When I was 18 I was attacked by a ghost.
Man… That last line was so big that I don’t even know what to write after it. It’s too huge.
But it’s true.
It’s a simple story, almost too simple, but I guess that’s why life is different from movies; things are a lot more “cause and effect” in the movies. In real life sometimes things just happen.
I was lying on my bed; it was probably about 10 pm. At that time my family was renting a second floor apartment of a two family house on Chatterton Ave. in The Bronx. My bedroom was actually a small storeroom that was outside of the apartment but right next to it. My door had its own lock and key and I could come and go without anyone noticing me. I had a window and my solitude and a little room to do what I wanted.
I’d made the room my own the best I could, by drawing all over the walls with Sharpie markers. Every inch of the walls and some of the ceiling were covered with images I’d stolen from Keith Haring and other things: bits of poetry, lyrics, made-up drawings. mathematical formulas, bisected trangles, vaguely mystical forms and shapes. I was a pretentious goth/industrial teen and this was how I expressed myself – badly. It was like my own pathetic little pseudo-mystical, rock and roll apartment.
It was a good deal for someone my age, even though the room was tiny. It was little more than the size of a prison cell, actually, maybe 6 by 8 feet. Just big enough for a bed, a dresser and a few square feet to walk in or whatever else I was doing at the moment. But as I said, I could come and go as I pleased; I never really complained.
That night I lay on my bed, listening to the radio. I may have been reading, I don’t remember. It would be a safe bet, tho. I was always reading. Anyway, I was lying on my back; my head was facing the door to my room. No one came in. The knob never turned. It was quiet…
And then suddenly someone sat on my bed.
No one was there. I was alone. But someone was sitting on my bed. The depression in my bed was clear as day, just an inch from me. Oh, fuck. Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuck… And then it got worse.
Man, even as I write this I’m going cold. My chest is slick and clammy and my heart is palpitating a bit. My hands are beginning to shake. I’m really fucking edgy. The memory is hazy and vivid at the same time. The events are actually a bit hazy now but the emotional recognition is really strong. I remember deep, serious fear. I’m feeling it right now. You know when you know, you just fucking know, that someone is behind you? That’s what I feel right now. But of course, as I turn around I’m alone. Or at least that’s what it looks like.
I’m lying there on my bed, totally freaked out. I want to run. I want to scream. I decide to try and… nothing. I can’t move! I can’t move! I’m paralyzed! Holy shit, I’m paralyzed.
Suddenly there’s a weight pushing down on my chest and I feel someone hold me down. I feel the hand. I feel the weight of a person shove me into the bed and pin me there. Oh fuck again. Oh really, really, really fuck, oh fuck. This is really bad. I’m not gonna make it. Something I can’t see has got me and I’m going to die.
I reach for my voice again. Nothing. I try again. It’s a struggle to do it but I finally get something. I scream out for help. My voice is low and hoarse, and sounds an octave lower than my normal speaking voice. Holy shit, is it inside me? Is it controlling me? Stopping me from screaming? Am I possessed? Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit! I scream again…
It’s low and it’s hoarse but I get it out. And I’m let go.
Just like that, I’m released.
I freak out and get out of the room immediately. I run into the main apartment where I feel safer. I tell no one. Who would believe me? I’m fucking scared out of my mind and it takes days before I’ll go back in there. I don’t even want to look at the door to my room.
I know… Maybe I was dozing. Maybe this was all a dream. Maybe. But I don’t think so. I remember afterward thinking, “I’m awake. I’m awake. Don’t let yourself be psyched out into thinking you were dreaming ’cause you weren’t.” They’re going to want to tell you were hallucinating, but this was real.
What’s funny is that I’ve always considered myself a scientist. I love physics and math, and I love the logical answer. As a scientist I need to look for the most likely answer. And there IS a likely answer. I have certain sleep issues and always have. I have insomnia and sleep apnea. Apnea, in case you don’t know is difficulty breathing while sleeping. It mainly happens to heavy-set men and it causes your windpipe to relax while sleeping and collapse. You wake up and catch your breath and it happens again and again, potentially waking you up dozens of time a night
Now I don’t always have apnea, but I always have insomnia. I don’t usually sleep ’til I’m exhausted, usually about 4 or 5 am. I more collapse than sleep. And I do it to myself. I dunno why. I’ve just always felt that if you were sleeping you were missing good stuff somewhere. So I don’t sleep. It’s an old habit and I can’t shake it. Of course, now that I’m 35 it’s a little harder to do but I still do it every night. Here’s the kicker: There’s a type of narcolepsy that can develop in people with sleep disorders. This narcolepsy has been known to cause hallucinations and sleep paralysis in people. (Sleep paralysis is when you’re half asleep and your muscles are so slack they no longer respond to your will. It goes away when you wake up.) People have vivid fantasies and can’t move. There’s some speculation that this is the origin of medieval tales of demons that attack while people sleep. Here’s the problem: I was awake. I know I was awake. I made myself remember that I was awake so that I would never second guess myself. As a “man of science” I have to reconcile myself to that fact. It was real. I was there. I wasn’t asleep.
So, slowly I came back around. I don’t know what caused this in the first place. Chance? Bad Luck? The drawings on the walls vaguely resembling some mystical something or other? I dunno. Soon I’m able to go in to my room and sit down again. I can hang out in there alone. I can lie on my bed. I can listen to the radio again. I can get on with my life. And it all gets a little easier.
But I can’t stop staring at the door.
And I never, never stop thinking about it.
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