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It has been six weeks since my first sighting of the wicked old hag. I woke up in the middle of the night and went to roll over, but my entire body was paralysed. I lay there, scared and helpless, contemplating my predicament when I became aware of a presence in the room with me…a presence that I can only describe as pure evil.
I caught sight of a withered old woman at the foot of the bed. Her tall hunched frame was draped in a long dirty gown and wisps of filthy white hair hung from a balding scalp. I channelled all my energy into a desperate attempt to move, but my efforts were in vain. It felt as though I was being pinned to the bed by an invisible force. I tried scream out for help, but my words came out as jumbled whimpers. I could feel her claw-like hands on my legs and my arms as she crawled her way up my rigid body. A crooked smile revealed rotten teeth and her bloodshot eyes were callous and calculating as she stared directly at me.
Suddenly, I bolted upright in bed. I could move again and the room around me was empty. It was just a bad dream, I concluded. I took a few minutes to catch my breath and settled back to sleep.
A couple of weeks later I met an old friend for a drink and a point in our conversation reminded me of my dream.
“I had a scary case of sleep paralysis a couple of weeks ago,” I told him.
“Really? Did you see the old hag?” my friend replied.
An icy chill ran over my body. I hadn’t told anyone about the dream and there was no way he could’ve known what I’d seen. “How the hell did you know that?” I asked with disbelief, my voice quivering.
“I read about it some time ago,” he explained, startled by my reaction. “…A phenomenon known as Old Hag Syndrome where sufferers of sleep paralysis are visited by an entity, often in the form of an old hag.”
“You’re bullshitting me!” I said, incredulously.
He convinced me to look it up, and so when I returned home I typed the keywords OLD HAG and SLEEP PARALYSIS into Google. It returned pages full of results, some of which told of ancient folklore spanning different cultures; others told of personal experiences like my own. To some the entity took the form of an old lady or a witch, to others she looked more like a demon, but they all described the presence of overwhelming evil. Most chilling of all were the accounts in which the hag tortured and molested her victims as they lay paralysed and helpless.
I turned off the computer and tried to put it out of my mind. An eerie mood lingered in the room and I had a bad feeling that unless I could get her out of my mind, she was sure to pay me another visit.
That night I was woken by a piercing cackle and I lay paralysed as that tall and stooped figure emerged at the foot of my bed. She crawled under the covers and up my body before sitting on my chest and peering down at me. She ran her slimy tongue over her chapped lips and made slurping sounds. What transpired after that I cannot bring myself to talk about.
I’ve spent subsequent days browsing forums for answers…for a way out. I am neither religious nor superstitious and I don’t believe anything considered “supernatural”, but scientific resources offer no rational explanation for what I’ve been experiencing – just speculation and scepticism. In some cultures it is believed to be a demonic curse and the entity is brought to life through the power of suggestion. Most victims recall some kind of trigger that worked its way into their subconscious, such as a painting or a friend sharing their personal experience.
I’ve been telling myself, “Don’t think of the old hag!” But as we all know, the harder you try not to think of something the more that thought persists. The visions grow more vivid and traumatising the more I think of her. Some nights she violates me in unspeakable ways and I wake with bruises, scratches and bite marks over my body. Other nights I hear her ragged breathing in my ear and find her lying next to me, grinning and gurgling.
But I think I’ve learned a way to be rid of these visions once and for all. I must plant the thought into the mind of someone else and distract the old hag with a fresh victim. As selfish and cruel as I am to pass this curse on to someone else, I just can’t bear it any more.
Dear Reader, whoever you are, please forgive me!
Credit: Daniel Hammonds