Otherworldly beings: A short story

Joshua Jordan/Staff

As of late, there exist two obstacles that prevent my getting a good night of sleep. First, I applaud the entity who engages my mind such that memory lane is a trip never forsaken. Revisiting cringeworthy moments in the dark of the night is an addictive pastime of mine.

Second, an incessant tapping accompanies this entity. It frequently enjoys tapping the section of the wall right above my head and has determined it shall grace me with its presence. I don’t really care that the entity is attached specifically to my room; I care that it bears the intellect of a 5-year-old who demands attention at the expense of my well-being.

Said entity can detect my fear. It resolves to tap the walls just before I reach deeper levels of consciousness and perhaps, sadistically derives pleasure from my inability to sleep. Unfortunately, I have no intention of expressing my frustration at said entity, because I fear fates similar to those in movies dealing with particularly vicious, otherworldly beings. So I deal with this sack of shit.

I could not move. I felt a presence near me and all of a sudden, I was pushed into a wall that seemingly kept expanding.

But it’s amusing, I suppose, how these entities incite fear in those they attach themselves to. This past night, just as my conscious mind resolved finally to turn itself off after weeks of sleep deprivation, a ringing in my ears commenced, and an intangible ball of energy slammed into my right ear as my arms reached out to push something away that was present yet absent. Funnily enough, I fell into a dream state more quickly than I’d known possible, but a few minutes in this foreign world made me realize that this was no dream.

I could not move. I felt a presence near me and all of a sudden, I was pushed into a wall that seemingly kept expanding. My conscious mind had regained some form of control and resolved to console my person, who at the time, thought she was going to die. “It’s just sleep paralysis, you’re overreacting. You good, fam. Just give it a few minutes.”

Thankfully, the wall had an end, and I found myself sitting in the classroom of a mentor long gone. In this particular class, we had just begun to read a piece by some author whose name does not come to mind. The story ended with the main character’s younger brother dying a horrible death related to a weak heart and overexhaustion. Just as quickly as I had been placed into this memory, the entity puts its arms around my neck and pulls me somewhere else.

I was 6 years old. A friend I had gone to preschool with began pushing me on the swings. She desired to incite some sort of fear in my being, as she would not stop after my multiple requests to have her slow me down. As the fear in my voice became apparent, her 6-year-old self believed her strength sufficient in completely stopping my swing. She pulled the left chain with inadequate force and my swing, along with my head, slammed into the neighboring poles multiple times. I recall for a slight moment that her parents said something along the lines of “at least she didn’t die but yeah we’re incredibly sorry for our daughter’s actions.” I can feel my mother’s anger bubbling under the surface, but she says nothing as my friends’ parents blatantly disregard the fragility of life. The entity puts its arms around me again.

I was sitting in the journalism room at my high school. Two people I deemed somewhat decent engaged in discourse about my incredibly annoying demeanor and how they never wanted to be associated with me again. Sitting only a few seats away from them, I wondered at their audacity to speak on their troubles with me in such close proximity. I could have, in some act of ferocity and irritation, called them out savagely on their respective inabilities to talk shit about me elsewhere. But I froze, as my heart began to feel pains in a manner I had experienced too many times before.

The next morning, I go to class with black circles around my eyes. I wonder at the entity and the incessant tapping and decide that I have effectively lost my mind. I confide in a friend, and she says midterms have taken their toll. For fear of her deeming me unstable, I resolve to end the conversation. She implicitly picks up on hints of this thought process and tells me I should sleep downstairs in the living room tonight.

But to no avail. I cannot sleep.

I unsuccessfully spend the remainder of the night contorting my body in manners unbeknownst to myself as I attempt to achieve some perceived level of bodily comfort. Joke’s on me: Injuries to my back had been prevalent over the past two years (i.e. I was bedridden for a good month), and in my endeavors to escape the entity in the room, I had forgotten that I could no longer sleep on surfaces that were too soft (i.e. my couch). So I went back upstairs.

No ferocious balls of energy this time around but the tapping commences yet again and I sigh in frustration. In true UC Berkeley student form, I decide that if my eyes refuse to stay closed for an extended period of time, I may as well get shit done. I immerse myself in rigorous study and spend another two hours going through math homework. But the entity in my room loses the battle to the levels of exhaustion generated by the No. 1 public school in the United States (not you UCLA, sorry). Math and statistics have stripped my soul of its vitality, and I finally fall asleep.

The next morning, I go to class with black circles around my eyes. I wonder at the entity and the incessant tapping and decide that I have effectively lost my mind.

I’ve just finished moving into the dorms, and my parents prepare themselves for the six-hour trek back to Southern California. I’ve been dreading this moment for ages as my family suddenly quiets at the realization that the order of things in all of our lives shall never be the same again. We all stare silently at one another, and I resolve to lighten the mood. I rush them out as my mother’s voice inches a pitch higher than normal and my father’s eyes cannot stop blinking. My sisters don’t know what to do as I throw out some excuse of having to meet with some friends, and I leave my room without properly allowing them to send me off.

I wake up. I’ve got an 8 a.m., but I don’t get out of bed. I ponder the brevity of human experience for a brief moment, and though the sadness impedes the speed at which I get ready, I somehow haul ass and make it to lecture.

My friend asks how I slept. I tell her I’m the walking dead. Her expression amounts into an amalgamation of pity and confusion, but lecture starts so the conversation ends. Lecture proves useless, as I am taken aback at the prospect of having to lose more sleep as midterms drag me through Dante’s depictions of hell. My GPA has yet to bear any semblance of excellence, and I do not possess the luxury of dealing with emotional baggage associated with trips down memory lane.

That night, however, I am blessed with some confusing stroke of luck never before bestowed upon me.

The tapping has stopped.

Contact Ru-Ping Chen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @roxychen_56.