It was sleep he feared the most
It was sleep he feared the most. Those last few moments in the twilight between consciousness and slumber were dreadful. The dying embers of his thoughts tried desperately to glow brighter, to inflame his mind with the horrors of what was to come, to warn him. But of what?
The terror he felt had no cause he could think of, the horror no obvious source. Only that sleep would once again prove no respite. Come the morning, he would again be listless and wracked with pain.
The doctors spoke of insomnia, yet he slept. Indeed, his mind fought hard to elude sleep, but sleep would not be deterred. He slept, deeply (he presumed), but sleep did not bring rest.
The psychiatrists asked about his dreams, but there were no dreams. When he thought of this (when the terror of sleep and the agonies of the morning allowed) it troubled him. Surely he must dream? He had no recollection of any dream. He could remember drifting off to sleep, remember the inexorable surge of fear as sleep approached – but morning would be his next memory. The time from falling asleep to waking up was no more than an instant to him; no sensation of the passage of time, no dreams to punctuate his nocturnal woe.
In the morning his legs would be hot and sore. The soles of his feet, tender and swollen. Sleepwalking the doctors declared, they were sure of it. A careful watch of his chamber each night was swiftly arranged, and just as swiftly proved useless. The watchmen saw nothing, heard nothing. And in the morning? Pain. Exhaustion. The lingering feelings of terror, and foreboding that tonight would bring more of the same.
He slept in different rooms, different homes, but with no different results. Once he was strapped to the bed, as though living in Bedlam. Still, the morning was welcomed with agonies.
“Restless legs” the finest minds declared, “and I’m afraid there is no more we can do for you.”
“I must live then” he thought, “with this curse. To be a stranger to restful slumber, and in the morning to be drained of life and weak in limb.”
He still fears sleep. In the penumbra of sleep, in those vanishing moments of lucidity, the terror still rises in him. An icy dread fills his heart, for tonight he will sleep, without benefit or memory. The morning will bring no relief.
The last of his conscious thoughts begin to fade, just as the soft tinkling of bells begin, aethereal music envelopes him, and his legs begin to twitch and jig.
Once again he would dance with Mab by the banks of the Lethe.