I didn’t sleep well last night. That’s an understatement. Let me explain a couple of things…
When I was very little I had terrible nightmares. I don’t remember too much about it, but had my mother really understood it she probably should have taken me to a specialist for night terrors. I would routinely wake up in the middle of the night with terrible nightmares that would just return as soon as I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. These nightmares could be of anything…one of them had Shaggy from Scooby Doo chasing me with a knife. In another, the Thing from the Fantastic Four was climbing up the side of the house with glowing green eyes and was going to eat me when he broke through the window. These nightmares happened a lot, and I know there were more, but I don’t remember them any more. Those two I still recall, but only barely.
Things changed in 1984. Like most ten year old boys, I was a huge fan of Voltron. There was no monster the giant robot couldn’t kill with its blazing sword. So, despite not knowing I was doing it, I started what was essentially lucid dreaming – controlling my dreams consciously. Well, sort of. I couldn’t control the content of the nightmares, but I could stop them after they began. I would simply imagine Voltron appearing, forming his blazing sword, and cutting the monster in an X pattern. I know this sounds silly, but this is actually an actual form of dream therapy. Not the Voltron thing, but taking control of the dreams, making the conscious mind put the subconscious on a leash. For some people it might be angels or Jesus or Batman or whatever. For me it was Voltron. It doesn’t matter what the dream totem is, just so long as your mind can conceive of it defeating your nightmares.
The night terrors ended after I learned this trick. They still happened from time to time, but the Voltron trick always worked. Eventually I didn’t have to consciously visualize it (which usually happened after a nightmare had woken me up), it just happened in the dreams. For most of my adult life I haven’t had nightmares because of this.
Last night was…different.
I went to bed around midnight, mostly thinking about work and a party coming up this weekend. There had been thunderstorms in the area, usually a very good atmosphere for me to sleep. I fell asleep after working through some of a story I’ve been working on in my head, something I usually do before bed. The story is a sci-fi epic, not a horror story, so there was no reason for it to disturb by dreams.
Around 1:30 AM I woke up convinced something was in my room. Specifically something was crawling on the wall to the left of my bed. It was black, and I’m pretty sure it was human-ish in appearance, but smaller, maybe two or three feet long. When I say it was human, what I mean is it hand four appendages and a head. While it didn’t look like an insect or spider, it acted like one and scurried along the wall toward the floor. I couldn’t make out details because I didn’t have my glasses on. I must repeat – I saw this when I woke up, not while I was sleeping!
I jumped out of bed, didn’t even bother to grab my glasses, and flipped on the main room light. There was nothing on the wall. I grabbed my glasses and turned on the nightstand light. Nothing there. No monster, no sense that something was in the room. It was just a nightmare. I sighed, turned off the main room light and got back in bed. But I was so shaken I left the nightstand light on. I took off my glasses and went to bed with the light shining bright.
At about 4 AM I woke up again. This time I was convinced something was at the end of the bed, and I saw, clearly saw, what looked like a rake held up at the end of the bed. I grabbed my glasses in a hurry, looked over, but it was just the floor lamp. There was nothing there. I took off my glasses and realized that I couldn’t see the top of the lamp without them and so it kind of looked like a rake standing there. I put my glasses back on, realized I badly needed to urinate, and went to the bathroom to take care of my business. The storms had passed and it was quiet and peaceful in the house. My cat didn’t even stir to greet me.
I went back to bed, chiding myself on being silly. I took off my glasses and decided that I didn’t need the light on. I turned it off and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until I woke up for work this morning that I realized these dreams, these hallucinations if you will, weren’t dealt with by my old pal Voltron. Normally nightmares, even to this day, end up being slashed apart by the mighty robot’s sword, but not these. That defense mechanism didn’t even trigger.
I’m not worried that my apartment is haunted. I’ve thought that before, but I’ve had many sensitive friends tell me there’s nothing there. I wonder if perhaps this is just my subconscious finally pushing back after years and years of being chained up. I don’t know, but while I’m dead tired today, I don’t really feel like going to sleep.