None of us could recall the exact date. I had to dig all the way back to a March 4th entry on my FB page to determine that the combined experiences transpired on March 3rd, 2017, miles apart, to two people with no or little previous knowledge of one another. Why? Who knows? But this is what happened.
I have never experienced anything like sleep paralysis before, and haven’t since that night, but it was certainly frightening. I opted to sleep on the couch in the living room, while my wife slept upstairs with our grandson. At some point in the middle of the night I became aware of an inability to move my upper body. I could scarcely breathe, and felt like something was holding me down. Somewhere in that nightmarish purgatory between sleep and consciousness I became rather concerned with this horrifying predicament, and panicked, struggling to free myself from an unseen force. A little bit at a time I was able to move my feet, and as I croaked out for help I succeeded in thrashing them about. I cried out over and over again for help, frightened I would suffocate–smoker and all–until at last the dog woke me up, profusely licking my face out of worry. After I regained my composure, and decided aliens weren’t really trying to experiment on me, I fell back asleep, taking great comfort in the warm ambiance afforded by the electric fireplace (which seemed like a good idea to turn on).
On March 4th I related this experience on my FB page. Catherine Lilly-Watts, friend and fan of a few of us lesser known horror writers, exclaimed immediately that her daughter had had a similar experience on the very same night.
Catherine’s daughter, Brit, an 18 year old girl who goes by Max, related her experience to me. She told me that it didn’t feel like hands or a body holding her down, and that her symptoms were much like my own, but that her experience began with the sighting of a shadow. Max said that when she saw the shadow, she froze, and literally so, because after that she was unable to move. She told me she used a breathing exercise to gain composure, and was able to turn her head. But when she did so she “felt an abnormal feeling start coursing through [her] body, like static, and it made [her] eyes bulge, and [her] hands ball up into fists.” She said this lasted for about thirty seconds, then she seemed to be hit with another attack: she couldn’t even speak. When she again regained control, she ran to her mother. But, even in the safety of her mother’s presence, she experienced the bizarre phenomenon a third time. This time, however, the paralysis was accompanied by an ethereal voice–she said it was in her head, but very audible–and (as she related the story) I believe the voice belonged to someone she knows, who was nowhere around, something she had never experienced before, either. Max said that the whole experience felt like something was “being sucked out of” her while she was being restrained.
I’ve heard all kinds of stories about sleep paralysis. Some claim it is the work of demons or succubus (or incubus), and some folks have claimed to experience frightening alien encounters. Some call it The Night Hag, a damned woman who haunts the living, sitting on their chests and causing nightmares, etc.
While it was weird enough to learn Max had this awful experience simultaneously, it might have been even more disturbing to later learn that my son, Zachary, who grew up without me, went several years experiencing sleep paralysis, and claimed he has even seen demonic faces in conjunction with these spells. Thankfully he no longer, or at least hardly ever, has these experiences any more. My experience pales compared to his–and I’m glad! What I experienced was bad enough. I just hope that I, and both Max and my son, never go through these terrifying ordeals again. Unless–for me–it’s a succubus. That might not be so bad. I think I could handle a succubus.