What if I told you that your subconscious mind is trying to play mind games with you? Alternatively, maybe it doesn't shut itself down, whether it's a nap or your beauty sleep at night.
Well, the truth is, the mind isn't pausing for any reason out there. Believe it or not, I have been through this. Moreover, I am still going through it.
I would like you to imagine a scenario where you find yourself walking in a pitch, dark, endless corridor. The only sound you'd be hearing is your heartbeat. The single voice available is yours, and yours only. Whereas, the only soul around you, is you, yourself only. But, you're not alone. The feeling of someone chasing you. Someone, or something trying to strangle you. In that exact moment, you desperately scream on top of your lungs, but your voice not heard?
That's why I am here. At the 'Psychological and Human Behaviour' research hospital, waiting for my turn of the weekly dose of anti-depressants.
"Next up is, Miss Darlene Angel. Is she here?" the nurse called out.
"Yes, I am." I rose from my seat as a confirmation.
I followed the nurse as she guided my way to the doctors' room. This seems to be the only escape, and the only option available to me. The only person who'd listen to my struggle of sleepless nights and the night terrors I go through. Dr. Edward Hawlins has been treating patients like me for almost 7 years now. Because of his kind and caring personality, I was always able to blurt out the things that had been bothering me and my sleep. At first, it started with a few nightmares a week. Now things have taken a whole new turn, my nightmares are now daily, and consistently appearing.
I sat opposite to the doctor while taking my time to admire the room, but my thoughts were interrupted.
"So, Miss Angel." The doctor smiled at me. "How are you feeling now? Any better?" His eyebrows creased.
"I-I think I can sleep a lot m-more than b-before," I answered despite the fact I was stuttering.
"Well, isn't that good news?" the doctor smiled briefly "You do have a little progress on your medications, right?"
"Umm, maybe it is. However, I still haven't gotten over the weird dreams" I said clenching my fists reminiscing how terrible and horrible all of my dreams were.
"You know dear, I think I have a solution to that. Let me help you with that in another way," he stood from his seat and went towards his bookshelf beside his desk.
I remained silent, but I was clueless of what the 'another way' he mentioned was all about.
"I think I left it here somewhere… just in case my daughter visits me. She loves reading this stuff."
Read? Oh God, I hope it's not some boring article about sleep deprivation or meditations to calm your mind stuff.
"Ah… here it is. Found it!" the doctor handed me a book which had a little pony in its front cover.
My eyes gleamed at the sight of the beautiful pony on the books cover.
"This is beautiful," I exclaimed like a 3-year-old. "My little pony," I read the title out aloud.
"Yes, it is beautiful. Next time you find trouble sleeping try reading this book." The doctor smiled while patting me on my back. "I know you'll love it just the way my daughter does. How about you try it today itself?"
I accepted his warm suggestion and hugged the book, close to my heart, and thanked him for his kind gesture. It's a beautiful feeling when there's at least one person out there who understands you. Dr. Edward is such a charismatic character that I genuinely admire and aspire to be like him one day. He's someone who doesn't despise you for what you're going through.
His daughter is sure lucky to have a father like him. Unlike my father, who doesn't accept me for being myself.
I thanked Dr. Edward and headed off to the pharmacy with the prescription.
On my way to the exit, I came across a young boy, leaning against the wall.
What's he doing here? Visiting hours are over already. Doesn't he realize that? Maybe he got lost.
I stopped in my tracks and tried talking to him. Hoping I'd be able to help him in any possible way.
"Hello, Mr?" I waved my hands in front of him to get his attention. "Do you need any help? Maybe you want to find the counseling room, perhaps?"
He raised his head, with a puzzled look on his face.
To my greatest surprise, he grabbed me from my shoulders and started questioning me with the most absurd questions I have ever been asked.
"Did you just talk to me?" he drew his face closer to mine.
What? Of course, I was talking to him.
"Not only that, you can even see me." this time the boy asked with his eyes glued to mine.
I was so confused. More than that, I hated how he is treating me right now. One more absurd question and I might lose my patience.
"That's not the only thing, but, I can even touch you!" the boy said with his eyes gleaming with happiness.
That's it, I should have known better before talking to random strangers just like that.
"Are you insulting me? Or are you mocking at me?" I was slightly annoyed with his indecency.
"You thought I was blind?" I continued to stare at him
Asking me if I can see him? Oh, god, the more I think of this, the more it gets on my nerves.
