I didn’t know where I was, except a hallway somewhere. It was completely black at both ends and the walls were white. A single dimly lit bulb flickered above me. There were no doorways in the hall, and there was a dirty brown indoor-outdoor carpet beneath the wooden chair I sat upon. I was afraid, but I didn’t know what I was afraid of. It was something I could not see. I could only feel it.
Then, all of the sudden, Whoosh! It was like an incredibly powerful burst of air came at me. It was so strong, it knocked me over backwards in the chair. It happened in an infinitesimal moment. I did not even have time to blink. No time to try and catch my fall. It was almost like I flew from the chair backwards-instead of just falling with the chair. It was I who knocked the chair over as I flew up and out behind it. My hair flying wild about my face, and my arms…I don’t know where they were. It was like there wasn’t even time to try and grasp for anything.
I lie on the floor unable to move. I am on my back, and an invisible force is upon me. My whole body, from my head to my toes, feels pressed to the floor from above me. The truly frightening part was that my jaw was clenched shut. I desperately wanted to scream. To say something, anything. But I could not. I tried to squirm, but my attempts were futile. I was too in shock to cry. I lay there desperately trying to open my mouth to scream, over and over again. To no avail. It was worse than someone merely holding their hand over your mouth. No, my jaw was actually shut tight. My teeth were firmly planted upon each other, not moving, as if they’d been glued together. I could at least breathe, and it came in heaves of terror.
I could not see anything. Not because I was blindfolded, or I had my eyes closed. My eyes were wide open, but there was nothing there. There was nothing but heavy, invisible air upon me. It had no shape or form. Yet I knew it was something evil. Why me? I thought. What does it want? I had no idea. I looked up at the bulb hanging from the ceiling. It seemed much brighter now. What was happening to me? Was I so afraid that I was petrified and that was why I could not move?
The only thing I could hear was a ringing in my ears. It was void of any sounds of movement as I squired, or attempts to scream I made. Not even any guttural noises from my throat, or the sound of air moving through my flared nostrils.
In the distance I heard a phone ring. At least I thought I did, but it was far away. Then, another ring, a little closer. Yes, that was definitely a phone! It rang again, but where was it coming from? I couldn’t make it out. Then the ringing became louder and louder as I began to wake. I was in my bed, and it was very early in the morning. My husband, who was a communications center operator in the Marines, had been working nights; he must be calling to check on me.
I knew the phone had to have rung a few times already and I didn’t want to miss his call. I sat bolt upright and flung my legs over the edge of the bed. I stood up quickly and took a step to walk over to the small table in the corner of the room to answer it. My body crumbled to the floor in one quick spell like laundry thrown down the chute with me still in it, crumbling in a pile at the bottom.
I shook my head trying to figure out what had just happened, and the phone continued to ring. I could not move my legs! I tried again to pull them up underneath me. Nothing. I twisted my upper body and started to pull myself with my elbows across the worn out carpet towards the phone. I did not want my husband to worry, but I quite honestly had no idea what was happening to me at the moment.
I pulled my body with my dead legs behind me up to the small table. I reached up to grab the receiver, holding myself up with my left elbow, and quickly said, “Hello?” He was gone. The line was dead. I hung the phone back up disappointed. My husband was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, specifically, Camp Horno. He was a comms center operator, and yet communicate with him was often difficult. (In more ways than one sometimes.) There was no way to call him back. I hated that.
I sat on the brown indoor-outdoor carpet in our little studio apartment in Vista, California. The sun was just beginning to come up and squirm through the fabric of the cheap curtains. My husband had been working nights for a while now; and I was often afraid. We didn’t live in the best neighborhood, but at least it wasn’t the worst, either. The little apartment complex of 8 units, 4 in each of the two buildings, was set back behind some houses off the road. You honestly had to know where to turn if you were going to get there. It was surrounded by houses and behind a 7-11 store.
Despite the fear I felt having to sleep alone in that place at night, it did not compare to the fear I felt in that dream. It was not the first time I had had a dream like that; but it was the first time I woke to find myself actually paralyzed physically. Of course, I could not recall trying to get up before, because it had been the middle of the night. There was NO way I was getting out of that bed if I didn’t have to! I would rather cover my head with the soft fuzzy blanket or the pillow, try to think of something happy, and fall back asleep.
When Bob was home, I could just curl up to him. I loved being able to do that. He was a strong and husky guy. He wasn’t afraid of anything that I knew of. (Except my dad!) He almost always had his back to me, and I could scoot over behind him and spoon him. I breathed him in, and felt the warmth radiate from his body often. It was especially nice when it was cold. Not that it happened much in California, but it was great in the -30 degree winters of Wyoming. I loved his muscular form, and that he was bigger than me. That he could protect me. But could he protect me from this?
The answer was no. He could not. In fact, sometimes, the nightmares were now of him; cheating on me. I would catch him and cry uncontrollably; screaming and pounding on his chest. All the while, he is laughing at me. I would wake up from those dreams and cry.
As time went on, we fell apart. Turns out, he actually was cheating on me. A lot.
I would eventually remarry a really great guy. He was genuinely in love with me, and I had no doubt of it. He loved my daughter, just like he was hers, even though her father and I were now divorced. It was a good thing he did, since her biological father was noticeably absent from her life. He even adopted her. For the first time in my life, I actually felt at peace. I knew I was loved, and that I was loved by an honest and trustworthy man. I was so blessed.
And then, the nightmares stopped.