A Nightmare on my Street

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a nightmare. Some of my more vivid night terrors occurred shortly after being diagnosed with MS. It could have been the fear of this newly discovered disease in my body, or, it could have been the meds I was on. Whatever it was, it induced some of the more disturbing dreams I’ve ever had! I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat in a panic. They were so real that deciphering the difference between dreaming and reality was difficult until I awoke on my bed and my senses adjusted to my surroundings. That was a little over six years ago, and I have not been as disturbed in my sleep since then… until last night.

I just converted my daughter’s, Rayen’s, crib to its full size. It was about time my wife and I kicked her out of our bed. Not that we didn’t enjoy cuddling with her and having her feet in our nostrils, but, she is growing, and the free space on our bed is getting smaller and smaller. Plus, we have to start getting her accustomed to sleeping in her room, alone and independent of mommy and daddy. Will I miss her? Of course, I will! But, I also miss cuddling with my wife.

To get Ray acquainted with being on her own, we came up with a “scheme.” And when I say “we,” I mean my wife. OK, it was not as conniving as I’m making out to be. Let’s just say it was a plan. My wife would put her to bed and lay with her until she would fall asleep, then she would slowly slip out of bed and come back to our bedroom. I thought it was a good idea just to get the ball rolling. We anticipated that she would wake up in the middle of the night on more than a few occasions.

In anticipation and preparedness of this, we tried to accommodate her surroundings (her room) by making it as friendly and inviting as possible. We put up glow in the dark stars on her ceiling, placed two night lights in her room (one a globe, the other a cutesy ceramic teddy bear), left the light on in the bathroom adjacent to her bedroom and left an iPad by her bed playing a recording of children’s bedtime stories. We also, for our comfort, have the baby monitor set up in our room to watch and listen in on her, have a nightlight in both the hallway and our room should we not hear her if she wakes up and makes the short trek towards our bedroom down the hall.

The first night was rough. She awoke three times crying for mommy and daddy. My wife raced down the hall on two occasions apologizing to Rayen as she stated that she was merely using the bathroom so as to not allow my daughter to think that she’d been abandoned in her sleep. The third time my wife tried to pull a fast one over her my daughter, but this time she didn’t buy it and kicked my wife out of her room and requested my presence. Being the sap that I am, I ran to her rescue and stayed with her for the remainder of the night.

After a few nights of this, and explaining our plan and logic behind it to her, Rayen seemed to grow more and more comfortable when waking up and discovering that she was alone in her bed. She would still call out for us in the middle of the night, but it was more for reassurance that we were paying attention to her rather than fear. This was great news for my wife and I. Although we knew we were far from being where we wanted to be, and still had a lot of work cut out for us, we were on our way to “Mission: Accomplished.” I have to admit that having the bed to myself these past few nights while my wife put Rayen to bed was euphoric, albeit being brief.

With this new “sleep pattern,” schedule and the craziness that is my job, I needed some much needed down time this weekend. All I wanted to do was sit back, kick my feet up and catch a flick or two, specifically, horror movies. Lately, I was in the mood to revisit/re-watch the films of the Hellraiser franchise. I’m a fan of horror, but it’s hard to watch said genre with the wife not particularly being a big fan. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of the series as they progressively get worse and worse with each film. But I am a fan of the first two films, in particular, of the franchise. And who doesn’t love Pinhead?!

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I went to my office on the main floor while my wife and daughter went upstairs and called it a night. There, I put on and “watched” Hellraiser 6 & 7 (I think) while I reorganized and rearranged a few things in my office. By the time the second film finished I was beat and ready to go to bed. Watching a horror movie before going to bed does not phase me in the least as I can remember doing this for as long as I can remember. I grew a sort of immune to this and had become commonplace for me.

I turned off all the lights and made my way upstairs in the dark. When I reached the top of the landing I was surprised at how dark it was as, again, we left the light on in the bathroom for my daughter’s sake. The sound of the TV must have been a little loud as I noticed that the door to Rayen’s room was closed. I could just make out the dark outline of her door as the dim, orange light of her night lights seeped through the crevices. I made my way into my bedroom where the nightlight was switched on atop of our dresser just across the foot of our bed. My wife was not in bed and thought she had fallen asleep with Rayen. I opted not to wake her up and slipped into my pajamas and jumped into bed. But, before doing so, I did two things, both of which I would later regret.

