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My eyes open slowly, my mind being awoken from its sleep. I can see my digital clock on my nightstand, a few feet from my bed, the only source of light in my room, my curtains being drawn closed. It’s 3:15 in the morning. I lay there, staring into the darkness of my bedroom, wondering what might have awoken at me at this hour. I try rolling to face my wall and find myself unable to move. I realize that I’m experiencing an episode of sleep paralysis.

I’ve only experienced one sleep paralysis episode prior to this. Having no idea what I was experiencing, and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I was seeing the personification of the horrors tucked away in my subconscious, being even more terrified at the fact that I couldn’t react. It lasted for around an hour before I fell back asleep. After that experience I decided to do some research, discovering the name of what I had experienced; sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a state of complete bodily paralysis that occurs on the onset of sleep or upon wakening, in which your mind is awake, but still in the dream state.

Considering the frightening feeling of not being able to move, the victim will typically experience frightening hallucinations, such as seeing an intruder in the room. The hallucinations, however, are completely based on the person’s thoughts. However, the terror I felt that night, that it wasn’t all just smoke and mirrors. I experienced real terror that night, not imaginary terror. I hoped with all of my being that I’d never have to experience it again. The power of the mind is far greater than any of us can comprehend, and with that power, it can do things that are unimaginable.

It’s 3:30 A.M. now, and I still haven’t managed to fall back asleep. I have my eyes closed, but feel a very strange feeling, the feeling you get when you know someone, or something, is watching you. I open my eyes, and look around, and that’s when I see it. A large, black, humanoid shape is standing in the dark corner beside my doorway. It had to be at least 7 feet tall. It wore a black cloak, and it had what looked to be like a 14th century plague mask on its face. It was staring at the ground, and I saw a faint red glow emanating from the eyeholes of the mask. It just... stood there. It didn’t move an inch; it just stared at the ground, its hands behind its back. After a few moments of staring at it, I managed to get a direct view into one of its eyes.

As soon as our eyes made contact, its head did a quick upward jerking motion, and it came at me with amazing speed, seemingly gliding across the floor. It moved its head only inches above mine, the mask’s nose almost touching my own. I could see directly into its eyeholes now. All there was to see was a faint red glow, not in the form of circles, but just ambient red light. I stared into its “eyes” and felt a stronger feeling than I’ve ever felt before. It wasn’t just terror, it was a feeling of... pure dread. I wanted nothing more at that moment than to escape into the safety of sleep. My mind started to panic, my heartbeat sped up, and I tried desperately to move, all my attempts in vain. Almost as if it sensed my panic, this... “Thing” withdrew its face and stood up straight, drawing one hand out from behind its back, raising it, and spreading its sharp, talon-like fingers in front of its face.

With a swift motion, it brought one talon down the length of my chest, tearing my shirt in two and barely grazing my chest, but still causing me to feel a small amount of pain. I don’t know how this is possible; a hallucination shouldn't cause you to feel pain. I chalked it up to the mental panic that had completely taken over me. I see it draw its talon up again, only bringing it down into my chest seconds later, penetrating the flesh and muscle. It was the most intense pain I’d ever felt in my life, it was like an intense fire was burning me as the creature started to draw its claw around in my chest, drawing out what seemed to be a message. Somewhere in that time, I passed out from the immense pain.

I open my eyes again, barely being able to see the time. It’s 9:00 in the morning.  “Good,” I thought to myself, “It’s over.” I swing my feet over the side of my bed and stand up, walking over to my door and opening it. I stumbled down the hallway to my bathroom and rest my hands on the counter. I reach over and turn the tap on, then cup my hands under the cool flow of water and splash it on my face. The blast of cool water is refreshing. I’m more awake now and can see better. I grab my toothbrush and start brushing my teeth. I look up into the mirror. My toothbrush hits the floor as my tired expression is replaced by one of sheer horror as I see the message neatly engraved in my chest.