"What do you EXACTLY mean that I can see you?" I raised my voice a little to show him how pissed off, I am right now.
This moment was more than I have ever imagined. This whole situation is way too much to tolerate. I kept on staring at this boy's face long enough to realize that only the two of us were in the corridor. He didn't speak for a moment, and I kept silent, trying to understand the awkward situation.
"I'm sorry," his tone was rather calm this time " I got a little excited. I didn't expect anyone to find me again."
What did he say? Find him again? Oh God, he's making me more and more confused now.
"Didn't expect anyone to find you again?" I repeated his sentence somewhat surprised.
He slightly nodded and averted his gaze.
"You know what?" I spoke up, "You make no sense to me! I better head off, and you can continue to waste time around here. Serves me right for sticking my nose into other peoples life matters." I said, regaining my composure.
I turned myself and walked on, trying my best not to look back. However, I turned back, expecting the boy to be still there in the corridor.
However, he wasn't. He was gone.
"Strange," I mumbled to myself. "Maybe I am starting to dream in the daytime as well it seems." Shrugging myself to shake off the incident, I continued my way back to my apartment.
...Later that night, as per the instructions of the doctor, I drank my medicine and hopped on my bed. I am hoping that it will be much better than the other days. I brought myself together to read the book, Dr. Edward gave me this morning. I slowly caressed the front cover and smiled to myself.
My Little Pony. That's something a little girl would love for her bedtime stories.
Still smiling to myself, I started with the first page.
… The continuous banging on my door made me get off my bed. It's probably the mailman with my due receipts of payments.
Ugh! What an awful way to start the day.
"I'm coming! Just stop banging on the door!" I rushed downstairs, combing my hair with my hands to make it look more presentable.
I inserted the keys and quickly unlocked the door. As I opened the door, I found myself face-to-face with something, but not the mailman.
I gasped at the sight in front of me.
To make myself clear, I shut the door and opened it again.
This time, it wasn't there.
"That's unusual," I shut the door again and thought of heading back off assuming that it must be a prank by the kids next door. However, the banging began yet again.
Out of pure annoyance, I quickly opened the door, thinking I'd be able to catch the prankster. "Who do you think-" My voice cracked midsentence.
The scene in front of me was unbearable. Grotesque is the right word for this.
The pony I saw earlier is now a monstrous creature, blood dripping from its mouth. Its eyeballs popped out, and its torso was missing, replaced with a skeletal figure instead. More importantly, it was grinning at me.
"Hello dear… would you mind if we have a little tea party?"
I froze over its appearance.
I prayed for this to be a dream. I swear to God that this to be over soon, or I'd be as good as dead.
"H-How d-did you f-find me? Am I hallucinating?" Even though I was frightened to death, I managed to talk.
"Oh no darling, don't be afraid" the pony drew a little closer. Each step it kept, left a bloodstain. "I'm here to be friends with you."
I was stuck, and I couldn't move a muscle.
It was unbearable. The whole situation is torturous.
When will this be over? I hate nightmares. Oh, please, someone, anyone, help me.
"Little girl, you look pale. Why what's the matter? The pony drew near me. "I told you I'm here to make friends" the pony kept on drawing nearer and nearer.
This time, I managed to take steps further and further away from this ugly and deformed creature. Little did I know that the wall was behind me. I had nowhere to run.
"Oh? It seems like you've got no place to run now" its grin was creepier than before. "If you don't want to be my friend, why don't I just eat you up!"
"Please! Let me go! I haven't done anything!" I cried, desperately trying to keep myself together.
"Just let me eat you!" it growled like a hungry monster, opening its mouth to bite me.
I closed my eyes, hoping that there will be some sort of an escape to me. An escape to this torturous situation.
Suddenly, I was yanked by my arm to the side. It was all too sudden that I couldn't figure out what just happened. The pony smacked itself at the wall and lay down unconscious.
As I was trying to absorb the situation, I turned towards the figure that just saved me. To my greatest surprise, the figure, in front of me; was none other than the boy that I had met at the hospital yesterday.
"You? Where did you come from?" I asked him with ragged breaths.
"Keep your voice down, and follow me," he held his hand out for me to stand up. "You don't want that thing to wake up, don't you?"
"No!" I said without hesitation.
"Okay then, let's head back to your room, shall we?" he smiled.
I nodded in response. I cannot argue nor protest. After all, he did save me from that beast.
We headed back to my room, and he locked the door. "That will hold it back for a little while," he said.
