The night’s horror began with a dream.
DeAnna was a quiet observer in her own bedroom, pinned to the ceiling like a butterfly on a straight-pin, helpless and vulnerable.
Below her, she could see her own body resting on the bed in the spare bedroom. She was lying on her side, like she normally slept. One arm was tucked under the embroidered pillowcase her grandmother made and the other was bent at her side, with only her fingertips poking out from under the covers.
What is going on? Am I sleeping?
Darkness swirled all around her, but she couldn’t move an inch.
As she watched herself from her bird’s eye view, she could see her chest rising and falling, rising and falling, the rhythm growing faster with every breath. She could feel the inhalations fill her lungs, even though she was separated from her body. It was the strangest of sensations. She would have found it fascinating had it not been so terrifying.
What is keeping me pinned to the ceiling?
She tried to move, but her body didn’t respond to the messages her brain sent it. All she could do was watch.
Her heart began pounding faster.
Before she could even react, the room suddenly filled with the stench of death. The putrid malodor of rotten flesh nearly choked her with its intensity. It smelled like a dead animal left out in the broiling sun, so pungent, she could almost taste it.
Shadows rolled through the room, swirling in on themselves and dancing wildly across the walls. When they stopped, she was able to see him standing there beside her bed.
He was massively tall and broad, made of smoke and shadows. If he had a face, it was lost in the darkness. A sense of evil wafted off him, the power and malevolence as strong as the stink of death that surrounded him. Panic speared through her.
Please Lord, make it stop!
He stood there for an eternity, just staring down at her. Her mind spun wildly. He could do anything he wanted to her, and she couldn’t even scream out or call for help. Her husband was sleeping in the upstairs bedroom. If she could scream, maybe he’d hear her, but would he believe her?
Would he tell her it was just a dream like before?
Her sleeping in the guest bedroom was already causing enough strife between them. How could she fully explain the horrors she’d experienced in her own bedroom when he thought she was simply losing her mind?
The entity moved closer to the bed, and the fear filled her whole.
Please don’t hurt me! Please let me wake up!
Without warning, a strong earthy scent filled the room, blocking out the pungent odor of the demon. It smelled like damp soil after a hard rain, the aroma that envelops you when you walk through a deep forest. The dream abruptly ended, and she felt herself sink back into her body, like oil being poured into a bottle. She tried to move, but she couldn’t. Her body was still paralyzed.
There was no doubt in her mind she was fully awake now. She could hear the sounds of cars whishing by on the street outside and the hum of the refrigerator down the hallway in the kitchen. The wind gusted against the house, making the window rattle like it always did when the weather outside was angry and high-spirited.
Please God. Make it stop!
No sooner than the words rushed through her mind, she felt the unmistakable sensation of iron-hot fingers grazing her cheek.
The heat was intense, traveling through her veins like wildfire burning her from the inside out. She could feel the searing heat roll down her body, filling every blood vessel with fire and embers. The pain became unbearable, maddening. She wanted to claw at her arms and legs, tearing the flesh apart to release the fire, but she couldn’t.
As quickly as it started, the pressure eased and the touching stopped. She opened her eyes, wanting to look beside her to make sure he was gone, but was too terrified to find out. What if he was still there, waiting for her to find him?
She held her breath, listening closely for any sign he was there, but she didn’t hear anything. She still wasn’t able to move, but she could shift her eyes.
Please let him be gone!
It took every ounce of courage she had, but she finally looked.
He was still standing there, watching her.
Their eyes met, and she felt a scream lodge in her throat, silenced by the paralysis. His eyes were unlike anything she’d ever seen before. They almost looked reptilian, lacking any semblance of humanity.
He was going to kill her.
He would pin her to the bed and pull the life right out of her. Her husband would find her body the next morning and not understand what had happened.
God, please help me!
With a creak of bed springs, he sat down beside her and reached out to stroke her face again, his fingers filled with the same fire as before.
“I can feel you,” he said to her in a penetrating voice.
Our Father, who art in Heaven…
His fingers left her face and began exploring her body. As he stroked her skin, his burning touch grew impossibly hotter. She began shaking violently, the only movement she was capable of making. There was no breaking free from him. She knew this with every ounce of her being.
“I can taste you,” he said.
Hallowed be thy name…
She squeezed her eyes shut, her body shuddering uncontrollably as his hands roamed over her skin. The sense of violation was intolerable. He was claiming her. Marking her for future use, toying with her like a predator with its prey until he would finally kill her.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…
The earthy smell of one of her protectors drifted into the room again and then, just like that, he was gone.
The weight lifted off her body, and she was suddenly able to move again. Her mind became a wild animal, fighting its way out of a cage. She was instantly ice cold, as all the heat in her veins turned to ice.
She scrambled up out of bed, looking down at the imprint he made when he sat beside her. She wanted to run until her lungs burst, but where would she go? Would she race up to the master bedroom and wake Tom?
The thought caused her to pause. Tom already thought she was crazy. If she woke him, he’d tell her it was just a dream. Things had been going so well between them lately. She didn’t want to take any chances on ruining it. She stood there in the doorway, paralyzed once more, this time by indecision.
The floor creaked in the corner of the room, and it was enough to jolt her from the doorway. She bolted into the living room where another horror possibly waited for her.
She looked around with wild eyes, expecting to see him there too, but the room was empty.
With trembling legs, she found her way to the couch and curled up in the corner, pressing her knees to her chest in a fetal position. The sobs came quickly, wracking through her body in waves.
Why me? God, why me?
Little did she know but this was only the beginning. Her hell was only getting warmed up.