Main image
12th April
posted by amber

Encounter in the Night

I used to have a cat, an old fighting tom, who would jump through the open window by my bed in the middle of the night and land on my chest.

But he died years ago, so my first thought the other night when I felt a weight land suddenly on my chest was wrong. It could not be Rags. Rags was gone.

My second thought, as I surfaced into wakefulness and a slightly higher degree of lucidity, was that Blackie Moka was attacking me. My bedroom was dark, but I could make out his ugly features above me as he straddled my chest and pressed his hands into my neck, cutting off my air.

When I tried to struggle free and found that my muscles didn’t respond to my commands, I knew it was Blackie. Drugs are his speciality. He has drugs for everything. Paralysis would be child’s play to Blackie.

My arms wouldn’t work, my legs wouldn’t work. I tried to buck him off by heaving my torso up from the bed, but my torso lay there, inert, while panic raged along all my nerves.

Blackie leaned forward, putting more pressure on my neck. All I could do was stare at him, his mouth in a cruel sneer, his eyes dark and full of hate, the jagged scars across his cheeks standing out like black lightning.

Maybe ratting out your drug dealer isn’t one of the Twelve Steps, but for me it was important to put a road block in the easy route I’d taken from youthful rebellion to the brink of irredeemable addiction.

“We can’t protect you,” the cops had said. “We’re stretched too thin as it is.”

Stupidly foolish or foolishly stupid, I’d assured them that I’d be fine. And now here I was, with Blackie on my chest, seeing stars from lack of oxygen.

“Stop,” I begged, and found that my mouth still worked, although I could tell the sound I was producing was a weak croak.

It had no effect on Blackie but I continued to call out, “Help me. Help. Please. Mom! Moooom!”

That did it. Blackie vanished and I could breathe again, could raise my hands and pat the bed to see where he went, pat myself to see if I was okay.

I sat up, tears streaming from my eyes.

This had happened before, and I’d called out for my mother many times from a terrified paralysis and the bogeyman sitting on top of me. For nearly a year when I was seven, I’d been visited every night.

If it was going to start up again, I would rather my night-time assailant had really been Blackie.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This first line came from the creatively inspirational non-fiction book by Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Her lovely essays are very unlike this dark tale, but I can imagine that she would also find the phenomenon of ‘the old hag’ fascinating.

Leave a Reply