I hear the knocking. Holding my breath I glare into the intense darkness straining my ears for the most minuscule sound. There it is! It’s getting louder, the rapping of knuckles against wood. It’s impatient. Someone should really get the door, but I cannot. Paralyzed I lay in wait. The doors unlocked. Maybe whoever it is will figure it out and just come in.
Rap, tap, tap. Again and again and again. The sound beats on my brain pounding like that clanking old type writer that, that poet hammers on upstairs when decent people are sleeping.
Rap, tap, tap. It’s worse than the old woman two floors down who hacked through Beethoven’s symphonies on piano, worse than the young man two doors down who sung opera painfully out of tune in the wrong key.
Rap, tap, tap. I wish I could swing myself out of bed, but if I try they will come back in with the big needle and I’ll spin back into endless nightmares. The big needle doesn’t stop the nightmares. They think it does, but they’re wrong. They pretend not to hear me scream after they use it. Who cares if it doesn’t work as long as I’m not awake to cause trouble. They don’t care.
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. The noise crescendos. I’m surprised they don’t hear it. Shouldn’t they hear it? Shouldn’t they stop it?
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. “Stop it! Stooooop!”
The doors bang open. I struggle to sit up. I have to get my hands free. Why won’t they take this stupid jacket off? How am I supposed to do anything with this stupid jacket on? Rap, tap, tap “Shhhh! It’s alright. Just lay back down.” It’s one of them. The voice bites through the air. I can smell the bloody mouth. I can see the bulge of the needle concealed beneath the lab coat.
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. “Please, please. I’ll go back to bed. I just can’t take the tapping. Please stop the tapping.” I can’t free my hands. I need to free my hands.
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. The doctor pulls the big needle from his coat. “No, please! I will sleep! Just stop the tapping!”
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. Faster and faster. I wriggle as the needle pinches my neck. “Shhhhh! Just go to sleep. It’s alright. There ain’t no tapping. You’ll be fine.”
Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap. Rap, tap. The darkness smothers me. I struggle to fight it. I just have to get my hands free.
Creak. The doctor’s mumbling drifts back to me. “Good thing it was only Fred this time. Poor guy always hears things. He doesn’t know he’s got four other people rattling round his brain.”
The darkness swallows me and I see her standing over me, the knocker. Her yellow eyes glow through the blackness. “Took you long enough. Out! It’s my turn.”