RETURN IT TO ME
The boy entered my office at 5:30 pm on Wednesday. His appearance left no doubt that he had been in a state of extreme tension for weeks.
—When was the last time you have slept?
—I have slept enought, doctor.
—I don’t think so. Without any doubt you have just suffered a psychotic episode, due to a lack of rest.
—Okay, maybe I have some trouble sleeping… but…
—What is it that you can’t?
—I can’t sleep.
—Because…it will come back.
Clearly, he was suffering some kind of post traumatic stress syndrome, caused by something that had happened to him last night.
—What do you do for a living, Raul?
—I study… eh… engineering.
—And how is it going? Do you like it?
—Of course, I like it, doctor, I’m passionate about it.
—Are you currently in a relationship?
—No, I don’t have much time for leisure.
—Doctor, don’t play games with me. I know exactly what you are doing. I have a healthy and completely normal life. I have good friends, a good job and I am… brilliant in what I do. I don’t smoke, I don’t do any type of drug, and I exercise regularly. Well… or better, I did.
—I see, when has the situation changed?
—Since two months.
—I can’t tell you. You will think I have gone mad, or you will lecture me on some psychoanalytic scroll about Freud and his studies.
Interesting how the guy, despite his anxiety, his nearly compulsive movements, and the way he observes eveything as is if he was watched, was demonstrating to have highly intelectual capacities.
—I don’t think you’re crazy… you’re just stressed.
—Stressed! – exclaimed releasing a huge laugh – fantastic diagnosis doctor. Of course I’m stressed, If you were in my place you also would be stressed…
—Quite possible, but without knowing what the problem is.
—Alright. All started, a couple of months ago as I said before. It was a night like any other. I was already in bed. The television was still on. I usually use it as a sleeping pill…
—As many do – I said.
—I think I was at that moment, in the limbo between one and the other side of sleep, when I saw it. The first time, it was just… a small shadow at the foot of my bed. I didn’t even get up, I assumed I had fallen aslept for a few seconds. When I opened my eyes again, it had gone.
Two days later, it happened again. But this time…
—Well, that night, I went to bed late. This time, the television was turned off. The only lighting, in the room, was the moonlight, entering through the window. I don’t like to close the blinds. Besides, I remember it was hot that night. I had been sleeping for a few hours, when I began to hear very strange noises inside the room…. It was like… as if something or someone was crawling on the floor. I moved my sleepy head slightly, but saw nothing. I don’t have any pets, just in case you’re asking, and I live alone.
»The noise stopped sometimes, and started again. I heard it perfectly. First, it crossed from the left to the right of my room, then it seemed to climb up the wall until it stopped at the ceiling. At that very moment, I was scared, but for acceptable… reasons. I thought about whether perhaps, some animal had sneaked through my open window, and was crawling around my room looking for food or anything.
»I turned on the light on my bedside table. Although it didn’t give much light I could see the whole room. What was my surprise, when I noticed that, in the background, where it was barely illuminated, there was a figure… It was standing there, next to my desk. It didn’t move at all, I could see his humanoid shape perfectly. It was completely black… it was blacker than darkness. It didn’t reach the height of the table, its size was that of a child, of about… 6 or 7 years.
»Immediately, I screamed. The only thing that occurred to me, was to reach out to a heavy glass ashtray on the bedside table, and throw it at it. Then, I ran out of the room and headed to the kitchen, I took the biggest knife I found and came back. There was no possibility that it, whatever it was, could escape from the room other than through the window. I opened the door and turned on the light, while wielding the knife. I checked the whole room… Nothing, it had disappeared! There was no mark or trace inside the room.
»I didn’t calm down until dawn. Afterwards, I think I slept for a couple of hours and then went to the faculty. That night, my torment began.
—Well, Raul… What you describe is not as strange as you might think. Have you ever heard of hypnagogic nightmares or night terrors. They occur, precisely at that time, between sleep and wakefulness. The people, who suffer from this, describe similar situations. Black shadows, strange noises. Some even have halucinations. But it is nothing serious, in most cases it can be solved with therapy.
—Doctor, I know you are the expert, and I respect you for that. No doubt. But, I believe you should go on listening to my story, before expressing… another diagnosis.
—Please forgive me, go ahead. I only was just trying to…narrow down options and to establish the seriousness of your problem. Please continue.
—Thank you. It was on the third or fourth day, when my classmates and friends began to notice, my obvious lack of rest. Of course, I couldn’t tell them what I am telling you now, or they would think that I was losing it. Simply, I told them that I had trouble sleeping, due to overwork, studies… those things.
