When I was a child, growing up in the sleepy town of Mozhaysk, Russia, I lived an isolated life. I grew up alone, despite having brothers and sisters around. They were much older than me, and being a child of 7 years old, I found no entertainment in talking to them.

My only outlet at this time was to write, and I mean write in the broadest sense. I would write anything, stories, messages to myself, poems, anything. I was fascinated by words, having just learned to write. I would spend most evenings confined to my bedroom, writing myself into whole new worlds. I often used to just fall asleep halfway through writing a story, and wake up to return to it the next morning.

One night, I was writing a very easy-going, childlike story, as exciting a story as you can expect from a 7 year old. I distinctly remember this story, I was writing about a lonely bear that had got lost from its mother, and was desperately trying to find her. Despite being engrossed in my imagination, I fell asleep. This wasn’t disheartening to me, as it was more than a frequent occurrence. However what I awoke to the next morning was not. When reading through what I had written the previous night, something startled me.

The last sentence I had written was ‘the little bear could see his mummy on the horizon’, yet following on from my sentence, in handwriting that was not my own, was the word ‘FRIEND’. I was unsure how to feel about seeing this, I knew for a fact I hadn’t written it, the style of handwriting was calligraphic, and mine was childlike and basic. I pushed the story away from me, then pulled it back to me and tore it up. I remember saying out loud ‘no.’ I tried not to let this bother me, and things went back to normal within a few hours. A few weeks passed, I continued to write and draw, life went on as normal.

One night, I awoke abruptly from a disturbing dream. I remember that dream to this day. There was nothing obviously startling about it, but something about it just did not sit comfortable with me. I could see flashing images of hands, a big hand and a small hand, both entwined. This, upon first glance, does not seem like something that would frighten anybody; however the way the fingers wrapped around each other was not comforting.

The fingers on the small hand were distorted, almost as if they were broken. The larger hand was even more frightening, it had pulsating veins throbbing from every angle, and it gripped the small hand with a crushing force. Stumbling around the darkness of my room, all I could do was cry. Once I managed to pull myself together, I sat on the bed, and that’s when the crippling pain in my right hand hit me. It felt red hot, and it ached terribly. It was at this point, I lost consciousness.

I awoke the next morning to happily find that my hand was no longer in any pain, and despite feeling shaken from the experience, I felt contented. Later that day, I returned to my desk to start work on a new story, only to be confronted with something I still cannot explain. My story about the little bear had been pieced back together perfectly, and was laid out in front of me. Etched onto the paper, stretched across every segment, was the word ‘FRIEND’.

I began to shake, nothing about this was right. I furiously scrambled the pieces of paper, frustrated, and shut my eyes. I tried to calm myself down by counting to 10 in my head. I opened my eyes to find something even more disturbing than the paper. The desk beneath the story was damaged. The word ‘FRIEND’ was engraved deep into the oak wood. Whoever or whatever had written on my story had such force that it had destroyed the surface of my desk. I left my room, and refused to go back in there for the following month.

Upon return to my bedroom, I felt apprehensive. I hadn’t written a single story in the month that had passed, and I had done everything possible to keep the incident from my mind. On the night of my return, I felt unnaturally tired. It crept up on me out of nowhere, and suddenly all I wanted was my bed. I climbed under the sheets, and within seconds I was asleep. For the first time since the previous month, I was plagued with that same foul dream; those awful crushing hands.

I awoke again, roughly the same time of night as before, however this time things became much more surreal. My eyes shot open, I was instantly wide awake, but I couldn’t move. It felt as if some great force had placed their hands onto each of my shoulders. I couldn’t move my torso, I began to whimper and kick my legs. I opened my mouth to scream for my parents, but what I felt what I can only describe as fingers, being forced into my mouth, gripping at my bottom jaw, paralysing my ability to talk. I kicked violently, desperately trying to kick a wall or anything within reach in attempt to wake my parents.

I had never felt so scared; I was too scared to even cry. Whatever had hold of me was not letting me go. I dug my nails into the bed sheets, praying that this would all stop. All I could think about was how badly I wanted my father to come help me. I kept thinking ‘daddy’. And that’s when I heard its voice for the first time. A loud growl, within millimetres of my left ear, ‘Daddy is gone. You’re my friend’. It was then, that I was released. My shoulders loosened, and the fingers left my mouth.

I leapt from my bed, running quicker than I ever have done in my life out of my bedroom, and into my parents’ room. I forced the door open, and stopped in my tracks at what I saw. My parents were both sleeping, my father on the closest side to the door. A tall, dark shadow was looming over him, arms outstretched. I screamed, thinking of nothing other than my father’s safety, and launched myself at it. Falling straight through it, and landing on my father.

I had to explain the night’s events to my parents the next morning, who obviously didn’t trust the word of a tired 7 year old girl. About four weeks later, we moved to the United Kingdom, and whatever entity plagued me never appeared again. I will never be able to explain what happened to me, and I will never be able to understand it.