I opened the fridge and downed an energy drink then quickly set up the tea kettle. I made my way to the bathroom and glared at myself in the mirror. The circles under my eyes were the darkest they had ever been. My eyes were bloodshot and hung lower then they should have. I wrapped my fingers on the edge of the cold counter and leaned in closer to the mirror.
“It’s just a dream.” I whispered my affirmation just in case they could hear. But everyone insisted they weren’t real. Well they were.
I filled the sink with cold water and watched it slowly rose in the porcelain, my vision blurred. Maybe a nap would be okay. Just a few minutes? But then the high whistle of the tea kettle made me leap backwards in fear. I quickly prepared my coffee and grabbed ice from the freeze. The ice water hit my senses as I plunged my face in, trying to wake up.
Pacing and jumping, I blasted the volume on my bluetooth speakers as high as it would go. My eyelids started to droop and I shook my head maniacally to stop them.
It’s been 3 days since I slept. 3 days since I saw them in the corner, whispering to me, inching closer, pressing me deep into the mattress, feeling my consciousness become weaker. I had been unable to move a single muscle. Unable to close my eyes, or yell out. So tired...maybe sitting would be okay. But as soon as I folded onto the floor, my sleep deprivation took over and I felt myself go limp.
My eyes shot open and I saw the room had grown dark. Hadn’t I turned all the lights on? I was curled on my side, seeing things with a sideways view, my cheek on the carpet. I tried to sit up and felt the unmistakable cage of paralysis. Shit. I had fallen asleep. I was only able to move my eyeballs, to glance around the room. That’s when I heard them. The whispers grew. From one voice, to 3, to many. My pupils danced frantically, when I finally saw a cluster of dark shadows skirt closer. I felt a raw scream trapped in my throat, as I saw shadow shaped legs and feet, hundreds of them, close in on me. In my mind I thrashed about, but I lay still and helpless and began to feel consumed and crushed by the conjoined darkness of the shadow people. Suddenly I heard a loud banging and was jolted awake.
The shadows were gone, but the lights were still off. The music was thumping. Why were the lights off? I sat up and looked around, realizing the banging was from the door. I weakly walked to it and opened it to see a cross neighbor.
“Could you turn that down?!” the woman fought to yell over the loud music and I nodded in apology and closed the door. I turned the music off and took a deep breathe. I looked around the room and wondered if I could hide.
I went into the bedroom closet, turned on a light, closed the door, and sat down. I had never tried hiding before. In a small cramped closet, where could they possibly go? I sat in the brightly lit closet for hours, but my eyelids were like lead and eventually I drifted to sleep.
Cold breathe tickled my ear as my eyes opened and I felt a sharp heavy pressure on my back.
I was laying on my stomach, curled up from sleep. A hollow voice hovered above me and I realized the room was dark. I hadn’t turned the closet light off. If this was sleep paralysis, who was on top of me, and who was opening the closet door? It creaked open slowly and I watched an impossibly tall black shadow slither in, it’s oblong shaped head just barely avoiding the top of the doorway. It had no edges or features, but dim glowing orbs for eyes. There were many just like it behind them, filling my bedroom. The figure above me now felt like it was reaching INTO me, under my skin, and through my veins. Suddenly I realized I could feel my right arm again and swatted furiously above me, feeling cool slick skin and sharp thick fur. My mind raced with questions, but I was in fight or flight.
The rest of my body stayed paralyzed, so I swatted with one arm the best I could. I heard a low primitive growling and the shadows in my room moved closer. I felt claws in my back and just as I thought I was going to be eaten by whatever this thing was I woke up. The light was still off but I was able to move and all the creatures were gone. I sat up and looked around confused, and when I went out into the living room I saw it was morning. I touched my back gingerly and felt a faint scratch.
I found an eviction letter that afternoon due to the music (this wasn’t the first time I had been yelled at by neighbors) and we moved to a new neighborhood, renting out a bigger place. Strangely, I don’t have sleep paralysis since we moved. I don’t know why, I’m just glad it’s over.
I did wake up briefly last night, paralyzed, just for a few minutes before I was able to move again. I could have sworn I had turned the bathroom light on before bed, but it was off. I’m sure it’s a coincidence.
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