Subcutaneous Magazine Issue 1 - Page 7

A Nightmare by Ben Clayton I first felt them, and soon I woke to them. They crawled slowly over me. Was I truly awake? I was aware of my disorder. A disorder where I would become conscious before my body physically woke. I felt them and I tried to move, but my body did not respond. Was this a dream, or was it really happening? I used all of my energy, just to attempt to open my eyes, but they refused me. I had been through this experience before, without the spiders of course. I attempted to control my breathing. Normally, I would do this until the episode was over, but the tiny legs of the spiders, hundreds of them, crawling over me made it extremely difficult. Were they real? Clearing my mind, I attempted to meditate beyond them and continue to focus on my breathing. Opening myself to the energy around me, I attempted to pull it together and surge to wake. I pushed the energy into myself, but my body failed to respond. At least it failed to respond in almost every aspect except one. My eyes opened slightly. I still wasn't sure if I was awake or asleep, but through the slits in my eyes, I could see the tiny, black, eight-legged creatures, crawling all over me. They covered my legs, and were beginning to darken my chest. Chills ran through me. Were they even real? Was I asleep? Normally I wasn't afraid of spiders, but not being able to move, and being unable to react to an outside presence; that was enough for me to forget my meditation and my breathing. Trying to look back at the spiders, I found my vision blurred, making access to whatever world I had seen, now inaccessible. I could still feel them though. The spiders were crawling all over me now, beyond my legs, arms and chest. There were now running around my face and over my head. Or were they. Were they really there? I could feel them, but was my judgment impaired by a dreamstate? Doctors had described to me that when I experienced episodes, the part of my brain that created dreams was still functioning. To the point, there had been instances where I was falling asleep, and the dream portion of my brain had already begun. I had seen strange things in waking dreams. A figure standing over me, paper floating in front of window blinds. I'd even seen a woman in a rocking chair, rocking a small baby to quiet sleep. All, or most of those, might seem terrifying, but over time, you get used to these episodes. However, this was different. I wasn't waking up, and during those, I was falling asleep. I could still move. In this instance, I was paralyzed. In the past, I had tried to call out, but again, this took extreme effort. Beginning my breathing rhythm, I tried to block everything out. Spiders crawling over me, and paralyzed, I was trying to be calm. I opened my mouth slightly and felt myself utter a semblance of "help." If my wife was beside me, and if I was awake, she would recognize my condition and she would shake me in an attempt to break the episode. That is, she would do that, if I was not covered in eight legged creatures, which was perhaps her greatest fear. A mind can only take so much, and mine was on that line between rational and terrified fright. I began imagining the spiders, with the tiny hairs exiting their legs, and bits of webbing grasping me here and there, to hold on as my chest continued to raise and lower in normal breathing repetition. How could I not question that concept? What was my current normal breathing repetition? I was trying to stay calm, and to control my breathing; conserving my energy for another attempt at waking myself. As much as I wanted to believe that I was in control, I bypassed any awareness that I was siding with the terrified fright and not with the rational calm. It was then that I felt my head move. I remember falling asleep on my side, but the spiders were on top of me. I must have rolled to my back while sleeping, if the many eight legged arachnids really were there. In my attempts to wake, my neck felt as if the muscles had released and my head turned to the side, into my pillow, harboring my breathing. Beyond my fear of being paralyzed, unable to respond to thousands of tiny legs crawling over me, I was now finding it difficult to breath. I prayed that this was a dream, but I felt so lucid. Using the energy that I had hoped to store, I yelled for help. If I wasn't dreaming, then only a mutter escaped my lips. Adrenaline pumping now, I did it again, with the same result. I fought and battled with my body to respond, but it refused. Would I die this way? What would they say? “Be thankful that he died in his sleep.” That offered me no comfort, for I knew the truth. Would it be a full autopsy where they realized that it was oxygen deprivation that had “done me in”. I doubted that anyone hearing that cause of death would get any comfort. Then, at that moment, I moved my head, but only slightly. Was it the adrenaline rush, allowing me the push to move, even so slightly? Was it a subconscious response to my obscured breathing? I didn't care. I was able to breathe again. In that moment of release from distress, being paralyzed seemed of no concern. I might not die from this. I might not die from the condition, this time. The question from there was obvious. When would I die from it? With calm breathing again, I finally took solace in that it would not be this time. However, these moments seemed like hours, and I wondered., would I wake? Would I move again, see again, taste, touch, smell, feel again? I remembered an old book, turned into film, called, “Johnny Got His Gun”. I remembered the condition that Johnny had been in and how he would never do those things again. True, adrenaline pumping, sweat pouring, fear, and I wasn't sure I was even able to create a sweat. If I was,