Read an extract from Don't Open Your Eyes:
She dreamed she was back in the ruined church. She
was with John and Jason by the opened grave. The sun was bright and
the sky was blue, but there was a blackness in the light and a bitter
cold in the air, hidden under the sunshine. She was looking down at
the empty coffin, and the coffin lid which had been thrust aside.
Jason wanted her to see something else, but she kept looking at the
coffin. The white satiny lining was fresh and unstained, although
crumpled and dented where the body had lain. Coffin lids are nailed
down. Someone had torn the lid away, wrenching the nails loose. She
could see the points of the nails, sticking up out of the edges of
the lid. Not twisted, not wrenched, still straight. As if, instead
of someone hauling the lid off from above, something inside had pushed,
'Look,' said Jason's voice. 'Look at the coffin lid.'
'I'm looking,' she whispered, wishing desperately she could take her
'It wasn't taken,' said Jason. 'Whatever was in there... it escaped.'
Diesel sat bolt upright in her bed,
her heart thumping violently, wide awake. What a horrible dream! But
was it a dream, or a memory? When she looked back at the scene by
that opened grave this afternoon, was it true that she had found herself
staring very hard at the coffin lid? Was it true that she had seen
just exactly what the dream had shown her? The nails sticking straight
up? Had she noticed then (though she had shoved the thought away from
her, refused to look at it), that the coffin lid seemed to have been
opened from the inside? The thing inside, the thing that was only
an empty dead body, had not been stolen. It had escaped. Had that
thought been in her mind before she slept?
Oh no, no, it couldn't be. It was simply a nightmare.
She lay down and closed her eyes, glad that such a terrible idea could
not be true.
Strangely, she fell asleep again quite
quickly. The shock of the discovery at the ruins, and the effort of
trying to behave normally for Mum and Dad when she came home, had
left her exhausted. She was too worn out to be frightened by a dream.
She fdreamed this time about Martin.
She was out in the garden with her mum and dad. Michael, the neighbour
from number 59, the man who lived alone with his fussy mother, was
warning them against the Knight brothers. 'That's the way they'll
do it,' he said, pointing up at the back wall of the house. 'Over
their wall and up your drainpipe easy-peasy: break a bedroom window
if they can't get it open, and make off with anything they can get
their hands on.'
It had never happened. The Knight boys had never broken into number
55. But in Diesel's dream, she was suddenly not in the garden but
in bed: and that was the way Martin came to her room. Over the wall
and up the drainpipe. He didn't have to break the window, because
Diesel slept with her window open in the summer. He slipped inside,
and came and sat on the end of her bed. She knew it was Martin, though
of course she couldn't see him. The room was dark, and she had her
'Don't open your eyes,' he said; and it was Martin's voice.
'I won't,' said Diesel.
'Whatever you do, don't open your eyes. Promise.'
'I promise.' Martin was dead, but he sounded so real. 'Can I touch
'No. Better not.'
'But you can talk to me?'
'Yes. I've come to talk to you. I don't want to scare you Diesel,
but I really need to talk to someone about what's happening to me.'
'Well.' Martin sighed. He sounded tired and sad, as if coming back
from the dead was a long, dreary journey. 'You saw me, didn't you?
You saw me in the church that night. Do you mind talking about this?'
'I don't mind. Whatever you want.'
'I know you didn't want to believe it was me, but it was. Somehow
I'm not dead. Or I'm dead but... walking. I was wondering if you could
help me understand why I'm like this.'
'Yes,' whispered Diesel. 'I'll try.'
'It's to do with that grave. Your brain doesn't work very well when
you're dead... but I know what's happened to me is something to do
with that particular grave. The one in the ruined church, where you
and John and Jason buried me. I'm not blaming you. It was a nice gesture.
But it didn't work out too well. Don't open your eyes, Diesel. Please
'I won't. Could you hold my hand?'
She heard him move, quickly, shifting out of her reach. Even if she
stretched out her arms now, she wouldn't be able to touch him. She
could imagine him shaking his head, and smiling that hopeless smile:
his face white and tired, the dark limp fringe flopping in his eyes.
'Better not,' he whispered.
back to Ann Halam Books page