"Thank you," I said, still recovering from what I had been through.
"Hey, that's okay. Don't you worry about anything! Now that I am here, I can make all your worries disappear" he exclaimed rather confidently.
That made me smile a little.
"Aww~ you look prettier with that smile of yours."
I think I might have blushed because I felt my cheeks burning up a little. We stared at each other for a moment hoping that someone would take the lead.
"Can you please tell me what the hell just happened?" I decided to speak.
"Oh dear, you don't realize this, don't you," he asked, tilting his head a little. "These are what you call as night terrors."
"Night terrors?" I was perplexed.
"Parasomnia to be exact." He said while staring at me.
"But, I only have trouble sleeping. Well, that's called insomnia. How come I have this para- wait, what was that again?"
"Parasomnia," he repeated. I continued to listen to him. "According to science, it's a sleep disorder. A situation where one is affected by particularly symptoms like: 'sleepwalking,' 'nightmares,' 'sleep paralysis,' 'hallucinations,' 'perceptions-' "
"Woah! Hold it right there," I cut him off mid-sentence, "I have exactly the same things you just mentioned! Except for sleepwalking though."
"Pfft! Ahahaha!" he started laughing all of a sudden.
"Why what's wrong?" I questioned. "What's so funny in what I just said?"
"Oh dear, don't you realize it yet? I thought you were smarter than your looks!" He said sheepishly.
"Hey! You better use your words carefully!" I shouted at him.
"Girl, let me make things clear for you. I promise I didn't laugh on purpose." He said apologetically.
"But you just did." I made my point clear to him.
"Fine, I am sorry. I seriously didn't think it too deeply," he said while sitting on my bed.
"Let me tell you something you don't realize. Why don't you come and sit next to me? We'll have a little chat."
His innocent-looking face helped me cease my doubtful intentions towards him. After all, I might get some clues to this puzzle I am trying to solve.
"Okay, now that we're both settled, I 'll tell you what is going on."
I nodded in agreement, urging him to continue.
Does he know my name?
"It has been nearly 2 and a half months since the day I arrived at the hospital we just met this morning. I tried a lot of ways to talk to the doctors, the nurses, or at least someone who'd be passing by that passage, but no one dared to even look at me."
His facial expressions darkened a little.
"I often wondered why no one would listen to me, and one day, exactly a month ago, I saw my mother visit the hospital. I was so happy to see her. Finally, someone who came searching for me. But to my disbelief, she walked past me, as if I wasn't there."
"Maybe she didn't notice you," I replied.
"No, that wasn't the case." he sighed heavily before continuing.
"Despite the fact she didn't notice me, I followed her, and she was already on her way to the ICU. Without giving it much thought, I went inside too."
This time, I noticed tears forming in his eyes.
"My mother spoke with the doctor, but I couldn't understand what they were talking about. The doctor guided her to a room next to the ICU, and I followed them. There was a body, a dead body covered in a white sheet. The doctor said something to my mother again, and she was already in tears. I was more confused. But I couldn't do anything. All I could do was watch. The doctor instructed the nurse to remove the sheet, and that's when I realized what had happened."
His voice was trembling this time.
"What was it that you saw?" I pressed him to continue.
He slowly turned to me, with despair in his eyes.
"The doctor had revealed a dead boy. That boy was none other than myself."
I gasped in absolute shock, and I was at a loss for words. My mind went blank.
"I am not a human Darlene. I am more like a lost and a hopeless spirit."
His face says it all, he didn't want that sudden death.
"But when I found that you talked to me, it means that at least one person recognized me. You don't know how devastating it was to be left alone in that hospital. No one, not a single soul, acknowledged my existence. But you, you gave me a ray of hope. I was finally able to break free from that place, and I followed you to your apartment.
"So you did follow me, all the way," I asked him for confirmation.
"I saw you were reading a book after you've taken your medicines, I thought of waiting till the next morning to talk to you. But to my greatest shock, you opened the front door in the middle of the night, with your eyes closed."
"My eyes were closed?" I asked him with confusion.
"Yes, you were sleepwalking."
"Oh God, so this is all a dream? Are you also a part of my dream?" I further questioned him, pleading him to answer me.
"Yes, and no both," he replied.
"What?" I asked.
"Yes, because it is a dream just like I've told you before; hallucinations and perceptions is a part of parasomnia."
"No, because you're also awake right now. Which means that your third eye has been opened..."