The quiet eats at me, and as the final rays of sunlight pass behind the trees outside my hotel room window, I feel the weight of that silent darkness pressing in on me more and more. How I long for rest, so far removed from slumber now that my days are spent lost in delirium, as some waking dream has replaced my normal routine. It has been so long since I have slept, so long since I have shut my eyes with ease and surrendered to the comfort of stillness. My sagging eyes refuse to roll back, refuse to surrender to the call for sleep, for if I am still, it will come again. That thing. That whisper in the darkness, that creak in the doorway. I am not alone in my slumber, though I have lived by myself for years. No, I am joined by such a stranger that my rest has been robbed from me. How am I to explain this to you? How, dear loved ones, am I to make you understand why I know not what waits in the waning day?
Some weeks ago I was undertaking a project, setting out to create a sleep song. That is, a recording of my own slumber for the sake of art. Simply put, I would place my recorder by my bedside and have it take in the sounds of my rustling and snoring throughout the night, and in the morning I would take to my piano, replaying the track as a metronome for some sonnet that will never exist. I placed the recorder on the nightstand and set it to drink in the sounds of a silent evening, catching my turning and the rustling of sheets as I moved along with whatever dreams may come, and yet, it captured something wholly different. When I awoke and replayed the track as I sat at the piano, eager to create something truly unique, I listened to myself slip into the deep slumber that follows the rhythmic breaths of a body succumbed to sleep. I listened to the final pull of sheets as I rolled into rest, I listened to the final sigh of evening as my mind drifted off, and then; just as I was about to begin my musical composition to the metronome of breath, I listened to the sound of my door open and shut. There were no footsteps, no other sounds, simply the rhythm of my breath. I listened. I listened for hours. I listened again and again. Then, after four hours of nothing but my own breath, the creaking of new weight on the mattress shuddered through the speaker of my recorder. There was the firm pull of sheets, the pressured moan of box springs, and then nothing. Nothing more. My own breathing for the remaining three hours.
The following night I contacted my landlord and removed myself from the apartment with haste. I drove to the nearest hotel I could find and, with my piano fastened to the bed of my truck and the recorder in my arms, I checked in. I placed the recorder on the nightstand and set it to listen, standing a silent vigil over me. I fought for sleep, but the terror had worn me down. That morning, I listened again. I listened to it all. It was sooner now, when the door to the hotel opened, than when my door opened the first time. It was only after the first resolved breath of deep slumber that the groaning of rusty hinges leaked from the recorder and played for me their horrid sonnet. Then there was silence, save for my breath. The worn springs of the hotel mattress offered their every coil to the song of my visitor as some weight bore down on them. The sheets moved, pulled back and then replaced, and then all was still again. I slept in my truck that next night, pulled under an overpass, with the recorder in the passenger seat. Dear god. The sound that thing made as it crawled against the metal frame. Crawled.
Tonight, I am writing this atop another hotel bed, and perhaps it will be here for you to read. Pawning the piano afforded me a revolver, and I intend to use it. Night has fallen hard now, and I am not alone in my room. I doubt I ever had been.