Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sleep Deprivation

I slammed into somebody Friday while I was walking through the tunnels beneath downtown Houston.

I think I slammed into somebody, anyway.

I believe I did.

Okay, I might have slammed into somebody, or else I might have dreamed I slammed into somebody, or else I might have hallucinated I slammed into somebody, or maybe (and this seemed least likely of all) I might have just worried about slamming into somebody, only to immediately get confused and think that I had.

At any rate, I stood there, gripping my shoulder where the possible contact had occurred and looking around to try and identify the other party. My victim, for lack of a better term. The slam-ee.

“Oops, sorry!”  I said (belatedly) to no one in particular, or rather to a very particular though still unidentified individual, if in fact I had slammed into somebody after all.

And the more I thought about it, and the more I rubbed the impacted shoulder, the harder the hypothetical slam became, and the more real it became, until finally there came a point where I could no longer imagine that the slam had not occurred.

I got worried about the condition of the other person, the person whom I have previously identified as my victim or as the slam-ee. You see, I am not a large individual. You know this. Unless you are younger than eight or older than eighty – or perhaps if you are physically handicapped in some extreme way – then chances are, you do not the rank the prospect my slamming into you up among your worst fears.

But what if I had  injured somebody? Injured somebody and then, you know, hadn’t even bothered to stop? What if I’d committed an ambulatory hit and run?

I scanned the ground around me for toddlers, for the elderly, for prosthetic limbs or maybe for a cane.


Lots of people walked by me, but they all seemed okay. As for me… Well, each thought that I thought seemed random. Dream-like. Convoluted and-

-and… Wait! Dream-like! “Maybe this is a dream!”  I said, and I might have even said it out loud, for all I know. I walked up to a mirrored column and I tried to press my hand through as a sort of test.

No go.

It was no dream.

It was, instead, simply another moment in the surreal haze that my life has become over these past two weeks since Doctor Belloq set off my sleep paralysis.

She set it off on purpose. Well, she set it off on purpose the first night.

The next two nights, those are sort of on both of us.

Each time it happens, what happens is pretty much the same: I go to sleep sober, I go to sleep on my back, and then I find myself unable to move. I am awake but I am paralyzed, and I am being suffocated by something that stands in the corner of my room. The something in the corner orders me to “Recite!” (night #1) or “Write!”  (night #2) or “Read!”  (night #3).

And you want to know the crazy part? I want to hear what it has to say. The something in the corner. I want to know. I will recite, I will write, I will read, just like Muhammad did when this happened to him in that cave. After all, reciting, writing, and reading: These are the things I do.

But each night, the blank face, the black cloak, the suffocation thing, and the sense of terrifying doom turn out to be too much for me. Much too much. I freak out and I thrash around until I break the paralysis.

Now I am afraid to go to sleep.

It’s been two weeks and my life is a surreal haze and I might or might not be slamming into random strangers in the shopping tunnels beneath downtown Houston. I can’t be sure anymore.

On Friday, after I confirmed that I was not dreaming, I chased down a little Asian business-dude in the tunnels. At least I think I chased down a little Asian business-dude. There is a possibility that I just imagined it.

I think I stopped him and I said, “Excuse me, sir? Did I by any chance just slam into you back there?”

The little Asian business-dude, I think he looked a little scared. I think he shook his head and waved his hands and said, “Yes, but it is okay. No problem, no problem!”

I think I sighed and clasped my hands together. I think I said, “I DID slam into you?! Whew! Good! I was afraid I was going crazy…”

Then I wandered off, lost in the tunnels, trying to remember where it was I’d been going when all of this began.

I kept walking…

Sunday, July 14, 2013


A series of thoughts upon opening my eyes:

Thought number one was that I had drifted towards sleep. Without Benadryl. Without wine. Without Benadryl and  wine. I had not reached  sleep, true, but I had drifted. Drifted. Edged downstream far enough to see the lights of its fabled cities. Ha! This was unprecedented for me. Historic, even.

This changed things. No Benadryl and no wine changed everything. The world was going to be different after tonight.

Thought number two was Doctor Belloq. Doctor Belloq, lying next to me. I knew she was there, right next to me. I knew she was asleep. She’d gone on ahead without me. She’d left me here. Had she waited, well, we might have been flying through dream palaces together mere moments from now. Was that how it worked? Maybe?

At any rate, she’d gone on ahead without me, into sleep.

Thought number three was the sound. That noise. It was like… Like… The noise was like the purring of a giant mechanical tiger, maybe crossed with a car that had a bad starter, maybe crossed with the Bionic Man when he leaps over a fence.

That was the noise but where was that noise coming from?

Thought number four was that I could not turn to find out where that noise was coming from. Thought number four was that I could not move at all.

I could not move at all because of… Roots? The roots from that big old grumpy tree from Meyer Park. That is what it seemed like. Its roots were here. In bed with me here and wrapped around me here and squeezing me here until I could hardly even breathe.

I wondered, “How is this possible?”  

Thought number five was I was awake.

Thought number six was I was definitely not asleep.

Thought number seven was that something in the corner of my room was watching me. Something in the corner of my room that was  the big old grumpy tree but was not  the big old grumpy tree was watching me.

This something was bad. This something was evil. This something was pure and unadulterated, sinister and foul and it was sucking all the good, all the love – hell, it was sucking all the like – right out of my bedroom.

Thought number eight was utter certainty that this was not a dream.

I tried to kick. I tried to scream. I tried to kick and to scream and now the something in the corner was moving towards my bed.

“Recite!”  the something hissed in a voice that sounded more than a little bit like the vocals of a black metal band. Mostly like Xasthur, but a little like Wolves in the Throne Room, or maybe – just maybe – like Agalloch at certain moments in their later discography.

