The Nightly Visitor

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

30 comments

Fantasy Drama

The demon's next to my bed again.

He's standing in the corner, watching me. I don't know much about him. All I know is that he's heavy. He sits on my chest when he appears and drags me down until I can't move. I try my hardest to lift my hand, desperate to slap the strange creature away, but I can't. I'm trapped on my back, forced to stare at the creature leaning over me, suffocating me with his mere presence. 

I've seen him three times. The first time was on Monday when I'd settled down to sleep with a nice warm cup of hot chocolate to soothe my whirring brain. I'd meditated a little on my brother's advice. He'd told me meditation soothed his anxieties, and I'd taken his recommendation on board. It hadn't relaxed my stress so far, but it was better than nothing, and I'd thanked my brother for trying to help.

I must have successfully meditated because I fell asleep fast that day. I'm not a good sleeper; I toss and turn and have to take the covers off and adjust the temperature all the time. That Monday, though, I had been very comfortable. So comfortable that I'd fallen asleep as soon as I fell into bed, despite the awful day I'd had at work. Mrs Johnson had threatened to fire me if I kept going off-script at her meetings. Fortunately, I had connections within my family that made my job as an accountant almost guaranteed for the near future, and I knew she couldn't sack me without complaints.

I'd fallen asleep easily that Monday, relaxed enough that my dreams had started tame. I was at a beach in Cornwall that I'd visited in my childhood, swimming in the beautiful cerulean waves. It was pleasant and welcome after the stressful day I'd had. The waves were like gentle hugs against my skin; warm and comforting and inviting. People were surrounding me, laughing and splashing around in the sea. Suddenly, the white clouds had turned grey, and the blue sky had transformed to solid black. The crowd had faded, and the noises dimmed until there was complete silence. It was just me, head bobbing above the surface as the waves grew stormier and lightning flashed down inches away from my face. I had tried to scream, but I couldn't make a sound. I just watched, unable to move, and that's when I had woken up.

When I'd woken up, I was shivering. It was as if I'd been swimming in the actual sea, which was impossible from my dreary flat in central London. Goosebumps were covering my skin, but it wasn't cold, and I'd found myself frozen. There was no sound in my bedroom apart from my shallow breathing. Still, I'd known deep within my heart that something else was in the room with me.

That was my first encounter with the demon. I’d had a similar experience not two days later. I'd sat immobile as the demon had come nearer, his pointed red fingers inching ever closer towards my exposed neck. In the dim light, I could see the scarlet skin of the creature, the bumps on his bald head, his jagged teeth. The demon had come so close it had felt like he was laughing against my cheek. His warm breath had pricked my skin like a wasp’s sharp sting. I'd wanted to run away, but I was incapable. Asleep, alone, and defenceless.

The demon was closer tonight.

I'd sensed him before I'd fallen asleep, knew he was planning on visiting this evening. My heart had been pounding in my chest. I was so scared that tonight was to be the night I met my death from the hands of a creature that I couldn't fight. I'd refused to sleep out of sheer terror. I'd tried my hardest to stay awake, drinking black coffee and eating an entire bag of Haribo to avoid crashing. Exhaustion had still gotten the better of me, and I'd fallen asleep on my back in my bedroom.

There was no nightmare this time. Just blackness, only disrupted when I felt the demon's aura suffocating me within my bedroom. My eyes felt like they were open, and I could see my room. There sat the chair in the corner with my dirty clothes waiting for the laundry. There was the untidy desk, with all my unopened mail, and a polished photo in the middle. There stood the imposing wardrobe, taking up most of my room, with the left door slightly ajar. It was all ruined by a horrific red glint, a reflection from the demon's flesh that marred the entire room, tainting my beloved bedroom.

The demon was smothering me with his lopsided body, which seemed to get larger. He enveloped the room until I could no longer see the dirty clothes or wooden wardrobe. His pointed fingers were around my neck. I could feel his flesh boiling my skin as he came closer until he was the only thing in my vision. I tried to breathe in my panic, tried to remember the meditation rules my brother had taught me. Breathe in for four, hold the breath for seven, exhale for eight, but I couldn't. Instead, I choked, unable to catch my breath. I tried again to move my limbs, to flail, to scream, but I couldn't make a sound.

