As I retire to my bed I feel the dull sensation in my left temple. A headache. No matter, I'll sleep it off, I think as I pull the duvet over me. I sleep.

Then I become aware...I think. Reality is mixed with a dream. I know I am awake, but I seem to be on a bridge somewhere. There are people around talking, talking about things. But I am not confused...through these mixed feelings shoots the pain of the nail in my head, it suddenly becomes the only definite. The nail has been tapped in, and now sits there, delicately, a slight move increasing the pain some more. Suddenly my mental situation confuses me - what am I doing on this dark stone bridge? Through the waves of pain I start to accept reality - I accept that in fact I am lying in my bed. As my left hand slowly reaches up and crashes into a wall I accept I am in my room. These thoughts are not being relayed to me by my brain, however. Perhaps the effort of this would be too much of a strain on my head and cause that prominent blood vessel, pushing against the skin of my temple, to burst. Instead a strange person standing to the right of my door is telling my thoughts to me. I know he is not real, as there is a cupboard there, yet I listen. He tells me to move. I sit up in bed. The blood sweeps behind my left eye, and the pain smoothly escalates. Be careful of blinking, the man says. He need not say; I know the drill. I move out of bed, and stand. Carefully I move to the light switch, and press. The light is on...it is relatively dim, a sort of yellow, so it doesn't affect the pain. Everything melts into reality. I am here, I have a migraine. I open the door and walk down the corridor. The pain steadies a little, becomes constant and bearable, as it does when I have something to concentrate on, such as walking. I walk to the bathroom, and to the mirror. The light is brighter here, so I have to wait, to get acquainted to it. Once I am, I stare into the mirror. My ridiculously bloodshot eyes stare back. After staring for about five minutes I turn on the tap, cup my hands under the water and bend down. As I do the blood again swishes around and the pain increases. I shut my eyes and throw water onto my face. I hoped this would help me relax, but no. As I lie back on my bed the full force of the pain returns. I groan and tears fill my eyes. I try shutting them, but this suddenly takes me back to that surreal semi-consciousness. So again I rise.


Down the corridor, into the bathroom. I stare again. What can I do? I cannot go to sleep and hope by morning that the pain will be gone - it will not, and never will, let me sleep. I decide I have to walk. Up and down the bathroom, again and again. Then the light starts to make me even more aware of the feeling in my eye, so I walk into the darker corridor, up and down a couple of times...and then I think the pain has steadied enough for me to lie down again. After all my watch reads four o'clock. I can't pace until nine.

But as I lie, it floods back. I try burying my head in the pillow. This sometimes works - but not now. The pain starts seeping to the very back of my head, and then just above my neck. I turn back over. I resist the urge to scream, and instead find myself violently pounding my legs on the mattress, and murmuring, mummy, mummy....

I'm up again. Turn on the light. Walk up and down my room. Sit at my desk. Bury my face in my arms. Almost immediately up again. I think furiously: The pain is worse when my head is horizontal... I grab my duvet and try to sleep in my armchair. The nail is embedded to its head. Suddenly I am out in the corridor again. Water, I need water. But the mugs are downstairs...help someone, please. Then the saliva pours into my mouth. I'm going to be sick. I rush to the loo. My stomach spasms, but nothing. I mercilessly push two fingers down my throat. My gorge rises and I retch. But nothing - there is nothing in me.

I find my way down the stairs, through the dead house. I grab a mug and return upstairs. I fill it with water and drink, in all a pint. I return to my room, put down my mug. I feel sick again. I run down the corridor to a basin and retch. Nothing. I retch again. A little water. And again, a bit more. Suddenly my mouth opens and a torrent of water pours out.

My stomach, at least, is satisfied, but the pain in my eye becomes even more pronounced, and as it does my eyesight starts to go. The lights flash and fade. From the centre of my vision a darkness grows, increasing until only dark outlines are visible. I sit in the doorway of the shower, moving my head up and down, brushing it against my arms and tousling my hair. Go away...will it ever?

Somehow the morning comes. Somehow I made it to bed. I must have got back to my room and blacked out, and in that state slept. The pain is still there, less than five hours ago, but still slowly killing me. But now I feel safe. The rest of the world is alive and I rise to find the one who will give me access to those beautiful pink capsules...

Robert Allen