Thought number nine was that I should not get caught up in subtle distinctions between black metal vocalists when I had something that looked like the Silence from “Doctor Who”  approaching my bed and hissing orders at me.

I tried some more to kick and to scream and I did everything I could to move and this time, a sound came out of me. It was not much of a sound. It was just little sound. A wheeze, at best, really. But it was a sound just the same.

I could see the something swooping down on me, but then I managed that wheeze and suddenly, Doctor Belloq was up and in between me and the something.

Doctor Belloq was grinning. She looked really excited. She could not see that the something was swooping down on her  now, and I still could not move, so I could not warn her.

Doctor Belloq held her right hand up to my face and started counting down from five on her fingers.



The something was mere inches from the back of her head.


She lifted my right hand with her left.


She moved one of my fingers.



-the something popped out of existence and the giant mechanical tiger noise stopped and it was at this very moment when I started to kick and scream.

I screamed and I screamed some more. I cried a lot.

Doctor Belloq flapped her hands around and she said, “How fucking cool was that?”

Doctor Belloq said, “How many fingers did I hold up?”

I screamed a little bit more and I said, “You counted down from five and then you moved my finger.”  Then I went back to the screaming and the crying.  

Doctor Belloq began pacing around my room. She said, “I knew it! I knew it!”

She said, “You are the coolest person I have ever met ever, Katy!”

Thought number ten in my series of thoughts that night was that Doctor Belloq had somehow caused all of this to happen.

I reached over, off the bed, and I got my Benadryl and wine. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sleep with Me

She said, “Sleep with me,”  but that wasn’t the scary part that I warned you was coming last time.

Doctor Belloq was sitting on the floor in my living room. She was surrounded by piles of papers and the papers had my words on them. My words were journals and my words were blogs and novels and ideas and research paper articles. It was kind of ridiculous. All of those words and I’m pretty sure Doctor Belloq had read them all and highlighted the parts she found to be relevant.

And now? Well, now she had upped and decided that I really ought to maybe, you know, sleep with her.

That was not the scary part.  

As a matter of fact, that part seemed long overdue. For years, I had been reading Kurt Vonnegut and I had been reading Charles Bukowski, and both of those bastards had assured me that if I kept writing words and if my words were worth a damn, then women who were way-way-way out of my league would be rendered helpless (or at least highly suggestible) in their need to commit physical abominations with me.

Physical. Abominations. With me!

So far, this statement by Doctor Belloq was the only evidence I had that Vonnegut and Bukowski might have been right.

I would have to choose my words carefully here. The words I responded to her with, I mean. The ones I said out loud. The words I say out loud rarely if ever live up to the words I write. There is just no time. There is no delete button.

How in the hell can I be expected to come up with something clever if I cannot sleep on it? If I cannot write out a few variations of my possible responses to see what works the best? Oral communications in general could only be imprecise and embarrassing and I wanted no part of them.

(Scientifically accurate diagram,
stolen from here.)
Speaking of imprecise and embarrassing, I wasn’t too sure about the whole sex thing, either.

But Doctor Belloq said, “Sleep with me,”  and it seemed like I had to reply with something.  I took a deep breath and I opened my mouth to speak and I was probably as curious as she was about what words were going to come out.

I opened my mouth to speak but before I made a single sound, Doctor Belloq started talking again, and this time she said, “Are your blogs true?”

Damn it, this woman asked hard questions!

How could I respond to that in a way that was funny and profound and sexy and cool? Burroughs would have said the blogs were all true. Hemingway would have said the blogs were all lies. Any answer in between was just boring.

“I don’t know,”  I said. “I just write them.”

Doctor Belloq shrugged off my answer. She reached down into a teetering pile of my written words. Down past the Crayola comic book drawings of my elementary school years. Over from the mopey song lyrics of my time in junior high. Behind the optimistic notebooks of “Words I Want to Use in My Writing”  from my college days.

She said, “What about this one?”  as she handed me the Plant Life (Parts 1-3)  blog posts from just last month.

I looked at them, I found a typo, and I set them back down. Doctor Belloq had read my “Plant Life (Parts 1-3)”  posts, and while that was sort of scary, it wasn’t the scary part I warned you about.

“That one’s mostly true,”  I said.

Doctor Belloq had a gleam in her eye now. I had never seen that gleam before. She was excited. She said, “But you were MUCH more scared of the big old grumpy tree than you admitted there, weren’t you?”

I considered this. “Yes,”  I said.

Doctor Belloq leaped up and started pacing. “You were scared because the big old grumpy tree wrapped its roots around you and was squeezing you, idn’t that right?”

I considered this. “Uh huh,”  I said.

She got right up in my face and she started pointing at me. “And you weren’t sitting Indian style like you said. You were lying on your back, weren’t you?”

I considered this, too. “Yup,”  I said.

Her hands were shaking now, flapping around like the wings of some epileptic bat. More blog posts got yanked out the pile. “And you’ve been scared of the dark your whole life and that’s why you knock yourself out with wine and Benadryl every single night!”

I considered this. “You missed your calling, Sherlock.”

Doctor Belloq spread her arms out and sort of danced around in front of me. For a moment or two, I got concerned something was wrong, but her breasts bobbed up and down in a really wonderful way with every hop, so I let it go. Whatever was happening here, events definitely appeared to be coming to a head.

She shouted, “Let me spend the night with you, Katy! I want to see this. I figured out why you have been scared to fall asleep your whole life!”

I considered this. Doctor Belloq had not been using “Sleep with me”  as a euphemism for “Commit physical abominations with me,”  after all.

I had not seen that one coming.

Vonnegut and Bukowski had left me ill-prepared for a woman like this.
(Not Belloq. Obviously not me.
Declared relevant by me anyway.)