Bedtime Stories by: Joslyn Corvis
Based on true events…
I woke up, my body feeling as if rigor mortis had set in when I saw the creature taunting me from the corner of the ceiling. There was a faint noise that sounded like cicadas on a summer evening which rose to ear-splitting ecibels. I wondered if the sound was the creature laughing at me as it sneered in mockery of my fear. I tried to scream for help, but could only muster faint cries, which—thank God—woke my husband who put his arm around me. That broke the spell, and just like that, everything went still and silent as I gained control over my body and my breathing regulated. I was no longer frozen in that horrifying dreamworld. I was safe in my own bed. That was the first night terror for me, and the beginning of many more.
Sometime after that first incident, I dreamt I had gotten out of bed and opened the door of my second-floor apartment which overlooked the parking lot. The parking lot was designed something like a courtyard, and I noticed a figure in a long gown with long hair on the far side of the lot. I watched her through the small crack, but something didn’t seem right. I closed the door, and against my better judgment, opened it once more but only a crack. She was closer this time. I knew I shouldn’t have opened the door that third time, and when I did, I found her crouching near the top of the steps, snarling like a rabid animal before rushing for the door and pushing it as wide as the chain lock allowed. I tried to close the door completely on her, but she was too strong. I snapped out of it in, adrenaline coursing through my body. The whole episode—from getting out of bed and looking outside to the absolute fear—was so real, but I told myself it had to be a dream since I woke up in my bed, next to my husband. Not long after that, the plague of night terrors became so common that it haunted me, even in my waking hours. I felt as if something unseen was following me, feeding off my fear and waiting until I was asleep to wage a full-on attack. Needless to say, I wasn’t sleeping well. Exhaustion had set in by this time, and I made the mistake of falling into a deep sleep in the dead of night.
On this particular night, I was on my back for some reason, which is strange in itself because I never sleep in that position. I felt a burning sensation on my leg, and at first I thought maybe a bug or snake had crawled into bed with me. In a panic, I looked up and the same “demon” I’d seen before was crouching over my legs, burning me with a hot poker. She raised the poker from my skin granting me a moment’s relief, then came down on my leg yet again, sending pain signals to my very core. With every downward motion, her mouth upturned in a triumphant, wicked smile, and her soulless eyes glinted with joy with each infliction of agony. I was at its mercy. When everything went back to normal, I got out of bed and checked my leg for bites: nothing. Even sleeping next to my husband couldn’t keep me safe from my dreams. I didn’t wake him up to comfort me and instead curled up next to him, if only to give myself a false sense of security.
Throughout my married life, and after the divorce, the dreams continued to come and go. Some dreams were more intense than others, and once they started, they would become frequent until running their course, then giving me a few months of peace before kicking in again. I experienced a long span of relief from the dreams when I moved in with my parents after my divorce. They welcomed me home and put me up in my childhood bedroom. As much as I hated to suffer the indignation of moving in with them, I knew I was going to need more support than I wanted to admit. It was a rocky start, but soon enough, I fell into a routine and my life was going great. I didn’t have a care in the world, and things were going better than I could have ever imagined. That’s when it started again, as if to remind me that I was never alone.
I was in my old bed and woke up to something restricting my breathing. A pressure exerted itself around my chest and back like a boa constrictor. I couldn’t open my eyes, but I could hear those cicadas all around me. Whenever I tried to scream for my dad, unintelligible words formed in my throat which manifested as feeble groans. But I didn’t give up. I fought against it so hard, and finally a gurgling scream rose just loudly enough in my throat that it broke me from the fit. I coughed and gasped. But at last, I could breathe! I felt relief until my eyes fell upon my bedroom door. Standing there guarding my exit was a three-dimensional figure. It was transparent, but strangely reflective. I studied it for a while, trying to figure out what I was looking at; I was no longer in my dream. It had a wispy human form, but no facial features. I made a plan in my head then followed it through, making a break for the door. I struggled to find the doorknob in my frenzy and ran to the kitchen. I was shaken, but still able to save face with my parents under the pretense of grabbing a midnight snack.
I kept telling myself they were just dreams or maybe manifestations of stress or imagination. Whatever they were, it didn’t matter, because they weren’t real; they simply couldn’t be. I didn’t want anyone to think there was anything more to it than there was, so for a long time, I kept my night terrors secret.
My stay with my parents had been extended mainly due to comfort and convenience, and I had yet another dream, except this time I know I wasn’t asleep. I spent the entire night running to the bathroom to splash my face in the sink, hoping it would bring me to my senses, and getting sips of water from the kitchen just so I wouldn’t have to be in my room. It felt evil in there, and I couldn’t lie down for more than a few minutes at a time without something disturbing me. The next morning, I grabbed a seat across the table from my dad and stirred my coffee.
“Couldn’t sleep last night, huh?” he asked casually.
“How could you tell?” I asked sarcastically.
“Because you look like hell,” he laughed “and because I could hear you all over the house last night.”
“Yeah, well,” I hesitated. “It’s going to sound weird, but I felt like something was in my room. Every time I got into bed, I could swear I heard weird noises. I even thought something touched me. I must’ve been dreaming,” I said at a loss for another explanation.