I had tossed and turned, over and over, fighting to get my fair quota of sleep through most of the night and was failing. The restlessness made me ache and sweat, my heart pumped stronger and faster and subconsciously, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I made myself lie still and tried to ignore the aching in my back and arms, and the heaviness in my legs but it was getting just too much for me to contend with. Semi-conscious, listening to my now unnatural breathing pattern, I was determined to keep my eyes closed knowing that as soon as they let in whatever light there was, I was doomed to a night of zero sleep. Keeping my eyes closed, at least gave me some hope that I might drift off again, soon, hopefully.
It must have been no more than a minute of forced stillness when I felt the sweat building across my body and face. A trickle ran from my hairline, at the corner near my temple, downwards over my cheekbone and across my face, running away towards my jawline and into the cavity created by my resting neck and collarbone. It made me shiver which in turn made me realise there was an unusual damp, sticky warm atmosphere alive in my bedroom. My instinct should have been to open my eyes and investigate but I couldn’t, I was in all honesty too scared. There was something wrong though, I could sense it, feel it. It, whatever that was, is in the air and all around me and the pressure began to ebb and flow as if the walls were breathing heavily, sucking everything in deeply then, slowly letting it all go in a rancid relaxation that swept across my fear-ridden form. This must be a dream, a nightmare. I’m trying to convince myself but it’s no good, I simply have to open my eyes, but I know that when I do, and I realise I’m awake and not in some horror movie induced illusion, the reality of this growing anguish will hit me, and I’ll have to confront it and deal with whatever ‘it’ is.
In the end, I was startled involuntarily into a state of being roused. The breathing form grunted and spat, and a sputum like phlegm splattered my exposed shoulder, dribbling down my arm and onto the bedcover. Deeply alarmed I jumped into an upright position, wiping the awful, tepid secretion off my skin. But the room was dark, I mean really deeply dark. So unnaturally dark that it was totally black, and my wide eyes were unable to adjust or pick out any shape or determine what it was that was teasing my senses. I tried to speak, but no sound came out, my mouth was dry, and I felt like my lips were about to crack.
I heard a small cackle. It was short, but clearly audible and otherworldly. I tried to scream but again, I made no sound as my mouth stretched wide, making my jaw crack and my ears pop, and the skin across my face tightened so it stung at the corners of my mouth. Then I saw something, a shape was forming as my optic nerves slowly adjusted to the darkness and I gasped again. The shape was almost fluid, hanging high in the corner of my room, off the floor and hovering near the cornice at the meeting place of the wall and ceiling. The sharp intake of breath filled my lungs to capacity, and I felt myself shift automatically backwards, pulling up my knees into my chest and pressing myself into the softness of my cushioned headboard in some inept attempt to escape this rapidly developing horror scene. My eyesight adjusted quite quickly after that, and I noticed my bedside clock glowing and telling me that it was 2:22 am. My brain recoiled, recalling a deeply traumatic event, a few years earlier in my life that involved a near-death experience at the local hospital, that too registered at the very same time of the night.
The floating form took on a more defined shape which reflected every inch of its apparently evil intent; it, the form, was also black but darker than the night-time black my eyes were battling with and appeared to have a body made up of a flowing rolling gas like substance that was translucent and moved akin to a liquid state, hovering steadily up and down between ceiling and floor. Its sharp wolverine-styled head, showed exposed bone and gristle jutting out of the skull that appeared to be held firm by greying, rotting flesh. A long angular jaw snapped and snarled displaying a row of horrible decaying teeth from between which a long snake tongue slithered, poking, searching. The creature’s head seemed to be detached though and hovered around the smoky form of the body. The eyes were weirdly human, but large, demonic, and bright. The dark centres began to glow and then became enveloped by saucers of brilliant white luminescent light, that lit up the rest of the creature’s distorted, grotesque face that was glaring with a horrible hatred at my now frozen features.
