15 September 2010

Sleeping To Death

June 2010

Looking around the room, I nodded my head and placed my suitcase next to the bed. “I like it, I’ll move in next Monday.”

My new roommate Jonathan nodded his head and smiled. He was a simple fellow; never asked too many questions. He didn’t know why someone with such a good job would want a cramped room to stay in. He didn’t know who my previous roommate had been. And thankfully, he never asked me...

April 2010, Two months earlier

Sam and I were getting along well. It had hardly been three weeks since we’d begun sharing a room, and already I considered him one of my closest friends. Many a time we would stay up at night, lying in our beds that were adjacent to opposite walls, talking about our lives. It was a comfortable routine. Until I woke up in the middle of the night.

I opened my eyes, awoken by some sound. Slowly, I raised my head and looked around. The room was still, bathed in the moonlight streaming from the window. I realised that the window was open. I should have understood something was wrong, right then. Instead, I got up lazily, closed the window, and went back to sleep.

Two nights later, I was awoken again. But this time, my blood quickly turned cold. For a moment, my heart stopped beating. And then I could feel my body tremble with fear.

Illuminated by the moonlight, forming a looming shadow on the floor, was the figure of a man, perfectly motionless. With my head partially covered under sheets of blanket, I peered at the figure, unable to think clearly. I knew I had to confront the intruder. Or did I?

What if he was armed?

Deciding that I should lay still for a while, at least until the figure made a move, I continued peering at the man from beneath the sheets. The next thing I remember is opening my eyes again, and seeing that the figure had vanished.

For how long had I fallen asleep?

I looked towards Sam’s bed, and noticed him sleeping unperturbed. He hadn’t witnessed the figure.

The next day, I told Sam about the intruder in the room, and he was visibly shaken.

“Did you get a look at his face?” He asked.

“No. It was too dark. Besides the moonlight formed a silhouette. It was creepy. He just – he just stood there...” My voice trailed off as I shuddered at the thought.

Sam agreed with my decision to lock the door and reinforce the window with additional grills. Hopefully, everything would be fine, he assured me.

Four nights later, I opened my eyes, breathing heavily as I heard the faint sound of something metallic. Straining my ears without moving my posture, I realised that it was the sound of the door being forced upon.

The intruder. Without making a sound, I picked up the baseball bat that I’d placed near me, and got out of bed. As I stood up, I felt a chill pass through my body. Standing near the door, with his hand on the door knob, was Sam.

“Sam?” I asked cautiously.

The figure didn’t move. It didn’t show any sign of acknowledgement at all. Something was wrong.

Gripping my bat tightly, I moved forward slowly, aiming at the man’s head. When I was just two steps behind him, I could hear faint whisperings. It sounded familiar.

“Sam? What are you doing?” I shouted, pulling the man around to face me. I almost recoiled back.

Standing in front of me was Sam, his eyes closed, whispering something to himself. He was sleep walking. Composing myself, I pulled him back to his bed. He followed without any resistance. After tucking him in, I waited for a few minutes to make sure he was fast asleep. Then, I slowly went back to bed. But I couldn’t sleep that night.

June 2010

Over a week passed by, and Jonathan seemed to be a good roommate. At the least, he was a polite fellow. One who never intruded on your privacy. But someday he’d take an interest in the books that I kept reading. “Sleep walking?” He’d ask curiously, after reading the titles. And then I’d have to tell him Sam’s story....

April 2010

Over the next few weeks, I became used to Sam’s sleepwalking. He’d wake me up at around 2 in the morning, and my initial fear was slowly replaced by fascination, and then by annoyance. He always tried to get dressed up and leave the room, as though he was off to work. I had thought of telling him about these episodes, but something held me back. I wasn’t sure he’d feel comfortable.

I consulted my personal doctor on the topic, and he told me that the most common reason for sleep walking is stress and worry. “Perhaps he’s anxious about his work environment,” he suggested. I agreed with him, and decided to ignore the problem.

Then, one night, I woke up, perfectly expecting Sam to be dressing up. Yawning with exhaustion, I got out, and was about to routinely pull him back to bed, when I caught the glint of silver in his hand.

I lost all my sleepiness. As I stared at the knife in his hand, my head filled with a hundred thoughts. Where did he get the knife from? Why was he holding a knife instead of a toothbrush, like he normally did?

Realising that Sam was still sleep walking, I quickly pried the knife from his hand, and threw it away. Then, with forced calmness, I put him back into his bed.

