Go To Sleep :
For a tired child, bedtime is always a happy and relaxing event when they relax and drift off into a restful slumber. Some children complain when their parents force them to go to sleep before their bedtime. For me, bedtime was always fearful and terrifying event that I dreaded every night.
My fear of sleeping began when I was 8 years old. My parents moved me into my own bedroom, a small and narrow room at the back of the house, just large enough for a bunk bed and a chest of drawers. It had only one window which looked out onto the back garden and didn’t let in much light.
It was the first time I had ever slept on my own and from the very first night, I remember experiencing a strange feeling of unease. As I lay on the top bunk, trying to fall asleep, I thought I heard a noise. I couldn’t be sure, but it seemed to be coming from the bottom bunk.
The room was pitch black and the curtains on the window let in just enough light to make out vague shapes in the dark. At first I wasn’t sure what the noise was. Sometimes the simplest of sounds can be the most unnerving. I listened closely and realised that it was the unmistakable sound of sound of bedsheets rustling in the dark.
The bottom bunk was empty, but when i peered over the edge of my bed, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Something suddenly withdrawing out of sight, into the bottom bunk. Something that did not wish to be seen.
I lay there in disbelief, trying to convince myself that it was just my fevered imagination running wild. I turned to face the wall and closed my eyes, willing myself to fall asleep quickly. The rustling noise beneath me steadily increased until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Whatever was lurking in the bottom bunk began to toss and turn violently.
Fear gripped my heart and I had a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My pulse was racing and I broke out into a cold sweat. I could hear the sheets thrashing back and forth below. Eventually, I couldn’t take the tension anymore and cried out for my mother.
Suddenly, the bunk bed began to shake violently, clattering against the wall. The bedsheets below me were still twisting and turning. I couldn’t get out of bed in case the thing in the bottom bunk reached out and grabbed me. I imagined it pulling me by the ankle and dragging me off into the darkness. I was trapped in the top bunk, like a cornered rat, unable to flee. I clutched my blanket with white knuckles and waited.
The door finally burst open and my mother came in to calm me down. Tears were streaming down my face. She lay down in the empty bunk and promised to stay there until morning. Eventually, I was able to fall asleep.
The next day, as I played in the back yard, I kept glancing up at my bedroom window. Each time, a chill ran down my spine and my hair stood on end. I felt like something was lurking in that room, watching me play and waiting for night to fall, so it could be alone with me again.
I tried to tell my parents about it, but they wouldn’t listen to me. They just dismissed my claims as childish fears of the dark and when night arrived, they ushered me upstairs and forced me to get into bed.
“Go to sleep,” said my mother. “Stop being such a baby.”
I didn’t protest. It was no use. I resigned myself to my fate, climbed up to the top bunk, got under the covers and waited. Lying there in the darkness, alone and frightened, I heard the quiet rustling of bedsheets and knew it was starting again. But, this time, it was different. I heard the sound of slow, rasping breathing coming from the bottom bunk. The soft, laboured wheezing made me shudder. Only a flimsy mattress separated me from whatever was lurking below.
Lying there, paralyzed with fear, I just wanted the thing to leave me alone. Its laboured breathing became louder and louder. Then, suddenly, I felt something long and thin poking at the underside of my mattress. I screamed in horror and the bunk bed began shaking violently.
My mother came rushing in and calmed me down with a comforting hug. Eventually, my terror subsided and, with her standing guard, I was able to fall into an uneasy asleep.
This continued for weeks. Night after night I would wake up to the sound of rustling sheets. Each time, I would scream for help and the bed would begin to shake violently. As soon as my mother came in, everything would stop and she would have to spend the rest of the night in the bottom bunk, just so I could go to sleep.
It was a difficult time for my family. My Grandmother was sick and my mother had to go and take care of her. When I found out that my mother would be away for the whole weekend, I flew into a panic. There would be nobody to protect me from the thing in the bottom bunk. No one would answer my cries in the middle of the night.
On the day my mother left, I rushed home after school and immediately stripped the bedsheets and mattress off the lower bunk and removed all of the slats. My plan was to prevent that thing having a place to sleep for the night. I hoped that somehow this would protect me. Unfortunately that night proved to be the most terrifying experience of all. To this day, I shudder to think about it.
I managed to fall asleep but, in the middle of the night, something woke me up. The room was pitch black and there was no noise. No rustling of sheets. No movement at all. However, something didn’t feel right. Just then, I felt the covers on my bed begin to move. The horrifying truth suddenly dawned on me. The wretched thing that had terrorised me night after night, was not in the bottom bunk. It was in my bed.
I opened my mouth and tried to scream, but nothing came out. My eyes were wide with terror and I lay motionless, barely able to breathe. I didn’t want to let it know I was awake. I could feel it lying beside me, something cold and slimy leaning against my right arm. It was lying under the blanket. I could see its outline, but I didn’t dare to look. All of a sudden, it rolled over on top of me and I felt its weight pressing down on me. I will never forget that awful feeling.
Hours passed and I lay there motionless, in the darkness, too frightened to move a muscle. I wanted to cry, but no tears would come out. Finally, I reached my breaking point and couldn’t bear it a moment longer. Ever so slowly, I tried to ease myself out from under it. Inch by painstaking inch, I shifted my weight, moving sideways. Just as I thought I was about to escape, it moved.
Dear God, it moved.
I felt a clammy hand reach across my chest and close around my throat. Its grip gradually tightened and I felt it squeezing my neck. The horrid, slimy thing began writhing and contorting under the blanket. I could hear it wheezing, rasping and coughing. I felt its breath breath against my face, foul and cold as ice.
Dawn was breaking and the first rays of sunshine were peeking through the curtains. I fought for dear life, but I was no match for it. As its scrawny fingers squeezed my neck, I felt the life ebbing from me. I tried to scream but the thing’s grip was too tight. I was fighting to stay conscious when, suddenly, it released me and slowly withdrew, melting slowly into the wall.
I tumbled off the bed and scrambled out of the bedroom. When I got downstairs, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had survived the most horrible experience of my life. To this day I still break out in a cold sweat at the sound of bed sheets rustling in the night.
I spent the entire day trying to convince my father to spend the night in my room. It took some effort, but he finally agreed. Perhaps he was just trying to humor me while my mother was away. Whatever the reason, it proved to be a smart move because, in one night, it solved the problem for good.
The very next morning, he stormed into my room and told me to pack a suitcase. We were moving to a hotel.