31 January 2010

The right curtain

At first I hear a noise, quiet and slow, an echoing boom.  It's the fall of giant footsteps, not too close to me now.  But as soon as I recognise them I know it is time to run.  From wherever I am, I must get home.  From a view point just above my head, I see myself scrambling into a run.  I am not very fast, but as I go round corners and duck out of the way of the other people all leaving the streets I am pleased that I don't fall.  I keep my balance, and I feel confident that I will be able to get home in enough time.

But the booming noise gets louder, the dinosaur is getting nearer.  I can't see it yet, but I have run as far as the street my house is in.  Not far now!

Boom boom; boom boom; boom boom.  The footsteps are louder and getting quicker.  I should not look round.  I can picture in my head how the dinosaur will look.  I don't need to see it.  I should not look round.

Now I know somehow that it is just me out there, I don't have to save anyone else this time. I just have to get into the house and close all the doors and windows so that it can't get in. So that it can't get me.

I look behind me to see how close the race will be this time. I know I should not look round but every time I do, and every time I lose my margin of safety.  It is a tyrannosaurus, tall and rusty.  Its head is above the rooves of the houses.  Its tail is lashing along the hedge on the bank across the road.  It sees me then too.  Its eye is a pukey yellow green, weird like a goats.

I can taste something in my mouth, it is a funny taste you get when you have been running hard.  I am breathless.  I am 5 houses away from home, then I am past Mrs Rivers house and at Mrs Taylors house.  They are both teachers at the big school but I am too worried about getting home to be scared of them now.

The tyrannosaurus is very near; I can feel the thump and the vibration as he walks behind me.  I can see in my mind the large yellow-white curved toenails ready to rip me up.  Oh please oh please let me make it home!   Boom boom.

I can see the garage door swinging down in front of me, to keep everyone in the house safe.  I have to make it up the drive and under the gap before it closes.  I run so fast, and I can feel the sting at my knees as I squeeze and roll underneath it, just in time as the tyrannosaurus swipes an arm at me.  The nasty nails clack on the outside of the garage door.  It is bolted shut from the inside and the dinosaur cannot get in that way.

But it is still not over as I have to run through the house to check that every door is closed, every window is closed, and every pair of curtains is drawn across the window.  The tyrannosaurus has stopped outside the house and is searching for a way to get in.  I run up the stairs, and jerk the curtains in my brothers bedroom closed.  I saw it moving outside the window, and I run into my bedroom. 

Time goes slower, I take hold of the left curtain and pull it across.  I pull it at the bottom and it takes a while for the top to catch up so there is a diagonal edge.  The monster could see through the gap.  I pull until the top of the curtain reaches the stop in the middle of the window then run for the right curtain on the other side of the gap. 

I have pulled it halfway closed when the monster catches up with me.  Through the gap in the curtains the final horror is going to happen after all.  The tyrannosaurus bends its head to the window, and I cannot escape.  The booming noise is still there but faint, reminding me of my run here, blood pounding in my ears.  It bends its head to the window, turns it parallel to me.  The line of its teeth skim by, and now I can see its horrible eye. 


A recurring childhood nightmare; always the chase, the panic, will I make it back home safe? Always I did and when I had to look after other, we all made it inside to safety. Sometimes I even woke up before the tyrannosaurus could peer through the windows; sometimes all the curtains were closed and I could sense it prowling outside, looking for another way in. I felt the creeping horror when I realised there was an unbolted window and at the same time so did the monster, but always the worst thing that happened was that I was looked at. I realise this part does not sound very scary in retrospect but at the time this was terrifying.

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