stairs led to the ‘men's dormitory’ - a large bleak room containing half a dozen metalbeds and a box of blankets and pillows. After a meal, I sat alone in the dining roomand studied the hostel rules displayed above the ﬁreplace. I even toyed with the ideaof seeing how many I might break. Then I tried reading a book, but it only increasedmy sense of isolation. Occasionally, I glanced outside, but no one else came up thepath. Eventually, I took a ﬁnal look at the stars, closed the front door and went up tobed. The room was cold, but tucked up in a sheet sleeping bag under three blanketsand a coat, I soon fell asleep.
I am dreaming. I am cycling alone along an endless country road. It is a bog road bordered by ﬁelds of rushes and stunted trees. There are no turnings or junctions, farms or villages. Gradually, night falls but I must keep riding. In the darkness, a pair of eyes stares at me - they are ﬁlled with malice and could belong to a bird of prey, possibly an eagle. I get off the bike and hide. What happens next occurssuddenly and with some violence. A long thin hand, it might even be a claw, appears from nowhere and hovers above me. Then, without warning, it plunges down and grabs hold of my bedding. There is the sound of a gale howling as the bedclothes aretorn from me. They ﬂy upwards and disappear, and then there is only silence.
I awoke with a start and sat bolt upright with my heart beating like a drum. Then Igradually relaxed as I realised that this was a nightmare. The house was silent and thedormitory door was closed. As I settled down again, I discovered that my coat andblankets were missing and I assumed that they had slipped off the bed. I gropedaround but could feel only the cold ﬂoorboards. This was strange. Perhaps alatecomer to the hostel had taken them? A waning moon shone through the dormitorywindow and threw just enough light for me to see around the room. I studied each of the other ﬁve beds in turn, but they were empty. I remembered the dream and becameanxious and confused. The bedding couldn’t have just disappeared through a brickwall or a closed door, but it was no longer in that room. Where could it have gone andwho could have removed it so swiftly?I had never been so frightened in my life. I don’t know how long I sat there shakingbut, eventually, I summoned the courage to get out of bed and open the dormitorydoor. ‘Is there anyone there?’ I called nervously, but my voice just echoed through thesilent house. Then I noticed a dark shape lying on a landing halfway down the stairs;it was one of my blankets. I thought that perhaps a dog had entered the room anddragged the bedclothes down the stairs. At this point, I hadn’t considered how ananimal might open and close a door, but what I saw next dispelled this notion. Furtherdown the staircase was my second blanket - lying on top of the banister rail. As Istood shivering in the hall, I became aware that the front door to the hostel was wide