Help! Please! Anybody!
Doug suffered from insomnia. If you have ever had trouble sleeping, then you have probably experienced one of three variations on this theme, from not being able to drift off in the beginning, to waking up sometime during the night and not being able to go back to sleep, to simply not being able to sleep at all. Many nights he would fall asleep immediately, only to be awakened by the city noise; other nights he would never be able to drift off, period.
Doug lay tossing and turning fitfully, more than just frustrated, that he could not get to sleep, again. He had been here in the city for two weeks now, with two still to go, and he was due to present tomorrow, at the civic center. He had struggled with insomnia the entire two weeks. Out of sheer desperation for a change of venue, he had arisen from his hotel bed and was gazing down at the street below when he saw a nondescript sedan pull up to the curb, and two individuals get out. With a shock Doug saw the first don a ski mask, and proceed to the front door of the hotel, as the second man prepared to do the same, gazing first left and then right, and then logically enough, directly up at him, on the second floor.
Without thinking, Doug dropped to the floor, petrified that the thug had looked directly at him, and that it was obvious which room he was in. Why had he just stood there, staring down at the two hoods? Probably because he had no inkling they were up to no good, until those masks came out. It was nowhere near Halloween. He was torn between reinforcing the door, with the table and whatever else he could drag over, and just getting the hell out of there.
What if he tried to get out of here, and ran right into the goons? That would be worst of all, because he had nothing with which to protect himself outside of the room. For that matter, what did he have inside to defend himself with? Not much, that was for sure. He had an umbrella, which had cost him a walloping twenty bucks the other day, but was not likely to contribute much against a pair of hoodlums. There was the usual array of furniture you find in any lower price range hotel, which did not amount to anything which could be construed as a weapon.
Maybe he was making a big deal out of nothing. After all, there could have been six people gazing down on the two toughs, as they drove up to the hotel. Why assume that they had any interest in him at all? He was turning this thought over in his sleep-deprived mind, when there came a sharp thud from the hallway outside his room, and a terrified voice whimpering, “Help me, please, anybody, help me.”
The voice was not yelling, which confused Doug, because it seemed that someone in need of assistance, would be more inclined to scream bloody murder. Now he was torn for a different reason. Could he ignore a fellow human being, in need of his help? Couldn’t there be others who were also willing to help, but only if someone else was willing to jump in? Yeah, that was probably it. There would be others if he just opened the door to make sure that they knew he was available.
The instant the door cracked the plane of the door jamb, it was slammed bluntly by 200 pounds of over-stimulated bruiser, and flung viciously inward, to crash resoundingly against the wall. Doug tried to jump back, but was way too late to avoid the grasping claw that came clutching at him, before he knew what had happened. The standing lamp thundered to the floor, smashing the lamp cover into a thousand shards of glass, and the desk upon which it shined, was knocked backwards, scattering phone, book and coffee pot against the wall.
In trying to avoid the fiend, Doug had scrambled backwards, only to trip and fall, landing solidly on his back with the hooligan right on top of him, pinning his arms back, and placing his hands around Doug’s throat, in a death-grip that terrified Doug more than any single act against him ever had. He struggled mightily, arching his back instinctively, and lashing out with his feet. It accomplished nothing.
Everything had occurred with such blinding speed, that Doug was incapable of talking it all in. Now with the gangster’s hands clamping down on his throat, squeezing, squeezing, he felt his own sense of panic and hysteria, gradually being choked out of him so that all that remained was an ever-expanding pool of darkness and quiet, into which he gradually sank.
Doug awoke with a start, realizing that light was streaming in through a gap in the curtains, heating up a strip of his bed which included his face. The room was undisturbed, the lamp and desk exactly as they should be, with the door remaining solidly shut. For one night, insomnia had released its grip on Doug, and replaced it with a nightmare, one that still left Doug struggling to breathe. Sitting up and breathing in deeply the fact that he was still alive and well, he reflected that, if given his druthers, he’d druther have the insomnia over the dream.