
On the second night I slept I was roused by a draft coming from the wall above my head. Everything else was the same. Then came movement behind the wall, a muttering which sounded like thinking aloud. I tried to look without moving and swore I saw an edge of light. I stayed perfectly motionless until dawn with my lips closed and lids open. In my mouth there was a gritty touch like my teeth were about to splinter; an ice cube dropped into warm water. The sound of cracking stayed with me until the morning.
I am asleep with my head near the wall. No matter where else I try to sleep it is only here that I can lay down and rest. It is the third night. Movement above me twists me awake as I crane round to look at the wall. Part of it, close to my left shoulder, opens like a door. Light that seems darker than the room frames a figure in silhouette. I only see it as it moves, lumbering and swift, it moves for me. A monstrous child. Taking in a lungful of air my body begs to scream, to scream as hard as my heart will give. But that is where I stop. Lying on my back, twisted at the waist, staring at the wall next to my face I lie. Air is within and without but the meniscus of my throat is frozen to burst.
With muscles set in rigor the morning has not come to bring me breath. I am lying still.