I climbed out of a deep pit of nightmare to find waking was worse. Thick night closed around me, smothering. The darkness was absolute. Only that ghastly cry resounded in my ears. Had it been part of my dream?
I dreamt I escaped across burning sands, the colour and consistency of congealing custard. The very air had seemed to solidify around me. I heard the scrabbling feet of the pursuing demons, felt their hot breath on the back of my neck . . .
As my eyes grew used to the darkness I could see the pale square of the window, clouds scudding across a gibbous moon. Slowly my breathing calmed, my pounding heartbeat quietened. I listened till my ears ached. All was silent.
There it came again! The hideous, wailing cry, of a soul wracked beyond endurance. The hair stirred on my head as I sat up, clutching the blankets around me. It had sounded so near, almost as if it was in the same house. I shuddered, fearing the infernal entities had escaped from my dreams to walk the earth. Perhaps one was even now approaching up the stairs.
Then I heard it. A soft, surreptitious scratching at my bedroom door. For a moment terror held me paralyzed, but I could not help myself. Some external force seemed to propel me from my bed and across the floor. I had to see.
My hand shook as I opened the door. It was there, its eyes blazing into mine, a headless corpse at its feet. I screamed.
‘Bloody hell, Shagpile. I know you mean well and you’re a brilliant hunter but - I don’t want your mouse!’
Only he looked so disappointed I ate it anyway.
An excerpt from
It was on the night of the great thunderstorm that George finally decided to become a dog.
He was used to sharing the marital bed with Topsy the poodle and Flopsy the Clumber spaniel; but when, frightened by the thunder, Mopsy the old English sheepdog joined them as well it all became too much of a crowd and George was summarily ejected onto the bedroom floor.
'That's it,' George thought as he curled up in Mopsy's basket. ‘I've had enough. I'll make an appointment first thing in the morning.'
The doctor, when George eventually got to see him, was dubious. ‘It's a major procedure, a species-change operation. Have you discussed this with your wife?’
‘Of course,’ lied George, suppressing a smile. One did not discuss things like that with Beryl. Or anything else for that matter. No, it would be a nice surprise for her. He
hoped she would like him better as a dog. Certainly she did not have much use for him as a man.
‘I'll get you an appointment with the specialist,’ said the doctor, ‘but it might take a while. And you do realize they are not doing this sort of thing on the NHS any more? You would have to have it done privately.’