The first thing I did was turn off the nightlight which left me in complete and absolute darkness. I guided myself through the darkness by reaching out and touching the dresser as well as the bed. I left my cell phone on the night table. When I climbed onto bed, I did the second thing I would later regret. I tuned into a podcast about ghost stories. Now, at this point, I’m sure a few of you would say this is pretty nonsensical, even foolish, of me but it’s not something new to me. I rather enjoy a good ghost story just before bedtime, and I figured since my wife was not in bed with me that I give this podcast a listen to. I’ve done it before with headphones on, but this time there was no need for one. And so, I listened until the blackness around me engulfed my consciousness, and I slipped into deep sleep into the realm of a nightmare.

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Not me

Even as I write this, once again alone in bed, the nightlight in my bedroom on (you will understand why in a minute), my wife in my daughter’s room putting her to bed, every noise the house makes jars me and chills me to the bone. My imagination is running rampant, conjuring images of things and shadows lurking in the dark throughout the house, or worse, in the bedroom with me. I feel vulnerable and a little uneasy because of the “nightmare” I had last night.

I remember very little of my dream. All I could remember was that I was asleep in a hotel room by myself. I don’t know why I was in said hotel, but I did know where and which hotel and room I was in. I need to explain a little back story before I proceed.

A little over a year ago, my wife, daughter and I took a semi-long road trip to Vermont for a weekend getaway. We often like to take a retreat to break the spell of our daily/weekly routine. We’ve never been to Vermont and found a great deal online to stay at The Hartness Inn, established in 1904. The history of the Inn was intriguing, and the thought of staying there was exciting for my wife and I. And so, on a Friday night after a long day of work, we made the three and a half hour trip to Springfield, Vermont.

It was October, so Halloween was on the horizon, daylight was short-lived, the nights were brisk, and green leaves were scarce. By the time we hit the road, it was already close to 8:00 PM putting our estimated time of arrival way past check-in time. We had to call the inn to assure them that we were on our way and a few unforeseen circumstances will be delaying our journey. The staff was amiable and made arrangements for someone to be available for us when we arrived to provide us with the key to the room.

The drive up was cinematic. We drove through long, winding roads with dead leaves scattered throughout and the glow of the full moon illuminating the pavement. I marveled at the scenery as it induced a dark conversation with my wife, a rarity with my daughter in tow at all times. I loved speaking of the supernatural, and the mood was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting and atmosphere. Imagine this and that! We cut loose with our imagination as we tried to one up each other after each frightening scenario we came up with. It was all in good fun, and we had a good laugh about it. Still, being far from home (sort of) in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere was a little uneasy.

It was a little past midnight when we arrived at the inn. We drove up a pebbled driveway where we were met by this magnificent, picturesque manor, the full moon just behind it high in the sky. I drooled at the site and savored the moment as I got out of my car, grabbed my camera and began taking pictures before my wife would whisk me away inside. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. I scurried across the gravel parking lot and joined both my wife and daughter at the threshold to the inn. Inside, all was quiet save for the concierge who was waiting, seemingly patient despite it being slightly past midnight. He provided the keys and made our up two stories to our room. The place was somewhat grandiose, showing slight hints of what it may have once been in a different era.

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Each room was named based on the room’s previous inhabitants or prominent figures who once visited the Inn if I’m not mistaken. We stayed in in “Eileen’s Room”.

The floors were a natural wood that gave off a deafening screech with each step taken. Everything was so quiet that I was afraid I would wake everyone in the Inn with each step I took. I tried my best to tip-toe so as to not cause any “ruckus” but my daughter had other plans, and the noise was cringe-worthy. I picked her up and immediately put her on the bed where a loud screech emanated from the metallic mattress coils. I threw my arms up in the air in defeat. Exhausted, we slipped into our PJs and climbed into bed – all three of us. This was pre-“bed training”. Work and driving drained me of all remaining energy, and I was in sleep land in a snap of the finger. That is until a frantic spouse woke me up at around 3 AM.

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My wife whispered loudly to me in the dark as she shook me awake. If it was my attention she sought, it was my grumpy attention she got. I opened my eyes and strained to see in the dark, but all I could make out was the light of the corridor that crept in through the foot of the door on my right and a faint blue light outside two stories below on the street level to my left. Everything in between was blackness.

“There’s someone in the room,” she whispered to me.

This jolted me awake and immediately turned on the light to the lamp on the table beside me. I saw nothing save for my sleeping daughter beside me and the horrified look of despair on my wife. I inquired further as I wanted to know why I was disturbed from what felt like an ancient slumber, and a damned good one at that! She said she heard the sound of a heavy footprint or clap just beside her. I got up and checked the other rooms in the suite, which consisted of another smaller room with another bed that led into what seemed like a small foyer and then to the washroom at the other end of the suite. The floorboards, again, screeched with every step I took. It was at this point that I came to the realization that if anyone were, indeed, in our room, we would have heard him/her. I got back into bed and assured my wife that there was no one the room and, as any good husband would do, I told her that she must have been asleep and was dreaming. She disputed that statement and the lights remained on each night after that until we left.

