He sits flashlight in hand.
His head tumbling of every anxiety inducing stimuli around him. His hand shakes as he runs it over his short cropped hair. Sweat slicks his palm and flings from the tips of his hair onto his sheets causing the light blue to blossom dark on impact. His eyes dart from the door to the window, snapping to the closet, not wanting to leave any part of his room unobserved.
His pupils are sharpened pinpoints of concentration, the brown of his irises nearly swallow the pupils whole.
He cannot sleep.
Well he could, but would he awaken?
A normal man he is. He goes to work, eats, drinks, shits like every other human in his office.
I mean, eventually. Sometimes his body betrays him and his head nods violently enough to break the glass between awake and asleep. The glass shatters and so does any protection he has against the monsters.
In his mind?
No, it’s more than that.
It has to be.
His chest drums a frenzied beat.
His internal dialogue booms painfully through his mind.
It hurts to even think.
Fatigue has choked him of any normalisy.
A cold shower and some coffee… he decides all while peeling his dirty clothes from his body.
He shivers as a chill sets over his skin, his muscles are flexed tightly, cramping and twitching. He aches constantly but he refuses to allow relaxation. Relaxation means sleep will surely follow. He is hyperaware of his nakedness. He wastes no time turning on the water and blasting his body with the fridgedness. The shower on full pressure pelts his skin painfully. He scrubs vigorously scouring his skin with his loofah. His head dips bouncing off the wall of his bathroom. The room spins and he barely stabilizes himself. He turns off the faucet and skips drying off. He hopes that the water on his skin will soak up the cold of his home forcing him awake longer. He dresses quickly, swaying unbalanced. The pain in his head is blinding. He fumbles for his flashlight clumsily finally gripping it tightly, so tightly the plastic lets out a crackle.
His minds screams for sleep.
How long had it been? Days, a week? He couldn’t remember. The caffeine pills he takes are labeled two a day but he doesn’t listen. He swallows them like a starving dog, having no mind of when enough is enough. His shoes squeak across his wooden floor. The sound startles him causing him to stop in his tracks only for him scoff at the relization he was making the noise all along. He searches every shadow for a face biting his lip in anticipation of being attacked, of having fell asleep without even noticing. His paranoia grips him tightly, choking him.
His coffee pot is always full but his stomach is always empty. He chooses to be awake at any cost even even at the cost of his food, not unlike any other addict. He doesn’t grab a glass, he simply drinks directly from the pot. It’s cold bitterness fills his mouth washing away the taste of the stomach bile that slinks up his throat whenever a shadow looks out of place. His house once cluttered with lamps and lights quickly blew his circuit into smithereens. He can only have a couple appliances on at any given time without risking a black out. He chose his coffee pot and a single lamp he’s placed in the bathroom. Not a surface of his house is without a flashlight or candle. He looks into the blackness of the half emptied pot. He had hopes of a house filled with kids, a lovely wife.
But they took it away.
All of it.
Even his will to live?
No, not his will to live.
He’s too cowardly to die.
His head swirls again dipping downward. Blood drips from his forehead.
He hadn’t noticed until now how hard he hit his head in the shower. His hair feels syrupy and he winces as his fingers glide over the gash on his skull.
His eyes flutter closed and he slips bearing his weight on the counter. His back slides down the cabinet. He stares stubbornly off into the distance, his flashlight in hand. He tries to find safety in its warm light cascading across the linoleum of his kitchen floor. Darkness dances at the edges of his vision threateningly.
Why does he do this?
It started after watching a documentary on sleep paralysis.
Late that night after his college mates had left for a house party in another dorm he had turned on the television and with it unbeknownst to him bared himself to a terror so great it would ruin his life.
He watched intrigued.
He even snickered at some of the tales. Tall shadow men torturing humans as they lay paralyzed in bed. He thought to himself surely that these people were insane, perhaps schizophrenic. He dismissed the documentary as a fun scare. Clearly just entertainment. It was all heresy anyways, where was the validation? Proof?
After the documentary was over he found himself amped with the adrenaline of fear, not unlike after a haunted house. He decided it was pretty good and retreated to his bedroom, his mind bustling with thoughts from the show.
It would be the last night he felt at ease in the darkness.
The last night he would not stare into the shadows, and it would not stare back.
He awoke that night, his body still.
He lay paralyzed, unable to comprehend anything but terror. Pure terror. He couldn’t turn his head or even move his tongue. Saliva crept down his throat and he had no ability to swallow. He lay on his back helplessly, eyes burning from the inability to blink. As if this were not enough, he heard steps creak frantically around him but he could not see what caused the noise. Whatever it was stayed out of his line of sight. He felt his mattress shift with weight. His heart the only thing other than his mind left unparalyzed felt like a prisoner attempting to escape its cell. The cell being his ribcage. He felt breath on his cheek. He thought for a moment, just a moment that he wanted to see what it was. He thought it would calm him somewhat to at least know. Slowly as it came into view he knew he was wrong. Darkness was far too simple and too lacking a word. The blackness of this humanoid soaked up the very last drop of his ability to have logic. This humanoid above him emanated the malice of tales told by demons to rise fear unto their brethren. He tried to scream, it stayed contained in his mind. It unhinged any strand of saneness he had left. Just the mere vision of this entity brought pain down to the marrow of his bones. The being leapt off his chest and he shot from the bed. All of the signals from his brain that he had pent up to move his body during this experience came forth in one movement catapulting him off the bed and onto the floor. He lay soaked in urine blathering among the hardwood of his room, his cries and screams echoing off the bare walls of the dorm. His roommates still gone. Not a sound in the house but the echos of his screaming ricocheting off the walls of the empty dorm shriller than a little girl.
That is where it started.
That is not where it ended.
Every night he felt slumber take hold of him he woke paralyzed after that. Every night IT came. He dropped out of college. He found work at a factory. He gave up. He couldn’t concentrate on his goals.
HE WAS GOING TO BE A F*****G LAWYER!
HE WAS GOING TO HAVE A LIFE.
Children. A wife.
Instead he now lays on the kitchen floor of his shallow dirty apartment blinking away darkness. Slicked in blood. Not even the energy to get up and call for help.
There’s no one to HELP.
He feels his stomach lurch. He spews the tar like coffee down the front of his shirt, gasping between heaves.
The darkness takes hold.
His eyes droop, refusing to snap fully open.
His body goes numb.
The being kneels before him peering into his blood slathered face.
“Human,” it spoke softly, authoritive. Its voice a whisper of static.
“You did more to yourself than I ever could.” Jealousy and disgust clearly underlying its voice.
It stands and leaves.
The man’s eyes peer onward.
He is no longer paralyzed for the dead are only still.