Sleep paralysis is God’s gift to the vividly imaginative who don’t already feel that waking up at the crack of dawn is punishment for any sins they might have committed. I was lying on my side in bed, the early orange rays of the sun giving the room a copper glow through the slats in the cheap Venetian blinds covering the window in dusty arches climbing up towards the ceiling. There was nothing but a framed poster on the wall across from me, a tasteful print called The Back Catalogue of naked women with the covers of Pink Floyd albums airbrushed across their backs. My breathing was unnervingly shallow, steady the way it should be when the body all but shuts down to enter REM sleep. I was essentially dead, nothing but a lifeless mass whose consciousness was trapped between two states of being as the body itself was wrapped tightly in warm cotton sheets.
I’d been dreaming, though not about anything particularly pleasant and I wasn’t surprised to have woken up to find myself trapped inside my own body. It was a terrifying hell as I struggled in vain to move any small appendage only to find myself completely paralyzed. That’s when I noticed the arm reaching up from under my mattress, gripping my throat in a stranglehold. The tail came next, long and black snaking up from the foot of the bed to coil around my legs. As each vice clamped tighter around me, tried to pull me in half as I lay immobilized between them, a voice began to speak. It echoed from beneath me, off the walls and rattled heavily in my chest.
“Entertain me,” the dark, ominous voice whispered in my soul.
Though my lips were frozen, I somehow managed to answer.
“Turn on the television.”
My mouth has always gotten me into trouble and, unfortunately, whatever monster from the darkest bowels of my nightmare wasn’t as swayed by my dry, sarcastic wit as others might have been. It lifted me up towards the ceiling, brushing my face across the textured white surface before slamming me as hard as it could into the mattress. Adrenaline dumped into my system, my heart throbbing as fire burned through my veins. Gasping, I leaped out of bed and rolled onto the thin carpet on the concrete floor. Slowly the tingling in my toes became a full sensation through my body and I managed to push myself up onto my knees.
With a mind like that, who needs an alarm clock?