I was asking Brad Pitt — well, it wasn’t Brad Pitt, it was my high school soccer coach being played by Brad Pitt — why we had to use an inflated rhinoceros testicle for the ball in our game against South Southington. I was just about to point out his nakedness and suggest we turn up the steam in the car when my eyes shot open.
The dream evaporated. I started to turn over onto my back but found myself tangled in my sheets. I realized I was soaked with sweat but felt cold and wondered if the furnace had gone down again. When I actively went to sit up and literally could not, my chest tightened and my skin prickled with goosebumps.
I became suddenly aware that breathing was difficult and imagined for a moment a weight on my back, pressing me into the mattress. No. I didn’t imagine it. There was a real weight on me.
That’s when I felt the presence.
The sensation crawled up through my mind from the deepest part of my lizard brain. It was the feeling that a rabbit gets when a hawk’s shadow crosses it in the field. It was the dread that comes with a certain smell in your own shit that you know means you are sick. It was the deep and inescapable certainty that something is lurking in the gloom just beyond the edge of shadow, just outside of your peripheral vision.
I let out a shuddering breath and I felt the presence shift its attention. It suddenly focused on me, as if it became aware only at that moment that I was conscious and that its malevolent intelligence found this to be — what? — amusing?
I very much at that moment did not wish to be awake.
How I knew I could not say, but the presence was curious. It did not want to know my name or anything personal about me. No, it was curious how I would react to what was coming next.
Something slithered beneath my skin, like a muscle that wasn’t my own spasming and undulating in ripples from my groin outward. It was as if a thousand thousand worms or snakes wriggled out of my balls and crawled through my muscles until they could escape through my eyes and nose and mouth and ears.
The presence noted how I wished to scream but did not allow it. It simply went on exploring me, head to toe, inside and out, violating my every orifice and organ.
Until, with no preamble, it was not. The weight on my back lifted. The invasive internal touch stopped. I could move.
But I didn’t. I did not shift or turn. Nor did I sleep. I laid there, shivering, weeping, dreading the return of the presence.