A Nudge in the Night, Bohdi Byles

A ghost tour at a gaol, and my friend and I would be sleeping overnight in the cells. I could finally tell people I had slept in a prison.

The tour was interesting, and a little bit creepy. The tour guide had actually been a prison guard back in the day, so he was telling us the graphic stories of murders in the showers with sharpened toothbrushes, and riots in the courtyard with people having their everything broken.

When we stopped at the prison cells for us brave souls to be locked in for the night, he pointed at the cell next to the one I was sleeping in.

“Someone hanged themselves in there,” the tour guide said with a shrug. “I don’t believe in ghost stories because I still have to patrol these grounds at night, but have fun.”

The most unnerving thing was the writing on the wall.

Of all the things I’ve lost.

I miss my mind the most.

“Oh, and one last thing,” the guide said, resting against the huge cell door. “These doors are very heavy so be careful opening and closing them. I saw someone’s fingers get chopped off from the door slamming on them.”

Once he’d left, we laid down to sleep. We were going to be sleeping on air mattresses on the cell floor, no pillows, and no blankets. When lights went out, they really went out; I couldn’t see anything at all. I rolled over and curled up into a ball, my usual sleeping pose, and closed my eyes, the stories of the nights swirling through my mind.

Twenty minutes later was when it began.

Nudge, nudge.

It was like someone was pressing into the foot of the mattress, and I could feel myself rising and falling. My heart began to thump just a little bit faster, but I ignored it. But there it was again and again.

“What do you want? Just stop it!” I sat up in bed and glared at my friend, only to realise she was snoring and facing the cell wall.

When my head was back on the mattress, it started up again.

Nudge, nudge.

A gut feeling sank through my whole body, and I clenched my eyes shut. Something inside, whether it was divine guidance, intuition, or just pure anxiety, was telling me not to open my eyes or look at the foot of the bed.

Nudge, nudge.

Horrific images were flooding my mind, the most poignant being a man hanging from the ceiling in the cell next door. He was swinging back and forth like a pendulum, threatening to fall. And all I could hear was that message from the wall.

Of all the things I’ve lost.

I miss my mind the most.

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