Sleep paralysis: a phenomenon in which a person, either when falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inability to move
So restless, you thought as you shifted uncomfortably to your other side. So...restless...
After rubbing your tired, swollen eyes, you turned your head to glance at the clock.
You exhaled sharply before you curled up and practically forced your eyes back shut.
Of course, the day requiring an early rise provided a night of agitation. Heart racing, stomach churning, mind swirling, the thick darkness of your room enclosed on you, like elongated fingers circling around your neck, threatening to snap your trachea. Your little room, so safe and secure, seemed swallowed by the blackness of the night, the hallway attached to your door extending out into a nothingness that terrified you.
Why? you wonder as you turn on your back and squeeze your eyes so tight, the little muscles ached from the strain. It's just my house.
How could such a familiar place garner such terror within you?
There it was again....
No, please...No. No. Not again...
That pressure against your chest, pushing you into your plush mattress, your head into your downy pillow...
Your mouth parted ever so slightly, and air attempted to push through your epiglottis, but no sound emitted.
Your eyelashes fluttered as they fought to open that you could look around and see your own room, see that there was nothing to fear.
Your outstretched limbs strove to lift but the encumbrance seeped up into your neck, down through your arms and to your fingertips, now desperately clenching into your blankets.
Your lungs screamed for air, but the force intensified upon you and threatened to crack each fragile, little rib, piercing everything in their wake. Your heart worked in overdrive as it sped to feed everyone of your hungry organs and limbs, striving for the oxygen you struggled to obtain.
Suddenly, a quick, cold gust of air brushed across your face. Pricks of what resembled icicles encompass the base of your throat.
As the panic intensified, so did the power pinning you to your bed.
How you wished to cry. How you longed to scream.
It's here, your feverish brain repeated over and over again. It's here again...
An agonizing lump built in your throat, and tears burned behind your eyelids. Time and time again, you fell helpless to this formless entity, and it drained you of life, preventing you from functioning normally on a day to day basis, preventing you from working, enjoying conversation or hobbies. The further this progressed, the more your paranoia followed you. The vague, ghostly being that haunted you these nights lurked behind every wall, crept within each shadowy corner, lingered about each room with the lights turned off.
You pined for escape, but it refused to grant you such peace of mind.
You dreamt of a savior, but who could save you from a demon only you could see?
Still, even in the midst of this torture, your voice, though cracked, weak, and muffled by this unbearable grip, broke through.
But, the darkness absorbed your call.
Finally, your ears rang as you approached unconsciousness. A tear mingled with sweat trickled down your temple. Each muscle fell into exhaustion, limp and lifeless, unable to fight against this power anymore.
You were just...too tired.
Suddenly, unbeknownst to you when or how, the pressure released, causing you to gasp loudly. Your extremities trembled violently, and your head started to spin. After you choke out a strangled sob, you curled into a fetal position, covering your head, and working your hardest to slow down your breathing. You pressed your cheek into the coolness of the silky pillow. You ran the palms of your hands over the soft velvet of your blankets. You still heard the ticking of your clock, and the pitter-pattering of the rain against your window.
Yes, this was real.
This was your room.
And the nightmare had finally passed...
Despite the terror you previously endured, you found no strength to rise and properly care for yourself. Hell, you found no will to even turn on your light for reassurance that you were indeed awake. In a mild state of stupor, you waited for your fluttering heart to subside and allow you to finally drift into sleep, albeit an uncomfortable one, but sleep all the same. Anything at this point was better than nothing.
Immediately, you flinched, even whimpered.
Oh, hell no. You were definitely still dreaming.
But....somehow you could still....move?
Was this a dream?
A hand gently encircled your shoulder, and just as your lips parted to scream, a finger, cool to the touch, pressed against them.
"Sssh," unlike the chilling entity that had determined to suffocate you previously, this presence possessed a warmth, a peculiar comfort you had no words to properly describe. "Your rather unsavory bedfellow has departed for the time being," this new voice definitely belonged to a male; rich, deep, a distinct otherworldliness to it. The hand moved from your shoulder and trailed delicately down the length of your arm. "The tension in your muscles indicate lingering anxiety," he stated smoothly. "I assure you, there is nothing to lose sleep over."
Since you were forced to adjust to regular, aggressive assaults to your slumber, this calming demeanor caught you off-guard. There was something almost....unsettling about it. Perhaps the ever-growing blur between sensibility and delusion. Perhaps the notion that another being had witnessed your attacks. Perhaps the outrageous, unthinkable possibility that your supposed, paralytic visions were real...
As your thoughts continued to circulate, you noticed a body shifting closer to you, a chuckle resonating in the nameless being's throat.
Slowly, you uncurled from your position, which allowed your muscles a chance to release a little more. Though your brain insisted against all reason to resist, just the tiniest bit, you peeled open your inflamed, tear-filled eyes. All you could determine amidst the darkness was a tall and lean figure, with hair as black as a raven's wings, and eyes, green as a stormy sky. An open book rested between nimble fingers, but before you could absorb any other features, a hand covered your eyes and then grazed over them to urge them to shut once more.
"No gain comes from opening your eyes, my friend," he more whispered than spoke. "You would benefit more to treat this as nothing more than a faded dream."
Your skin tingled at his touch, though you hated to admit such a thing. You assumed you were simply happy to receive pleasant contact as opposed to the abuse you endured before.
But, curiosity still tickled the back of your mind even as you obeyed.
Licking your dry, cracked lips, your voice, no louder than a mouse's, uttered,
"Who are you?"
Silence was your answer, to begin with, but not an unpleasant one, just enough to perceive his breath and a low rumble of thunder. The hand rested atop your head, and a quick breathy laugh escaped his lips.
" 'What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name,—
Sweet joy befall thee.' "
To describe how you felt, confused would have been putting it lightly.
"Fretting over the matter now would simply waste time needed for rest," he more or less explained. "Put your questions aside for the time being, little robin, and sleep."
With a defeated sigh, you pulled your blankets close to your body, and strangely enough, a gentle fog of sleep settled over your tempest of a mind. There were was so much to process, so much to absorb from this bizarre experience.
But, as if by magic, the storm in your head settled, like a lake of glass with no waves or rippling. Your body softened into the cushion of your bed, and your pulse slowed to a tranquil, steady rhythm.
As you continued your journey to the world of sleep, his voice carried you until no more could be perceived:
" 'Thou fair-hair'd angel of the evening,
Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light
Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown
Put on, and smile upon our evening bed.' "