»My days were perfectly normal. Although well, I was not at home to check it out, but every night, it reappeared. When I fell aslept, that little being crawled around my room. I could hear it perfectly. And every night, its… acts, went further.
»It rummaged through the drawers, under the furniture as if it were looking for something. One night, I felt how it was crawling under the bed. I couldn’t move, I was totally frozen, shivering and covering myself with the blankets, as if I were a scared little boy, until I couldn’t take it anymore, and I started screaming, asking it to leave and let me sleep. And every night, when I turned on the lights, there was nothing.
»I know this may seem like the beginning of a psychosis or something similar, but I swear, what I am telling is true.
The man was really scared. His eyes filled with tears, and his whole body trembled he was telling me this nightmare. Without any doubt he believed that he was absolutely certain, that this was really happening to him. That some kind of entity was tormenting him for some reason. In this case, being an intelligent and scientific-minded person, without any bond to a sect or attached to any other religious belief, and not understanding what was going on, made his frustation even greater.
—I have no doubt that you really believe that it is true. – I said – And I have no doubt that your… senses have made you believe that everything is true. In states of extreme anxiety, when one is in an emotional situation of permanent alert, the body,… rather,… the brain, can react, in unimaginable ways …. It is the innate survival instinct.
—I disagree Doctor… I perfectly understand what you are explaining. I’ve thought about all that many times over the past few months… but no. This goes beyond any rational explanation. Beyond any psychoanalytic interpretation.
—All right, lets do it your way. Clearly you aren’t mentally unbalanced, besides you are an educated and practical person. That said, I ask you. What do you think is happening to you?
—I couldn’t answer anything for sure, at this very moment I can’t answer anything that would make any sense. But, honestly… I think I’m being tormented by a creature…an otherworldly creature…
—Yes doctor, like… a demon or something.
—Let me go on! There’s much more.
—It’s fine, but I think you’re wrong.
—… it has been about 25 days since my nightmare began. I was a complete mess. I was beginning to make mistakes at work and to miss most of my classes. It was then, when friends and colleagues, began to worry more seriously about me. But I still couldn’t tell them what was happening to me. I just told them that I was passing through a bad period, that I was emotionally low. That I soon would be better and finally, somehow, I was able to get rid off of them. However, they called me at all hours, and offered to keep me company or to take me out of the house as soon as they had the opportunity.
—That sounds like they are good friends…
—Without any doubt, and now and then I did what they suggested, although at that point I was already really tired and a bit paranoic. Besides, at nightfall I wouldn’t stop taking coffee until my eyes were wide-open. I entertained myself in every way possible, but sooner or later, my body gave in, and I fell aslept.
»One night. Perhaps, the worst night of my life. It all started as usual. I heard that sound which wakes me up at some point. I tried to ignore it, the crawling, how it stopped and again the crawling, and again and again… Fear ended up taking over me. That night, at one point, I sat up in an abrupt motion, turned on the able-lamp, and shouted “What do you want from me?” … There it was, where I saw it the first time, leaning against a table in the back of the room. A black spot that didn’t move. I shouted again, “What do you want from me? “. And it was then… when I saw eyes in that shadow, huge eyes that stared at me, and a huge mouth of large and bright teeth, which little by little opened and ushered: “Give it back to me.”
»Suddenly, that being began to move. It walked slowly towards the bed, started moving arms and legs, as if it were dancing happily. At the same time, I heard a kind of ragged song, like the ones little children sing, but with a shrill and diabolic voice. I couln’t withstand it anymore. I hid again, under the covers. I was so scared that I couldn’t even scream. I curled up in a fetal position and laid there, shivering.
»Then, I felt something tugging very slowly on my blanket. I was pulling hard towards me. And a few seconds later, again. It was as if it wanted to scare me even more. I couldn’t even control my bladder, doctor. I screamed again! go away! … go away! I repeated again and again. “go away!”, as we struggled for the blankets. Then the phone rang. Everything was silent again. I answered with a trembling voice… It was a classmate wondering if I was going to college.
—Well Raul, I’m not going to discuss now if your feelings are real or not. I do not want to offend you. But don’t you think that because of all this, you fall asleep with a certain disposition? I mean, don’t you think you have conditioned yourself? Besides, that words, don’t you think they could have many meaning?
The guy smiled nervously. He burried his face into his hands, leaned back, rubbed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then, he smiled again.