The demon smiled at me, a wide grin revealing his jagged yellow teeth and the three spiked tongues in his mouth. He was horrific to look at. I didn't want this creature to be the last thing I saw before death, so I tried my hardest to turn my head and stare at the framed photograph on my desk. It was a picture of my mother in her early twenties, smiling at my father playing the piano in a bar on the day they met. I wanted my last memory to be of my parents, happy and in love and optimistic.

My brain felt fuzzy, and I couldn't even fathom doing the breathing exercises any longer. I felt like I was screaming, shouting at the top of my lungs, but no one heard me. I let the demon choke me, strangling me until everything went faint. The scarlet bedroom around me faded, and then I opened my eyes.

I could see a soft pink light coming through my curtains and the birds chirping. It was early and peaceful, and so very normal that I found the strength within me to breathe. I let out a choked cry as I felt the air fill my lungs and started my meditation exercises. In for four, hold for seven, out for eight. I raised my hand and smiled as I realised that I was no longer dreaming. I was free, awake, and safe from the demon that haunts my sleep.

September 07, 2020 01:01

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30 comments

I.B. Dunn
21:33 Sep 17, 2020

This was disconcerting to say the least and perfectly fit the prompt. You captured the feeling of powerlessness so completely that I found myself feeling powerless reading it. Your ability to describe setting and emotion is professional grade. Great work. I chose the same prompt. If you’d like to give my story “Choices” a chance I’d be grateful.

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Rambling Beth
23:55 Sep 17, 2020

Thank you very much! This is such a wonderful comment. I'll check your story out first thing tomorrow! :)

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A B
17:57 Sep 07, 2021

I totally agree with you it blew me away and felt real and in your face. Great story!!

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Rambling Beth
18:06 Sep 07, 2021

Thank you! This one was interesting to write because sleep paralysis is something I find so terrifying and it's so common. I'm glad you liked it! <3

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Not even a second after reading this story, I looked up sleep paralysis movies and oh man are there some scary ones! I want to watch Mara now, but yeah, sleep paralysis is quite terrifying.

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Rambling Beth
16:21 Sep 14, 2020

Very scary, I agree! I haven't heard of Mara but I'll definitely check it out! :)

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Ryan Dupont
21:36 Oct 07, 2020

Wow! Great story! You kept the tension for the reader throughout and your descriptions were awesome. I could see that demon because you really brought it to life just enough to let our imaginations fill in the rest and it was terrifying! The 3 tongues...scary and very visual. Your descriptions of the sea and many other things in your story were done really well. I am glad I read this and I will certainly read more from you in the future!

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Rambling Beth
22:38 Oct 07, 2020

Thank you very much for such a kind comment! I'm glad the imagery worked for you. I'll definitely check out some of your stories soon. :)

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Megan Sutherland
10:45 Sep 17, 2020

Hi, Beth, I read this earlier, but I was wondering if you have recently been downvoted points at all? I lost nearly 200 and so did other people, I was wondering if you had any idea if anyone else had been downvoted.

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Rambling Beth
11:01 Sep 17, 2020

Hi Megan, I don't think I've been downvoted yet but that is very odd! I'm not sure of anyone else who has been but I'll keep an eye out. Thank you for telling me, and hopefully it'll get sorted soon!

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Megan Sutherland
11:07 Sep 17, 2020

Of course! We need to get the word out because this person is super annoying!!:( :(

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Daniele Frau
15:29 Sep 16, 2020

I like the simplicity and the use of the first person. Keep it up!

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Rambling Beth
16:26 Sep 16, 2020

Thank you!

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Katina Foster
15:45 Sep 12, 2020

Nice work! I really enjoyed this. You've done a fantastic job of capturing the terror and helplessness of sleep paralysis! Was your story inspired at all by that famous painting of a demon sitting on a woman's chest? I also like how you weave in dreams changing to nightmares. Then in the end it reverses back to the relief of real life. Very well done! The only suggestion I have (and I know it's too late to edit) is to remove the part early on talking about the job. I think if you referenced a hard day at work with providing more detail...

