's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Anesthesia, or Dreams of Cheese and Monsters "

Submitted by Slothkeeper

Your mind slips slimily back into the waking world. The reason for the sudden consciousness, it sleepily occurs to you, is the unnerving sensation that someone has moved themselves very close, if not on top of, your resting body. You open your crusted eyelids and see only still, midnight-black darkness. Dismissing the disturbance of your REM cycle as a misfired neuron, you close your eyes and roll over so you can rest on your much comfier left side. Only you don’t roll. Your arms and legs refuse to respond even a little, and you stay completely and utterly inert in your bed. The only parts you can move are your eyelids and your ears a little. You’ve always been able to do that last part, wiggling your ears to impress your friends while you were little, though it doesn’t look like it’ll help you now, trapped in your bed. Even your mouth gapes open stupidly, like a marionette’s woodblock jaw.

Sleep Paralysis. You’ve heard of it before. Classmates would share stories about the time they smoked just a little too much before climbing into bed, then woke up in the middle of the night rooted to the spot but fully conscious. And now you were experiencing its weird effects. Except you were sure you hadn’t taken any drugs and even those mushrooms you’d cooked into a risotto were squeaky clean, store bought, and FDA approved. But wasn’t cheese supposed to give you funky dreams? Maybe you’d cooked in some ripe Parmesan and this is all just a dairy-fueled nightmare?

A sudden spasm of pain wrenches you out of speculation. It feels like an electric wire embedded in the muscle of your left arm was just connected to a socket. A tingly feeling is all that’s left when the pain subsides, and with a start you realize the arm is functioning again. Seizing the opportune lapse in full paralysis, you reach up and back to turn on a bedside lamp. “Let’s shed some light on the situat- jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, what is that!” Stark, halogen illumination reveals the source of the aforementioned oppressing presence. Atop your bed, or rather atop your body, crouches a spider. Except it’s not a spider. It’s something else entirely. Something indescribable. But your racing mind doesn’t care and tries to describe it anyway.

Four eyes of various sizes and colors are embedded asymmetrically in the Thing’s “head”. Each eye sags down and out a bit, and they all have dark purple bags, almost as if the Thing’s face was trying to replicate Steve Buscemi’s. But the eyes are the only things vaguely human about it. Below, a thick, translucent proboscis snakes out of a hole where the Thing’s mouth would be. The tube twists and turns, flaring at the distal end into a shape that resembles an anesthetist’s mask, so much so that waves of horrible realization break against your fear frozen mind. You try to scream, yet only manage to open your mouth wider and croak a little. If you weren’t so scared you would have noticed the paralysis wearing off. Unfortunately, the Thing notices all too well, as tube and mask writhe down to engulf your face. A cool, sweet taste, not unlike bubblegum, is blasted down your throat and up your nose, freezing nerve endings and petrifying muscles as is slides through your veins. Satisfied there will be no further interruptions, the Thing retracts its prehensile proboscis and unfolds three long, segmented arms from its torso. Each appendage is tipped with a blade that glints razor sharp in the light from the bedside lamp. Had you not been completely nerve-dead, the sweat running in slick rivulets down your face and neck would feel ice cold and clammy.

It makes the first incision across your stomach and red spills down across white sheets and whiter skin. Two of the Buscemeyes look up and into yours, as if balefully suggesting you go back to sleep. But a black spark flickers across them a second before refocusing on the gory procedure.

It always wanted an audience.