Parasomnia

~ a short story

You must understand that I am only trying to soothe the grand restless churning of the universe that is within me… and you are one of the few that can help me.

Night fell as it always did, with a swell of shadows and the silent song of ceasing calls. Every call to action within the day fell away and the woman, restless and beyond the hours of any of her neighbor’s similar ceasing, fell too into the hurried folds of her bedding. Calm. Unwearied. Unhurried. Alone amidst the pillows, she let her tired mind layer itself slowly but surely into the subconscious zones, that estranged underself eager and awaiting the moment when it may take center stage. Covers half carried over her barren form, fan pulsing overhead, the swarming din of electronica priming every untread corner of her small home, these were some of the sights and sounds of this one’s night hours.

The cold, dark dread of the Overlands came on without invitation, crashing over thinning barrier…

A small burst of essence oil diffused from the perch of her desk nearby out of a machine she did not understand and rarely inspected. In the mirror in the corner, leaning with slow-inching precarity, a crack smiling across its main, the scene of the naked woman heaped upon her oversized mattress was a reflection of another dead and quiet thing within the room. The stilling scene of her and room both asleep was contrasted by the fury of movements just previous; cleaning the clothes and the crumbs from the floor, half-hearted and unfinished reading, a ritualized locking of the triad of doors to that outer suburban desolation, streetlit lamps and nightbirds bristling in the chilling air, showering herself in the burgeoning warmth of an unearned duration, brushing teeth, downing pills and vitamins, slugging back eight ounces of liquid life and keeping the remainder on the stand adjacent to this final, solitary crash site.

Inevitable was the drapery’s fall over her and hers… We come for all eventually.

Sometimes this one would sit and meditate her mind away and away until those far away subconscious zones would invade and harry and finally batten down and displace the conscious worries keeping eyes open and mind On. “Om” she would say, for dozens of cycles sitting motionless upon the edge of her bed, (when she would remember to) without a good hint as to its real meaning, until the sheets behind her were warmer than her body and her mind was more tired than its memories of the day she’d just paid.

Unstill, furious with glorious and cosmic purposi, streaming forth with the velocity of the hungered, we ride the streaking starlight into the homes of the unburied but temporarily reposed…

Stillness. This was the sight now inside of her urbane abode. This was the goal of the eternally restless sleeper. A sound and steady stillness, serene dreams of strange and advancing goddesses.

However, the mirror overlooking the bedroom did now capture a mover in the shadows, a beast whose cycle mirrored its master so perfectly as to be some form of cosmic counterpart, comedic yet exacting in its presence alongside her as a mate. Black fur, perking ears and bright green-yellow eyes sizzled across the underside of the frame, bounding over the remaining laundries and tangoing with the toys, her own and her master’s, that were consistently left about to be tripped upon, carried underneath undersides. This little feline hunter turned on when her master turned off. In her reflection that she never managed to find, the black dart leapt to every corner of the scenery, quietly, mischievously, making trouble for no one but herself. For now.

For no one saw her. Not even … I. Such a creature was invisible to my ethereal venturing. My unleashing energies are indeed staked for her, the sleeper, the little strange beast’s master. This unconscious humanoid creature after which my own nature is paradoxically fashioned represents the conduit for my enterprise. From the great sky beyond the sky, into the lights and machinery of their world, out of the darkness between dawns I come from distant everywhere in order to make order for myself and my countless brethren coming from these elsewheres. We come to the sleeper without scienter, without harboring a will to animate them any one way.

Concisely, We come to animate them so that we may bleed away some of the animus of Universal Night. From where exactly it sources, We do not know; for why we must do it here, and to them, We also do not know. We know only that it must be done. Night in, and night out.

