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Since I was a child, I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason and experience what people like to call "sleep paralysis". The feeling of being completely aware of your surroundings but being unable to move any part of your body other than your eyes is a terrifying one, not even your mouth to scream. Especially if you're an imaginative child and if you're in the most absolute darkness. Imaginary monsters would crawl out of every nook and cranny in the bedroom until I were able to move, cry out to my mom, and turn on the lights.
And, also, monsters weren't the only thing I was afraid of. We lived in a bad neighboorhood and every once in a while, burglaries happened. Because of that, I'd always sleep with my window locked, especially because it faced a dark back alley. At night, I was too afraid to even look at that window. Come to think of it, I always felt uneasy whenever I'd look at that window, like it was an entrance to wicked and evil things to my room. Sometimes even during the day, when the only real sight was an old brick wall of another building outside.
As time went on and I grew up and the monsters started to disappear, I began thinking about ways to try snap out of it, a way to try to force my way out of the paralysis. After I first watched Kill Bill, I had the idea to be like Beatrix Kiddo and keep trying to wiggle my toe. Silly way to try doing things, I know, but it worked, or at least seemed to. I never really had a notion of time when the paralysis came, so maybe I felt time pass by faster because I had something to keep focused on.
After a long night of sleep paralysis when I was thirteen, I noticed that there was a scratch on my window. It was a small scratch, but a strange one, almost as if a tree were outside and, because of a small gust of wind, a branch had scraped the glass. There were others like that, but I never really paid much attention to them. As I've said before, I always felt uneasy when looking at that window, so I avoided doing so. I only noticed it because I had to open it, since it was too hot indoors not to crack it open.
It was completely unrelated, but I couldn't help but find it strange. There was absolutely no way something scratched it. No trees outside, no birds flying by, no random gusts of wind. Something poked me in the back of my mind, something that made me actually pay attention to the scratches. Maybe I was going a bit neurotic, which I can almost agree. While growing up, I had many pet peeves and I figured this was no different. Maybe it was just the usual feeling I'd get from looking at that damned window that made me pay more attention to that small, almost insignificant detail.
The strangest thing is that, whenever I'd get sleep paralysis, another scratch just like that one would show up on my window in the morning. It couldn't be just another pet peeve, I thought. It had to be related somehow, no matter how irrational and stupid it might have sounded.
But time passed by and the sleep paralysis would more and more rarely bother me and eventually lead me to believe that I got over that pet peeve. I just stopped caring about it, since I had many others to think about, like the length of my school pencils or counting how many lines there were in my notebooks or how many steps I had to take to walk home from school.
Eventually, I got a job, finally finished school and became just another tired and mediocre adult with an average job that didn't pay enough for me to get my ass to a different place. My mom told me it was no shame to live with her for some more time until I had the money to move. I could stay as long as I wanted, as long I helped out with the bills, which seemed only fair, since we never had much money to start with.
I almost forgot about the paralysis by then, since by the end of the day I was so tired that I'd sleep soundly and heavily.
That is, until summer came and I finally decided to have my vacations.
As usual, I was in my room, reading some crime drama book that felt the same as at least five others I've read before. My room was stuffy, but I didn't really want to crack open the window, since the old thing was starting to get stuck when I tried opening it. Eventually, though, I couldn't be bothered to feel like a plant inside a greenhouse and tried to open it.
"Of course, stuck again..." I complained, when, obviously, the window got stuck when I tried opening it.
I forced it open without caring about the loud noise it made when it slammed on the sill. It was too hot to be stopped by an old and worn window, until I realized I completely screwed up the lock while forcing it. It was an old one, but I didn't realize it'd break that easily. It was too late in the night to go around looking for a new one, so I decided to do that in the next day. I figured that nobody would try to break in, since after all these years, our building remained untouched by the criminals. But, just for good measure, I closed the window before going to sleep that night.
When I was almost drifting off to sleep, I felt something strange, like something was terribly off and just couldn't put my finger on it. That kept poking the back of my mind until I finally slept.
My dreams were fuzzy and confused. They didn't feel consistent and eventually I woke up in the middle of the night.
I couldn't move. My limbs felt like they were tightly tied down to the bed and they wouldn't budge. My mouth wouldn't move and breathing was difficult. So many passed by and only now I realized that I'd forgotten how horrible the sleep paralysis felt.
I darted my eyes around the dark room. The feeling that something was off was more intense than ever now. My mind was sounding all of its alarms now and I was looking for that detail that made my heart pound.
The window was open. Not slightly open, but fully ajar. I clearly remembered closing it.
I moved my eyes again when I saw it. A shadow in the corner of the room, right beside the window. A sillouette in all the dark.
My heart nearly jumped out of my chest. A cold feeling spread through my blood and I began to sweat. Breathing became harder and harder.
Something was right there and I knew it. And I could feel it knew I saw it. I knew it wasn't one of my imaginary monsters from my childhood. It didn't look spectral and it didn't disappear if I looked away from it. No, that was real. That... thing tried to enter my room whenever I was paralyzed. It knew.
I couldn't move. I couldn't scream. I couldn't do anything but move my eyes as it slowly moved towards me.
I heard the sound of a footstep.
I couldn't move.
I heard its twisted and raspy breathing.
I couldn't move.
Its slim sillouette had long arms and skinny fingers and it shrivelled side to side in sudden spasms, almost as if it was laughing, but making no sound other than the breathing and the ever so discreet footsteps.
I felt the sheet get warmer as I failed to hold my bladder.
It smelled like old sweat, sewer rot, and it was coming towards me.
"Wiggle your big toe," I could hear my own voice scream at me from inside my own head.
I tried with all my might to move my body, to get up and run as fast as I could, to scream, to do anything, but my body simply refused to do anything but stay still.
The creature was just beside my bed and I could tell it wasn't anything near human by just how the foldings of its skin wrapped around it.
It stuck its head right next to my face and I could feel its disgustingly warm breath caress my face as it closely watched me, making that terrible sound that I can only describe as that of wood being cut by a saw.
It just stared closely at me, as if it were fascinated, waiting for me to do something, waiting anxiously for a single reaction to its disturbing presence.
And then, just as suddenly as the creature would have its spasms, my toe moved ever so slightly.
I felt the creature's breath hit a wider area of my face, almost as if... Almost as if it were smiling.
The horror only began when I realized my body was protecting me by not responding.