Pressure on my bladder caused me to wake-up from a fitful sleep. It was raining buckets outside. I closed my eyes and hoped the feeling would go away; it was cold outside the confines of my warm covers.
But to no avail; the rain sounded like Niagara Falls, and my body responded. The pressure on my bladder increased.
I sighed, and tumbled out of bed; padded to the bathroom, turned on the light, and did the necessary without making a damp patch on the carpeted floor.
I kept the light on and returned to the bedroom, picked up a bottle of spring water, and drank. I glanced at the bedside clock. In the gloom, I could see it read 3:20.
Another three hours before light. I returned to the bathroom and switched the light off, then made my way gingerly back to my bed.
I was an early riser, but I also enjoyed my sleep. A while later I woke up. I glanced at the clock. The luminous hands showed 3:20. Puzzled, I stretched out and turned the bedroom lamp on. Then looked back to check the clock.
Sleep didn’t overtake me. I lay awake thinking. Trying to remember what I saw before. In my mind’s eye I pictured a horizontal line from the 9 to the 3. Definitely, both hands were below that line the first time I awoke.
So, maybe I hadn’t fallen asleep? Maybe I had dreamt it?
Now I was fully awake. I padded out to the kitchen and made myself some toast. Last slice in the packet. I searched through the fridge for the butter and jam. The jam pot was nearly empty. Then I smelt burning; the toaster didn’t seem to work properly. I moved over and pressed the safety button. The toast popped out. I got a knife and scraped-off the burnt crumbs into the sink.
I finished the jam, and left the jar in the sink to soak. I left the empty bread packet on the work surface. In the morning I’d clear up.
Back to bed, and another draught of water to wash down the toast. I looked at the clock. 3:20. I sat there watching the second hand move up to the ‘12’. The minute hand jerked forward then back to 3:20. I sat there watching this endless process for several minutes.
I returned to the kitchen. The sink was a mess. I hadn’t imagined it. I hadn’t been dreaming.
Maybe I was hallucinating. I stayed up, thinking. What could I do at 3:20? It was dark, it was raining; couldn’t mow the lawn, shops were closed, as was my local.
Not a bundle of laughs.
The TV seemed to be stuck on one channel; I watched the same wildebeest being attacked by a croc in the Limpopo river crossing, several times. One minute replays. My laptop was the same. Clock, 3:20. No news updates; everything had come to a halt. My mobile didn't work; what was happening?
I took a couple of sleeping tablets and returned to bed to sleep it off. I lay there tossing and turning, afraid to look at the clock. Eventually, the tablets kicked-in and I drifted off for a while. When I woke it was still dark. And raining. I couldn’t look at the clock.
I just couldn’t.
But I did.
That’s when an uneasy feeling inside me turned into an all-out panic attack...