A ghost story: Hallowe’en 2012

I’ve had sleep paralysis a number of times. Anyone who’s suffered from it will know what I’m talking about. You come up out of sleep to a sort of semi-conscious state. Often you feel hands pressing down on you. Your arms and legs tingle and leave you immobile no matter how hard to try to maneuver them. And sometimes you’ll even see dark figures.

When this started happening to me in college, I would often see a faceless man pacing his way in circles around the coffee table in my dorm room. And sure, it was unnerving, but a bit of research explained the entire thing. My research also informed me that in Mexico the name for this phenomenon translates to “the dead climb on top of you.”


The dead never climbed on top of me, though…until recently.

The apartment I now inhabit has a live in ghost. I call him Geoff-ghost, based on the name he provided when I did a bit of automated writing. Apparently he was a political prisoner for a time. Anyway, he sometimes walks around the apartment, turning on lights, “warming” himself by the fire, or occasionally tip-toeing into my room at night. The door opens and closes and I feel the presence of a companion. I like Geoff-ghost, and he likes me as long as I ask for permission to use the light in the storage closet where he lives—otherwise he sulks and the light won’t turn on.

So, when the door flew open about a month ago, I assumed it was Geoff-ghost. But there was no sense of companionship. Instead, there was a distinct and sickening sense of terror.

I started to fight to come up out of sleep, but my eyes wouldn’t even open. It was like I was viewing everything through my eyelids.  A black spindly figure had a hold of me, somehow, by both my ankles and my wrists, and its face was inches from mine. It looked sharp and violent—I’m not entirely sure how to explain it…and I don’t really want to. And then the creature shot off the bed, leaving me unable to move.

Since this didn’t feel like sleep paralysis, and I couldn’t get my eyes to open, I sort of tried to convince myself that I was having a nightmare. I have a habit of lucid dreaming (my mind does/plays a lot of tricks), and so I took a couple deep breaths and tried to change the dream around, wishing this intruder away.

No dice.

The figure started to slowly pace back and forth along the side of my bed, like it was surveying me. I got the distinct impression that it was going to hurt me—like it was taking his time in thinking about how it would do so.

So, maybe I wasn’t dreaming? The realization hit me hard and I started to panic. Weird stuff happens to me quite often (obviously) but this time really, truly felt different. I began to fight against whatever trance I was under.

The creature stopped and watched me fight, and then moved to the foot of the bed where it started raking my sheets and covers off of me. It folded them all meticulously and set them on the ground.

I was scared out of my mind at this point. Nothing this deliberate and horrifying had ever happened to me before. I began to assume, I guess because of Catholic upbringing, that this thing was a demon. I started pushing Latin words up out of my throat. They came out as garbled nonsense at first, as though someone was holding onto my neck. But I continued to push, raising the volume of my voice until I was basically screaming every Latin word I could possibly think of.

The creature hesitated and then turned to the window. And then it slid through the glass to the outside of my window, leered at me with all its rows of incisors, and then skittered away…right as I came up out of the trance.

I was shaking. Shouting Latin. And cold.

But the room seemed pretty calm now, so I went back to thinking I had dreamt the whole thing. Which, yeah, was still scary as shit, but at least not an actual demonic visitation. I decided to get some water and try to read for a while and calm down.

And that was when I realized I was cold because I had no bedcovers.

They were all folded, neatly, on the floor at the foot of my bed.

Historian, novelist, musician, and imagination professional.

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