Read the full story here: Group Novel 2017-2018
I didn’t know what had happened at first; it seemed my body has taken on a mind of its own- limbs moving without my permission, words being spoken from my mouth that I had not first formed in my mind. But as I watched, a silent spectator within my own body, I began to understand that my body has betrayed me, that it has chosen to align with this invader.
When I a child, there were countless trips to doctors, sleep therapists, and such, all attempting to help me overcome the bouts of sleep paralysis that I had begun to experience. The what’s and the why’s I didn’t care about. All I wanted to know was how to stop it: how to stop the night time schism between mind and body, when my eyes would open, but not even my little toe would bend to my will. Now, I knew I wasn’t sleeping, and neither was my body, but the same crushing fear I had experienced then, I could feel running up my spine.
While I could not choose what to look at, I could still see what was unfolding in front of me: my love, with that concerned look on her face, the creases in her forehead when she’s afraid. Everything that was happening I had to discern from the expressions that shifted across her face; though I could see, all the sounds around me were muffled, as if I was listening to them underwater. I tried to figure out what my body was saying, feeling my mouth and tongue and teeth move together. I could tell at one point my body smiled- watching her I could see the jovial feeling was not shared.
If I had any control over my body, I know that my heart would be beating faster and faster, fear-induced adrenaline coursing through my veins, my breath would be short and quick. But I could not even control my own heart.
I had to let her know I was still here, that somewhere imprisoned within my body, my soul, my spirit, my consciousness at the very least was still alive. The words, the screams, I could form in my head, but trying to make my mouth move in unison with those thoughts was a challenge. I tried to recall how each letter, each sound, felt in mouth: where my teeth fell, where my tongue began and rested, the shapes my mouth would make. But these were just thoughts, muscle memories. My mouth now only responding to the invader.
I tried screaming, my voice inside my mind increasing in volume to the point where you wonder ‘did people hear that?’ Harder and harder I bent my mind, its sole purpose to speak, not think. I could see Alice move towards me, then a burst of light pushing us back. In that split second when my body was disabled, so was my ignoble bodily guest; for that split second, I could glean her thoughts, those primed for speaking and those kept within. More. Sacrifice. For me.
Now was the chance, Alice leaning over me. I spoke, I managed to break though the chains of possession, my mouth moved according to my will but I could only manage two words: ‘Alice…run.’ Then it hurt, the invader snatched back the reins, but not without reprimand. My mind was not twisted or bent out of shape, but images were shown to me, quite deliberately. Images of faces I half recognised, the echoes of torture distorting them. And there was blood.
There were more muffled sounds, my mind too shaken to attempt to decipher Alice’s body language. If the invader could purposely show my images, could I know her thoughts as I did before? I tried to quiet my mind and search, quite literally within myself, for the mind my body was now obeying. Clearly that previous split second was a moment of weakness, for as I searched, all I could hear was myself. My invader was too strong, too clever to let their prisoner know more than they should.
All I could do now was watch, wait for a chance to speak again. I hoped that moment would come soon, for I saw Alice nod in her head, agreeing with something or promising to do something the invader desired. Sacrifice. More. Alice would try and wrestle me free, I knew, but I had to work on escaping myself, a mental inside job: for Alice could not know what was awaiting her.