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Waking Nightmare

Sleep Paralysis

By Erin BarteskiPublished 4 years ago 3 min read
‘The Intruder’

“When doomed to death, I will attend you like a nocturnal fury. I will attack your faces and brooding up your restless breasts, I will deprive you of repose by terror.” ~ Horace ~ 1st Century B.C.

Around 3:00 AM, the air suddenly felt heavy as if it were being shared in a confined space with someone else. I felt a strong presence with me and so in my dissociative state, I opened my eyes and scanned the room. The only light source came from the plug-in night light that lit up only a fraction of the room. A dark foreboding shadow stood in the corner of my childhood bedroom, blocking my only escape. The seemingly male entity stood as tall as the ceiling and loomed menacingly over me in my bed. I was frozen with fright but I had a strange sense of calm wash over me. As if I was made aware that he wasn’t there to harm me. Despite the fact that my arms and legs felt like they were being pinned down by unseen hands. Within the darkness, glowing red eyes peered out at me and the being just stood there, watching. Waiting. Although, only a couple minutes had passed, it felt like an eternity.

“What do you want?” I managed to cry out in a shaky and unsteady voice on my second attempt during my sleep paralysis state.

My late night visitor had no response for me. Not even an indication that he was anything but a shadow just out of reach of the light. Seemingly allergic to it. My eyelids grew heavy and my head lolled onto my pillow against all efforts to fight sleep, it consumed me. The next time I had awoke, I was alone. The sun was making its way high into the sky and everything was back to normal. Except the lingering sense of unease that followed me around like a dark cloud.

I was left wondering night after night if the demon would return. What was it he wanted and did he get what he had come for? The not knowing is the scariest part, because it is in the early morning hours that we feel at our most vulnerable. The moments between falling asleep and waking, where time seems to stand still. When we enter REM sleep and are completely helpless. It is then that we are the most succestiple to visitations. ‘The witching or devil’s hour’, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.

The nocturnal visit of a malevolent being that threatens to press the very life out of its terrified victims has been around for the last thousand years. The empty black void that doesn’t age and holds no real distinctive features. Are these just very vivid hallucinations created by our own minds simply projected into waking hours? The things we see that we can only imagine in the darkest recesses of our own minds. Nightmares brought to life.

Similiar folklore extends its grasp into every culture around the world. Canadian Eskimos attribute sleep paralysis to the spells of shamans, who hinder the ability to move, and provoke hallucinations of a shapeless presence. In the Japanese tradition, it is due to a vengeful spirit who suffocates his enemies while sleeping. In Vietnamese culture, bóng đè, means "held down by a shadow." Mongolian culture, nightmares, and sleep paralysis are referred to as khar darakh, meaning "to be pressed by the Black" or "when the Dark presses." The phenomenon in Bangladesh is known as boba or "speechless.” In the Kurdish culture, sleep paralysis is often referred to as motakka. It is believed to be a demon that attacks young children in their sleep, and steals their breath away and keeps it out of reach.

So I wish you all the sweetest of dreams and I must warn you to not fall asleep on your back tonight. For who knows what will be waiting when you open your eyes and are unable to move or cry out for help. For the demon in human form is only one of many creatures that visits us in the night.


About the Creator

Erin Barteski

Fascination with the unknown

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