Night Wide Open

Prompt Day #320: Write from the point-of-view of a person whose eyes will not (or cannot) shut.


Night Wide Open


All things evil come at night. They lurk in shadows quietly waiting for you to sleep. Did you know that when you are in deep sleep, REM, they call it, you are paralyzed? This of course is different than sleep paralysis which is a terrifying experience that science chalks up to hallucinations and sleep defects. Sleep paralysis occurs when just falling asleep or just waking up, but you find you can’t move, you can barely breathe. You can’t speak or call out for help. What you see during this waking nightmare, doctors tell you isn’t real. But it is. This I know better than anyone.

I have a disease called Scleroderma. It has affected the skin around my eyes, tightening it to the point I can no longer close the lids. Early on in the disease process, my skin bothered me a lot and I had trouble sleeping. I developed sleep paralysis. I would wake out of a deep sleep, open my eyes, and there it was, this huge shadowy figure pressing down on me, forcing himself into me. It had a tongue like a razor that it would slide all over me. Its demonic member swelled inside me until I thought I would rip in two. And then, just like that it would be over.

The doctors said it wasn’t real, none of it. Just my brain trying to separate dreams from reality before it was ready. I believed them, probably because I wanted, no I needed to believe them. I couldn’t accept it if I wanted to retain my sanity. There were no demons in my bedroom, waiting for sleep to set in before devouring my flesh; having their fun with me. Demons did not exist. Sleep paralysis and the resulting hallucinations did.

But then, my skin condition worsened and so did my sleep. It’s pretty hard to sleep when you can’t close your eyes. I had to learn to focus on resting my body, clearing my mind rather than sleeping in the true sense of the word. The first thing you learn when you can’t close your eyes at night, is the shadowed world of your own bedroom. You remember as a kid and you’d wake up in the middle of the night and swear there was a monster staring at you from the corner but when you found the courage to turn on the light, it was just your backpack thrown carelessly over your desk chair? Yeah, admit it, it still happens once in a while, right? This is no longer a problem for me. I lie in bed and watch the darkness blanket everything in my room like a painter preparing to color your world black.

I knew the night’s geography, what was object and what was not. They seemed to realize I was watching, so they waited for a long time before returning. Eventually, though, I think they assumed my motionless rest equalized sleep. I was careful not to move my eyes when they appeared. I watched from the corner of my eye. There were two. A bigger, bulkier one whose edges were shaggy giving the impression there was fur. I thought of him as a wolf man. The other was taller, thin with long ears and spindly fingers. I thought of Anubis the first time I saw his outline.

Each night they appeared closer and closer, observing me, trying to decide if I was really sleeping. I had no choice but to pretend I was. I wanted nothing more than to revert to childhood, scrunch my eyes shut hard and pull the blankets over my head but I couldn’t. All I could do was hold my breath and squeeze my legs together as hard as I could in preparation for what I knew was coming any day now. The doctors were wrong and I was being stalked.

The night they attacked I had taken some melatonin on the advice of a friend who insisted I would fall asleep. I needed the escape, I couldn’t take the fear and anticipation every night. The night before I could smell them they were that close. Rotting meat mingled with musty basement. I had to suppress my gag reflex. I knew what they did to me when they thought I was sleeping, I couldn’t fathom what would happen if they realized I was awake. So I took the melatonin. I knew it meant I might be asleep and not know they were coming but I was exhausted and the anticipation was becoming worse than the event itself.

I did doze, in fact, I lost consciousness for a while. But it wasn’t long before I was jumped. The heavy beast sat kneeling on my chest, his wet, rancid breath hot on my face, the stink of it sank into every pore so even as I held my breath, I could smell it. That though, was nothing more than a lover’s sweet kiss compared to what Anubis was doing to me. I was being probed by those fingers, probed in holes that weren’t there before he dug them into me with digits like hot pokers searing through my skin. Where his fingers could not penetrate, his teeth tore into me and his razor sharp tongue lapped up my blood in oral ecstasy. I couldn’t squirm, couldn’t breathe and I could not close my eyes or look away. I endured.

The night was long as they took turns raping my soul, ravaging my body and all the while I watched. I watched their heads fall back in maniacal climaxes, watched them drill into the core of me, grunting and panting like the animals they were. Helplessly and unblinking I saw their bodies spasm as their necrotic seed spilled into me. After an eternity, the sun began to rise and their shadows faded in the light. I was free. The holes they’d made in me healed over, sealing the darkness inside me. Gradually, I regained use of my limbs, yet still I lie there frozen, aching. When at last my full strength returned, I clawed my eyes out.