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Rambling Beth
15:51 Sep 12, 2020

Ooh, thank you so much for your comment! Sorry to hear that you suffer from sleep paralysis but, yeah, that's very interesting that we both decided to mention meditation within our stories! I actually haven't seen that painting, but it sounds really interesting. I'll have to look into it! If I ever decide to update this story, I'll definitely flesh out her job. :) Again, thank you.

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Rayhan Hidayat
00:53 Sep 11, 2020

“like a wasp’s sharp sting“ In my humble opinion, you should drop the “sharp,” most people can probably infer that already! That aside, wow, this was TERRIFYING. I get sleep paralysis every now and then and sometimes I feel something breathing on my neck when it happens, so you definitely nailed how brutal it can be. The relief when the narrator woke up was so relatable I almost wanted to cry. Good job, anyways. Keep it up! 😙

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Rambling Beth
09:11 Sep 11, 2020

Thank you, lovely! I'm so sorry that you've experienced sleep paralysis, it is genuinely so terrifying. I think I just liked the way it sounded but I'll have another look at that line! Again, thanks so much for reading. <3

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D. Jaymz
22:44 Sep 08, 2020

Professionally written and creatively awesome 👏 Your descriptions were vivid and crisp to allow the reader to enjoy a demon running through their imaginations, in the light...into the night 😮 You kept the tension high and fear trickling into the reader's eyes. Great work 😊

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Rambling Beth
22:46 Sep 08, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm really glad you enjoyed. :)

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D. Jaymz
22:49 Sep 08, 2020

You're welcome 😊

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Pamela Abwao
18:31 Sep 08, 2020

Hey you have just given me two infections sleep phorbia and insomnia Great job. Looks real

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Rambling Beth
18:47 Sep 08, 2020

Ooh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare anyone too badly. Thank you so much for reading, though. <3

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Kristin Neubauer
15:45 Sep 08, 2020

Sooooo....I don't think there's any way I'm sleeping tonight, Beth! What a story - so vivid, so haunting, so terrifying. You really brought the demon alive and nailed the prompt. Talk about feeling powerless. Is there going to be a continuation of this story? It feels like there could be. Fantastic!

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Rambling Beth
16:01 Sep 08, 2020

I hope you do manage to get some sleep tonight! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hadn't considered the potential of extending it, but now that you've said that, I'll definitely have a look! Thank you again for such a kind comment. :)

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Lauren K
15:01 Sep 07, 2020

OMG! This story had me totally hooked! Good work!

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Rambling Beth
15:09 Sep 07, 2020

Thank you, lovely!

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Yolanda Wu
11:07 Sep 07, 2020

Oh my goodness, Beth, this story was so good! I don't know what else to say, but I'm going to give you some of my pointless rambling. Your descriptions are absolutely to die for, I felt so immersed the whole way, there was never a point where I was bored, you just had me wondering so many things. You have such a way with words that is just so vivid and interesting. The story felt so immediate, like I was right there with the main character. Such a well written story. Amazing work!

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Rambling Beth
11:17 Sep 07, 2020

I love rambling! This was such a lovely comment, thank you so much. I really struggled with this one (actually had to delete my first post of it and then upload it again) so I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Also, I'm really pleased you liked my descriptions. I haven't had as detailed a story in a while so I'm glad it paid off. :) Thank you so much, again. :)

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Yolanda Wu
11:41 Sep 07, 2020

You're welcome!

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Bianka Nova
13:21 Sep 08, 2020

Well written 😊 I agree with Yolanda that the descriptions were very good - I could visualize perfectly the turbulent sea, the messy room, the hideous demon. If I may venture a suggestion (I'm not sure if I am right, feel free to consult others): I think that the flow of the story might improve a bit if you start it with something like "I first saw the demon on Monday..." and work your way up to present day. However, it might just be the way I would have written it... 🤷‍♀️

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