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Stuck in Sleep (shorter version)

This is the condensed version of my story by the same name.

By J. L. GreenPublished about a month ago 10 min read
Stuck in Sleep (shorter version)
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

My mind woke up. My body didn't.

I could see the room; my little pink-salt lamp on the nightstand in front of me, my picture collage on the wall, the outline of my mostly closed door, and the darkness of the house beyond it.

I know someone is out there.

I can sense it with some instinct deep in my subconscious that knows someone is on the other side of my door and God help me if I see them. It's a fear that grips the heart and twists the stomach.

Whatever form this horror takes on is masked by the abyss; I don't want to see them, but I can't look away. Not even as the outline of a person creeps forward.

My limbs are deadweight and ignoring my desire to flip over, to scream, to anything! I want so desperately to just move.

My line of sight changes. I no longer see my lamp or pictures anymore. The crack on the bedroom door mirrors the one staring at me from the closet. The being has followed and is poised within.

If I look close enough I may just spot an eye or a taunting smile. I still don't want to see it.

Hours (seconds, a millennia) pass before my limbs gave way with a jolt, my eyes snapping open. I'm lying halfway on my back and side, with the perfect view of the door and closet.

Both are cracked, as they had been left, and whatever ominous being was setting off my intuition and pressing me to the mattress with terror has vanished.

It's just my room.

+++++++++++

"I got stuck in my sleep again."

Cassidy gave a small pity-sigh through the receiver.

"I'm sorry Jess. Hopefully that can calm down now and the sleep paralysis won't be so bad."

"Yeah, hopefully," I mumble.

Ever since we took over our late Nana's care three years before, I've been struggling with sleep. Often times the paralysis I deal with is my body staying shut-down and my mind waking up to hallucinate all kinds of fun things; like evil beings in the closet.

There was a small bit of commotion through the receiver and Cassidy cursed under her breath.

"Hey, I gotta go. Try putting screens away, a warm shower, and some yoga before bed, okay? I'll see you later. Love you."

"Love you too. Bye."

++++++++++++

I'm surrounded by trees whose tops disappear into the clouds. The world had an odd coloring to it, almost as if a vintage filter has been placed over my eyes. The large one-story cabin off to my right is familiar and I realize that I know this place.

There was one time when I was younger that my mom sent me to a summer camp for four weeks with my cousin. It was the first and last time I'd gone to one, and that was one of the best summers of my life.

I turn to walk back through the dense, silent woods to the cabin where my friends are when I notice a grey, angled thing off in the distance by the dining hall.

My mind knows what it is before I can really comprehend what I'm seeing and every internal panic alarm is ringing.

It's a woman with sickly pale grey skin, almost stone-like in color, and dark greasy hair stringing toward the ground. The angles are her limbs, twisted and crumbled like an empty can in a crusher. Her spine is poking out from under the rags she wears, the skin stretched impossibly tight over the bones, and I realize that her top and bottom half are facing completely opposite directions.

My heart kicks up pace.

She moves; somehow that collection of ruined limbs works enough for her to shamble closer.

I don't get a look at her face. (I don't want to. It's a bad idea.) I can feel my throat vibrating, trying to let out a scream or cry or anything, but I can't move.

She's within ten yards of me, more than half-way from where she started, and I throw my arm out to the side.

A startled shriek greets me in the real world as I jolt upright, my feet on the floor ready to run from the room. Poor Rory, my sweet cat, is also ready to pounce when I manage to focus on him.

My heart is hammering my ribs and my voice shakes as I cry, "Oh I'm so sorry, Sweetness!"

It's my hope that my frantic but gentle pets would be enough to soothe him into realizing that I didn't mean to smack him. He doesn't agree, takes a swipe at my hand, and flees the room.

It's another ten minutes of deep breathing before I'm calm enough to lie back down again.

++++++++++++

"I'm so tired of this, Cass. I'm ready to get my dreamcatcher blessed by the Priest, see if that'll do it."

Two months I've been struggling to sleep, and it's been longer since I've gone more than three days without an episode of sleep paralysis. I will count my lucky stars that most of the paralysis I'm having lately is just being stuck and unable to move versus those gut-wrenching hallucinations.

"Tch, you would," Cassidy said, an air of indifference in her tone. She's the real lucky one, not having to deal with this problem. She sleeps like a baby (and snores like a freight train) always has.

"I know you're probably tired of hearing about this, but it's not just the sleep paralysis. It's my constant nightmares and bad dreams; I'm tired of all of it. I just want to sleep."

"I know Jess, I know."

"I'm going to have a heart attack at this rate."

Suddenly Cassidy's tone is aware, like she's snapped back into the conversation, and sternly says, "Don't joke about that."

A heart attack is what killed our mom.

"Sorry," I say, throwing an apology into my tone that I don't actually feel, because I'm not saying that as a joke.

I'd fallen asleep on the couch last week, all tucked in and cozy, hoping I could get some rest (sometimes sleeping on the couch is a good reset for the body).

My mind woke up. My body didn't.

At this point, I've had so many episodes of sleep paralysis in a row that I immediately tried to start screaming. If I can focus on screaming in real life, I can usually wake myself up. It's not an instant fix, but it works faster than just letting everything go on autopilot.

The room was bathed in a soft purple light from a lamp and, in my mind's eye, I could see the entryway and front door. Everything was supposed to be where it was, from my work shoes to the keys on the holder; it all existed in a warped sense of reality.

