Six sharp knocks

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I wake suddenly.

I had heard a knock?

My mind is in dreamland and it takes a moment to swirl back to place and remember. I am in a jungle.

I’m in a small hotel of ten rooms, running down a long corridor. I’m the room at the end.

I lay there unsure if I heard anything. Maybe it was a dream. But my heart is thumping and my adrenals have kicked in. It feels like there are small little hands squeeing my oesophagus. Under the skin of my neck.

I lay there in the darkness. It is very very dark. The curtains are drawn but a soft garden from somewhere outside shows me they are a heavy red. I hadn’t noticed them when I checked in. What an unusual colour choice.

It is an unusual hotel. There is only one person upon checkin who communicates through pointing and eyebrow movements. The manager. There is also a cleaner who comes to clean far too early, and who I have also seen in the garden with large, metal scissors. My thoughts begin to drift and I start to think about why I’m in this country. In the jungle.

Six sharp knocks.

My heart leaps. It was real. Who is knocking? Who is knocking this late at night? It’s not a friendly knock. It is not that dancing ‘I’m here, my friend’ knock. It’s not familiar. It is almost angry. Knock knock knock knock knock knock. Is it a person? A machine?

It seems.. what is the word. Menacing? And it sounds a little louder than before.

I want to drift back to sleep but my blood is swooshing and pumping hard all around me, throbbing in my joints. I am completely alert. I lay there and take out an ear plug. I’m sure it was someone. The hotel is strange. There are large, empty, water-jug features with a dank mouldy stench that protrude from the ferns along the path to a small pool with an old, splintery sun bed. There are lots of insects that nip. During the day the jungle is bright, green and stunning; but at night, it feels feral, and fierce. There is a constant buzzing of animals and creatures with wings. With wild sounds coming from it’s dark bowls.

How many people are staying at this hotel? I have only seen two couples. A young Russian couple and another who are look like they are away from their kids. The hotel is at the end of a dirt road in a small town, in the depths of an Indonesian island. The island has a brutal tribal history and the village felt wounded when I was driven through it only two days ago. The native boy at the desk had dark rings under his eyes. He looked ancient.

Six sharp knocks.

Six? Somebody let that person in. It feels angrier? Why are they still outside? Why won’t someone let them in? Is the noise closer or is it because I took my ear plugs out? I’m feeling really scared. Six calculated knocks, timed perfectly apart. What would happen if it was a person?

I imagine short legs and a bulky backside, with a curved, short back. I have no idea why this image is in my head. A small man with a tricksy, orange twirled-beard and an old, dirty brown top-hat. He’s got curly toes and weird sticks coming out of his elbows through his strange clothes. I don’t get a good vibe from this creature-man. His knocks are strange and they are scaring me.

I sit up and look around the room. There is nothing here that wasn’t before. A desk, a lamp, a small cupboard with my bag at the bottom and a swirly black-and-beige painting that the local artist had put minimal effort into.

I lay back onto my pillow. There is nothing I can do. I don’t want to go outside. The reception isn’t manned. It closes at 8pm but it’s a religious holiday and the three staff are back in their villages tonight. There is no one here. Who is knocking?

Are they inside a room? Outside? They sound outside. But there are only four people here, that leaves six empty rooms. Why is no one answering the door?

I hear it again.

My heart is in my eyeballs. I kick the sheets off. I’m hot. The jungle is hot. The creature is outside. Maybe it’s a monkey? Maybe it’s a monkey on the roof with a coconut? Maybe it’s a monkey that plays tricks. I keep envisioning the crooky man. With the crazed red eyes and the twirled moustache and the strange long beard who shuffles with small, dwarf-life legs out of a scary fairytale and down the hallway. Breathing. He comes closer. And he is now at room number five. He is halfway down.

The corridor is a dead end. I am the dead end. I am the last door.

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