Yesterday, I heard what can only be described as "death screams". It happened shortly after arriving at my aunt's place in Taichung. My cousin, Jessica, ran down the hall into one of the bedrooms, and her disappearance was followed immediately by a series of the most terrible screams I have ever heard. After a short pause involving mass confusion and semi-panic, a series of even higher-pitched screams rang out.
Perhaps I've been sheltered in life or something; normally, I only hear screams as uttered by actors trying to approximate real terror or pain (e. g. torture, maiming, craziness). Now I know that no cinematic performance has ever been close to how terrible screaming can be.
After running to the room to see what had happened, we discovered my uncle laying on the ground next to the bed. My cousin, his daughter, was quite shaken up, but as far as I could tell there weren't any discarded limbs on the floor nor fountains of blood sprouting from gaping wounds. Apparently, my cousin had run into the room while my uncle was sleeping and smacked him in the stomach as an attempt to surprise him into consciousness. Her surprise attack worked better than she could ever have hoped for: my uncle started screaming, rolled off of the bed, hit his head on the coffee table next to the bed, and continued to scream from the ground.
A minute later, he walked out of the room and greeted me. "Eric! How are you?"
I pretty much had no answer.
As background, it's important to know that my uncle is bipolar and is always exhibiting various degrees of imbalance. He hasn't exactly been a stable person lately. The screams we heard could never have come from a completely sane person without some sort of extreme emotional duress. I mean, it sounded like someone was being eaten alive by a horrible monster, or like an encounter with someone's worst nightmare.
I was a bit shaken up by hearing the screaming, and I can only imagine the effect it had on my cousin. After a few hours, my sister and I started to find the entire event to be hilarious. Even though it's not really funny, we couldn't stop laughing.