Except for the far corners where the walls meet, there was darkness; like the crack in a closet door.

There she was. The woman with all the wrong angles. Pulling herself out of that darkness impossibly (agonizingly) slowly and standing as straight as she could manage. Her head was turned, her neck twisted so far that she'd have to show me her back so I could see that face.

But I still don't want to see it.

My heart clenched, as though being squeezed by those horrible knotted fingers of hers, outstretched and reaching toward me. My throat was vibrating, aching, straining, desperate to scream; I wasn't making a sound.

She's getting closer. She's coming!

I jolted awake then, as sudden as a lightning strike. I was lying on my back in the purple tinted living room with no way to see the front door over the back of the couch without sitting up.

It was all a hallucination; a messed up, terrifying hallucination. And who was it that screamed "she's coming!" in my head? It certainly wasn't my voice, but it's...familiar.

I don't tell Cassidy this while on the phone . I want to; God, I want her to know how scared I am. But I know that after Mom and Nana, she'd be too paranoid about it. She doesn't need to lose any sleep.

I'm losing enough for the both of us.

++++++++++++

At this point, I'd make a deal with the devil if I could just stop dreaming. So. Vividly. Every night! Does my mind ever take a break?

The nightmares just don't quit. More than once I've woken up crying; just woke right up and broke straight down.

It's been messing with my waking life too; my moods and demeanor have changed...dampened. It's bad enough that my boss, whom I've interacted with a grand total of five times in person, asked how I was doing in that veiled-nosey kind of way.

Saying I haven't been sleeping well is a good enough answer.

On top of it all, the cherry on the shit-fudge sundae if you will, I've been sleeping less, hoping that my mind won't have enough time to ruin me.

No such luck. I've woken up at 5:30am, fallen back asleep, dreamed a full-length motion picture's worth, and woke up at 5:50am that same day.

And every night before I finally slip off to my own personal Hell sleep, I hear a frantic voice cry, "She's coming!"

++++++++++++

My mind sort of woke up and my body was freely moving but not in a way that felt right. From the corner of my eye, I could see the ceiling, the closet (the doors shut tight), and an odd orangey crack of light through my window.

God, I hate that window at night. The dusky pink curtain covers 98% of it, but that damn piece it doesn't cover is the bane of my existence. I try my hardest not to look out of it once that sun sets.

My body didn't give me a choice. I stare at the uniform stream of the street-lamp's glow until my eyes catch the one patch of darkness towards the bottom.

(It's a person, it has to be.)

Someone is staring at me through the window!

My heartbeat kicks up, I can feel it physically in my chest in a way that I can't feel anything else. I try to scream; can't even muster a breath.

I can't breathe.

I can't breathe and my heart is pounding so fast it's going to pop.

Oh God, is this how I die?

I jerk awake, knowing sweat is raining down my neck, soaking the collar of my shirt. I'm facing the wall; the extra curtain I'd placed to cover the entire window was hiding that 2% of the outside world from my view. And, of course, no one was on the other side.

Still, I can't take a breath of relief. Not with my heart running its marathon.

There's a crevice between my bedframe and the wall; another annoyance. My phone has fallen victim to it several times in the past, as well as poor Rory one time when he was sleeping really good.

I'm right at the edge of it, staring down into the void.

"She's coming!" that voice that isn't my own cries.

A mangled grey finger emerges, teasing the bottom of the wooden bedframe. The rest of the knotted bunch follow, working their way up toward the mattress. It's moving so painfully slowly, ramping up the fear and torture.

"She's coming!"

This is the Grey Woman creeping her way up, it has to be.

"She's coming!"

I hear it then, the clicking; not quite mechanical, not organic. It sounds in time with her arm appearing. As if her joints are cracking against each other as she moves.

A chin comes next. (A chin! Oh no.)

I don’t want to see her face!

Please, no!

"She's coming!"

I startle awake, nearly throwing myself over the opposite edge of the bed. My hand goes cradling my chest, my heart going berserk inside. I literally can't catch a good breath; it's like the Grey Woman is still here, gripping my lungs.

It takes a long minute before I calm down. Rory gave me a bored look and scurried off the bed, as if my near-death experience had inconvenienced his sleep. Lying there all on my lonesome with no desire to fall back asleep, I start scrolling through old pictures and videos on my phone, skipping to the good ones from when Nana was still Nana; before the dementia set in.

A video from before her second stroke at my cousins birthday party. Cassidy wasn't in the first few videos; she'd been scheduled to work that day and was mad about it.

The small voice of my cousin's daughter, only five or six at the time, asked if Aunt Cassidy would be there.

"She's coming later," Nana said.

The voice rang in my head, echoed. I rewind the video by a few seconds, my hands starting to sweat.

"She's coming."

Nana's voice.

"She's coming."

Nana's last words. The one's I thought she'd said because she saw her husband or my mom waiting for her.

The memory of Nana lying on her death bed, half-conscious and mostly sedated came to my mind. Her mouth gaping, struggling to form those two simple words; her blue eyes wide and focused on the ceiling despite the pain medications.

Only this time, in this memory, I notice it. Her absolute terror.

"She's coming!"

PsychologicalHorror

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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Comments (1)

  • Sweileh 888about a month ago

    Interesting and delicious content, keep posting more.

J. L. GreenWritten by J. L. Green

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