Friends Forever

There’s a thing called a hypnagogic jerk. It’s when you’re in the twilight zone between conscious and asleep, and you awaken with a jerk. Everyone gets it, and no-one knows why for sure. It used to happen to me all the time.
I ask people about this. “What were you dreaming of before you woke up? What did you sense?” ‘Falling’ is the typical answer. Either that or ‘nothing at all’. I’ve asked everyone.
When I was a kid, every night, without fail, I’d have a hypnagogic jerk when I was drifting into the twilight world. My mind becomes vivid. The covers weigh heavily on my chest. Everything is pitch black. And the blackness gets thicker. I start to choke in it. It peels off my eyes and wraps itself over my face, it invades my mind, I can’t breathe, I can’t think, and I am consumed in the darkness, and just when I think I’m sucked into oblivion, I jerk awake.
Every night. I used to fear it. I would toss and turn, knowing any attempt at sleep would result in meeting this devastating demon, and I’d waste the whole night in a fretful tangle of covers. I’d doze off in class, but it would still get me there, and I’d wake stricken with shock and anguish in the middle of English.
I still slept, of course. I’d be too tired. I’d be determined to. Sometimes it would attack endlessly – 8 solid hours of nightmarish hypnagogic jerks. And when I did get to sleep, I’d awaken after a few hours with another evil meeting. Always the same image. Always the same phantom.
My parents took me to therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, everyone. No-one could help. They could see a shaken little boy, terrified of sleep, sucking his thumb at 10 and wetting the bed, his face coiled in anguish every night as he curled against the pillows. And as sleep crept in, without fail, he’d jolt awake, his heart pounding its way away from the entity that had enveloped him. No-one could help. Sleep paralysis, they said. My parents gave up. I’d attempt the gruelling ritual of sleep night after night, alone, with the horrors of the night time becoming embedded deeper and deeper in me.
It was only when I learnt to embrace it that I became happy. I stopped worrying when it attacked. This time, I smiled. I let the blackness come into me, my mind accepted it, and we became one. It was always with me. It gave me the strength, power, and courage that I never had. It gave me a will, a philosophy, a desire to really live as I’d always dreamed.
Maybe it won. Maybe I gave up, beaten by an endlessly persistent opponent. Maybe I realised I wanted it. In moments of self-doubt, I can never decide.
It’s this that I’ve been carrying with me all my life. It’s never been a burden. It’s a release, it’s a valve. My guardian angel. It takes everything, my guilt, my shame, my anguish, my love, all my bogus emotions, and sucks it into its endless pit. A black hole, where not even light can escape, tearing my thoughts out and emitting positive background radiation instead.
And it frees me. I can do what I want, without even me to answer to. The liberation is ecstatic. I remember when I came to terms with the horror, beaming from ear to ear as I drifted off into a decent sleep for the first time in forever. It’s there whenever I close my eyes, my imaginary friend, but more real than anything else, always guiding me through the night and into sleep. I held it to my heart, and we fused together with beautiful symmetry.
And now I’m here, with only my darkness for company, stuck in solitary confinement for years. We went into a frenzy for a while, didn’t we? You’ve all I’ve ever had. Everything else has been transient. All the stuff people say life is all about means nothing to me now, and never really did. Just you, darkness, taking me on your epic voyage through life. I knew we’d always be together; I’m even sure you’ll guide my way into the afterlife.
You did the first one. I remember. We’d only been together for a few days when you did it. I had never even considered the idea, but your cold fist gripped my mind and killed him. It was messy. We didn’t even have anything to do him with. We just jumped on him and I pulverised him with my fists, over and over again. I didn’t even feel the pain, but my knuckles were red and bleeding afterwards. His face was crunching, he was long knocked out, but you wanted me to beat his skull into dust, and I wanted to too.
It must have been about 10 minutes later that I finally got off him and ripped up his parking ticket. I felt guilty looking at his dented, swollen skull, but you made me feel proud. You told me to put him in the boot and drop him by the waterfall, so I did. He was still alive, but barely. We watched him fall. You gave me the taste for it. It was easy.
Maybe a lot of people are familiar with you. I know these prison walls are full of them; the guards, too. I think other people know the darkness too, but they’re scared of you. They see you. They know you’re around every corner, hidden like a panther. You attack them from inside and out, and when you’re attacking strongly it’s the worst moment of their life. They should just accept you. They should fill their soul with you – they know you’ll always be there, waiting for it. It’s the only way to lose the fear.
Because I never liked being angry. I never knew what to do. But you showed me. There was always a way. You stopped the pain. Together, we were cold-blooded. We were happier with the bastards gone.
You were very clever. I remember when that waiter made a joke about me, and was surly. You had a plan. We went outside with a straw and a coke bottle and sucked petrol out of someone’s car. It was stunningly easy to make a Molotov. And I waited with you, outside, until we saw him getting in his car. The window was down. It was too easy. I wore you as a disguise. We worked beautifully together.
We had fun. It was all fun. It’s all I wanted to do in life, since I met you. I could have never done it alone.
Actually, it’s your fault we’re in here, y’know.