9. A dream

It was only a dream.  Alex sat up, and he could feel his heartbeat pounding in his ears. The wind was howling outside, dragging around the little flat that he had been renting for the past eight months and seemingly also right through it even though he felt no relief of cool air against his hot, sweaty skin. The bedroom door rattling in its lock said otherwise though. He took a deep breath and swung his legs over the side of the bed until his feet touched the wooden floor beneath it. His bare feet padded towards the bathroom where he didn’t bother to turn the lights on before splashing some water on his face. He still remembered the dream, he hated dreams that were so vivid that it felt like they were real. They had too many colours, too much noise, it was hurting his eyes and ears even now that he was awake. He pinched the bridge of his nose to try and make it stop, maybe the world would stop spinning this time for real. But when he looked up into the dark mirror, what he saw was still his own face, grimacing against the very steady and solid background of his own bathroom.

With a sigh he ran his hand through his damp hair, and realised just how much he had been sweating. He would have taken a shower, but he knew the rusty pipes would wake up the neighbours, and there would once again be hell to pay. He was sick of the little notes taped to his door, complaining in old-fashioned handwriting about the noise, or the smell, or whatever petty thing they could think of. He always tried to keep the noise down to a minimum, and he was pretty certain there was never a foul smell. He kept the place tidy, replaced the bin bags whenever they were full, did his dishes. He didn’t keep pets either, unlike his neighbours. He could smell the cat litter through the walls on hot days, but he never complained. It didn’t seem to be a neighbourly thing to do, did it? He just kept to himself. What was the point in socialising with a group of pensioners anyway? He would have plenty of time to do so thirty or forty years from now.

After staring at his own reflection and having come to the conclusion that the world was really still the same shit as the one he had fallen asleep on just a few hours ago, he decided that sleep would be out of the question for the night. Maybe something on TV would amuse him enough that would at least forget about his dreams. The flat was so small that it only took him a few steps to reach the living room and he opened the door that separated it from the central hall that connected all of the rooms. It was dark, despite of the city lights, and once again he didn’t bother to turn the lights on. Nathan might still be asleep on the couch, and he wouldn’t want to wake him. He carefully sat down in one of the comfortable recliners and reached for the remote control, that was on the coffee table as always. He liked tidiness in his house, almost to an obsession, but it never failed to make his mother proud.

As soon as he had pressed the button on the remote to turn the tv on, he hit the volume adjustment to turn it down. Nathan needed his sleep, but he didn’t think the light would wake him. Infomercials. That’s what was always on this time of night, he should have known. He wasn’t particularly interested in buying a food processor, so he changed the channels. It was good to have digital television, there were about seven hundred channels to choose from nowadays. Not that there was ever anything on. An old movie. Maybe the pensioners would be watching that. Sex advertisements. Now there was something. It enraged him when people sold their bodies like that. It was mostly women on the television ads but men were just as good at it, he knew from seeing them in the clubs he sometimes went to. Men and women were the same when placed in the right environment, and the uglier they were, the easier they were too. It made him shudder in disgust.

The girl on the television wasn’t exactly ugly, but she wasn’t his standard of pretty either. No girl dressed in a skirt that was no bigger than a belt, a bra that was three sizes too small, and a little black thong would ever qualify as pretty or beautiful to his standards. What did men ever see in them? Men like Nathan… But that was just a phase. He changed the channel once again, and then again, until the very obviously fake face of a werewolf filled the screen. Why not? At least he might smile a little at the ridiculousness of a cult movie like that.

He turned his head at a sound coming from the couch, it sounded a little like a moan. In the darkness he couldn’t see all that well, but he still refused to turn the lights on. Maybe the ropes around his wrists were starting to bother Nathan, or maybe he had heard the sound of the television now anyway and it was keeping him from sleeping. When his eyes were used to the darkness again after looking into the light of the television, he could see that Nathan’s arms were still perfectly stretched over his head the way he had left him earlier that night. He knew the restraints weren’t too tight, he had practiced enough on himself to know they were done quite perfectly, if he said so himself. The blindfold was also still in place, and the sheet that he had used to cover his almost naked body didn’t seem like it had moved.

“It’s okay, you can sleep some more. It’s still early,” he whispered close to his ear, and smiled.

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