Insomnia

Beeep.

I awoke from my state of semi-consciousness as my digital alarm clock performed its hourly ritual and informed me that it was now two hours past midnight. Insomnia came easily these days, or nights, as it were.

Rain thundered on the windows and pelted on the roof adding to my sense of unease. There was no moon in the sky and so the only source of illumination shone through the small, curtainless window that faced the road courtesy of sparse street lighting which cast an eerie orange glow over everything.

Ever since the incident I had had trouble sleeping. Only exhaustion forced me to sleep come night time and even then, nightmares would rip through me, merciless and unfailing. Throwing my body around, I would struggle against an unseen enemy, clawing at thin air and gasping for breath as invisible hands wrapped around my neck. Then I would snap awake, not bolting upright as one might expect, but lying perfectly still, eyes screwed shut in terror. My lips could be seen moving softly as I prayed that I was alone. It didn't matter that no one would be there to comfort me. After the incident I couldn't bear to be near anyone, either physically or emotionally. However much I deluded myself though, that I was fine, I knew I couldn't keep up the pretense much longer… The sudden noise of rubber screeching on asphalt brought me from my reverie and I wondered who would be going anywhere at this ungodly hour of night.

Beeep.

My alarm clock told me it was now three hours past midnight. Sometimes I almost wondered if it could sense my insecurity-my need for daylight to arrive. There were only four more hours to go until it was time to get up for work. After a two month leave of absence I had finally felt able to return to my job as an NCIS agent. I used to love my job. And the people I worked with especially one… Tony. He was arrogant, obnoxious and the best-looking guy on the planet. Before the incident we were thinking of hooking up.

My mind registered voices on the street below. Two men were having a discussion and by the sounds of things they didn't seemed to be in any hurry to get anywhere. I forced it to the back my mind knowing it wouldn't be wise to let my imagination roam free.

The incident had completely altered my perspective of life. All of my ambitions had been thrown to the side. What was the point? I asked myself. When you've stared into the eyes of the man who is attempting to murder you everything except life itself seems trivial.

A scraping sound downstairs caught my attention. Houses make noises I told myself, but that noise was foreign to me. My hearing had become hyper-sensitive since the incident. Every click was the sound of the back door being opened. Every creak was the weight of footsteps on the floorboard. Every shadow held hidden dangers.

Beeep.

Four o'clock. My alarm sounded muted - as if being heard from under water. The unease I had felt earlier resurfaced causing me to return to my fully alert state. The voices outside were now hushed and the tone of the conversation had become almost urgent. I closed my eyes trying to ignore them.

Without warning a window smashed downstairs. My body tensed involuntarily and my breath caught in my throat. Fear and despair coursed through me-no more incidents, no more confrontation I begged. This was impossible I told myself. He was in prison. Two loud bangs resounded as I heard my front door being kicked in. My breathing became ragged and I found it harder to catch my breath every time I inhaled. No. This can't be happening. Not again. Not again. My eyes were still closed stopping a flood of tears from escaping.

Suddenly there were footsteps on the carpet. Two sets of feet rushing through my hall towards the stairs. They didn't say anything as they ran heavily up the stairs but with unspoken assent they both slowed to a halt outside my bedroom door. A painstaking second went by and terrifyingly slowly I heard the door handle creak downwards. Just as I heard the latch click I opened my eyes wide ready to face my demons.

Beeep.

Sunlight streamed through the windows and music played softly from my radio alarm. I took slow, gasping breaths trying to get air into my lung. It was only a dream I told my self. It was only a nightmare. My mind began to relax as I realised I was safe. I was still scared though. I had a reason to be – because I knew exactly the same would happen the night after. Just like it had happened every single night for the past three months. I had perfected pretending I was fine. The next stage, the hardest stage, I knew, would be admitting I wasn't.