Fast forward to the night in question, here, in my bedroom. The dream, the room was in was “Eileen’s Room” at the Hartness Inn! Although I was asleep in my dream, it was as if I was standing in the dark watching myself sleep.  Something else I remember was that of a figure outside standing below what seemed to be a light post just staring up into my room, or, staring back at me as I watched him. This light post emitted a faint blue glow. There was no question of where I was; I just didn’t know why I was dreaming about this place. I drew my attention to myself sleeping in bed when I felt two cold hands grip the left side of my hip and just below my armpit. This, however, was not part of the dream.

I jolted to face the darkness. My voice was gone as I struggled to shout. “Help, help!” The voice inside my head screamed as I reached towards the lamp or phone beside the bed but I could not find it. I did not dare to turn around for fear of what I may come face to face with. “Help, help!” I shouted as loud as I could, but they only came out as whispers. I stretched my arms, searching for the lamp at my bedside table. I stumbled my way towards the night table, feeling my way along the headboard and as I did so, I thought I saw a figure, darker than the night itself beside the table. At this point, I deduced it was my wife marveling at the sight of me being terrified as it is a rare occurrence. I envisioned her in the dark, giggling and getting a kick out of the whole ordeal. This, believe it or not, was my salvation. My nerves calmed. I regained composure and heard my voice.

“Hello.” It was not a question but, rather, an authoritative statement. I was angry at my wife. How could she do this to me? I thought. At the same time, I was impressed. Never had she scared me like this before – not even remotely close. And here she has me, whether intentional or unintentional, nearly having me wet the bed which would have been both hilarious and utterly embarrassing.

Finally, I feel the table and grab my phone. I push the home button to my iPhone. The time on the screen read 3:34 AM. I reach for the light switch of the lamp and give it a good twist. The light comes on and… alone. I’m all alone in the room. That sinking feeling returns as I come to grips with… with I don’t know what exactly. I lay my head on my pillow and stare at the ceiling. I reflected and played back everything that just happened. Then, I hear the sound of a door open somewhere in the house. Again, I freeze and listen. The house is quiet. I tilt my head towards the bedroom door and look through the small opening just beyond the dark. I don’t know what to expect. Was something already there staring back at me? Who’s going to make the first move? Silence.

Then, I hear the “comforting” sound of a toilet flush. Relief. It was my wife. She had awoken to use the bathroom. I listen to her feet dragging against the carpet in the corridor as she approached our bedroom. My eyes faced the doorway, the sound of her feet grew closer. I hoped it was her. I saw a hand just outside the small opening of the door grip the doorknob and push the door open.

“You haven’t slept?”

I looked at her and told her that I did. She smiled at me and chuckled. She didn’t believe me and thought I was only saying that as to avoid a lecture on why I should go to bed early. I didn’t return the smile. I told her that I was asleep and began to recount the night’s events. She listened with keen interest as she lay beside me and tried to comprehend what had happened. She relayed to me that something wanted to wake me for some reason. A thought that freaked me out. Was something trying to warn me? Warn me about what? I told her what I could remember about the dream I was having. I told her about being at The Hartness Inn in my dream. This, of course, prompted her to recount her story of what happened that first night we were there and of the sound, she heard in our room.

Now, bear with me, because I am going to say something so off the wall, perhaps even downright insane but it got me thinking. What if, and I really mean what if? What if something truly bizarre did happen. What if what happened was not a dream but, rather, some out of body experience that transcends time and space. Again, hear me out.

What if, somehow, my present being went to the hotel room at The Hartness Room that night a little over a year ago. What if the noise my wife heard that night in Eileen’s Room was actually me – another me! This could, in theory, of course, explain how/why I saw myself asleep in the hotel room. And what if those hands I felt that jolted me awake in complete terror were the hands of my wife in another “space” (in Eileen’s Room) waking me up to tell me that there was someone in the room! This is strange in a Twilight Zone sort of way, and it was just downright creepy!

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I have to admit that this has to be, by far, one of the most terrifying experiences I ever had but can’t say that I didn’t have it coming. My wife always said, be careful what you wish for. Dare I say it, but she was right. But, I can’t say that I “wished” for this. No, I never said I wanted to be in a predicament that may have put my life in danger or to have anything that could have resulted in my soiling the bedsheets. Sure, a little proof of something from the land of the “nethers” was always enticing, but, I would rather have something happen to someone else. That, I can live with.

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