Nightmare on Stanley Road
Every so often—about once or twice a year—I suffer from something called sleep paralysis.
It’s this sort of half-awake, half-asleep state where you dream someone or something is in your room. And they aren’t there to read you a bed time story. Here’s a painting I found which depicts it pretty accurately:
As the name suggests, you can’t move or speak no matter how hard you try. It feels completely real and is as terrifying as it sounds.
The first time I remember it happening was by far the scariest. I dreamt I was sat in front of my computer when the lights went off and this demonic Eye of Sauron-type-thing appeared on the monitor. I tried to look away but I couldn’t move my head, or the rest of my body for that matter.
Another time I had a snake on my stomach. That was fun.
According to the NHS website, it can happen when you have irregular sleeping patterns. I spent most of yesterday in bed, nursing the kind of existential hangover that makes you wish for the sweet release of death. I only got up to go and get Subway (because my body was already full of poison so why not top it up with more?), before crawling back into bed to carry on regretting all my life choices.
And so the little demonic bastards paid a visit.
The funny thing is that each time it’s happened, I’ve become more and more aware that it’s just a dream and there’s nothing to be scared of. Like the last time it happened, about six months ago, it felt as if something was walking on my bed. I could feel its feet pressing down on the mattress, shifting my weight as it went. It felt like it was always on the verge of touching me, but never did so. And as always, I couldn’t turn around to see what it was. But after a few minutes (dream minutes that is, so probably about 10 real seconds), my rational side kicked in.
“Wait a second… I locked the front door and shut all the windows, so it’s highly unlikely someone got into my room. Also, demons don’t exist, so this must be a dream.”
Last Sunday’s visitation felt even more mundane. This time, I felt something pulling on my sheets, as if it were trying to drag me down to hell via my untidy bedroom floor. Once again, it felt completely real at first, but then Rational Me stepped in once again.
“Urgh, this again? Right, don’t panic—this is a dream and you’re still asleep. Try to ignore the tugging and fall asleep in this dream, so then you’ll fall asleep in real life. And there had better not be a snow fortress level like in Inception.”
I like to imagine that there might actually be a couple of exasperated imps who take it in turns to try and scare me…
Imp 1: Hey, I’m back.
Imp 2: How did it go? I hope you had better luck than I did.
Imp 1: It’s just like you said. He’s didn’t flinch.
Imp 2: What? You pulled on his sheets and everything?
Imp 1: Yeah man. Tugged real hard. But he just curled up into a ball and kept repeating to himself…
Imp 2: “This just a dream. This is just a dream…” Right?
Imp 1: Exactly. I wanted to reply, “This is not a dream you fucking idiot.” But of course that would go against demon regulations.
Imp 2: Man I hate these bloody rules! Like I don’t know why we have to paralyse them either. Surely it would be better if our victims could look upon us and despair, or whatever.
Imp 1: Management says it forces us to be creative.
Imp 2: To hell…heaven…with that. It’s alright for them. They’ve never had to deal with someone as stubborn as this guy.
Imp 1: I’ve been thinking. Maybe we should ditch this place and go freelance. I’ve got some ideas on how we can really scare the shit out of him.
Imp 2: Me too!
Imp 1: Great! OK, you first.
Imp 2: Well, the other day I got chatting to this other demon called Dave from Floor 5 who’s worked on Matt’s nightmares. He says this guy is tormented by three things: being chased by a T-Rex, the fact he only graduated with a 2:2 eight years ago, and all the cute girls who might have liked him but who he was too afraid to make a move on.
Imp 1: Man, that guy needs therapy.
Imp 2: I know right? So anyway—we break into his room, as per. But instead of doing all this predictable stuff on his bed, I’ll disguise myself as a T-Rex disguised as his biggest Uni crush, M**** D*******. I’ll wake him up, tell him how he hasn’t lived up to his potential, and then reveal my true dinosaur identity. Then I’ll chase him into the street, where you’ll be waiting, disguised as his favourite lecturer, who’ll tell him he could’ve been something if he had worked harder, while also laughing at the fact he’s naked.
Imp 1: Fucking heaven mate. I was thinking maybe we scream in his face a bit.
I really should quit drinking.