wake up sir

It was early in April in the year ’83 that I woke one morning to find Sherlock Holmes standing, fully dressed, by the side of my bed. He was a late riser, as a rule, and as the clock on the mantelpiece showed me that it was only a quarter-past seven, I blinked up at him in some surprise, and perhaps just a little resentment, for I was myself regular in my habits.

“Very sorry to knock you up, Watson,” said he, “but it’s the common lot this morning. Mrs. Hudson has been knocked up, she retorted upon me, and I on you.”

“What is it, then—a fire?”

“No; a client.“

—  The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Creepypasta #401: Wake-up Call

The ringing blows my dream world away in one shrill blast of reality. I nearly shoot up in the bed, my head still buzzing from whatever surreal nightmare I’ve just escaped from. What was it about? It’s leaving me already; I can’t remember.

The phone rings again. This one stirs my body awake to join my mind. Whoever it is has to go away. I’m not ready to face another day. My leg is twitching itself to life, and I run a lazy hand through my hair as my eyelids manage to pry themselves apart.

More ringing. A hand shoots out from my bed and snatches the receiver. I press the cold plastic to my ear, and a groggy voice that was probably mine says “Hello?”

“This is your wake up call, sir.”

“I didn’t ask for a wake up call.” Am I in a hotel? What city am I in? How much drinking was too much?

Silence is the response. The line’s dead. What time is it? There’s no clock in this room.

This room. I lift myself to a sitting position. This is not some motel room. This is not any room I’ve ever slept in before. The furniture is something out of Victorian New England, and the only light seems to be coming from old fashioned lamps mounted on the walls by the corners. The only item that doesn’t fit the pattern is the phone, straight out of 1950’s suburbia when everything was Smeg. What thankless situation have I gotten myself into now?

I shake the cobwebs from my head and try to remember just what the hell happened to me? How did I get here? Have I been kidnapped? There are no restraints around and no masked man with a knife watching me. Reassuring, I suppose. I don’t feel drunk or hung over, so how did I get here? It doesn’t matter right now; I just have to leave.

I stand up slowly. My legs work fine; thank God. Why was I sleeping with my shoes on? There’s daylight spattered across part of the ceiling from a partly-drawn curtain over the window. I almost look out but I just want to leave. I walk to the door; it’s open a bit and so I step out in the long corridor. Long is an understatement. What I presume to be the exit is a tiny red dot at the end of this solid, institution-grey hallway. The walls are bare, and though there’s no visible light source I can see just fine.

I walk forward. I reach a hand to my side. The walls are smooth and cold, untouched in some time or band new. I’m not sure. Have I been here before? The air seems to be getting thinner as I walk for what seems like forever. It’s getting colder and when I look I can see my breath now. There’s no sound. There’s no noise from pipes or vents, nothing from outside. I can’t even hear my own footsteps. Looking back, I can’t see the room I came from.

Then the noise comes all at once, shrill and overpowering, seemingly all around me. It’s long and slow, and somehow familiar. My head aches, and feels ready to spill its contents with each impossibly loud blast. It’s all I can muster to stagger on, my feet seemingly independent of my will, their own desperation to escape this endless grey the only thing keeping me moving.

The sound is closer now. Is it right outside? Is there an outside where I am? The corridor almost quakes at the noise, and I struggle to remain standing.

I reach the door. It’s the only touch of colour in this endless grey. I turn the handle slowly and push it open, letting it swing out into the brilliant, endless white beyond. The light hits me like a tidal wave and the sound is almost deafening, leaving my ears ringing. I shake my head and press my eyes, as I’m enveloped by the light.

The ringing blows my dream world away in one shrill blast of reality. I nearly shoot up in the bed, my head still buzzing from whatever surreal nightmare I’ve just escaped from. What was it about?

Credits to: King_Bulywyf

I don’t have many possessions, and certainly no baubles, but I do pride myself on my sport coats. They are really my only jewels, though it’s more like they’re a knight’s armor. I’m able to sally forth in style and engage the world when I have a sport coat on. Wallet, keys, pens, a little notebook, change, a paperback novel - everything I need to survive, except maybe water - all fit into the various pockets.
— 

Jonathan Ames, in his novel Wake Up, Sir!

(Incidentally, Jonathan was one of my guests on this week’s episode of my NPR show Bullseye. You can listen to the interview, which is totally great, free in your favorite podcast app or right here on Soundcloud.)

…Also, my nose had been rearranged, and this could definitely affect one’s perception of reality, at least according to some nineteenth-century psychiatrists who believed that the structure of the nose determined the psyche, to which there is some merit, I think, otherwise why would so many people go in for nose jobs? Their psyches become a mess from having overly large noses; then the noses get shortened and their psyches feel better, at least cosmetically.

I saw this psychic rearrangement happen to a girl I knew in high school. She was blonde with a good figure, but she had an enormous, catastrophic nose. She was ostracized and had no friends. Then one summer her parents sprang for plastic surgery. When we all returned to school, no one knew what to make of her. Then a football player asked her out. Suddenly she had friends. She became “cool.” She was considered beautiful, pretty, but I could see that in her eyes there was still the look of the ugly girl she has once been, a hint of fear that it would all be taken away from her. By the end of the year that look in her eyes was almost extinguished, but a trace was left. Still her psyche must have felt a lot better. With a short nose to go with her other attributes, she was destined to be courted often and eventually married and impregnated, which was the goal of most of the girls from my middle-class New Jersey high school. But then her children would have big noses. No escaping one’s self. Her husband would wonder where his children’s noses had come from. Perhaps the marriage would dissolve. He might suspect infidelity. She wouldn’t be able to tell him the truth - I’m ugly.

- An excerpt from Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames