A Deep Fear
To this day, it still puts fear into me. My heart feels heavy and tears fall from my eyes. I’m not sad though. On the outside, I look normal, yet I can’t fight back the tears. They’re uncontrollable. It can only be fear. A fear etched deep into my soul.
It could be the happiest day of my life. The slightest thought of what could happen while I rest later that night invites the memories of what has happened to me while I slept in the past. Those memories engulf me in an uncontrollable, inconsolable well of fear.
No, it’s not fear.
Fear is too light of a word.
The memories of past night times being haunted by— haunted by my own mind. At Least that’s what I hope it is.
I don’t know what’s more horrifying. If it’s my mind playing a dreadful trick on me. Or if it’s something— something external. I’m not very spiritual or religious, but I can only ask what if? All these thoughts that swirl in my mind as I lay awake. Simply put, they terrify me.
2011, The First Visit
I’m 20 now as I write this, and the older I get, the hazier the memories of a young me are. Whether their fun times, bad times, sad times. There’s just no place to keep every memory perfectly intact.
I’m growing older.
I’m making fresh memories.
The ones of old begin to break apart and fragment until eventually, it’s like they never happened.
If I had one wish. I’d wish I could erase this singular memory from my mind completely. The memory of the first night I ever experienced this phenomenon. Is still to this day, completely intact.
It was dark out. I was ten years old and had recently moved into a new house. A new environment. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t experienced any other extraordinary moments in that house. Before this night and after.
The first week of living there, I remember. My mom did laundry in the basement while I sat in the dining room. I stared into the glass of the china cabinet and, in the reflection; I saw myself, but then again, it wasn’t me. My vision isn’t twenty-twenty, but I know what I look like.
I know myself.
What stared back at me in the reflection of that glass was not me. It only resembled me. The longer I stared, the more clear it became. Like it transformed and revealed its true self. It had a red hue to its skin. No hair, and horn-like scales protruding from its head. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t look away.
Look, I’m a practical person. It was more than likely my child’s brain just doing what it does. Creating wild and vivid imaginations.
It was just a vivid imagination.
But it looked so real.
I went off on a tangent. I’m sorry. It’s hard to not want to stray away from this story. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this. Maybe a part of me hopes it’ll be; I don’t know, therapeutic? Maybe some god on earth will read this and grant my wish so I can forget or maybe never have this experience again. I could only hope. Let me restart.
I can get through this.
I was 10. I’d been living in a new house for about a year or so. I had experienced extraordinary events since the first week I’d arrived there. Weird things would continue to happen every once in a while after this, too. I was young, though. A child’s imagination is dangerous. I tell myself to this day a vivid imagination is all it was.
My room wasn’t too small. Great size for a child actually. Shaped like a wide rectangle. The night of this event. My bed was situated across from my room door. Running along the long side of the wall. Even though part of the wall opened up into a now divided and closed off sunroom that connected to my mother’s. I hated going in there, so it was no problem for my bed to be blocking its entrance.
Next to my bed, by its foot, was a small office chair that I used for my desk. I’d rather not bore you with frivolous details, like the color of my sheets or where everything else in my room was situated. What’s needed for the scene is set. My bed is across from the door leading into the hallway and a chair at the foot of my bed. That’s all we need.
Trust me when I say this, it’s very important. Ever since I started sleeping in a room of my own. I never, ever, sleep without closing my door. I enjoy my privacy. This night was no different.
My lamp stays on, I lay down on my back, and fall asleep. A normal night, but something woke me up. It wasn’t my family calling me, an alarm, or outside noise. Just a feeling.
So there I laid. Under the cover, staring at the ceiling, awake. It’s strange though. I couldn’t move. No matter how much I tried. No matter how many signals my brain sent down my spine to my other limbs. They wouldn’t budge.
On its own, that’s a terrifying feeling. I can’t help but panic.
What’s happened to me?
Am I really paralyzed?
