Prompt from Inspiration Monday: Don’t fight it
(200 – 500 words)

John Henry Fuseli – The Nightmare

It was a dark and stormy night; “Good lord!” she rasped and slammed the book shut. The fire was kicking out some heat, so she tossed the blanket she’d been wrapped in over the back of the sofa.

She wasn’t in the mood to read about a stormy night in a cheesy romance novel. She was on edge. Ryan hadn’t arrived yet and she was getting worried. It wasn’t like him to be late and not call. It was hard not to think the worst. Friday of a long weekend. She’d decided to come up to the cabin early to unpack and warm the place. Normally, she liked these few hours she had to herself before he came.

She paced between the door and the picture window. Still no lights coming up through the sleet and rain. Trees creaked and scratched the upstairs windows. She  wasn’t someone who scared easily. She love the woods and the outdoors and was more than capable of taking care of herself. Maybe a glass of wine or a beer would calm her nerves.

She went to the kitchen and poured a glass of beer. A yellow flash illuminated the darkness outside. Lightning or Ryan’s headlights? She peered out the window. No car. Must have been lightning. She waited for the crack of thunder. None came.

She stared into the fire, sipping the beer. A dark red. Her favorite.

The beer and the heat from the fire made her eyelids heavy. She’d just rest her eyes for a moment and get another beer.

Crash! The front door slammed back against the wall. She jumped up. Sleet was peppering the floor.

A hand grabbed her from behind. “Don’t fight it. You’ll only make things worse.”

She was on her back on the sofa. She could smell rum on the stranger’s breath. He was holding her down. She struggled, but couldn’t move. She had to fight. She couldn’t move her arms. The noise of the storm was becoming deafening. Her legs were pinned to the sofa. She tried to roll over, but her body wouldn’t cooperate. She tried to open her eyes. Why were her eyes closed? She tried to shout, but no voice came.

Thunk! She jumped up. Ryan was standing in the doorway. His suitcase dropped unceremoniously on the hardwood floor.

“Hi Honey! I’m here!” He called cheerily.

The sun was still shining.

She squeezed her eyes tight, trying to come out of the haze and back to reality — trying to appear normal. Damn it! Sleep paralysis, her doctor called it! She hated when that happened. It was so real. It was happening a lot lately.

“Let’s barbecue, we still have lots of daylight left.” Ryan pecked her on the cheek and held up a package of T-bone steaks.

“Great idea. I’ll make a salad. You want a beer?”

She looked around the room. Of course, everything was normal. She licked her lips at the thought of a cold beer. The first one of the day was always the best.

Note: When I started to write this story, I didn’t intend to write about sleep paralysis — it just kinda happened. Many people, apparently, experienced some kind of sleep paralysis at least once in their life. Maybe it’s happened to you and you didn’t know what it was. The condition has many names; I just discovered that in Newfoundland, they often call it “the old hag” or “old hag syndrome.” Here are a few links if you’re interested in the subject.



11 thoughts on “The old hag

  1. In Arabic or Islamic culture, we call it a “Jathoom” which is a kind of Jinn that sits on people’s chests when they’re sleeping…. I’ve personally only felt it once in my life and it scared the crap out of me when I woke up.

    Great story!

  2. Interestingly written story and an interesting choice of topic to tie it into.
    Very well done and I enjoyed it right from your opening lines which actually gave me a chuckle.
    The only thing that confused me for a moment was when you talked about the beer and mentioned that it’s a red one? In my experience I’ve not known of such. Red wine, yes, but not beer.

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