I speak of ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘myself’ and ‘we’ to perpetuate ownership of such words only for your own cogent benefit, and to simplify my presence and my story, for the truth is stranger and beyond the comprehension of such primitive communication as this. But I make due. Just as she is trying to now, body horizontal upon the raised platform she has acquired for just this nightly ritual. Head down, eyes closed, mind shifted into separate operations not meant to be witnessed or intervened or ever fully understood. Her memories and experiences consolidated and repaired within this repose. Resting now in the dark, so that she may continue to be restless, later in the marks of her day. A good and pure cycle. One I take no pleasure in messing with…

I enter her light, the light within that cannot be seen or influenced by any but me, but us, not to interrupt and intervene but to … to…

My strings are latching now, into the streaming neural pathways of her brain, into the cords under her skin. I enter amidst the moonlight that streams through the curtains; I summon myself into her from out of the shadows that can no longer be battled by that mortal Sol… She doesn’t have a clue! A small grin graces her beautifully oblivious features. The forces of her cells are becoming mine and she can do nothing about it. Her legs, her arms and her eyes, all mine. For now. I must remember… So preciously temporary is the duration of my controlling faculty; so imperative is the work to be done, the outlets for my grand designs, instinctual yet punctual.

The bed creaks and she turns over from my willing such a thing, her breathing easy and steady, the unconscious spell still cast and unbroken. She is not yet dreaming, but she is not here, with me, to begin to decipher why she might be moving as she is. Within the bounds of the cosmos’ causality. Now, for more majestic willings… The mattress mashes as her buttocks becomes the major force of her presence, not horizontal, but seated with legs bent over the edge of the bed. In the corner, I sight the black beast watching with eyes as wide as they can go, it stares at her Achilles flexing into a stand. The master — my puppet — takes on a precious uprightedness and begins to walk. I do not try to avoid the effects upon the floor, the mess that this one mires herself in is part of the journey, each a factor in the dream-making motions over this landscape.

She is dreaming now as she moves and sleeps. Of what, I know not. It stands to reason she dreams of movement, of sailing or flying or running in place toward a horizon she will never reach. As I move her, one leg after another, every step wayward and unique, I begin to project imagery into her subconscious; not dream-making, but a slew of influences to shape whatever it is she sees, subtle and calming material, to keep the Sandman’s spell strong and lasting. While I have my way… and drink long and deep of the flowing energy of Un within her…

A shrieking mew and clawing strike of pain alerted me to my adversary. A shock to my etherean system, the physis of the unmarked soul! The black dart, the shaded four-legged mini hunter latched itself onto my subject’s leg, instantly drawing blood from out of its needled fists as it climbed. The woman walked from her bedroom with the creature attached. My imagery became stilted, pain and blood and fury entered the picture of her unconscious theater. The body responds so much more readily to damage upon its surfaces… I must fight back! Her dream turned toward nightmare. Frustrated at the intrusion, as I launched more of myself — plenty more to go but never boundless in the cup, certainly — into her, the beast ascended, silent and committed, eyes wide with an otherworldly life that I cannot see as anything other than terrifying. What strange commitment from something so small-minded! My buffeting blankets of voided spellcraft, keeping her upright and moving and most importantly, asleep, were compelled suddenly to vulnerability by the inescapable sight and feel of this beast at work. Ascending her tyrant — or her slave, depending on how this relation played in their day-to-day, I could not know! — and with only her flesh as the continuous clawholds, this small little thing engaged me in a game of unconscious-conscious brinksmanship, for the fate of this harvest, this line of sleeping and awakening, dream and nightmare, my life and my death…

A foe worthy of me! It could not be. But it was. I breathed a special darkness into her then, exhausting holds that I never thought I’d need, drawing hallucinations of beings too still and sun-shielded for any mortal to ever imagine. Formless black spirals filled out the living room of her home, under the table and upon the walls of her dreamscape. She kicked and punched then, making small grunts. I held myself in caution — in fear, truly — that such sound and motion might break her into a groggy awareness of her sleepwalking venture. A defense against the night beast, the only way… Fighting such fright, my rejoice came when the pet was flung from her bosom, each five-fingered hand slapping upon its furry lithe form to send it airborne. The small beast landed clean and bounded away again, away from my sight. Away from my subject. Very much alive. Hopefully discouraged. All was well again. For now. The cosmic clock ticked away on my job…

