I’m awake. It’s night time. Merely seconds ago I was in a deep, healthy sleep. And bang! My eyes are suddenly open and I’m wide awake. My eyelids aren’t even gritty and groggy – I test by lowering them. I lie still for a few minutes with eyes closed and heart pounding slightly; a sure sign that I have awakened before I am meant to. But even with my eyes squeezed tightly shut, there is no denying that I have been thrown from the land of nod with a great force. I listen for sounds of an intruder. I hear the ticking of my clock and the sighing wind outside, ruffling the leaves in the graveyard. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet and still – but my hackles are on edge, if not fully raised. Holding my breath, I feel gently under the pillow for my mobile with one hand and close the other around the steel bar I sleep with; it’s warm from being next to my legs under the quilt. Both located, I open one eye and peer into the eerie half light, cast by the white streetlamp outside. I see my kitchen door, still closed. I cautiously raise my head and scan the room until I reach the hallway; the door is fastened and the keys are still in the lock. They aren’t even swinging. It feels too still. There seems to be a deliberateness to the inertia. I carefully work the bar out from under the covers and, once it’s free, I sit up. I jolt and a pain shoots through my chest – there is a large, dark figure in a cloak standing next to my wardrobe, which had been obscured from my sweep of the room by the door to my cupboard*. I inhale sharply and clasp my steel bar.
Slowly, I let out my breath and shake my head as a silent laugh bubbles up. It is a sheet, hung over the wardrobe door to dry the night before. If there is someone here, they are in the kitchen or the bathroom. I press the button to light up my ‘phone and wince at the brightness of the screen. It is merely habit – I already know that it is 3:02am and that my eyes snapped open at exactly 3 o’clock. I blink back into semi-darkness with splodges of light marring my vision, slide soundlessly out of bed and pad towards the kitchen, trying not to trip over anything. Turning the handle I kick the door open and brandish the steel bar with both hands… nothing. Kitchen is empty save for a startled spider. We eye each other, momentarily frozen. I turn towards the hallway and make my way into the dark shadows there, where the door key glints securely in its lock. I turn and flick the light switch to the bathroom with the end of my weapon, enter and squint gingerly into the bath and behind the door.
There is nobody there. A part of me knew it too. This happens every night I sleep alone. 3am – on the dot. Sometimes I’m not quite so jumpy and just lie in my warm bed dozing for a couple of hours before my alarm sounds.
I am shattered. I have tried to be in bed for a reasonable time for the last couple of nights, because I like to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and run. I’m a tad out of shape at the moment what with sciatica and a mild chest infection and a house move getting in the way of training, but the Hell Runner Challenge is fast approaching and I really want to get a good time this year. So, last night, I went to bed at 9:45, which wasn’t as early as I was hoping. I was particularly tired yesterday on account of not sleeping v.much at all the night before (including the usual awakening at 3 o’clock) and was aiming to be in bed reading at 8:30pm in an effort to fall asleep naturally and catch up, but I’m one of those people for whom time organisation is not a strong point. Still, I figured going to bed a bit later than planned, despite being dead beat, might mean that I didn’t wake up too often in the night** and it was at least earlier than usual. Now, I do wake up at least once in the night anyway. A few years ago, I ended up with MRSA in my kidneys, which began as a kidney infection, brought about by my not peeing as often as someone with a bladder the size of a pea needs to. I doubt v.much that my kidneys have been damaged by this, but nonetheless, I now can’t sleep the night through without tramping off to the toilet at some point. This generally happens between midnight and 1am and I go, take a sip of water and then crash back into sleep. When I awaken at 3am, I don’t need to go to the loo. I tend to attempt it anyway, but not a right lot happens. I have no idea why I wake up again at this exact time and I have no idea why this only happens when I’m alone. I am not scared of living by myself – the steel bar is present merely on the off chance that some poor, unknowing burglar tries to burgle my bomb site of a flat, in which there is nothing of any value, and instead encounters me. Bring it on, bitch! Besides, my neighbour’s walls are paper thin and his door is right next to mine – he could be woken with a stifled whimper and be in my flat within a second.
Currently, I am not particularly worried or stressed out. The office job is dull, but nowhere near as fraught as it once was; I am slightly behind with commissions, but have nothing with a particularly strict deadline; my finances are the best they’ve looked in years; as far as I’m aware, the people in my life are happy and healthy and treating themselves (and me) well.
As I climbed back into bed, I decided I was going to have a quick look on the internet to see if anyone else suffered from this irritating malady. They do. Lots of them do. Now, I’m used to typing symptoms into Google and being informed that they’re probably a sign that my death is imminent, but I was surprised to discover that after typing in “I wake up…” Google completed “…at 3am” for me. Interesting. So other people did suffer from it. Yes, indeed they did. It turns out that 3am is “dead time” which is when you are most likely to be contacted by a supernatural being. And not a ghost, oh no – an evil demon. You see, Jesus Christ was killed for the sins of man at exactly 3pm and 3am is considered the time directly opposed to this. So just the twelve hours they’re bothered about then… not the thousands of years in between then and now.
