Stick a Needle in My Eye

It had me jumping at first. Twitched a lot. Gasped a lot. I would run, cry out. When the hallucinations hit me, I was about 11 years old. Just started fifth grade. You can read about that night in a blog called Strong Urge to Fly that I posted here a few years ago. It was a coping mechanism. It was a defense mechanism. It was a mechanism of the mind. Flipped over, started grinding. It was like great gears, shafts, explosions of steam and fire, when the machine inside my head started showing me hallucinations. Started seeing them everywhere.

At first it was just little flickers. Something would run past me and giggle and then jump ninety feet in the air and arc over a building. They seemed to travel with my moods, warp. I guess the best way to say it is there were many tribes of hallucinations. Like nomads they moved in my brain. A certain tribe would show up when I was in love, and I would be walking through a magical world. A nomadic tribe of anger would come to me, blazing walls, and my fists would turn to granite. As my life became more complex, more and more of these tribes began to show up. The hallucinations became a way of life.

You learn to stop jumping when a snake slivers out from under your bed. You learn to stop crying out when you look into a mirror and there’s a group of creatures standing behind you. You just brush your teeth. When you go to the bathroom and the toilet water is boiling, you just sit down. And after a while, you start to craft stories.

This isn’t like that.

I have two alters who create hallucinations. One’s name is Smear Lord of Ire, or some people call him Artist. The other’s name is Smilin’ Jack. He’s just Jack to his friends.

This isn’t them.

I’ve never had to suffer through sleep paralysis before. But that’s what I’m dealing with. Sleep paralysis is very simple. As you’re falling asleep or as you’re waking up, your body can’t move, and when you try to scream you’re just moaning. Usually there’s some kind of creature, no there’s always some kind of creature, and it’s horrifying. Most of the time they climb on your body, you can’t look away, you can’t close your eyes. They sit on your chest and smother you to death, or at least that’s how it feels. Mine is different, though. A site that I was looking at yesterday called it the oldest nightmare. And if you look it up, you can see paintings dating back hundreds of years. Recent artwork is more horrifying, of course. I never felt so helpless as when I saw it the first time. That’s really saying something because of the abusive childhood that I had.

She was laying right next to me. Bekah was sleeping right next to me. We sleep at the same time, usually really late at night, early in the morning, however you want to designate 1 or 2 AM. It’s always the same. We get in bed, I lay in a certain position, make a burrito out of myself with the blankets. She rolls towards me, wraps one arm over me, big spoon. And about six months ago, as I was drifting to sleep, she would always sense it coming and she would roll away. The moment she rolled away, it would come—he would come? I have to decide how I’m going to talk about this thing. Let’s call it he.

The first time, I thought I was looking at one of Jack’s terrifying hallucinations. But I can always move. I’ve always been able to move whenever Jack shows me one of the horrible things he has in his mind. I’ve always been able to move, but not this time. I’ve always been able to look away, but not this time. It’s in the room, standing over my bed. It has a joint in the middle of its spine and can fold at a 90º angle. It’s wearing a coat with a high collar. It’s wearing a hat. Did we decide on he? He’s wearing a hat. He looks down on me. I can’t make out any other details. Can’t see his face.

At first that was it. For a couple months, that was it. The first time he came, and he had the syringe, I, I was so afraid. It was a kind of fear that I’d never experienced before. So I can tell you about utter fear, horrific fear. There’s fear that you jump back from. There’s fear that you dread. There’s like an irrational fear, something that’s never gonna happen but you’re still afraid of it. Phobias and phantasms. There’s fear of loss. There’s fleeting fear, a nightmare you wake up from. There’s night terrors, you wake up screaming. And then there’s this kind of fear. When I saw the syringe, and I realized what he was going to do with it, I wanted to die. It seemed the only way to truly escape, because I knew the next day I would see him again. And he was probably going to have it in his hands again. And he was probably going to do what I was watching him do.

