Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Like a bad dream by Mark Billingham


“You’ve got to admit, it doesn’t look good.”

That’s what one of the coppers had said when I was being booked in, and I could hardly blame him. A few hours after that first frantic phone call.

“My husband’s been stabbed and there’s blood everywhere… and scissors by the bed. Oh, God… I think I’ve killed him…”

It didn’t look good.

So, I told them it had been going on for months. The disturbed sleep, the night-time wanderings. There was screaming at first, night terrors, and then I just started doing strange things without waking up at all. My poor husband had found me staring at the wall, pounding my fists against a window and – in the kitchen three months before – cutting up the newspaper with scissors, eyes wide open but clearly still fast asleep.

“We need to get you some help,” he’d said.

We’d been to see Doctor Harris, who was very understanding. There were tests and reports. I was told to keep a record of the events.

“You were covered in your husband’s blood,” the solicitor had said later. She had nodded sadly, prison all but a formality.

“Your fingerprints were all over those scissors.”

I told her there was a precedent – at least one. A man who had strangled his wife while he was dreaming about something else.

Surely, I had a case.

Doctor Harris was especially good in court. He told them everything, said that what I’d done was involuntary. He threw in plenty of Latin words and fancy names for things.

‘Non-insane automatism.’ I think that was the one that had swung it.

And, finally, the nightmare is over.

No more bad dreams.

Doctor Harris and I have plenty of better things to do in bed, and when we’ve finished, I’m sure we’re both going to sleep like babies.

The Dying Hours by Mark Billingham is out now (Little, Brown)

(Image: Rex)



The Best Crime Novel Covers Ever


The ShortList crime challenge


Three hundred by Anthony Horowitz



Donald Ray Pollock: Inside the mind of a nightmare specialist

Modern master of disturbing prose on the moments from page & screen that made him who he is

05 Oct 2016

Harry Potter fans can now discover their Patronus

Don't lie, you want to give it a go, don't you?

by David Cornish
23 Sep 2016

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Stephen King

21 Sep 2016

Your chance to see excellent US author Donald Ray Pollock

And also have a beer! Win win

08 Sep 2016

Return to a nineties classic: Chuck Palahniuk on Fight Club

20 years since Fight Club, the author tells us how he’d rewrite his seminal novel for 2016

17 Aug 2016

Details announced for new Partridge book

'Nomad' will arrive this autumn

21 Jul 2016

13 famous books that had very different working titles

by Chris Sayer
10 Jun 2016

George RR Martin has just confirmed this brilliant GOT fan theory

A badass character gets a badass back story

by David Cornish
01 Jun 2016

Twitter account Photoshops 90s’ books to give them titles they deserve

12 Apr 2016

You're going to want these stunning new Shakespeare books

The books your bookshelf deserves

by David Cornish
12 Apr 2016