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Night Paralysis

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You wake up in the middle of the night to a pressure on your chest, as if someone were pressing a foot down and your ribs were about to give way. You try to roll over. You don't move. You try again. Nothing. You can't move your body, your limbs. You call out to your parents, your siblings, anyone nearby. Nothing. No words come from your mouth.

You try to scream. Not a sound. Panicking, you yell at the top of your lungs, but, only in your head. No response from your lips or your lungs. You realize your eyes are still closed. You try to open them. No response. You have no control whatsoever; not of your arms, your legs, eyes, lips. You fight, trying to move, and after an agonizing interim - long, long minutes - you move. You're awake, and so is your body. You can move, roll over, get out of bed. You lie awake for a while, groggy, going over what happened, afraid to close your eyes again. You eventually succumb to weariness and fall back asleep.

Sunlight streams through the windows, bathing your room in a warm glow. You lift your sheets off you, swing your legs off your bed. You head to the bathroom to get ready for the day. As you do, you consider what happened to you last night.

It was a terrifying experience: losing control of your body, unable to call out for help or even scream in a panic. It's a hard thing to shrug off. You contemplate your options. Maybe you decide to tell your parents, your siblings, a friend. Maybe you keep it to yourself. Whatever your choice, the likely conclusion is that it was just an isolated occurrence. It probably won't happen again, and even if it does, what can you do? Days pass without incident, and the constant distractions of life let you forget about that night.

Then, just as before, you awake to a pressure on your chest and you can't move your body. Just as before, you are paralyzed, terrified, and panicking. Again you fight for control, eventually regaining it. Your night terrors or night paralysis, whatever you chalk it up to, are becoming more frequent.

You now wake in the middle of the night almost every other night, three or four times a week. You fight each time for control of your body. Eventually you realize your efforts are useless, and will always be. No matter how hard you fight it, your body slowly comes back under your control on its own time. Nothing you do can speed it up.

You reach a point where the terrible nights become little more than a nuisance. There's nothing you can do about them anyway, so when you wake up to that distinctive pressure on your chest, you simply wait it out and go back to sleep when you can move again.

You wake up in the middle of the night to that crushing pressure on your chest, as has now become so commonplace. You can't move. You're used to it. You wait for some minutes. Extraordinarily slow minutes. You can move again. You roll over and go back to sleep. You think nothing of this night; it is just like all the others.

Sunlight and birds chirping signal the beginning of a new day. From your bed to your bathroom and your clothes, you get ready for it. You head for the kitchen, from where you smell a nice breakfast cooking. Your family is up and about, chatting, eating, reading. You ask what's for breakfast.

No response.

Maybe they didn't hear you. You ask again.


It's not April first, is it? Is your whole family in on some sort of prank where they completely ignore you, as if you aren't even there? You try to get their attention. You speak loudly, but nobody seems to hear you. They can't ignore you if you yell, right? Still nothing. You continue yelling and now wave your arms. They can't ignore you for long, they'll eventually break.

Your mother gets up and heads towards you. Has she finally decided to give up on that silly prank?

She walks right past you.

She's heading in the direction of your room. Maybe she has to talk to you in private. Are you in trouble? That could certainly explain why you were ignored.

She turns the doorknob and gently pushes the door open.

"Rise and shine, sleepy head. You can't sleep in too late."

Then you realize...

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