Demon

It’s a bad start for your day when you wake up with a 45 pound invisible demon squatting on your chest trying to suffocate you. I stayed up a bit late, and went to sleep with my mind agitated, spinning wildly around topics too heavy for a bedtime story. No surprise then that I woke with a start at 4am, feeling like the world was careening out of control. But I recovered quickly, and sensing that sleep was still a few blocks away, I hit the net and caught up on some reading. By five I was tired again, and went back to sleep for a short while. At a few minutes before six I was startled awake, nearly panicking when I realized I was paralyzed, unable to move at all. My limbs were insensate, I felt a tremendous pressure on my chest, and I couldn’t get air into my lungs. My vision was fine, and even in the dim light I could see my cat sitting across the bedroom from me, staring at me with the hair up on his back. I tried to cry out, but I couldn’t make a sound. My mind was racing, trying to imagine a way to get to the phone, to do anything to keep myself from asphyxiating, when I noticed something odd. Even though I couldn’t breathe, I could see my chest rising and falling steadily. I was breathing, so what was I feeling? I couldn’t be suffocating. At that moment, just as suddenly, I snapped back to normal. My arms and legs were fine, I wasn’t dizzy or lightheaded, just… extremely tired, like I’d been fighting or something. After a moment, I stood unsteadily and headed for the shower. In retrospect I imagine that it was a dream, a perverse asynchronous wakening which brought my conscious mind up before the subconscious had been fully tucked away. Whatever the cause, I won’t forget the feeling of helplessness in the face of an unseen force anytime soon.

[June, 2002]