One of my biggest fears has always been sleep paralysis. The thought of being trapped inside of my limp body, unable to scream for help, tortured by whatever demons my mind conjured up, terrified me. It also didn’t help that whenever the topic of sleep paralysis would come up around my Muslim friends, they would remind me that the “limp body” feeling was a result of a jinn sitting on you – a wonderful image before bed, I know. And despite my many attempts to make sure I never experienced it, one night, it happened.
I remember being stirred awake at the sensation of something grabbing my wrist. When I looked around my room, everything looked the same, but something felt off. And then, I saw it. The source of the wrist grab: a glistening black snake, twisted around my arm, it’s heavy head making it’s way up my body to meet my eyes. When I tried to scream, it was as if my vocal cords were frozen. And then, nothing. I assume that I drifted back to sleep, which would be a great way to end this story, but it got worse.
It was like I was jump-cutting through the night: snake, blackness, shadow in the corner, blackness, eyes staring at me from the crack in my closet door.
While I’ve tried to suppress the memory as much as possible, there is one distinct moment that stands out. Amidst the jump-cutting, there was a thin figure towering over me as I slept. Not moving, or trying to hurt me; it was just there. And then, just as the terror began to subside, it lunged at me, tearing through the stack of papers on my side-table, leaving a trail of paper in its wake.
After a restless night, I woke up the next morning to what I thought was my name being whispered into my ear. I like to think that it was just my tired mind playing tricks on me, but I could still feel the warmth on my neck, left behind by the breathy murmur of my name.
When I turned over to my side, papers were scattered all over my bedroom floor.