The demon wakes me in my sleep again, the weight of her presence weighing me down, pressing me into the bed. It’s always different when I wake up on a night like this. I always know when she’s there. I hold onto my breath. I scan the room until I see it, her hunched figure perching in the corner on top of my desk. A paper falls to the floor.
She isn’t real, I remind myself, just a sleep paralysis hallucination. She just a waking nightmare, the same as every other night. Her body is solid black with stringy hair that falls around her body, her features indistinguishable except for the bright white of her too large eyes. I force myself to move my toes, willing them to so much as twitch. If I can move I will wake myself up.
It’s not that hard. Move.
I avert my eyes to the ceiling fan above my bed, focusing on it like I’m alone in the room. Why won’t my eyes shut? I count the full rotation of the blades in my head as they seem to slow. My lungs ache as I struggle to hold onto my breath.
Come on, wake up.
I try to wiggle my fingers but my body is dead in my sleep. My heart is racing in my chest, almost like it’s trying to escape. She lunges towards my bed. I shake inside my body as I let go of an involuntary scream, but it’s silent. Only the sound of the breath leaving my body fills the air.
The bed shifts as she climbs onto my chest. I can’t move. I can’t breathe. She’s visited me since I was six, but she’s never been close before. For the first time in fifteen years I see her face, the slit of her thin lipless mouth. It gapes open as the corners turn up in a soft smile. Her grey teeth are like tiny daggers, perfectly aligned.
This has to be a side effect of my new sleeping medication. I knew better than to try and get rid of her. There’s no way this is happening. There’s no way this is possible. She never moves in my dreams, only watches, in wait. In wait of what? I have to wake up.
God damn it, wake up.
The fan above my bed isn’t spinning at all. Pain rips through my shoulders as her fingers dig into my skin. I want to scream but there is no air in my lungs. I put every ounce of will in my body into moving my fingers but my body is dead to the world.
Soft lights flows in from behind my curtain but the demon doesn’t move. Her smile deepens, the slit of her lips widening beyond the boundaries of her face. The pain in my shoulders worsens, like her claws have made it down to the bone. This is a nightmare. This has to be a nightmare. Why can’t I just wake up?
Her face lowers towards me, her mouth opening around the lower half of my face, covering my nose and mouth. This is it. This is the end. The demon pauses, prolonging my torment. She presses her mouth against my skin and my lungs fill with rancid air. My eyes snap shut in horror.
My body is repulsed, quickly expelling the air from my lungs with a cough. My entire being shakes with the force of it. I cough so hard I puke. I double over, swinging my body over the side of my bed as I choke on the vomit.
I take a deep break, clearing my head as I try to shake off the nightmare. I look around me, trying to get a grasp on my surroundings when I notice it. My shirt is soaked in blood.