Sleep Paralysis

For you this may be a story, but for me this is a reality.

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1. Sleep Paralysis

     Lingering like a warm death. I can feel the outline within my body, laid still. If demonic possession were possible - I know what it feels like. Then the pins, in their millions, strike my scalp like a violent shiver gone terribly wrong and it holds like the hairs on the back of my neck. As the pain disperses, my attempt at movement begins.

     Numb. Number. Barely been asleep for a minute. Horrid urgency - I must move, I need to move. I cannot relax and wait for it to pass. Every muscle disobeys my command and my pre frontal cortex feels grey and dull. The numb intensity increasing with every time I try, yet I seem to be trying harder and harder. Move damn it. Move.

     It's taunting me. I can still sense touch. I still have input from the body. I can feel my bedsheets and mattress. It's too hot for my body to stay under these covers. And yet every limb remains unresponsive and stiff. From where I am, I'm lucky that I can't see the time - that makes it last longer. Contained in the tiniest part of your head. An enclosed prison of dead weight.

     I'm tired. I'm confused because my thoughts aren't logical. My drowsy eyes create a dark haze in the room. I'm never sure what's going on even though I've been here before. Amidst all my pain I can see my teddy. He sleeps by my bed every night. He's supposed to keep me safe. He's out of reach. I cannot extend my arm. I can't get the comfort of his fur. My fingertips are devoid of sense; my spine can't comprehend what is happening.

     I struggle some more. My eyes are barely open. Everything is black. The numb is a constant pulsating grip in my mind. Tighter and tighter. My brain is a muscle and it's about to get cramp. My nerves struggle as my brain feels though any more might give it permanent damage. The pins embrace my scalp again, only more sudden, and I grimace to mask the pain - I feel a muscle slightly tense.

     My mind calms and tries to get a grasp of reality outside of being half asleep. I wobble my arm as the Gorgon's petrification is only a stone casing and I'm inside - breaking out. A sudden burst of drowsy freedom is met by a gasping intake of breath before I'm back asleep.

     I wake. The pins do not greet me but the urgency is amplified as there is something coming for me. The hardest part is knowing it might be possible to do something if only I could break free. My lover lies inches from my flesh and one bit of human contact will break the frozen form - I know it will. It's the only thing that does. I usually sleep within contact so this doesn't happen. I use my logic and call her awake.

     My voice is silent. I have no tongue or jaw in my armoury - so I scream. My scream is broken through a solid throat and a silent gust disperses from my mouth like the last breeze of a deflating balloon. I try again, harder and the breath comes out faster - but to no avail. The tiniest of wheezes is the best I can muster before the numbness increases too much to handle and the darkness fades the memory.

     Within seconds I'm awake. Feeling weird, slightly wobbly. The numbness is there but I feel less awake. I realise that there is something wrong before I am able to shoot a glance at the door. I notice that my head does not follow my vision. There is light coming from the doorway. In the middle of the light is a large black figure - it's coming. Nearer, and nearer. The urgency rises to extreme levels as I'm shifting my entire weight from one side to the other but my body is a failed trojan horse where the soldiers cannot escape.

     I am on the inside - claustrophobic as the unknown closes in to my shrinking room to swarm me into the blackness.

     I wake. Lucid. My thoughts are trying to find signs of reality or dream. When I'm awake I know. Though when I am dreaming, I am never sure whether this is the time I can tell. The vivid world sifts around me as I am face up in the room. It is light now. Though I know I need to move, and now I know why.

     I'm dreaming. The numbness surges my brain the more I think. There are creatures in my room. Like black cats, only with really tall straight legs and spiky fur with huge sharp claws and teeth. Only my face protrudes from the bed covers and that is their target. I know this is going to hurt. I struggle to take control of my dream as it is my dream. Yet I can't control it. My body has no input or sense to work around. The pins kick in as my struggle remains. My scalp burns. I wake.

     This time I know I am awake. I move as I know I can. Yet I don't sit up. I feel exhausted from all my efforts. I also feel annoyed at how much effort I wasted on the previous dreams, and the initial reality. I've done this before - I should know by now. My eyes feel heavy and my muscles feel tired. I want to get up and relax before I sleep so my body doesn't disable me again. My tired brain takes over and I sleep.

     I wake in the morning. I don't feel refreshed. Old English mythology teaches sleep paralysis as a mythical spirit called 'The Old Hag'. Old Hag was an woman who would sit upon your chest while you were sleeping. She pressed down on your lungs so you could not move and it was difficult to breathe. Cultural variations are the Incubus, Succubus or in modern day, aliens. I am more rational than this. It is biological and there is no cure. I know that this night I want to be able to sleep well. I know this might not occur again for a month; it might happen again tomorrow or any time in-between. Every time a different terror. The confusion and the imprisonment.

     All I know is, when I sleep, I never know when I'm going to 'wake'.

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