I don’t believe in Jesus***. I don’t believe in Satan. I don’t believe in an external God. I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in demons and I don’t believe that 3am has any religious significance whatsoever. So I did what any normal 28 year old woman would do… with a terrified squeal I pulled the duvet over my head, tucked it around my feet so that nothing could grab my ankles and pressed my eyes tight shut before the witching hour hit which, contrary to previous information of midnight, happens at 3:33am… this forum told me so:
I was Christened Methodist (which is why I don’t drink… ahem…), my mother is Church of England, my Dad’s Catholic, I briefly attended a Pentecostal youth group before I realised they were all insane, and I was sent to a C. of E. school. Although my parents never enforced religion on me, my primary school and other exposures to religious propaganda have managed to affect me somewhat. I am flooded with misplaced spiritual feeling when I enter a church, I hate films about possession, the thought of stigmata terrifies me, I still want to apologise to an imaginary deity whenever I say “I don’t believe in God” and, until recently, I thought something dreadful would happen if I had a go on a Ouija board. And then there was that bloody haunted stone circle I jumped into the middle of eighteen months ago in Edinburg, which freaked me out for a good couple of weeks. Religion is part of a person’s culture because it is everywhere and, although I am a non-believer, part of my hard-coding has its basis in religion and it’s v.difficult to break a pattern like that.
The other thing I have riding against me is my imagination. If I wasn’t such a wimp, I’d write horror novels, I think. But I have tried and after a couple of chapters, I’m seeing things that aren’t there and jumping at any little noise and sleeping with the light on. Having such an imagination can be quite useful – I am able to imagine many possible outcomes from any given situation in a matter of seconds, no matter how ludicrous it may seem. But it can also bring the ludicrous to life when, in fact, there is nothing but the mundane. The fact that I can look at my current insomniacal problem logically and pick apart the silly obsession with numbers seems to make little difference to how my mind works overtime when something appeals to some deeply-ingrained religion-saturated self I didn’t know existed.
Why is 3am the time for demons? Because it is exactly “opposite” 3pm on a twenty four hour clock and Jesus was said to have died in the name of humanity at 3pm, apparently. Um… even if I did believe in Jesus, I would struggle to understand the logic behind this. Why do demons come out at that time? Are we, then, supposed to get “good” spirits at 3pm? Do they wane as the day goes on to be taken over by demons as their shift comes to an end?
According to the internet, Jesus’ number was 333 – but isn’t that the witching hour? And is he 333 because 666 is the number of The Beast, and beast is man and that’s half?
“Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666”
We are infatuated with numbers. The number 13 is bad luck in western society. So, in blocks of flats and in new office buildings, flat 13 or floor 13 is omitted. This seems bizarre to me – surely the number is purely an indicator of the actual number of the flat or floor. If the floor is the 13th from the ground, it is still floor 13; whether you choose to call it “14” or “Shirley” it is still the 13th floor. It would be denial of the highest order to suggest that you live in house number 15 on and that the house next door to you is number 11. You are still in the 13th house as we count houses on a street. Then there are magpies: 1 magpie is bad luck – 2 is good luck and so on.
NO SUCH THING AS SILICON HEAVEN? BUT WHERE DO ALL THE CALCULATORS GO?
We are all, it seems, fantasists. Even non-religious people believe in ghosts, which strikes me as completely bizarre. In order to believe in spirits, we must first believe in a soul which uses the body as a vessel, rather than a soul that is created by electronic impulses in the body. This soul is the part that the religious believe leaves this earth as we know it and enters the world of the dead where they will either be allowed access to heaven^ or be banished to hell. A ghost is, supposedly, the spirit of a person who has not yet “crossed over” to the world of the dead. I mean what utter hogwash. No, I don’t purport to know what happens when we die, but I’m pretty sure that, once the body is no longer working and the electrical impulses in our brains fizzle out, we return to the state we were in before we were alive, which is, basically, a nothing. Yes, there are things we don’t understand and possibly there are things we will never understand, but we found the God Particle, did we not, which was incredibly exciting and a great breakthrough? Higgs Boson is real! Little by little, we answer the questions previously unanswerable and ascribed to God.
I don’t particularly want to cover too much old ground here – I’m sure anyone who’s read my early posts will be getting irritated with my repetitiveness on the subject of the supernatural. What I want to know is, bearing in mind that I am not religious, have no obsession with numbers and do not believe that a demon is loitering around in my flat just to poke me awake at 3am and watch as I stalk around with a steel bar (although, that is possibly rather an amusing sight, I grant you), why do I keep waking up at 3am on the dot? I’m not sure how long this has been going on for, but could it be the fear that nothing seems to be wrong at the minute that’s panicking me? I am always most suspicious of something that seems to be going too swimmingly… right up until I systematically destroy it in case I find out that it’s not real after all.
Does anyone else suffer with this waking at bang on 3am thing? Has anyone else diagnosed a problem or found a cure? Help would be much appreciated or the Hell Run will be a no go this year.
* I have a studio flat and the bed pulls out of a cupboard
** Every cloud, ey?
*** Or, at least, if I do believe in Jesus, it’s in the sense that there was some terrorist 2012 years ago who managed to convince everyone that he was magic, but really was just a rather egotistical show off.
^ I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go there – full of straight-laced, self-righteous, judgemental God botherers who only do “good” in the name of the lord… phew, no thank you.