By: Ren King and Violet Hirman
Note: This is a student generated work of short fiction
The darkness is impenetrable, filtering through the open window and fluttering the curtains. My body is frozen firmly in place, limbs stiffer than boards of wood. The demon emerges from the shadows, pushing them out of the way like heavy, wet blankets. I can’t close my eyes, fear and the sheer force of the sleep paralysis propping them open, the only movement possible being my pupils following the progress of the shadowy form. He creeps closer, his slender form so sure of every step, his smile splitting his face so wide that the skin on his lips cracks and bleeds down his chin when he reveals his preternaturally perfect grin. I can only assume what his bloodshot eyes must look like, since he wears half a paper bag over his head, the eyeholes cut crudely into the brown paper sinking into shadows.
Fear strikes deeply like ice freezing my blood in place, and I begin to hyperventilate despite telling myself over and over again not to worry; it’s not real. But then his knees brush the edge of my bed. He hangs his head over mine, releasing a high pitched giggle that shatters at the end, his bleeding smile dripping with a mixture of the crimson liquid and saliva. I can’t shrink away, only stare up at his leering, smiling, giggling form as the substance splatters across the bridge of my nose. He lifts his hand slowly, long, slender fingers hovering above my face. Then he taps my nose thrice, and I let out a gasp as my body unfreezes.
Any minute now, I tell myself, scrambling out of bed with my chest heaving and hands quivering like dead leaves. But the demon stands where he was, gazing at me, his giggling interrupted every so often by delirious hiccups. The doctors told me it would disappear once I fully woke up! Once I could move again! So why is it still here? The childish laughter escalates into a maniacal cackle as I fumble to reach the window. The demon takes his time, stalking closer, husky breath rattling around his ribcage and his limbs jerking randomly as if he were a marionette. His head whips to the side, the bone cracking violently and a small sob escapes my throat before I steel my nerves and turn my back to him, hoisting myself out of the window. Every hair on my skin sticks straight up a nanosecond before I hear his anguished yowling, feel his gnarled fingernails digging into the skin on my back. I scream, tearing free and landing painfully on the lawn about four feet below.
My friend lives just across the street, I’ll be safe if I can reach his house. The road in question feels like I am taking a year to cross it, and I pound on the door, vividly aware of the screeching of my demon getting closer by the moment. I rap again, this time calling my friend’s name out hoarsely, panic and nausea making my voice weak and tortured. On the third smack of the wood, the door flies open, and I howl in defeat. My demon stands in the doorway, giggling and overflowing with so much excitement that he starts tearing at the skin on his face. Hooking his fingers into the socket of one empty eye, the other clawing at his indefinite smile, stretched so tightly now that the lips have split right down the middle.
In a flash I sprint back across the street and into my own home again, diving under the covers of my bed, shaking uncontrollably, telling myself over and over again that this will be over, that this is a dream.
Some time later, I open my eyes, blinking rapidly in the growing daylight, the birds chirping and seeming otherwise undisturbed in their tiny tree homes. Last night comes back like the repeated blows of a sledgehammer, and I press my nails into the palm of my hand to keep from panicking. I calmly get out of bed and walk to my friend’s house, not even bothering to change out of my plaid pajama pants and pale blue sweatshirt. He answers immediately, and assures me everything was fine last night.
Back at my house, I shiver at the memories, then tug my shirt over my head to change. I freeze, noticing for the first time the stinging pain accompanying the four faint scars lining my back, an everlasting reminder of the danger of my own imagination.