My sister developed sleep paralysis in the first grade, an unusual age to be having such menacingly realistic dreams caused by stress or outside forces, something none of us could understand. It got to the point where she would stay up nights on end, sleeping after an unfocused day of school in the light of the living room, only to be up another night without rest. Frankly, we were worried about Amie and didn't know what to do. A parent's worst nightmare, their child consumed by a sickness they couldn't understand.
The doctors always said the same thing: A nightlight, a teddy bear, something generally comforting to aid her in sleep but she was seven. Not some four-year-old who couldn't for the life of them understand what was going on; she knew the dreams always started and ended the same and that she couldn't find comfort in much that would lessen the terror caused by such. She said it was always the same thing: A lady who stood over her beside her bed, hair too long and straggly, smile too wide, eyes too large…and she would whisper that she was going to steal Amie's body. My sister would shake and scream until she woke herself. She said she knew that one day, the woman would succeed. We just saw them as all-too-realistic dreams.
One night my sister woke from a particularly horrible nightmare of sleep paralysis and she wandered into my room where she tugged on my shirt to wake me. Seeing her in the pitch dark of the room was a bit unnerving seeing as she was wide awake and it was the middle of the night and I was confused why she hadn't crawled into bed with mom and dad. "I'm sick of waking them up at night. Tony…would you come sleep with me in my bed?"
I was a little unsure, being a teenager and wondering if this was weird or not, but she was my sister and I sucked it up. She smiled and said, "Good. You're my older brother so you protect me. They keep trying to tell me to keep things that give me comfort, in my room."
I slept there for a couple of nights before her constant thrashing around and waking in bed had been enough, and then I started a routine of reading her stories until she fell asleep, crawling out of her bed, and sleeping on the floor. My parents would sometimes walk in to check on us and thought it was the sweetest thing that their teenage son was sleeping on the floor watching over his sister, meanwhile I woke up with the feeling of a broken back every single morning..sigh
Amie woke up thrashing one night, her eyes wide open, but every other thing about her told me that she was sleeping. I tried to get things under control but as I stood to my feet and came near her bed, she started waving her arms around as if controlled by some otherworldly thing, and yelled, "Don't! Don't!" I knew that she was struggling with whatever was haunting her dreams and so I met her by the side of the bed and "woke the sleeper", something you're never ever supposed to do. She woke up in an instant with tears streaming down her face and she fucking pushed me, and I mean with adrenaline-induced, inhuman strength for the little girl that was my sister. She was a menace. Then she snapped out of it, and I stared at her from my fallen position on the floor.
"I don't know what happened," she cried. "I'm so sorry! Don't leave me here in my room…please don't be mad!" And, well, I was there the next night, clear as day. I resumed to my spot on the floor after she was peacefully snoring in her bed. This time it was only after about 20 minutes of her sleeping that she woke up restlessly, for lack of a better term "woke", and started in on the screaming. My sister was absolutely terrified. Her blanket flew off the bed and covered me on the floor and I crawled out from under, struggling to regain balance as I stood. Standing at the end of the bed, my sister stared at me with wide eyes and screaming, "Come! Coooome!" So I listened to her, and came, and when I did, she knocked me to the floor and woke up and the entire fiasco had repeated itself just as the night prior.
By this point, I was kind of scared by these night terrors, something as simple as sleep paralysis giving my sister this strength like something was inside her, controlling her. Giving her this strength to harm her brother, the person she said she thought could save her from this.
The third night in a row, the blanket hit and I tried a new approach. Her eyes burst open and she was screaming, attempting to swat at something imaginary in front of her. I crawled out from under, sneaking a peak at the bed, her eyes pointed to the left of her bed where they always were, searching for me or…something. I steadily walked to the other side but before I even got there, her head snapped in my direction and she screamed, "Closer!" I walked closer and as we met eyes and I was about to wake her from her slumber, her sweaty grip held onto my shirt and I trembled in front of her. "I'm awake." She threw me to the floor. I scurried backward on my legs and my sister bolted from the bed with adrenaline pumping her to the exit of the room. She grabbed my hand on the way out and slammed the bedroom door behind us.
"What the fuck!" I yelled at my sister, our parents now waking from their slumbers and crawling out of bed. I felt instantly bad that I had cursed in her face but she was scaring the crap out of me and I was utterly confused at what just happened.
"I woke up in the middle of this dream," she said. "I've been warning you for a couple of nights…don't come closer."
"What?" I asked, shaking my head. I pieced together the things my sister had been saying to me over the past few nights, how she had thrown me to the floor. I told her about the crazy things she had been doing without even knowing it.
"Well, this time I woke up," she started, tears pouring down her face, voice turning to a whisper as our parents came into the hallway. "The lady that stands over my bed tried to grab ahold of you. I saw her trying to climb into your mouth when it was hanging open."
Don't come closer. The pushing. My sister had been trying to save my life from whatever the hell lived in that bedroom. The distinct feeling of something in my mouth came to light and I reached a finger behind one of my front teeth, only to pull out a fingernail.
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