—Conditioned you said? I see that we continue with the first diagnosis, so I will go on.
—I had no other choice but to ask for a temporary leave at work and stop going to University. I was unable to concentrate on anything at all, besides, that although I took caffeine pills, I fell asleep anywhere. I started to be dangerous to myself and others. I know that, for a couple of weeks, my behavior was erratic and anxious. But, I didn’t know what I could do.
»One night, I decided, not to sleep at home. I paid for a good hotel room, had a fantastic dinner, and went to sleep. I promise… that that night, I was sure that nothing was going to happen. Although I was still tired, I felt encouraged and optimistic. The bed was… superb of course, I asleep in what felt like 30 seconds. I don’t know how much time had passed, when once again, I began to hear that creepy sound which at that point, curdled my blood insantly. On this occasion, in addition, I heard that twisted and sharp voice from the first moment, but it said nothing, it only emitted unintelligible sounds that made me even more nervous. It was a screeching laugh.
»But… there was something different that night, something that made me feel claustrophobic terror, an instant panic that would have made me run without looking back. But… “I couldn’t move. I was laying face-up on my bed. I could see the ceiling of the room; however, I was totally paralyzed from the neck down.
»Something was cutting off my breath. I sensed a tremendous weight crushing my chest. But there was nothing I could do, only feel how I was slowly suffocating. It was an odd sensation, as if they were pushing me down. It gave orders so I opened my mouth, so that my vocal cords made something like a sound, but my body didn’t respond. When I thought, that I was about to die, I sat up and shouted, as if someone had released a spring, as if time had stopped for one minute, and suddenly restarted. It was horrendous. And as always where he came from, he left. It became clear that the problem was not my house, or my room… it was me.
—And don’t you think that exactly this could be evidence of, that all this is a result of…stess?
—Well, you have told me, that you have read about this issue. Surely you’ve heard of sleep paralysis.
—Yes, of course.
—And… you are aware, that many times, when you are in an anxious or stressful period, people are much more suggestible to adopt symptoms, that they have read, or seen somewhere.
The boy laughed again… this time, his gesture was much stranger. It seemed that he was the one who took pity on me. He didn’t even answered me. He just continued with his narration.
—That was the last phase, the most horrible, the wildest, but at that time, I didn’t care about anything. I switched psychology books for witchcraft and black magic in an attempt to find an explanation for all this.
—Every night, that being returned to my bed, only to torture me. I noticed how my chest burned, while the creature pressed more and more.
—Then, I saw it Doctor, … I saw it with my own eyes. One of those nights. When I was still completely immobilized, it slowly bowed its head, until it was at the height of my eyes. I could even see its teeth, its smile. And again, he repeated that words…” Give it back to me. ” For days, I felt again, how it crushed my chest, how it squeezed my neck, my wrists… while I screamed, without being able to scream. I squirmed without being able to move. While it smiled at the same time that he continued to torture me day by day for no reason. Every night, I see it 10 centimeters from my face, that black shadow with two large round eyes without eyelids. And that huge mouth smiling, which, with a voice, sharp, almost comical, says, again and again… “Give it back to me”, “No sleep”.
At that moment the boy stood up, about to explode in a mixture of frustration and anger. He started screaming and hitting the wall, I had to grab him and administer a small dose of a mild sedative to control the situation. Then, I tried to calm him down by talking to him.
—Raul, it doesn’t matter, whatever happens to you. I can help you. You just need therapy. Maybe, a few months of medication. But I know I can help you. I just need you to understand, that similar things happen to a lot of people. I know it looks like a nightmare from a horror book. But, these phenomena, have already been very studied, and I assure you, that everything is a product of your mind.
—¿! Ah yes doctor? Is everything a product of my mind?
The boy rose angrily again. And without taking his scared gaze from me, he began to undress with rage. When he got up, after taking off his pants and underwear, it was me who stayed petrified for several minutes. I took two staggering steps backwards. I had to… hold on to the table, duck my head and breathe deeply several times. The boy then shouted.
—And this doctor? Is this is a product of my mind? Uh?? Do you think this is stress?
His body, from head to toe, was full of scratches and bruises. In wrists, ankles and neck, indeed, he had obvious signs of strangulation. On his chest, there were peculiar marks, they were like tiny hands, with only four fingers and under these marks, crossing his torso from side to side, was written with quite deep cuts… Give it back to me. ”
THE END ?
Vigo, Pontevedra. Galicia, España 2020.