How many times have you stood outside the study door and pressed you ear against the door in the hope of hearing something? Many times I would wager. You press it closer and close your eyes as if shutting off one sense might just aid another. Is that our voice you can hear? It is difficult to tell as the frenetic and anxious beating of your heart causes the blood to roar in your ears and you cannot tell if that is us speaking in a low murmur, the sound of a television or the incessant hum of the technology on the other side of this portal. Are we speaking to someone or is that now the clack of the keyboard as our fingers glide across it? What is it that we are doing beyond this door? Your hand reaches out to the handle but you know that it is pointless. The door will be locked. It was not long after we began these night time residences in the study that a lock was fitted and you have never seen the key. The room is always locked when we are in it. The room is always locked when we are not in it. You have no access. You once went to find a ladder, determined to peer in through the window and see what lies within. Strange thoughts of witnessing bizarre experiments flicked through your mind, visions of some hybrid beast chained and caged, a monster yet to be unleashed, yet as you looked up you could see that the blinds had been closed. Once again we had out strode you.
Even if a locked door did not bar your access you know that as soon as you began to open the door we would appear at it, face filling the crack, bodyweight behind it preventing you from pushing it open any further, our suspicious face blocking you from seeing what lay within. We soon ushered you away, muttering about having important work to do. You made kind noises, suggesting that we worked too hard and inviting us to allow you ingress so you might massage our shoulders but your suggestion did not even merit a reply as the door was shoved shut once again. You shall not pass might as well have been etched on the timber.
Now you walk past, the cold blue light leaking from underneath the door, evidence of the technology at work inside. You always pause and contemplate what we could be doing. What is it that engrosses us to such a degree that we are preoccupied inside this place nearly every night, from after dinner until late. You gave up trying to stay awake for our eventual appearance in bed. Now, you awake in the night and find that we have magically appeared beside you, having soundlessly and lightly entered the room and climbed into bed. Occasionally you have debated looking for the key as we slept and trying to access our place of refuge but you have come to fear and dread the backlash from such clandestine behaviour as it as if we sleep with one eye open. We always catch you when you start to play us at our own game, with sneaking about and covert activities.
Truth be told you have no idea what goes on when we indulge in our night life. You may be told we are working or enjoying watching a film in peace, without the interruption of children, animals, telephones or you. There just might be a film on in the background but the only work that is being undertaken is of the plotting kind. We are busy tending to our growing kingdom of admirers as we flick between the first ‘phone, the second ‘phone and the computer. Technological tendrils radiate away from these devices as we scour the dating sites, pick up the previous evening’s flirtations with someone with an inviting user name and bat back and forth the messages with a new prospect on Facebook. Our inbox bulges with the fruit of our nefarious labours, the computer screen contains an array of different tabs and notifications as the world of social media lights up the monitor. Messages, emoticons and pictures cascade towards us as we drink up this fuel. We reply to text messages, plan arrangements to meet, indulge in sending sexual snares to capture a willing victim and requesting plenty of pictures to send to the hard drive which is attached to the computer. The heat from these exchanges would readily power the house for a week. You may hear a film but it will not be the latest block buster or some critically acclaimed production. Instead we will be staring glassy eyed at the naked figures which contort for our imagined direction. Our fingers grip the mouse and with each click we delve deeper and deeper into the vast array of pornography, our tastes becoming ever more extreme and dangerous. Some nights we might spend ten seconds watching one piece of footage before our eyes are drawn to a more enthralling thumbnail beneath which we dutifully click on. Then another and another. We watch everything but see nothing as we flit like a butterfly from one porn site to another, dancing across the categories, inserting our own searches as we seek that elusive hit that satisfies us. Our eyes widen as an e-mail arrives and we immediately open it, delighting in the messages we can see racking up on our ‘phones. We are gorging on flirtation, infidelity and voyeurism. Like a glutton we cannot get enough as we stuff ourselves with the fuel that flows from so many supply lines. As we do so our thoughts drift to you lying alone, no doubt wondering what we are doing and we allow ourselves a smile as we savour that drop of negative fuel, imagining your discomfort and loneliness.
It begins as an hour after dinner. Then two. Soon external appointments start to be discarded and avoided in order to make a return to the mothership and plug in to all of the waiting admirers in chatrooms, across the internet and in cyberspace. Soon the entire evening is given over to this pursuit and then it bleeds into the early hours until we are still sat wired and fuelled, clicking and surfing as the first rind of dawn can be seen on the horizon. This is our nightlife.