He took a syringe, it was the old kind. Glass, with a ring on each side of it for your fingers and a ring at the top of the plunger. Sleep paralysis, they call it. It’s almost a cute name. When you wake up the next day and you look it up, and they tell you it’s sleep paralysis, you know that’s not what it’s really called. There’s the name that the professionals give to something, and then there’s the name that the sufferers call it. Sleep paralysis is a clinical name. It doesn’t have the phrase horror in it. It doesn’t have the phrase terror in it. Sleep paralysis is a clinical name. I know it’s a clinical name, and I know that a doctor gave it that name. Some psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist.

He had a syringe. My eye was open. I couldn’t close the eyelid, and I couldn’t turn my head. I felt the syringe go straight into my eye. I had to watch it grow nearer. The tip comes into focus, and everything beyond the needle point begins to blur. When it punctures the eyeball, everything goes blurry. Then the plunger is depressed, and the liquid goes into the eye. He isn’t putting it through the eye and into the skull, he’s putting it into the eyeball. The eyeball’s already filled with fluid, but it feels like the solution he’s putting into my eyeball is eating away all the fluid that already exists there.

So six months. I didn’t tell anybody. We’re going through some stressors here at the house. Everybody’s going through something. Rayph is going through some social stressors. There’s people moving against him, getting in his way. He needs advice. He needs a father. Willow is going through a transitional period, searching and trying to define their gender and the life they want for themselves. Emerging as a leader, and they need the strong, steady hand of their father. Bekah’s looking for a job. It’s one soul crushing application after the next, and one interview, and then another. Hope rises and falls like a storm at sea. She’s the vessel that’s gonna take the family to a safe harbor, and she needs a steady hand on the helm telling her that everything’s going to be okay, making her laugh when there’s nothing funny. Absorbing her frustrations or echoing them back to her. There’s just no time for a horrifying crisis, and everybody in the family having to worry about me.

As the injections built up, the hallucinations got stronger and stronger, and they became darker and twisted. About two weeks ago, they started talking. They’ve done this before. They’ve done this for years, but this was different. They knew other fears. They knew things I hadn’t thought about in decades. Imagine having an important conversation with your wife in the solitude of your bedroom, and there’s an eight-armed child gripping the ceiling above you, it’s mouth nothing but a black hole. Echoing from it is information on all your fears and your doubts. I call them life hounds. They’re hunting dogs, and when they bray, they’re trying to destroy my life. They started showing up about two weeks ago. They move fast. They skitter, they jump. It’s so alarming sometimes I can’t take my eyes off them and pretend they’re not there. One will jump right past me and my eyes will just follow it, my head will whip to the side. If Rayph’s in the room, he looks at me and says, “Dad, it’s not there.” Very matter of fact. Not condescending in any way, just, he’ll just state it and we’ll go on with whatever we were doing. It’s poisoning my eye. Rayph calls it my dominate eye. It’s poisoning my eye.

I went on a hunt, seeking as many pictures of my beautiful wife as I could possibly find. I bought a wooden box that used to hold explosives, and I put all those pictures in that box. Beautiful pictures of the woman I love. At night when things crowd in around me, I pull out those pictures and show them to the world in posts on Facebook and Instagram. It helps.

So there’s an entity called The Hat Man. The one that stands over me with the syringe, he has a long trench coat and a wide brim hat. This mythical creature, The Hat Man, wears the same garb. He’s been seen all over the world. All different cultures describe him. Groups are popping up to study him. They’re putting certain things together. He comes after people who have had traumatic childhoods. He comes after people who have overdosed on anything, even as mundane as caffeine. He always walks out of the room, never vanishes. And there’s a rendering, a picture. It’s the magical picture.

I call it the magical picture because Willow said that every single person who thought maybe they were being haunted by The Hat Man has looked at this picture and known instantly if it was him. The whole family was in the kitchen. Rayph had his phone, he pulled up the picture and held it up in front of me. He held it up like it was nothing, but it wasn’t. He did have a look of concern on his face. My look intensified. Tears came to my eyes that didn’t spill. My body locked up.