My emotions run high. I keep trying. Again and again. Nothing will budge. Like there was the force of the world bearing down on every single part of my body from the neck down. My emotions run even higher. I turned my head and looked towards my door. Instantly, every single feeling merged into one. One singular emotion.
I know I shut my door. I shut my door every night. Hell, my door stays shut throughout the day.
But when I turned my head connected to my statue-like body. The door was open.
On the other side, I looked into the hallway that I had become familiar with. It was pitch black. Not a single trace of light. I couldn’t see anything. I saw nothing. But I could feel it. Someone, something, was making its way towards me in that void of darkness.
Until that moment, I had never felt so defenseless in my life. I struggled, I yelled, I tried my hardest to move. I felt like I was straining every muscle in my neck, trying to lift my body up. All the while in the darkness, it was moving closer and closer. Perhaps God heard my screams. Maybe my mind had its fill of fun. Maybe whatever it was, was toying with me. Whatever the reason, I finally woke up.
Or so I thought.
My struggle was in vain. I thought I had awoken. It felt like I was awake again, but I was still stuck in this nightmare. I still couldn’t move. I struggled, again and again, to move, to wake up. Every time I thought I was in reality, it quickly hit me how wrong I was.
Maybe I’m still stuck in that nightmare?
Wouldn’t that be something?
At least whatever it was, it had disappeared after I first woke up. At least for now, it had.
I struggled some more and eventually, I truly woke up, back to reality. Panicked and panting. I confirmed what I already knew. I don’t know if the confirmation made it worse or better. But across from me. That white door that shielded me from the rest of the house. Was indeed closed. My room was as I left it before I slept. Everything was intact, lamp on, door shut, everything else turned off. It took me a few minutes to shake the emotions off. That feeling of being helpless is horrible. I wrote it off as a bad dream, a one time nightmare. I laid back down. Calmed and reassured, I fell back to sleep.
That was a mistake.
Rinse and repeat. A stone like body, an open door peering into a void of darkness. I panicked again, but this time, that feeling intensified. As I write this, my subconscious is deeply disturbed. I know I’m not scared right now. I know I’m safe. But this memory is too vivid. Whatever it was, had escaped the darkness of the hallway. It was now sitting in the chair towards the end of the bed. Right next to me.
It was right next to me.
The only thing between us was a blanket. It didn’t do anything. Nothing. It was just there, observing me. Intimidating me with its presence only. It didn’t have a physical form that I could see, or maybe I just couldn’t perceive it. The pressure of its presence, though, I can still feel it to this day. I can feel it as I write this a decade later. It would forever have its grip on me.
My family never mentioned it, so I’m obliged to believe my screams of terror never reached outside the veil of that nightmare into reality. At Least this time. I couldn’t put into words how much I struggled to move my body, trying to wake up. How much I yelled, screamed, for anyone, someone to help me. All while it just sat there. Exuding its presence over me. I think it had its fun though, or maybe my will gained enough strength to overcome this nightmare. Whatever the reason is, I’m thankful. My struggle wasn’t in vain.
I woke up to reality again.
I glanced at the door, looked at the chair. Nothing. I saw nothing and felt nothing. It took me a while to calm down, but I managed. I was terrified to go back to sleep, but it catches you one way or another. I wasn’t visited by that being again that night. But this memory will always haunt me. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy.
All I’ve thought about for years is what did I do? What could I have done in this life or a past one to be haunted like that? The mind is powerful, but can it really create a feeling so… so vivid, so real? I don’t know what option scares me more. But for a long while I was free from it, visiting me in my sleep.
2020, It Returned
By this point, it’s been almost ten years since the first time my mind held me hostage. It had happened again throughout the years. On and off, randomly, my body would return to its heavy restraints. Whatever observed me while I lay there helplessly never returned. If I was cursed somehow, maybe my dues were paid. My sins from a past life would no longer haunt me.
There are similarities between the first occurrence. While I’m older, I’m also in a new environment. A little over a year removed from a life-changing move. Six months removed from changing houses again after that.
Life was weird as is.
Then the world changed.
