These voices, obviously discussing me, belonged to two males and one female, though her tone was raspy and deep for a girl, I remember thinking. After the first male voice had spoken the last sentence, there was silence. I shook my head and told myself I was hearing things. Or maybe I was still asleep. I pinched a bit of my arm flesh between my fingers to wake myself up, to no avail. You may be wondering if I ran to the room of my parents for help or to alert them of what I had heard – but I did not. I had learned never to disturb them in the night, and so I tried to talk myself into a calm state of mind despite my rapid heart rate and sinking stomach.
I eventually found peaceful rest, and did not give a second thought to my nighttime terror as the next day dawned and passed without incident. That night and many nights after were free from the voices. I eventually dismissed the notion that anything had even happened; convincing myself it had been a nightmare, a bad dream.
Several weeks later, I believe, it happened again. Same set-up, so I won’t walk you through all of the mundane details. But this time the voices were making plans. You may question how I can remember this, and although I will admit I don’t remember the exact specifics, I knew that plans were being made to harm me. After this second occurrence of hearing the voices they came more often, having started to formulate their plans more concretely at that point. The plans seemed to change in nature, and I heard things ranging from burning me repeatedly, to kidnapping me, to torturing me for information about some unknown secret. It seemed to me that they did not care what the plan was, only that I was harmed. At this point it seems logical to you as readers that I should have disclosed my nighttime experiences to my parents, but I think I was still trying to convince myself that I was in the wrong – I was imagining these voices, and no one would believe me if I did not even believe myself. So I kept quiet and continued to listen to them.
I got to know them, almost as if they were friends. Thinking back I realize that I was a lonely child with few friends and a lack of love or nurturing in my home. I felt somewhat comforted by their presence after a while. The terror turned to familiarity. Sure these voices had bad ideas about me, and wanted to inflict pain on me, but they used my name. They knew where I was. They kept coming back.
One male voice, the first I had heard, was cold, decisive. He knew what needed to be done, though the plan kept changing. He always had new and more extreme ideas. He never used my name.
The second male voice seemed to have mercy. He would always mention that I needed to be asleep before they could do anything in order to make it as painless as possible. He used my name regularly.
She was malicious, graphic, and brutal. She wanted to harm me the most. She used my name occasionally, but with an edge in her voice that made me feel like my name was a dirty word.
After a while (I wish I could tell you how long, but my memories of time periods are vague and inaccurate) I started to try to stay awake for as long as I could in order to catch more of their conversations. They would repeat the plans, uttering the same phrases multiple times, almost as if they were trying to bore me into sleep, but I also somehow knew that they didn’t know I was awake. I began to think that staying awake was the only way I could prevent terrible things from happening to me. I would sit up in bed, on the edge of my mattress, legs dangling over the side, and listen to stories to keep myself awake. I would occasionally drift off to the sound of the voices, which had become almost as soothing as they were terrifying. But on nights when I could manage to stay awake until dawn, I would trudge through my day following the night of vigilant sleeplessness, proud of my ability to “beat” the voices. Even though nothing happened to me when I did fall asleep for any length of time, part of my brain told me that awake equated to safety and sleep to death.
Nights without sleep passed. The voices changed their plans. I struggled to stay awake in school. It became routine as listening to my audiobooks on cassette.
You may be wondering another thing (you may be very curious readers). Why didn’t I turn on the lights in the bathroom before bed so I could look down into the room and see whom the voices belonged to? I tried that. I would turn the light on, and one of my parents would flick it off before bedtime. I also tried sneaking downstairs and turning it on after they’d gone to bed. By the time I would reach my room and try to peer down through the rusting slats of the air vent, the light would be off again, making me wonder if I had turned it off at all. I began to feel like I was part of a twisted game that forced me to ask myself questions.
Would I fall asleep?
Why can’t I get the light to stay on?
Was I really hearing anything?
As I quizzed myself each night, lying in bed tormented by the trio of voices, the terror grew – but not because the threats to my safety increased or frightened me more. I began to question my sanity. As a young child, to become so unhinged I now realize was normal based on my belief that three people were underneath my room discussing plans to torture me. But at the time I was determined to find my fault in it. If only I could stay awake all night. If only I could see who it was. If only I wasn’t a bad girl who deserved to have these things happen to her. They seemed so sure that I needed to be hurt. I started to believe it.
I decided to sleep through the night and let them carry out their plans. I was tired. I was guilty. I just wanted the confusion to stop.
I slept all night. And all the next day. And that night as well. I slept for 36 hours. I remember my mother coming in and out of the room, tenderly pressing a hand to my forehead, presumably to check for fever. Little did she know I was the healthiest I’d been in a long time. Nothing happened. No plans were carried out. I rested my mind and body. I awoke eventually and went to school. My mother asked if I felt ill. I didn’t, and told her so. The voices did not return that night. Or the next night.
They did not return in my childhood.
When I look back on that period of my life it is easy to chalk up my experiences with the voices as normal childhood fear of monsters. I wish I could. I am so solidly a disbeliever in anything paranormal that it makes no sense to me that anything in that realm could have occurred. Did any of this happen? I have given you my most honest recollections. I leave it up to you to decide. Thank you for letting me release my inner demons.
I consider myself a sensible person.
I hope I can stay awake tonight.
I need to stay awake.
not my story