I woke to the percussive orchestral movements of noise from my kitchen. A cacophony of crashes and bangs made with deliberate chaos in mind. I sat up in bed and tried to discriminate between reality and the unreality of whatever dream state I had previously been in.
Turning to my partner I tried to shake her awake but with no success. She was deep, fast asleep, breathing hard, eyes squeezed shut in a stubborn attempt to ignore me completely even at the most superficial level. Her thinning grey hair spread out across the pillow, her wrinkled face still beautiful after all these years of togetherness.
I sighed, straining my ears in a vain attempt to pinpoint the noises as outside the house or mere fragments of my semi-conscious imagination. But there was no denying it – the noises were real and they were really coming from my kitchen.
Tentatively, as slowly and reluctantly as possible, I got out of bed, searching with cold toes for warm slippers. I reached to the hook and took down my dressing gown, wrapping it firmly around my otherwise naked body and tying it tightly, almost aggressively. Looking around I could see nothing that could pass as anything like a weapon so I clenched my fists in a spasm of faux-readiness and the released them in order to pull open the bedroom door.
A light shone from the kitchen downstairs, its reach reflecting up the stairs as a dull glow of barely yellow luminescence. I could pick out certain noises now in the rush of crashes: the wooden bangs of cupboard doors, the slightly hollow sound of the washing machine door being slammed against the neighbouring wall, the rattling clash of the dishwasher being raised violently up and then down again.
My anger began to rise. Rage at the idea of my home being violated in such a random way, disgust as the attitude of carelessness and lack of respect. I found my heart beating hard in my chest, sweat beading in my armpits, a difficulty in breathing. Anger started quickly to turn to panic and I felt myself stagger as I descended the stairs with a firm grip on the slightly wobbly banisters. As I moved gradually down I kept trying to peer round the corner into the kitchen, but the door was only slightly ajar and all I could see was the yellow of the main light and flashes of intense white light that I could not imagine a reason for.
I reached the last step and paused. The noises had stopped suddenly, as if whoever was in my kitchen was as aware of my presence as I was of theirs. The thought was not a pleasant one.
But what choice did I have but to continue.
So I girded my loins, in whatever way you may interpret that phrase, and walked towards the kitchen door, one arm out in front of me to push open the door as I advanced.
It took a while for my eyes and brain to take in and interpret the scene I saw in front of me. The first things I noticed were my belongings, broken and strewn across the small expanse of the room. Chips and splinters of wood and metal littered the floor like straw in a stable. The cutlery drawer had been removed and apparently thrown into the air with no regard for its eventual resting place – silver glints of knives and forks and spoons and miscellaneous implements rested haphazardly around the kitchen, in the sink, on the floor, over the work surface. I thought instantly of the reaction of my wife, she would not be pleased.
It took longer for my brain to process the information it was receiving about the cause of all of this anarchic destruction. All emotion drained away as recognition dawned. But it was a qualified recognition in that, although I could instantly see that the being in my kitchen was outwith the usual threats of drug induced thieves or craven youths intent on mischief, I had no clue as to what it actually was.
The creature was supported by translucent tentacles, too many to count in a rush, that clung to various parts of the kitchen and commenced to oscillate in turn as they began again to slam and crash and throw drawers around the room. The tentacles, drawing my eyes in, met centrally in the terminus of a lump of amorphous muscle that hung suspended in space in the very centre of the room. Perched on top of that huge body was a tiny humanoid figure, its face dominated by a mad grin, a top hat on its head and an unkempt white beard descending from chin to knees. The figure held on with one hand to a strap that reached to a harness that straddled the larger creature, the other hand clasped a tiny hair-thin whip which the figure was using with glee to whip the creature into a renewed frenzy of destruction.