My eyes flew open. I felt my heart racing like a trip hammer. The nightmares were something I was used to at this point in my life, but that didn't mean that the first few seconds after waking up weren't always terrifying for me. It's actually kind of amazing how your brain can take things in your subconscious, something you completely forgot was there, and turn it into something that could assault your dream state whenever it wanted to.
No one really knows what causes nightmares. Yeah, there are theories out there, some people say it revolves around your life in your awakened state, some people say it has to do with what you eat before you go to sleep, but no one knows, not for sure, and I doubt anyone will ever truly know.
My nightmare, the one I have had since as long as I can remember isn't something filled with blood and gore, monsters, and noises from unknown sources. Mine is a mental nightmare. One that hits you where you are most vulnerable; your mental state.
You can train your body to fight, make yourself strong, and believe and trust in your strengths as much as you want, but the second something assaults you mentally, all that strength you think you have becomes nothing more than dust in the whirlwind that is your subconscious.
My nightmare is classified as a "recurring nightmare", which is just a fancy term for one that has occurred more than twice in my life. Some people have dreams that are similar to others they have. This is not that. The only things that ever change are two of the three other people in the dream besides me.
I awake, tied to a chair, in a warehouse or sorts. It is long, almost like one that could be used to store an airplane, if it was a bit wider. I know where I am immediately, and look around to see the man.
He's hooded, I have never seen his face before. For almost sixteen years I have had this dream and I still have never seen my tormenter. I look to the other two people in the room, both also tied to chairs.
It has always varied on who is there with me as I got older. It started with my brother and grandmother, then my (now) ex wife and child, and now it is my fiance and my child I envision on the good nights of sleep I have. They are both tied, and awake, looking to me for help as the man walks to the middle of them and points to either side of himself and says the only word I have ever heard him speak,
Almost immediately after his voice fades from the echo of the building, fire erupts on both ends of the structure and begins to make its way towards us. Call me a coward, but I have never been able to choose. For sixteen years I have watched the inevitable outcome, and long since stopped trying to fight it.
I close my eyes. Not seeing the people screaming my name, begging for help, pleading for me to save them, helps, but only slightly. I know the fire reaches them, not from their screams, but the smell. I smell hair burning, and the screams of terror erupt into bellows of pain, as I listen to my future daughter and the woman I love burn to death slowly.
I would love to say the dream ends there, and I wake up, shaken but relieved to be awake. I don't. The dream resets, and it happens again, and again, and again, until morning arrives.
Which is why I find tonight odd, because I am awake, and it is dark. I know it is not morning because I can sense her body next to me. I smile, relieved, and turn to put an arm over her.
I can't move.
It's at this point that i realize I have absolutely no control over my body. My eyes shift from side to side frantically, trying to will her awake, so she can shake me out of my stupor. The weight I feel on my chest is like that of a lead vest. no voice will come, though I am screaming in my mind. There was a short story written by Harlan Ellison in 1967 entitled "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream", and that sentence has never hit home so hard as it does tonight.
I have had sleep paralysis before, and I have dealt with every part of it. The difficulty breathing, the inability to speak, and the hallucinations, but as I laid there attempting to calm my mind, I realized in horror that tonight was different.
He started as just one of the the shadow creatures I have been used to seeing and its not until he moves to her side of the bed do I realize his form. The hooded man is in my room, and whatever sanity I'm attempting to hold onto is shattered as he touches her and he turns her to face me.
He moves onto the bed, and I feel his weight on my legs. It's as if a truck is parked on them, and I look into where I assume his eyes were. I catch a glimpse of his lower face, his mouth. All he did was smile.
It's small, more a smirk than anything, but it's there, and I curse him for it, and I curse my inability to do anything. I call to every voice in my head for any kind of help but nothing answers back, and for the first time since I was 13, I'm truly alone against something I can't even begin to fathom.
His smile ceases and at this point I'm sure how much time has gone by but I know it was far too long. He crouches down over both of us, and he points one hand to her, and at that point I wish more than anything I could turn to her, put my hand on her beautiful face.
I bring myself back to "reality". This paralysis isn't fading, and even more troubling is that my "hallucinations" are making physical contact. I'm scared. For her, and myself.
After a moment I notice he hasn't moved and I realize there was no second person for him to point to, and her safety immediately becomes number one priority. I will myself to move, did everything I could, but it wasn't happening.
The man moves his other arm, and I watch in horror as it points to my chest, and that one word slips out of his mouth.
The paralysis broke and I'm immediately sitting up, gasping for breath. She is still laying there, facing me, fast asleep.
Was it just a hallucination? Had my dreams found a way out of my subconscious and into my life to torture me further than the realm they had dominated? Unfortunately with true stories, they don't have clean, resolved endings. They don't come together in an "oh ok I understand now" conclusion.
This isn't a story, this is something I lived, and it isn't for your enjoyment, it is for my sanity. I'm hoping writing this will clear my mind, and give me a night of peace, but like I said, this isn't a story, and happy endings rarely happen in real life.
Written by TonyRedgrave058