Night Terrors

The newscaster announced it was now time for the ten o’ clock news and a series of graphics flashed across his screen. He had to be up at 5:30am, he was exhausted, the logical course of action was to turn off the tv and go to bed. He sat there for a few more minutes, trying to combat the dread that was threatening to bubble up inside. Every night it was the same, he would have to force himself to walk to his room, shut off the light and lay down. It seemed pointless, he wasn’t going to sleep, but staying out in the living room watching late night tv didn’t make him feel any more rested when his alarm went off in the morning. All of his life he had struggled with insomnia. As a child his parents thought he was being difficult. They couldn’t understand, and he couldn’t explain, why it was he simply couldn’t fall asleep until the rays of morning light began to shine through his window. As a result of cycles of little sleep he had struggled through school and failed to learn normal social behavior. He was prescribed sleep aids by a doctor, but they didn’t work. He exhausted himself and tried all suggestions to find sleep at night, but it seemed that when “the cycle” started he would just have to deal with months of zero REM. After almost a year of peaceful slumber, the knowledge that he was in for numerous nights of laying there with his thoughts was almost more than he could bear.

Perhaps it was because he had spent the last year resting up, but the first week of insomnia hit him harder than normal. He started slipping at work, wasn’t sure how he made it to his destinations when he drove anywhere and his inability to remember simple things reached a new high. Three weeks into “the cycle’ the first hallucination happened. He was laying in the dark trying to count backwards from 1000 when he noticed movement out of the corner of his eyes. He chalked it up to shadows from the street light outside and resumed his count. All of a sudden he couldn’t concentrate on counting, his mind started to wander and latch onto topics that inspired anxiety and fear. He desperately tried to divert his thoughts and calm down, but his heart was racing, his palms were sweating…he was as wide awake as one can be. He wanted to cry. His body was screaming that it was tired, but his mind would not allow rest. Again he thought he noticed movement on his ceiling but was too distracted to really register the observation. He got up and walked out to the living room couch. Almost as soon as he laid down on it he felt his eyes growing heavy. His relief was enormous, he pulled himself up and padded towards the bedroom again. Unfortunately, when his head hit the pillow he was awake again. Instantly he felt despair well up in him and the anxiety soon joined in until he was once again filled with a mixture of stressful feelings. As he laid there, thinking about all the pressure of life, he began to pick up an odd sound above him, not quite a slither, or a rustle, but perhaps a soft suckling sound coming from the ceiling. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself down. I am imagining things he told himself, there is nothing on the ceiling, no sounds, no movement. He was about to open his eyes again when he was struck with a certainty that if he looked up he would see something terrifying. His mind’s eye showed him a preview of a creature that was black and dripping silvery smokey wisps from its upside down mushroom-shaped body. It was hanging from the ceiling by a large root, with smaller thinner root strands clinging to the nooks and crannies of his orange peel texture. With trepidation he opened his eyes and looked up…nothing was there.

Over the next week his anxiety grew with each passing night, soon his eyes couldn’t close without seeing those creatures swarming above him. He felt like he was going mad, plagued by monsters that disappeared as soon as he opened his eyes. Sleep was impossible, his life was starting to unravel at a rapid pace. By the fifth day he could no longer even pretend he was able to drive to work. He called in sick and decided he needed to get some professional help. After seeing his doctor he came home armed with a bottle of extremely powerful sleeping pills. He wasn’t going to wait till dark, he took two and headed towards his bed. As he lay there waiting for the pills to take effect, he thought he could once again sense movement above him. A soft rustling sound began to grow in his ears. He prayed that the pills would kick in soon. The rustling began to turn into the sound of something sucking air in, the sound of spongy material opening and closing over and over again. He looked up and thought he saw a shimmer all over his ceiling, could almost make out shadowy blobs hanging down all above him. Panic began to well up inside him, fighting against the fast acting Halcion in his system. As he felt himself starting to fade into the blackness of sleep the shimmering blobs began to solidify overhead, the last thing he saw before the pills overtook him was what looked like a colony made up of something that appeared to be a hybrid virus cell, mushroom, jellyfish concoction. Much more terrifying was his knowledge that its true form was far more horrifying and this was as close as his brain could process without going completely mad. Sleep chased away the terror and as he slept the creatures above him feasted on his energy. Soon they would have enough to transform into the next stage of their life. They had followed him all his life but while he was awake they could do little more than cause his subconscious to awake in fear and send waves of panic coursing through his system. When he was asleep they could suck up the electrical charges that made up his thoughts, dreams and soul. It had taken 27 long years, but they were finally reaching the end of their meal, with a final inhale the last of Eric Johnson was absorbed by the entities above him and in the dark a new demon was born.

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