It hovers at the bottom of the ominous narrow staircase descending into blackness if not madness. A gloved hand – almost translucent with a soft cartoonish glow. The fore-finger points to what dormant demon waits on the other side. A gateway to my darkest fears… the fears that have yet to be defined, much less discovered. I stand paralyzed in fear, but that hand. It taunts me. Bobbing up and down as though floating atop an invisible pool of turbulent water. Four feet off the ground and unencumbered by a body. Just the gloved creature with a life and a motive all its own.
This was not the first, nor the last – not even the latest vision to come to me in the waking hours of a day or night. Unassisted by food, drink or chemical. So extraordinarily vivid. Haunting. The visions accompanying some level of rationale can be far more horrifying, yet somehow more calming as they can be written off to consequence.
For years, I loathed sleep. It was not my own exhibition of insomnia, but rather the fear of retribution. Those things that go bump in the night… silently watching. Waiting. The perfect moments of helplessness and exhaustion. A recipe for vulnerability. I blink and the lightning strikes of colors urgently dancing across my eyelids bring me to life again. Famished sharks circling at my bound ankles just out of reach.
What is it the creatures need me to know? Is there symbolism or purpose? Warning or fiendish delight in my terror? What was the message from the elderly woman who broke into our backyard at 2am? Only to glance at me once between pushing her granddaughter (is that her granddaughter? Is that thing even human?) slowly back and forth on the rusted-out swing set time long since forgot… The frigid air encompassing that blue fabric chair… organic, yet in the midst of utter turmoil. The face shining at me in short bursts through the strobed light – the horns atop its head and the hatred painted across its features.
I walk past a mirror and find my face frozen in a silent scream in the reflection. I place my hands to my lips and they are closed. I seem to be a magnet… no… a vessel. To the damned and the distressed. I sit down gingerly, pour myself a drink and wait.