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Waking in the Night

October 28, 2015

Recently I set the following writing exercise: ‘Write about a time when you, or a character, wakes up in the middle of the night.’ This is another idea I’ve shamelessly lifted from Louise Doughty’s excellent book A Novel in a Year

Novel in a Year Here’s my effort: 

I emerge from a dream into darkness. My husband breathes deeply next to me. The clock radio’s on his side of the bed so I can’t see the time, but the profound quiet outside tells me that daylight is a long way away.

I need to go to the bathroom, but I watched a horror movie earlier tonight, and walking around in the dark is not something I’m currently keen on. It was my favourite kind of horror movie, the type that relies much more on atmosphere, suggestion and suspense than on gore.

One of the scariest shots was of an empty hospital corridor viewed through a doorway by the protagonist when she wakes up after a car accident. Nothing scary actually happened in the scene, but the possibility that a demon was going to jump out at her was so excruciating that I watched from behind a cushion, peeking over the top. In my time I’ve watched enough horror flicks to build up a level of desensitisation, and very few of them make me scared of the dark any more. But this one really got under my skin.

So here I lie, with an uncomfortably full bladder, peering through our bedroom doorway at the empty hall beyond, telling myself, This is ridiculous; I’m a grown woman who doesn’t believe in demons. Eventually common sense wins out. I get up, go to the loo, return safely to bed and fall, very slowly, back to sleep.


The terrifying corridor.

Film still from It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell

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