I seized the jutted and animated movements within the woman as quickly as they began, no longer do I require the madness that lies within their form. She stood, unrustled now but wavering with uneven breaths in the center of her abode. Silence pervaded again. The night was young, quaking with the flow of the energy I had sapped as of yet. My vortexing mouth still firmly upon her mind’s manifold spouts, asleep but standing strong in the central space of her home, standing as a vital monument to her race, her species, her special body’s strange and impossible consciousness — I slurped it all into me. There was no distress upon her face or form as I satiated my final hungers. Perhaps her dreaming was pleasant once more; a gracious and merciful cover for the unsightly feast occurring behind the curtain. Even as blood dripped from the wounds upon her leg, her abdomen, her breasts, she slept as soundfully as anyone might ever manage within their chaotic world…

At the final moment of triumph from this latest episode within my formless, unchronicled existence, a rogue plummeted from the ceiling, from out of sight, crashing into the young woman’s countenance, that stolid calm instantly changed into a frightful screaming. The beast returned, furious and daring, it made the jump from the height of the bookcase, braving a slice from a slow turning fan overhead. Falling between the blades, as though it timed the maneuver, I watched the remainder of the descent as if it occurred in slow motion, affixing every sense from the woman’s form and channeling them into preternatural awareness of its own finale. Her tiny fangs bared, the eyes of the hunter gleamed with primal fascination for its destination. As soon as it landed, claws and teeth slashing and chewing into the woman’s face, I urged every power at my disposal to mitigate the damage, rid the threat of its art-shattering action. To no avail, as soon as I saw it fall towards my pool, I understood my end was at hand. Without a trace, but entirely and utterly failed in my nightly work, my presence dissipated from the home, the woman… No longer would her fitful unconscious moments be marshalled by such overt personal infinities…

~

The woman’s scream awoke her. The violence of her own voice’s volume startled her into a sudden and more lucid awareness of her surroundings than such a frightful coming-out-of-unconsciousness would normally deliver. There she stood, out of bed and standing with knees straight and feet numbly planted upon the hardwood.

“Lex?” she whispered into her small, shadowy companion’s face. She held him now at arm’s length, no longer wishing to throw the beast from her. It wriggled for a moment but then calmed itself into a warm stillness in between her fingers. Extracted from the folds of her face in her reactive unconscious fright, she recalled the dream she was just released from being grand and at equal moments beautiful, terrifying. Fields of magenta under galactic skies turned bloody and boiling, burning… Blood trickled from her brow, a many-pronged sting still touched down upon her cheeks and her neck. Limp and finished with its nocturnal racing and clawing, Lex’s eyes watched her. Impassive but seeing, they stared into her. There was recognition in her only daughter’s form, for her, and in a way that they’d never shared. More like roommates than mother and daughter, for the first time, she felt as though Lex loved her. Even as she bled from this latest attack from the little rogue, the woman found that she loved the kitten back.

More cogent memories returned to her then, not just of her dream’s landscape but of her unconscious activity up to then on this night. A dread was housed within her. Something from beyond her imagination, something from beyond her hopes or despairs. Beyond her understanding…

There was fear… back there. In the bed, in the past. Back there, from which she had risen without knowing, without feeling, without control. Possessed by a psychosis? By the power of a furious dream? In her continued, nigh desperate, clutching upon the thin furry beast within her hands, the fear dissipated. She did not care. She pressed Lex to her warm, sweat-drenched chest in a hug. A slight squeaking full of cute mania fell from her. She put Lex down, who sat formally and continued to watch her master tower over her.

“Thank you…” was all she could think to mutter. After a few more moments, Lex began to clean herself with her paw and her little barbed tongue.

The woman turned and walked back to bed then, the Sandman’s song already flowing within her, chilling her toward the spread of her bed and its folds of promised protection. Bristling with unseen, newfound energy, Lex followed her and leapt onto the edge of the covers alongside her.

The cat guarded her without looking, waiting for her to drift away, back into the pit of Un. From there, wide awake and drawing contentment from the promise of such sources, Lex could continue to groom and cultivate her walking, talking and self-caring vault of the void. Protecting her from the tendrils from Outside, waiting for her inevitably drift away and leave it all behind one day. For her and hers. ~

~ ‘The Night Guard’ – Andrej Bazanov