In my years of living, I’d experienced major health scares, but in the end, nothing would ever touch what happened in spring 2020. The entire world shut down. I’m not the most outdoors person but knowing that there’s always an option to go out, to get out of my comfort zone, and be within society. That was all stripped away. Months being locked down for our own safety. The reaction from the world was bizarre. Disbelief, terror, negligence, all while people were really dying.
Even before the world changed, there were three deaths. Not of people I knew personally, but people who were famous. When you’re famous, it seems like you’re immortal. So what happened on January 26th that year? That one particular death shook me to the core.
Laying in my bed every night, death felt everywhere. It felt inescapable. I know it catches everyone eventually, so I have to live life to its fullest until it does. Irony is, how do you do that while locked down? It seemed like there was no escape. I guess with those thoughts looming over me day by day. It was the perfect time for it to make its presence known again.
The memory surrounding this visit is hazier. Funny, isn’t it? I remember an event from ten years ago more than I do the one from a year ago. Really, 2020 was a blur. I guess I should be thankful.
I don’t think I’d ever been anything less than a night owl. The events ten years ago certainly never helped my perception of sleeping at night. To me, the quietness and calm aura of the sun’s light reflecting off the moon will always comfort me. Staying up throughout the night is just something I do. Something I take solace in and enjoy. Even then, the odd night will roll around where I actually sleep at a relatively normal time. One night would make sure I didn’t do that for a long time.
This room is about the same size as the one in my childhood. Not as rectangular, but more a square with the door leading to the hallway placed on the bottom right corner of that square. Directly diagonal from it lies me in my bed. I’m older now, so I sleep with the lights off. I grew a habit of needing something to play to ease me into a state of sleep. Whether it be a show, music, documentary. I just needed noise. What put me to sleep that night, I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what attracted it again? Wouldn’t that be funny? Maybe everything that year offered until that point led to its ominous return.
The feeling is the same as always. On my back, everything from the neck down is completely restrained to where nothing is responding. While it’s still a scary sensation, it’s happened enough times before that I can deal with it or at least manage.
I struggled as usual, but quickly something familiar caught my eye.
The door was open.
My room was dark, but there’s a darker void seeping into it from the hallway. In that void, I felt it. It wasn’t moving towards me this time; it was just there. Complacent in its domain. If it had eyes, then they were fixated on me. The pressure of it just being there was enough to bring back that terror I felt nine years earlier. I struggled desperately. Begging for something, some part of my body to move. No response. My mind raced back and forth. Why? Why now? After all these years, why did it return? Is everything not bad enough as it is?
I wanted it to end. I wanted to be free of its intense observation. So I yelled. Struggled and yelled as loud as I could. Maybe it was amused by this. Enough so that it lets me free of its gaze. All I know is my voice eventually pierced through the veil of its domain. In reality, I shot up. Yelling as I rose. I was panicked, sweating, heart beating almost out of my chest, engulfed with pure terror. It was too much to handle. Out of fear of it returning, I couldn’t sleep at night for weeks on my own devices. I could never allow myself to experience that again.
It’s been over a year since I’ve experienced any form of sleep paralysis or since it visited me. For a while after that incident, I stayed awake until the sun rose every day. Not because of my natural love for the times under the moonlight, but because of pure terror.
Melatonin eased me until my mind got itself together. I’ve tried to look into not only what causes sleep paralysis, but what it was that haunts me. There are accounts of people having similar visits that I’ve tried to read through. I can’t make it through without this feeling inside me.
I attempted once to look up images of what it may look like. Illustrations from others seemingly cursed like me. That feeling again festered inside. I couldn’t do it. A glance at them felt taboo. Like it had its presence wrapped around my heart and if I saw something I wasn’t supposed to at any moment—well, who knows what it could do at any moment?
All I can do now is deal with it. I can’t walk through life fearing what may haunt me when I’m asleep. I can’t forget that vivid memory from 10 years ago. I can’t forget its return from last year. So I have to press on. I have to live; I have to sleep, and just pray it never visits me again.