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Hag

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He gulps down the last of the Old Milwaukee pounder. Jenna and Matt are cuddled together on the couch, watching a horror movie. It takes him a moment to remember what the movie actually is. Something about dreams... something about nightmares...

“I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy!”

He giggles as the tongue reaches out from the phone's receiver, sensually licking the protagonist's lips before she throws the contraption to the floor with a loud clang. Nightmare on Elm Street: one of his favorites during sober times. Now, he pays no attention; just stares blissfully unaware at the TV screen as the full hit of the buzz slowly envelopes his senses.

“Nick, you need to go to bed.”

He looks over to Jenna, trying to grimace through a face that feels too numb to do anything.

“I'm fiiiiiiiine,” he slurs out amiably enough. He tries to talk more, but the words form nothing articulate.

“If Mom was here she'd kill us both for letting you drink like this. Are you planning on going to school tomorrow?”

He prepares to respond to her before realizing he is already halfway across the room and headed for the stairs. This would scare him in normal times, the memory lapse. But he feels so at ease; floating; giddy. So he laughs to himself and proceeds up without another word. This is the norm now, and the norm feels good.

<---------------------------->

His face hurts; he opens his eyes. Matt's bald head is just inches away from his own, eyes scanning him over with a concerned look on his face.

“Dude, you fell the whole way down! Are you okay?”

He looks around, realizing he is sprawled across the landing of the stairs. His head is throbbing; everything feels cold.

“Yeeeeeesh, I'm, I'm, I'm okay. Hey, man, get off me. I shaid I'm okay.”

Despite his protests, Matt lifts him to his feet and half carries/half drags him up the steps. He chances a glance over the banister and sees Jenna watching them from the couch. Her cheeks are wet and her eyes are red.

“I'm shorry, Jenna. I'm shorry for being shuch an idiot. I'm shorry, I'm shorry, I'm shorry...”

Another black out, and now he's in bed. The lights are already out and he's tucked in underneath the quilt, a final parting gift from his mother before she died three years ago.

“Matt, baby...You really do love me, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha...”

He laughs for a while, then he fades.

<--------------->

The eyes are flashing like two mini-strobe lights, their rays somehow contained to one spot without illuminating the rest of the room. She is drifting slowly towards him, arms stretched out, that horrid smile on her face looking like it's been permanently pasted on for all eternity. Her hair is jet black like a raven's, unmoving despite the breeze from his fan.

He can't move. His breathing is heavy, his eyes are blinking like crazy, and yet he can't move his arms and legs at all. She's beside the bed now. He feels a low hum coursing throughout his body; a dull vibration in his limbs. She's wearing all white, like a tunic that's been pushed through a paper shredder. She is blurred, and yet he still knows everything about her. He hears things: distorted carnival music, a man cackling, his mother asking him if he wants another sandwich.

She's eye to eye with him now, her cold dead hands clenched around his wrists as she straddles him from above. The noises increase; the music is louder, men's voices overlapping each other and screaming.

CUT HIM, CUT HIM!” his mother's voice suddenly shrieks to the banshee in deranged encouragement.

The eyes are flashing into his, she's screaming at him. She has a sharp metal hook for a hand now. She lifts it, slams it down across his neck over and over again. No blood, no blood, nobloodnobloodnobloodnoblood

“Nick! Nick! Nick!”

She's shouting his name, taunting him in Matt's voice. He has a knife underneath his pillow; he knew she'd come back. If he can just move, reach it...

The lights are on, then they're off. The room is black, then it's yellow. The hag is there, then it's Matt. The empty closet, and then Jenna standing in front.

He can feel now; his pinky just moved. Relieved, he throws all his mental will forward, pushing through the vibration in the same way he's practiced every night for a week. He feels again; he has control. The hag is still there. He slips his hand under the pillow and grabs the knife. She tries to reach for his wrist but is too late. He thrusts forwards, stabbing her right through the heart.

<-------------->

The lights are on, and this time they stay on. Matt is lying beside him. Jenna is over top of him, crying and mumbling words that don't make sense. She places her hands on his chest, pushing to contain the crimson flood now flowing steadily out from the wound. It is gushing like a geyser.

“Jenna, I'm shorry. I'm shorry, Jenna. It was her... She did this...”

Jenna won't even look at him; her normally tan skin is paper white now, her eyes unblinking and face without emotion. He can hear Matt wheezing as he struggles to cling to life. He burps. The resulting mouthful of blood slides down his cheek and plops onto Nick's arm.

He's still clutching the hilt of the knife. Maybe the hag is his mom after all, condemning him for the sins he's committed in her absence. Maybe the only way to make this right is to join her... He still feels cold; it's not going to hurt that bad.

Nick, no!

<------------>

Jenna is by his side now. But she just had all of her attention on Matt; how did she get here so quickly? And why is he so cold? He felt cold before, but this is just crazy cold...like, polar bear with its balls on an iceberg cold. He tries to laugh, only to spit up his own mouthful of blood.

Oh yeah, he just slit his throat; how could you forget a thing like that? And now Jenna is clutching him, holding him as the air becomes even colder and the lights go dim...

He feels the vibration, feels himself trapped between his sister and the bed. He opens his eyes: The room is fully alight. Jenna is blurry. Above her head he sees the flashing eyes; that faded Glasgow smile. The hook on her hand is raised, aimed for the top of Jenna's scalp.

Heeeeeeeeeh!”

“Nick, Nick, baby, what is it?”

Heeeeeeeeh! Heeeeeh-ag! Haaaaaag! Haaaaaaag!” he wheezes through the blood in his chest. Just as he fades for good, the hook plunges down.

<---------->

The night hag is a generic name for a fantastical creature from the folklore of various peoples which is used to explain the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. A common description is that a person feels a presence of a supernatural malevolent being which immobilizes the person as if sitting on his/her chest.--Credit, Wikipedia