Skip to main content

Something in the Darkness: Is It a Sleep Paralysis Demon or Waking Nightmare?

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Sleep paralysis

Sleep paralysis

The Night Visitor

In 2004, nineteen-year-old Lisa Martin* was the victim of a nocturnal attack that is shrouded in mystery to this day. The terrifying encounter would probably have been written off as an exceedingly realistic nightmare had it not been for the fact that it was an ordeal she did not suffer alone.

It all started when Lisa, her parents, and two brothers (Brian, age twelve, and Isaac, who had just turned fifteen) were invited to attend a family wedding held in a neighboring state. Rather than paying for a hotel room, they opted to save the money and sleep over at a relative's house.

The boys bunked with a male cousin while Lisa was relegated to the living room, where she would spend two nights on the couch. Though not ideal, it was better than nothing.

On the first evening of their stay, Lisa waited patiently for those who had congregated in her makeshift sleeping quarters to retreat to their own rooms so that she could turn in for the night.

When she finally had the space to herself, she settled in and was sound asleep before she knew it. Not long after dozing off, she was awakened by the sensation of something resting heavily on her midsection.

Since the house was overflowing with out-of-towners and their children, her initial thought was that someone was playing a prank on her. It was only when she attempted to shift the figure that she made the horrifying discovery that there was no one there, at least not that she could see.

As she lay in the darkness trying to process what was happening, the weight further compressed her airway, making it more and more difficult to breathe. Cognizant of the fact that she was being slowly suffocated, Lisa tried to sit upright. It was at that moment that she realized that not only was she wide awake but also that she was powerless in the face of whatever was holding her down.

It was quickly apparent that the more she struggled, the less air she was able to take in. She found herself losing control of her body with each second that passed. No longer able to move her arms, which lay useless at her sides, she tried to kick at the unseen presence, but her legs failed her as well.

Although Lisa couldn't move her limbs or utter a sound, she found that she was able to turn her head from side to side. As she scanned the room for anything that might lead to her salvation, she noticed that the time on the DVD player read 2:30 on the dot. She recalls staring at the numbers, which never changed, as her consciousness ebbed away.

As her awareness began to fade, Lisa says that the oppressive weight suddenly lifted, allowing her to take in a lungful of precious air. Having been freed by the phantom presence, she was once again breathing normally. She had also regained the use of her extremities.

After going into the kitchen and helping herself to a soda, she returned to the living room and collapsed onto an armchair. Since falling asleep was out of the question, she spent the remainder of the night watching television while everyone else in the house rested peacefully—that is, as far as she knew.

Lisa was slowly losing consciousness before the weight lifted, allowing her to breathe. Was this sleep paralysis?

Lisa was slowly losing consciousness before the weight lifted, allowing her to breathe. Was this sleep paralysis?

Terror Times Two

The following morning, as members of both her immediate and extended family began filing into the dining room for a buffet-style breakfast, Lisa blurted out everything she could remember about her harrowing experience. Not one to suffer in silence, she wanted everyone to know that she had nearly died at the hands of an unknown predator that had waged its attack under cover of darkness.

After hearing her out, those who were less than sympathetic to her plight remained silent, while a few of the others snickered at her version of events. One person, however, seemed to be transfixed by her words: her brother Isaac. Although he didn't speak up at the time, she later recalled that he looked as if he had seen a ghost.

Nowhere near as bold as his older sister, the boy waited until they were alone to share his own story. Pulling Lisa aside, he whispered that he had experienced almost exactly the same thing, only unlike her, he had seen his tormentor in the flesh.

He claimed that at some point during the previous night, he was jolted from sleep by a shadowy form that had crawled into his bed. After straddling his chest, it had pressed down so firmly that he was forced to gasp for air.

Isaac described the figure as having had long hair that brushed against his face as it pinned him to the mattress. Although he was a high school wrestler who could normally handle himself in any situation, he had been as weak as a kitten in the presence of the formidable entity. Unable to move a muscle or make a sound, he found himself completely at its mercy.

He knew that he was in trouble when he found that with each exhalation, the air being expelled was becoming harder to replace. Before long, he was lightheaded as stars began to dot his vision. He was losing consciousness fast, and he knew it. While he remained silent, though not by choice, the thing that sat astride him was emitting hissing noises that didn't sound like anything he had ever heard before.

As the bizarre scene continued to unfold, Isaac couldn't understand why his brother and cousin had not stirred. While he waited anxiously for them to come to his rescue, they slept away as if nothing was happening.

As the petrified teen lay incapacitated on the bed, incredulous that this was how his life was going to end, the entity inexplicably rose up from its position on his chest and ascended toward the ceiling. In the next instant, it was gone.

Released from his captor, at last, he began to cough and choke as his lungs filled with air. Only then did his cousin open his eyes, shooting Isaac an annoyed look before rolling over and resuming his slumbers.

As he lay in the dimly lit room trying to make sense of what had just occurred, he glanced at the clock and saw that it was half past two in the morning. Closing his eyes, he eventually drifted off to sleep.

The siblings faced a common enemy.

The siblings faced a common enemy.

The Quest for Answers

After hearing her brother's account, Lisa knew without a doubt that they had faced a common enemy. Although the siblings were aware that others would be skeptical of their claims, having lived through the frightening events, they were convinced that their experiences had been all-too-real.

In an effort to get to the bottom of their eerily similar nightmares, the pair immediately set to work scouring various online forums for answers. Even though they searched high and low, they weren't impressed by the explanations put forth by laypersons, or those offered by experts in the field of sleep disorders.

Although the incidents had the markings of extreme sleep paralysis, both Lisa and Isaac are adamant that they were awake during the assaults. According to them, the being that threatened their very lives was not a figment of their imaginations.

They argue that, if the entity was simply a product of their minds, how did they manage to conjure it simultaneously? As far as they're concerned, it is too much of a coincidence to entertain.

When all is said and done, they have a point. Other than the fact that Isaac saw his assailant and his sister did not, their ordeals were nearly identical. Ultimately, they concluded that their aunt's house was playing host to a hidden evil, since the location in which they were sleeping was the only thing that had set that night apart from any other. They theorized that their having been the only teenagers in the dwelling at the time had caused them to be targeted.

It should be noted that neither of them has ever had any significant sleep disturbances prior to or since that night. If they had indeed suffered from some sort of mental breakdown that carried over into their dream states, it only manifested once and never again.

In the end, whatever it was, be it a shared nightmare, sleep paralysis demon, or malevolent spirit that remains bound to this earth, the thing that made its presence known that night in the most terrifying of ways forged a bond between the siblings that has only grown stronger over time. Nearly two decades later, the source of their night of terror remains an enduring mystery.

*Names have been altered to protect the privacy of those involved.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.