Photo credit: Diego F. Garcia P. / Flickr
It’s a waking nightmare: You’re lying in bed, somewhere between asleep and awake, and you realize you can’t move a muscle. Your body is frozen. You try calling for help, but nothing comes out.
Suzanne Perry finds herself suffering through this type of body-binding anguish, along with the terrifying sensation that someone is in the room with her. When she finally shakes away the sleep paralysis, Suzanne comes to the haunting realization that the stranger was real … and the nightmare is just beginning.
From the author of Cage of Bones, Tania Carver’s powerful and unflinching novel The Creeper will make you double check your locks before going to sleep at night.
Read on for an excerpt and then download the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.
The nightmare started in early June. Suzanne was asleep in her bed, in her room, in her flat. The doors locked and bolted, the windows secured. She thought she was safe.
She was wrong.
The thick, heavy drapes were pulled close at the window, the wooden blinds tight shut. As always. Since she had been a child she was a light sleeper, needing total darkness and silence. So her bedroom was like a sensory deprivation chamber. She loved that.
But this night was different. This darkness was different. Not comforting or secure but cold and deep, as if the safety of her womb-like room had been breached. She didn’t know if she was dreaming or awake. The room was hers and not hers.
She lay on her back in her bed, her eyes wide open, her head propped up on pillows, stared straight ahead into a nightmare-black darkness of deep, dank shadows in which huge, hulking shapes could be glimpsed. She blinked, tried to move. Couldn’t. Blinked again. Her head, full of imagined whispers and screams, ached.
A shadow detached itself from the darkness, moved towards her. Her heart raced, she tried to roll over, pull away. Couldn’t. Her body wouldn’t respond.
The shadow took shape. An outline against the blackness. A human shape, bulky, with two huge, glowing eyes at the front of its head. Bright, like car headlights. Suzanne tried to shield her face, but her arm wouldn’t respond. She closed her eyes. The shadow moved in closer. Suzanne, her heart hammering, kept her eyes closed. Her brain sent a signal to her mouth: open, scream. Nothing happened.
She kept her eyes screwed tight shut, tried not to breathe. Pretended she wasn’t there. Willed herself to waken.
She opened her eyes. The dream room was spinning, a pitch-black kaleidoscope. She pulled it into focus. The shadow was right beside her, its bright eyes by the side of her head. She could feel its dream breath on her dream cheek.
She closed her eyes again, tried to move her lips, a mantra running through her head: It’s only a dream … it’s only a dream … it’s only a dream …
Then the shadow spoke. Low, burbling and monotonous, a rattle and rasp like a pan of water boiling dry. Crooned, painful words she didn’t understand.
She tried to understand, form those words into sentences. There was something familiar about the sound, carried over from her waking life if only she could understand it. But the words shivered away into the recesses of her dream, lost and irretrievable.
Photo credit: Alyssa L. Miller / Flickr
Then the shadow moved, flowed over her body; it smelled of dark, oily, toxic smoke.
Then it wasn’t smoke. It became hard, rough, unyielding.
She held her breath once more, tried to call out. Nothing. She tried to pull her legs away, stand up. Nothing. Bring her hands up clenched as fists, fight the shadow off. Nothing.
Cold, hard hands touched her, ran down her sides. Her dream body recoiled, but stayed where it was. The hands slowly moved down to her thighs, to the hem of her T-shirt.
It’s only a dream … only a dream …
The hands moved her T-shirt up, over her thighs.
Only a dream … a dream …
She screwed her eyes closed once more.
The shadow started talking again. The wounded, twisted crooning.
Wake up … wake up …
The crooning building, getting louder …
Only a dream … wake up, please … wake up …
Then flash of light. A scream. Not Suzanne’s.
Suzanne opened her eyes. The shadow had gone. She was alone in the darkness once more.
Her heart was still hammering, her breathing harsh and ragged. She kept her eyes closed. Willed herself to go to another area of sleep. A safer, kinder one.
Photo credit: Ben Seidelman / Flickr
A harsh, shrill noise crashed in Suzanne’s ears.
She jumped, opened her eyes. Blinked. Looked around. […] Something wasn’t right. It took her a few moments but she worked out what it was. Sunlight was streaming round the edges of the blackout curtains. […] She stumbled towards the window, placing one hand on the sill to steady herself, pulled back the drapes, ready to see what kind of day it was.
She didn’t get as far as looking out of the window.
The blinds were up, which explained the extra light in the room, and there was something stuck to the pane of glass. She frowned, not quite understanding what it was doing there, why the blinds were up. Then she pulled the object off, scrutinised it more closely.
And felt her heart lurch.
It was a photo. Of herself, sleeping. The oversize T-shirt she wore for bed–the one she was wearing now–had been pulled up, revealing her trimmed pubic hair, the tops of her thighs.
Blood sped round her system. Her chest pumped, as if she couldn’t get enough air into her body. Her legs shook even more.
She turned the photo over. Gasped as fear shuddered through her. There were words on the back. Neatly printed block capitals. She read them.
I’M WATCHING OVER YOU
The nightmares punched back into her head. The shadows. The lights. The voice.
The hands on her body.
Suzanne’s head spun rapidly, her legs gave way, her eyes closed.
It was no nightmare. It had been real.