I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m not surprised, not really. After all, you come here every night. Every single night for… huh, a whole year now. Should I say ‘Happy Anniversary’? No, that would be pointless. You never reply. You never say anything.
You’re just… there.
Once again it starts in a blink. One moment I am closing my eyes, focusing on the darkness to lull my brain into sleep, then I wake up on my right side. Not once have I ever fallen asleep in that position, yet it’s always that side I wake up on. My cheek is pressed into the pillow, my right hand beside it and my eyes facing my bedside cabinet. It’s dark, but my eyes are so used to this sight that they adjust quickly, soon able to make out the shape of my porcelain doll, her pale skin giving off an almost hypnotic glow.
What time do you come? The clock is on the other side of the room, and I can never turn over to look at it.
Not while your hands are holding me down.
One is wrapped around my right wrist.
One is spread across my scalp.
And one is… is… is that one even real? There are no marks in the morning, no blood, and no stains, yet I feel it.
I feel… I feel it g-gripping my spine.
It’s tight. A tight squeezing sensation that should hurt… but all I feel is numb, as if I’ve been petrified.
I’ve heard of sleep paralysis demons, but the story always goes that they sit on top of you, staring at you… not keeping you turned away. At first, I fought back. Why wouldn’t I? I was so sure you were holding me down to do something. Hurt me in some way, tear me apart… anything.
But you didn’t. And you haven’t. Even now you… are… just…
What was that sound?
There was a thump. Must be one of the neighbours, it sounded distant, and sound does travel weirdly in this building. It’s strange though, strange for them to be moving around this late. Saying that I don’t know how late it is; you still won’t let me look at the clock.
What is it you want?
Night after night you do this. I wake up to find you here, holding me down with no change. And you disappear as quickly as you arrive. A blink and you’re there, a blink and you’re gone! I don’t feel like I sleep at all, but I must have done; it’s morning when you’re gone.
What are you?
All I can see is the hand on my wrist. It’s dark but… is that skin? It looks more like a shadow, or a shape cut out of a picture. I can’t see any texture, any features, and all I feel is… that heavy numbness. You might as well be solid nothingness! And that’s all I can see of you. I don’t know what your face looks like, do you even have a face? You never talk. You’re silent and cold and… horrible.
But you know what?
The only thing worse than you being here is how familiar your presence has become. My nights are incomplete without a visit, without those unsettling sensations and nothing I do changes anything. Therapy, medication… sleep deprivation. None of them have any effect. It’s just part of my life. Almost a comfort in how rout- what was that?!
A-another sound, louder this time. That wasn’t a thump, it sounded like… like a footstep? Outside? My flat is on the top floor, and I live alone, but I’m sure that sound came from the hall. No! No that can’t be right, I must be imagining things. Still, I wish I could check… ugh, no. You won’t let me move even for this, will you?
Ok, I must calm down. Take a deep breath Erika, take a deep breath.
I know that sound travels strangely, and you’re just making me tense. Heck maybe you’re doing this on purpose, eh? Making me paranoid all this time then suddenly projecting noises everywhere like some fucked up ventriloquist? Hehe, good trick.
That sound was nothing.
There’s nothing there.
There’s nothing there.
Faint. Low. Growling.
My bedroom door is locked. That gives me time to call the police, hide under my bed or maybe the wardrobe; wardrobe might be better as it also has a lock. I just have to get the phone off my desk.
On the other side of my room.
If I could… just… wriggle… away…
Please let go.
The growls are getting louder, and there’s scratching now too. You can hear them, can’t you? Surely you can hear them. I know you can hear them! You know there’s something here as well as I do, something that could be dangerous! But I can’t do anything about it if I can’t move! Please jus- ARGH!
Why are you doing this?
My free limbs try to move and… jerk. Jerk and jolt, my body contracting in on itself over and over and over again. My eyes are itching with every twitch, but even crying is too hard. You’re keeping me numb! All the while those sounds outside are getting louder, I must move but the heaviness of your grip keeps forcing me still! My spine… my spine… your grip so tight. Are you tugging it back or is that just because I’m moving away? Why are you so determined to stop me? Why won’t you let me save myself?
That… thing outside is breathing.
Why can I hear it breathing?
What is it?
What does it want?
Please I am begging you, let me move! You’ve been coming here all these nights with no change, so surely there’s a reason for that! Surely you have a purpose for being here and keeping me like this! Do you need me for something? Are you getting something from this? Because whatever’s out there could stop that! It could take me away from you! It could hurt me! It could kill me!
PLEASE DON’T LET IT KILL ME!
That’s the doorknob.
It’s trying to get in!
No no no no no no no NO NO NO NO NONONONONO!
My mind is trying fight, to force my body into moving, but that weight of nothingness just keeps pushing me down into the bed. The only thing going is my heart, pounding so hard and fast I feel it could burst out of my chest! I just… ugh! Ugh! I felt you move! Your fingers… in my hair… curling… so you can move? Then move! Let me!
ARGH! No! Not like that! Stop squeezing my spine! The spasm is stronger, but I still can’t shift so much as a centimetre across the bed.
Can’t get up.
Can’t turn over.
I just… keep… trying….
Oh god! If my bones strain any harder my limbs will surely pop out of my sockets! Why doesn’t this hurt? It’s supposed to hurt! All I feel is that… that t-tension running through every inch of me! What have you done to my nerves? Why can’t I feel properly?!
Don’t panic! Don’t panic! Deep breaths Erika!
That thing outside won’t shut up.
Scratching and rattling and scratching and rattling and scratching and I CAN’T STAND THIS NOISE!
Please do something! Please let me do something! I’ll keep you! I’ll never try to get away again! I can handle your horrible numbness and your hands forcing me down! I can cope with you! I know you and I’m happy to stay with you if that’s what you want so please please please help me! Don’t let it get me! Don’t let-
… oh god…
… that… that click…
… that was the lock.
This… this is an interesting one for me.
The story is one I’ve had in mind for ages but I’ve always struggled getting it down into a full piece. It was inspired by two of the scariest experiences I’ve had plus a bit of my experience with depression, so it’s more personal than what I usually write and because of that I don’t know how well I’ve been able to translate that fear for general readers. But it’s down, shorter than my usual pieces but I’m happy that it’s down and it’s always good to put up a new horror piece.
Fun fact, the title was a quote from this Markiplier video (it stuck in my head instantly and I’ve always wanted to write a story based on it) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck8_rccTBXg
And here’s the itch.io link – https://anmanarrative.itch.io/im-happy-with-my-current-provider-of-nightmare