My breathing remained erratic but mainly fast and shallow, although I consciously took an occasional deep draught, filling my lungs in an attempt to remain awake and more importantly alive. I realised as my other senses awoke that there was an awful stench filling the room too. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced in my life; rotting meat coupled with the deepest product of a medieval sess pit. The sort of smell that takes over your entire presence and stops every other thought or feeling and, in this instance, it added to the absolute fear that held me firm at that moment. It laughed and hissed, spreading its wing-like arms out wide to show me the full extent of its being. The form was now huge and filled the span of the wall opposite my bed, across and vertical so that it looked like a black, swirling curtain with the rolling head of evil now looming at its core, gliding across the darkness of the body, evil eyes fixed on my quivering frame. All at once the head moved forward, inching closer to me slowly so that it hovered independently over my duvet just a few feet from my face. The body swirled violently and covered the whole room before gathering and forming behind the wolverine face in a more solid torso. The stench got deeper, and the atmosphere tightened as the ghoul smiled a wicked vile sneer, its tongue flicking and retracting with a steady rhythm that matched my speeding heartbeat.
I was beaten. I had submitted my body and my life. There was nowhere to go, I had no chance of fighting this creature, not that I wanted to. I was pinned against the wall, dripping in fear, struggling to breathe through the wicked aroma and trying to remain alive in an atmosphere that could only have been created in Hell. I was still unable to make a sound but, in my head, I was shouting for the spectre to get it over with quickly, so I didn’t have to contemplate my alarming demise for too long. It sniggered as though it had heard my pleas and its cloak-like body enveloped me, covering me with its hot, putrid presence. The long jaws opened wide releasing a mouthful of its putrid breath that made me wretch violently. Its lips engulfed my nose and mouth, and it was then that I knew I was about to die as it sucked every drop of air from deep inside my being. My body was lifted and held so it levitated above my soaking mattress, my arms and legs were stretched wide so the joints at my hips and shoulders felt as though they were about to give way and it was then that I felt its tongue exploring me, lapping up the moisture my fear had given up across my stretched skin and into my surrendered crevices. The pulsating snake tongue then slid into my resisting mouth, expanding, and contracting and forcing itself down, deep into my throat which is when I started to lose all feeling and began to drift away from consciousness. I felt a calmness, as my muscles relaxed and my organs slowly gave up, and in the dizziness, I saw the bright light at the end of the tunnel and gathered in a group where people I knew and had loved over the course of my short life. They were smiling and beckoning, and everything seemed to be warm and serene. And then everything stopped.
I lay crumpled and slumped on my bed, soaking wet with the awful stench thumped deep into my brain. Slime dripped from my mouth and nostrils, even my ears, and I could feel it running away down my legs. The skin across my face, chest, hands, and legs was stinging and burnt, sizzling and raw. My insides seemed to be throbbing and every inch of me was hurting. I strained to look towards my tormentor, too weak to respond at the sight of it, still here in my room, standing tall and leering down at me with triumphant disdain. This time it was stroking a long reptilian tail that was wrapped around the front of its now clearly formed body, its eyes burned even brighter, but not the bright intense white light that tormented me earlier, but a fiery blazing red that seemed to emit a raging heat, and for the first time, it spoke in a clear dominant controlling voice. ‘As per our agreement Julian, you are mine now. The next time we meet will be in the depths of hell. Until then, make the most of our new-found relationship, and I look forward to watching you seek revenge over those that did you harm.’
Then it was gone, and as the daylight fought to get through the gaps in my curtains, I knew that I had just met Satan himself. In spite of the incredible pain, I felt strangely alive and had a weird sense that the rest of my time on this earth was going to be different and strangely enjoyable. What I wasn’t clear about was what that meant in terms of time.
C H Elton is the pen name of Steve Chelton who lives with his wife in Newton Le Willows. They have 5 children between them and at present, 3 grandchildren. Steve has been a self-employed consultant working in the UK Insurance industry for several years but is currently not working because of the impact COVID-19 has had across the industry.