THE NIGHT GNAW
posted Sunday, 23 December 2007
THE opposite of spit is swallow. There’s an animal in the room that’s gnawing the legs of the bed.
Sandra woke with a start - with those two fleeting images: all that remained of her dream.
Indeed, she usually remembered nothing of what events her sleep surrounded.
But tonight was different. The darkness glowed brighter than her luminous clock beside the bed. There was a lambency filling her eyes. She was unaccountably crying - the tears acting like tiny lenses, focussing the dull shimmer upon her retina, almost blowing the optic fuse.
She felt sick. But not with food. More with an over-fill of her own saliva - welling up like clear syrup from every corner of the body. Her pores seeped this fluid, too, like the slow-motion spitting of miniature volcanoes. Surely this was the dream and the animal-thing gnawing the legs of the bed was within real life: an event she’d left behind when falling asleep.
But, in her real life, there should not be any animal in the whole house, let alone in her bedroom. Was the real life she’d left behind -- to fall asleep and enter this dream of dull shimmer and bodily regurgitation -- derived from earlier intakes of food?
The real waking life she’d left behind surely must have an animal gnawing at the legs of her bed ... because she was soon half-awake and half-dreaming and heard it coming from outside the dream.
Sandra must now fully wake up. To face whatever it was. She called this animal (whatever it was) the Night Gnaw. But that was only because she called it this name from within the dream, the dream from which she was now trying to escape in order to cope with the danger represented by the Night Gnaw. She would no doubt call it something else in real waking life. To call it the Night Gnaw was decidedly a very dream-like thing to call it. So she must be dreaming to call it a Night Gnaw. Meanwhile, she was terrified that her sleeping body - the body that contained the mind that called it a Night Gnaw - was threatened by the thing in real waking life she currently called the Night Gnaw.
She was sweating. Her sleeping body felt slicked and slippery enough for the Night Gnaw to slowly - oh so slowly - swallow her whole, like a python with an ass. Then for it - even more slowly - to extrude her back out, covered in the thick curds of the Night Gnaw’s own bodily fluids - like a slow motion spit.
She must wake up before this happened. She needed to face the Night Gnaw that she did not dream about.
The bed suddenly collapsed. And the darkness lost its lambent glow. Sandra’s snores were no longer the dry gunning that they once were but more the rhythmic slurps of some animal with deep indigestion. Trying to choke up life itself.