At the time, I was housed in an open-bay dormitory. It’s a large room with many bunks, like a shelter. I was in a deep sleep on one of the top bunks. The lower beds were reserved for the older guys and those with medical issues that would make it difficult for them to hoist their bodies to the top bunk. It was about 3am and something shook me from my sleep, a sound.
It was a voice, screaming. “It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me! I swear. He was already dead when I got here! I swear! I didn’t kill him! He was dead when I got here!”
My eyes popped open and moved from bunk to bunk. Nobody stirred or sat up. Neither did I. What section of the dorm did the voice come from? He must’ve had a nightmare. Who was it? It wasn’t the voice of someone I spoke with on a daily basis. I’d recognize it. The voice was clear and sharp, not high-pitched but not a deep voice either. But his nightmare must’ve ended, or he was wakened by his own screams, body rigid and unmoving, crunched inside of his blankets, hugging himself, sweating, heart pounding, wondering if anyone heard his screams that crossed over from the dreamworld.
I closed my eyes, acting like I was sleeping. Who was it? How many bunks away is he? Did he do it? Did he kill him? How dangerous is this guy? I knew I was housed with killers, drug dealers, burglars and robbers, that’s undoubtable, but those screams scared me because this guy, I thought, yeah, he could be having a nightmare, but something told me those screams came from a more sinister place. To me, those screams were a sign of a major internal struggle.
The next morning, while in line for breakfast, the guy in front of me turns around and, addressing me and a few people behind me, whispers, “Did you guys hear that last night?”
We nodded. I said, “Yeah, that was weird. Who was that?”
“I don’t know, but he has a guilty conscience. It’s killing him,” he said, then turned around and walked forward in line.