June 23, 2004
The Midnight Corpse 
Speaking of strange, surreal experiences...last night around midnight, as I was blissfully in the throes of sleep, I heard a very odd noise outside our partially-open bedroom window. It sounded like an aluminum ladder being open and dragged across the ground, exactly where I couldn't tell.

I think I was starting to have a weird dream where I was in the military with a group of Native Americans, and I had to drive some heavy machinery. A bulldozer, I think. It was one of those back-in-high-school time-shift dreams that seem perfectly normal until you wake up, astounded and bemused by the nonsense that your brain conjures at night. I heard something rattle in the dream. Squeak rattle squeak. Have you seen the X-Files episode called "Badlaa"? It's about a short-statured, vengeful Hindu ascetic who gets around on a small squeaky platform, controls people's visual perceptions and travels around the world in a most gruesome manner. The squeak rattle squeak sounded exactly like that, and believe me, that's not an image you want to conjure up in the middle of the night.

Not being fully conscious, I didn't pay too much attention. Then, a few minutes later, the sound returned, and it was getting closer. What was it? As I started to wake up nervously, it occurred to me it might be someone outside the apartment window trying to get in with a ladder - not the most comforting of thoughts on an otherwise quiet urban midnight.

My better half, who tends to wake more easily than me (then again, probably most of the world wakes up more easily than I do) also heard the rattle rattle squeak and popped up out of bed, put on her glasses an went to window to have a look. As the blinds lifted, the room glowed bluish-orange from the streetlights.

"Oh, my god - do you know what that is?"
"Mmmmh. What is it?" I reply, half-asleep, half-curious.
"It's a dead body!"
I didn't even want to speculate how a dead body could be making that weird sound; the possibilities were just too horrible.
"They're carrying it across the ground!"
"A dead body?" I say, incrementally more awake but somehow not entirely surprised.
"Two guys are out there, and they're taking away a body and putting it in a hearse. It's kind of a big body, and it's covered in a brown blanket."

The squeaky metallic sound were the wheels on the gurney the men were using to wheel away the deceased. We're still not sure if the body came from our apartment complex, and because of the leisurely speed and lack of alarm displayed by the hearsemen of the Apocalypse, we speculated that it might have been one of our neighbors - a large older man who has cancer, and who has looked very poorly in recent days. What a way to end up - being wheeled down the sidewalk on a squeaky gurney in the middle of the night. I suppose there are worse ways to go, at midnight in the city.

I never got up out of bed to have a look at the scene outside my window: the descriptions and my imagination were quite sufficient, thank you. It also reminded me of a truly creepy scene in the 1976 movie Burnt Offerings, where Oliver Reed is tormented by nightmares of a skeleton-thin, pale hearse driver in shades who bangs and drags a coffin up the stairs to his bedroom.

Now, if we see "Bob" walking around tomorrow, we'll know he hasn't given up the ghost; and we'll probably never know whose body was under the brown blanket on the squeaky gurney.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

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June 23, 2004
The Midnight Corpse by Lenka Reznicek



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