I didn’t always have so much trouble sleeping, when I was much younger I could simply drift away into the realm of dreams on a whim. Yet now as I write this it seems that I have forever been severed from the world of sleep due to my condition. The cause of my insomnia may seem strange because it’s not a fear of the dark or a disorder of any kind. It is the result of a nightmare I had, many years ago that stuck with me up until this very moment.
It was a very typical evening in my household. I had spent the evening doing homework and playing whatever game I was obsessed with at the time on my computer. I would then go to bed around nine so that I could be up at six the next day for classes. It was a routine which had worked well for me and I always woke up the next day energized and ready for whatever the day would bring. However, one night I will never forget, that is October 12th, 2005, a date that I have branded into the deepest reaches of my grief and forever is an anniversary of terror.
I fell asleep, almost instantly as I almost always did. I miss that ability because now I am kept awake at night by chronic headaches which bore away at me as I attempt to garner what minimal rest I can. The night enticed me into a haze of distant dreams, none of which I could remember, except for one which my brain decided to highlight by dragging my consciousness right into its midst.
In an eerily lucid state, I woke up to hear a noise in my room. It was a heavy thump, like a flask of water being dropped on the floor. I looked up tiredly, scanning the canvas of darkness blankly, yielding no answers. Assuming it was a manifestation of my own imagination, my dream self-tried to settle back to sleep but was again disturbed by a gurgling sound coming out of the shadows. Its sound was like a foam filled river of water pouring across the ground and fizzling as it released its entrapped gases. Again I looked around to no avail. A tinge of paranoia laid itself on my mind and I could feel my heart race with an uncanny amount of clarity. I tucked my head under my blanket to feel more secure. Though I knew a bedspread would be little protection if something horrible lurked in the darkness it still helped ease me. It was the irrational solution to an irrational thought.
It was then that I began to feel a strange pressure creep up my legs. Heat shot through my veins, a cold layer of sweat ejecting out of my pours as a curious defense. My heart beat rapidly and my mind sparked. I waited a moment, trying to dispel the idea that it was anything but my own imagination. I tried this but was far too afraid to look from beneath my blanket in fear of what I could see.
Then I felt the pressure grow, sweeping up my legs and onto my torso, growing heavier with every inch. I could then feel strange, moist warmth, like saliva, creeping through the blanket. I was then frozen as the weight poured onto my chest. It froze there, bearing down on me now like stone, and I prayed to my God that I would wake up.
After a prolonged residence in this state of paralyzed fear, I decided I had to look and see what it was. I lifted the rim of my blanket, slowly revealing the blank room around me. As soon as my eyes could see just over the hem, the pressure vanished and was replaced with an intense pain like a nail driven into my skull and the next few moments became as dark as the onlooking night.
When I awoke, in my dream that is, I was in a strange place. It was a cramped room, full of rusted instruments with needle-like points that skirted around me on guide rails. Behind them, I noticed piped flowing with an undulating blue mass which illuminated the tetanus infested space an eerie hue.
I was affixed to a chair, my arms and legs bound by metal clasps. My head was head straight by two bars which squeezed around me like a vice not allowing for me to turn or bend my neck. I struggled to no avail, the air growing thin as I wrenched every muscle futilely.
I shouted into the unknown, my voice reverberating back to me as a twisted melody amongst the twisting pipes. It was then that one of the many rail-lines shifted around to the front of me. Affixed to it was a tweezer-like structure, sharpened to a fine point. I noticed a hair-like line down its very center. At its base, a clear tube sat dormant, like a hollow eye socket.
The needle shot towards me, bearing down on my forehead. It stopped just before it touched the flesh and its nefarious tip brushed against it almost as a taunt. Suddenly it moved forwards, the machine humming and whirring as it pressed its point into my skin. At first, it felt like a shot from the doctors but quickly turned into an excruciating burning sensation. I could feel my head be pressured backward, stopped only by the crushing clamps.
I hissed and screamed until my throat was raw until finally, it stopped advancing. Its approach then changed, the need beginning to spread apart into two thin rails which rent my flesh further. After a brief moment, they finished and held themselves about an inch apart. Then the tube began to slither down this opening until it was inserted right into where the needle struck me initially. A strange noise, a gurgling like that of falling, foaming water could be heard.
In pain, I passed out before ever learning of the device’s real purpose other than to cause misery. I awoke in a flurry of adrenaline and drum-like heartbeats, my skin feeling cold with sweat and the unsavory stench of fear rising from my pours.
I shot up out of bed and looked around the darkness in a panic. I quickly slipped out the door and crossed my home into the bathroom, all the while reassuring myself that what I had endured was a nightmare. It took some time for my consciousness and my vision to catch up with the fact, the pain in my forehead still seemingly looming into the real world.
I snapped the lights on and looked into the vanity mirror of my bathroom. Across the glassy membrane, I observed my sweat covered face, repeating to myself that it was all just a dream. I turned on the faucet and thrust water onto my face which seemed to calm me down. Then I wiped myself clean with the face cloth, wiping away the senseless fear I felt. As I performed one final stroke on my forehead, however, I noticed something.
It was subtle, but it was there, a faint crescent-shaped mark on my skin right in the center of my head. From it, I could feel a strange pressure, as if my head were filled with fluid. I told myself I must have always had it, that I must have hit my head somewhere in the past few months without noticing.
It wouldn’t have been the first time but…
It was always there, right?