The storm from the previous night had settled, and as I opened my eyes I could only see darkness ahead of me. It was still night. I noticed many things as I woke up. The warmth of my duvet, the wind outside, and my wife’s soft snores next to me.
There was, however, one part of this uncomfortable situation that I did not notice immediately. I was completely paralyzed. No matter how much I willed my limbs to move, they would not. Not a single muscle twitched. The only thing that my body allowed me to do was to move my eyes, which was not the most helpful thing in the world, for what I could not see was the worst sight imaginable.
I had read about sleep paralysis. Apparently it came with scary sights like moving shadows and extreme anxiety. The anxiety was definitely there but the night terrors were not. It did not comfort me to think about this, as I was already stuck in this situation. Nowhere to move, nothing to say. I was just a blob stuck in my own body.
It seemed as if hours had passed. Every second felt like forever. Maybe it was this way because I couldn’t see my bedside clock. I could only sense it. Every once in a while my wife would shift next to me, mumble something and then drift back into a deep sleep. I tried going back to sleep, but nothing worked. My eyelids could not even close to allow me to try sleeping.
The anxiety would settle down, but would spike again every time I heard a bump or a crack. I accepted those as the night terrors. They had obviously decided to scare me with sound because I could not see anything.
As the night proceeded, more night terrors haunted me. Every crack, every squeak, every bump. These sounds terrified me. I could not see them. I could not move. I could not switch on a light to see what other-worldly being had moved my book, or what dark shadow had brushed against the side of my bed, or what monster had bumped my painting as he slithered across the room. Was I being watched by a creature with long, blood-stained teeth? All the possibilities of these sounds. What would happen once I regained my movement? What would I see?
My drift into insanity continued as I imagined more scenarios. So many monsters, so much more time. I could only just see the window from where I was lying down. By this time the moon had appeared into my sight, and had illuminated only a small portion of the window sill. This was the first light I had seen for a few hours now, and it was utterly terrifying. Along with the shadow noises, shadow demons whipped past my sight. I had a thought that the light would bring comfort, but it brought a bigger threat. I could only wish now to have my deep darkness back again.
As the moon slowly revealed more of my room, I only got more and more anxious of what I was to see. I could see that one of my books had, in fact, fallen over. Perhaps it was the wind from the open window. What if it was? How could you explain the other noises? Adrenaline pumped through me as I imagined the many different ways the book could have fallen over. Was I tripping over my own sanity? Was the book truly knocked over? Was there a book in the first place? Absurd questions came to my mind as I lay there. It was just a book but it held so many secrets. Why was this happening to me? That question jumped around my head quite a bit. What would I discover after this nightmare was over?
More and more blue light uncovered the secrets my own room held. My painting was tilted, my desk was cluttered. Were these hallucinations? I had no idea. These questions destroyed me. Everything was just so realistic. Everything that had happened since I woke up. My thoughts were getting crazier. I imagined myself lying there forever. I imagined my wife waking up and finding me lying there, eyes wide open, for eternity. I imagined these demons and shadow-people slowly turning my sanity into mush. I imagined that this is what hell must be like. Ever-frightening and forever dark.
The room became dark as the moon continued its slow journey across the sky. It was safe. The moon had nothing to fear. Maybe it was in on it. Maybe the moon was trying to make me feel disturbed about my situation. But it was the moon. It can’t do anything. My sanity was slipping away before my very eyes. As the shadow people returned, the moon was shining into my room for the very last time. More movements. More hallucinations.
My hallucinations had become worse. I could now see everything that was happening in the dark. I had just watched my wife being dragged from the bed by a shadow and into a deep space. It was impossible though because she was right next to me. I could still feel her breathing against me. What was that replica being dragged? Why was my monstrous dog at the end of the bed? I watched him as he chewed on an arm. I watched shadows claw at the windows and leave marks. My whole world was crumbling before my very eyes. My wardrobes opened, my books fell out. Static noises came from my laptop. Beings studied me. I could sense their eyes piercing me. I could sense my wife was awake, staring at me with sunken eyes. Shadows gathered around my bed and chanted. I could not move.
As daybreak came, the beings slowly dissipated. There were no noises. No sights. As they disappeared, everything returned to normal. My books were normal, the scratch marks on my windows disappeared. My dog had returned to its normal size. All was well except for the one problem I had at the start. I was paralyzed.
I slowly felt myself lose all hope. I felt my whole body become limp. My eyes stopped moving. My brain could not process anything anymore. All I heard was a scream from my wife.
My vision was my first sense to disappear. Slowly, but surely, it went. Next was my ability to smell. I could not smell the lavender scent of my bed. As I guessed, my taste disappeared with my sense of smell. I could hear the sirens and my wife sobbing. I could hear the paramedics trying to calm her down. My touch slowly went. I felt less and less of my wife’s hand on my skin. The last thing I remember feeling was a needle as it was plunged deep into my skin. And lastly, my hearing. As I lay there on what I guessed was a hospital bed, I could hear my wife crying as she sat beside me. I heard the door open slowly and a doctor came in. He sighed, and then said the last words I ever heard.
“I’m sorry ma’am, but there was nothing we could do.”