Everybody just kinda went quiet, and they all watched me. I’m not sure what they saw. I’m not sure what I saw. There were so many things moving around the phone, clawed hands digging into Rayph, the floor was giving off smoke, and the phone itself was red hot. So many other distracting factors. I’m pretty sure it was him, though. I’m seeing some kind of variation though, because The Hat Man might leave marks on you when he leaves, and he can scare the shit out of you, but nobody’s ever described a joint in the middle of his spine. One person actually said he was harmless, just an inter-dimensional creature drawn to traumatized, weakened people so it can fill up and feed off their fear. Otherwise harmless. But this one is poisoning my eye.

Bekah’s typing this. I’m dictating to her. I don’t know how mad she’s getting as she hears I’ve been dealing with this for half a year in silence. She’s probably getting pretty pissed, while her heart breaks and her mind gears up for war. She just pointed out that the eye that has been receiving the injections has been bloodshot. My eyes itch a lot. They didn’t used to do that. And my right eye will begin to leak. All that is possibly psychosomatic. It’s possible this thing is just a dream. When dark entities are around dogs, usually the dog will react, bark or growl. I sleep with two big dogs in the room and I’ve never heard a peep from them. The only thing that’s really weird is Bekah. After he’s gone, whatever this thing is, after he’s gone, Bekah will start to whimper, and I’ll roll over and touch her, soothe her with just a loving touch, and she’ll fall back to sleep.

Over the last six months, I’ve been locking up when it’s time to get in bed. I’ll stand away from the bed and Bekah will pull the covers back. I’ll pace. She’ll calm me, gently tell me to lay down, and I’ll try. Sometimes all I can do is sit on the edge of the bed. I’m so locked up in fear, and she has to grab my ankles and actually place me in bed. I don’t turn my light off anymore. She has to crawl over me to turn my light off. We’ve been doing that for awhile, though. But I guess it’s been about a month now, maybe a little more, when I curl up and we’re in the dark, and I’ll say to her, “I’m scared.” And she says, “It’s okay, I’m right here. You’re not alone. I’m right here.” That’s what gets me to close my eyes. About six months ago we started buying sleeping pills. I take them and they put me to sleep, but they also trap me in sleep.

So I’m not an artist. I know very few basics of art that I used on this picture of the man. Did we decide to call him a man? You start with shapes. I drew the head first. A shape for the neck, small like a bean. A longer oval for the back. Started putting him together with basic shapes. As soon as I had those shapes laid out, I was gripped with a terrible fear, and I started slashing. I’m proud of the collar and I’m proud of the way the back of the coat rises off the back of the legs as he leans forward. The hat’s perfect, but it bothers me that the face and the head is white. And that’s not how he grips the syringe. He doesn’t grab it like a weapon. He proffers it with flair, holds it up, flips the side of the syringe to clear it of bubbles. Then he turns, and with flair, like some sadistic doctor giving a shot to a scared child.

I think the worst part is the sigh. Worse than watching the tip of the needle go large as the world blurs. Worse than that crooked back of his, or the fact that he comes almost every night. It’s worse than the anticipation, the sigh is. Worse than the flair and the little thin spurt that flies from the tip of the needle as he’s prepping it. It’s when he’s done and he’s given me my medicine. He pulls it out and the syringe vanishes. He stands up straight. He looks up to the ceiling and he sighs. A tremble runs through his body. He tips his hat and I don’t know, maybe he walks out of the room like The Hat Man, who never vanishes. Maybe he disappears in the whirling of black smoke. Or maybe he vanishes, steps into one of the corners of the room and waits.

Has anybody ever seen anything like this? Even once had a nightmare with a man standing over them with a syringe? Has anybody ever heard of such a thing? I want to get this blog in front of as many people as possible. Maybe somebody has some kind of advice, has some kind of experience or knowledge they wanna give me. All I know to do right now is fight my way into my bed, wait for him to come, take the medicine he gives me, and soothe my wife when he leaves.

Pray, if that’s the kind of person you are. Send me good vibes. Thoughts and prayers. Whatever you do to help somebody going through something like this, I beg you to do it. I’m scared.

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