The whole of the following day was spent thinking about the knife. It didn’t make any sense. Normally there was a toothbrush placed on the table next to Sam’s bed. But the previous night, the toothbrush was gone.

I reported the happenings to my doctor. He appeared worried. “I guess it’s time we have Sam for a therapy session,” he said.

I returned home, hoping to break the topic to him, only to get a message from Sam saying he’d be out till late at night. I needn’t wait up for him.

June 2010

I still keep thinking what would have happened if I had waited for him to return. If I’d told him about his sleep walking habit. But now it’s all too late. All I can do now, is find out the truth. Find out why he sleep – walked. Perhaps that’ll give me some answers...

April 2010

I blinked my eyes, adjusting to the darkness in the room. It was past 2, and the moonlight had ceased to flow into the room. Perhaps it was a cloudy night. Through constant practice, my gaze moved immediately to the middle of the room. As expected, I saw a figure slouched on the floor.

Rubbing my eyes, I tried looking again. The figure was almost lying on the floor, motionless. Panic began rising in my heart. Moving quickly towards the door, I threw on the light switch.

I don’t know if I screamed when I saw him. I don’t know what I felt. But the sight is seered into my mind. Sam lying on the floor, blood splattered all over his shirt. In his limp right hand, was a knife. The same knife I’d pried away earlier.

He was dead.

It took me about ten minutes to think rationally. Finally, I called the police and my personal doctor. What happened next is a blur. Police men streamed into the room. Investigations began. I was questioned. So was the doctor. It lasted for weeks...

Finally, the case was closed. Forensic investigations had proved that Sam killed himself using the knife. He had slashed his face and jugular vein. He was dead before he hit the ground.

The police were satisfied. But one thought kept haunting me. Why was Sam sleep walking in the first place. My doctor tried convincing me that it was plainly triggered by stress and exhaustion...

June 2010

“What are you reading?” Jonathan asked.

I’d expected the question, and decided not to lie.

“A book about sleep walking.”

‘’Oh okay.”

It was an odd reply. I’d thought he’d want to know more. But Jonathan merely nodded his head and continued what he was doing.

“Does it help?” He asked after a while.

“Does what help?”

“Reading about it? Because frankly, I think it’s gotten worse over the past two weeks, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

I frowned, not understanding what he meant. He smiled politely.

“I didn’t want to say anything in case, you know, you would be offended. But after last night, I decided the habit might become dangerous.”

He pointed towards the table next to his bed. Placed next to a stack of books, almost hidden from view, was a knife, where a toothbrush used to be.

“You’re a pretty heavy sleep walker, aren’t you?” Jonathan asked.

Note: This short story was inspired from a passage in the book Dracula by Bram Stoker. Let me know if you got the plot, or if it wasnt written well enough.

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  1. Moving from crime to horror, I see. Well, personally, I don't like horror stories at all, but this one was pretty good.

    And another thing, let me get the plot cleared. After seeing Sam sleepwalk every night, the main character started sleepwalking too right? And soon, his fate would have become the same as Sam.
    Right? I certainly hope so.

  2. Excellent story...but the twist was at least a little bit expected if not a cliche from a movie. The story was engaging though and your signature style of revealing a shocking twist was present. Once more you have 2 thumbs up from me... :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. it was a nice twist in the end... may be known but it was still surprising... i <3 it :)

    btw, did Jonathon saw the knife, or saw the protagonist sleep walking with it? Coz if he did .. his reactions might have been different na?? o_O

  5. @Vivek: What I intended was, the narrator subconsiously placed the knife instead of tooth brush, AFTER Sam started sleeping walking and began interrupting his sleep.

    @Rohit: Thanks dude. Appreciate you dropping by and leaving a comment.

    @Zardy: Thanks!

    @Gulshan: Haha, nice point. Well, I think he just saw the knife. Not the author walking with it...:)

  6. Interesting story. It was gripping till the end. A little spooky though! In sleep man can do almost anything. Remember 'Karthik calling Karthik"!

  7. umm..first part was awesome..bt near the end i really didnt get the point...wat stress did the character have to get that disorder?means he was upset about the previous episode bt this order suddenly?

  8. Oho! Right!... Now I got it :P

    Which means I utterly failed to understand it the last time.

  9. superb... but yea i got the complete plot after ur comment... I just thot tht the trauma of a roomie dyin had bought out his sleepwalkin...