It is past midnight. You struggle between the need to watch another episode of Black mirror, or to sleep. You take a look at the time again, 12:30 am. You calculate that if you sleep just about this minute, you would get exactly five hours of rest before your alarm starts screaming to “it’s all about that bass” by Meghan Trainor. A heavy cloud of exhaustion lowers itself and settles on your shoulders. You feel burdened, not just by your increasingly heavy frame but also by your head that carries viscous notions. You sigh and promise yourself that tomorrow you would put Adi early to bed, so that you would have the time to watch at least two episodes of Black Mirror and yet get to sleep by midnight.
You shut your laptop screen and half walk, half tumble into Adi’s room. Partly out of habit and partly out of admiration. You remember how terrified you were of sleeping alone when you were six. In fact, you admit to yourself, but only to yourself, that even now every night you have to stop yourself from begging your six year old to sleep with you, in your room.
You switch on the night-light and watch your little son sleep, his steady breathing calming the storm inside you. You are going to switch off the light and walk back into your room, but you decide against it. You don’t want your child to burden the night terrors that you did, growing up. You are about to turn your back to Adi, when you hear a scratching noise. Your hands freeze, an inch away from the night-light. You stop breathing, your eyes are wide, bulging out of their sockets. Your feet are tethered to the ground like massive Oak trees. Your heart…Your heart beating like horse hooves in a stampede, is the only sound you can hear now. You try telling yourself that you imagined the scratching noise. Yet a sane part of you begs you to double check under Adi’s bed, inside his closet and under the study table. So then, you attempt moving your feet that are still rooted to the ground, after some amount of nudging; they move and as if on autopilot, walk you back into your room. You try to convince yourself that if you don’t acknowledge the fear the fear, doesn’t exist.
Forty minutes later you are inside your blanket, tucked in, twisting and turning, unable to sleep. You double check the alarm, and wonder why; even though you wake up at 5:30 am, you’re still not able to sleep. Your friends tell you that you suffer from insomnia, your therapist tells you that it is all that stress from the divorce, your Mom tells you that it is because of all that time you spend staring at the goddamned phone. Your hands reach for the phone again, you think that maybe your latest selfie with Adi would’ve gotten another ten likes in the last 20 mins, when you hear another sound from Adi’s room. This time it is unmistakable. It is the sound of gagging, like someone is trying to speak, yet not able to.
You sit up to the sound and squint your eyes to see through the darkness interspersed by the moonlight shafting through your window. Outside your door you can look into Adi’s room, and you realize that the night light you had switched on in your son’s room, is switched off now. You clearly remember not switching it off.
Panic envelops you and your asthma threatens to attack. You open your mouth wider to breathe in deeper and you will yourself to stop shivering. You know you have locked all the doors and windows… Or have you? You tip toe to the door of your room, careful not to make any sound. The sound of gagging that you had heard a minute ago is gone now and the house has again descended in ominous silence. You curse your fear that cripples you, your feet that refuse to move one step outside your door, even though you know, deep in your heart, that it is your child who is in danger.
You push and prod and plead, but your feet stay paralyzed. Tears of fear and frustration trickle down your eyes, you are whimpering now, begging your feet to move. There are more sounds from Adi’s room, muffled yet audible enough for you to realize that something bad is happening. Next to the door that your right hand grips, lies Adi’s baseball kit. You can see his baseball bat sticking out of the bag. You stretch your hand to grab hold of the bat. Your right hand refuses to let go, it holds the edges of the door in a death grip, yet with your free hand you manage to grab the handle of the bat. You raise the bat high bring it down, hard, on your thigh. You hope that the shock of the pain will release your foot from temporary paralysis. Which it does, but at the same time the pain now makes you nauseous and it is getting harder to stop yourself from screaming.
You limp to Adi’s room, dragging the bat along with you, as silent as you can, while the muffled sounds get louder as you draw closer to your son’s room. You reach his door and switch on the night-light. Your mouth drops open and your gut sinks at what you see. A man has tied Adi’s hands, legs and even his mouth. He is carrying a big jute rucksack and trying to stuff you child inside the bag, while Adi struggles to escape and be heard. The window behind Adi’s bed that faces the woods is wide open.
Blood seems to have drained out of your body, and you swoon in fear and pain. You open your mouth to scream, but nothing comes out. Instead the man, who was trying to shove your son’s face inside the bag, is now looking at you. A flash of fury passes through his big face and a glint of a knife catches your eyes.
He moves towards you, but he still hasn’t noticed the bat in your hand. The fear that had held you crippled so far, is now rapidly turning into fury. Perhaps it is seeing a stranger in your home, or the state that Adi is in, or perhaps it is imagining what he would do to Adi if you don’t stop him. But the anger is raging inside you, burning your every cell and lifting that bat high in the air, poised to hit him in the head the moment he is a foot away from you.
And just like that, as you see his scraggly face come closer to you, you allow the fury to take over. You bring down the heavy baseball bat on the side of his face, right on the left ear, just when he is poised to strike you with the knife. Your tennis hand is strong, the hit stuns the man, and a trickle of viscous red blood runs down his ear.
But you don’t stop there; you don’t wait for him to come back to his senses. You hit him at the same spot again and again and again. Until all you can see is blood and bits of tissue strewn around the room, on your clothes, on the floor, on the walls, on the shelves and your nose detects a strong stench on distasteful metallic blood.
But you don’t stop; you don’t let the fear come back. You like the anger, it doesn’t paralyze you, it doesn’t render you helpless and incapable, instead it helps you save your child.
So you keep going, for his nose that is already smashed inside his skull, his head that is shattered into pieces, his mouth that is twisted at an odd angle. You don’t stop until through the fury you can feel a soft hand holding your left leg tight and the crying gets louder than your screaming.
It is only then that you notice that Adi has managed to untie himself and is grabbing onto your leg, tight.
“Mummy, stop Mummy, please. He is dead” Adi wails.
“I’m sorry honey.” You say. “Let me call the police.”