Everyone loves the first day of school, right? New year, new classes, new friends. It’s a day full of potential and hope, before all the dreary depressions of reality show up to ruin all the fun.
I like the first day of school for a different reason, though. You see, I have a sort of power.
When I look at people, I can…sense a sort of aura around them. A colored outline based on how long that person has to live.
Most everyone I meet around my age is surrounded by a solid green hue, which means they have plenty of time left. A fair amount of them have a yellow-orangish tinge to their auras, which tends to mean a car crash or some other tragedy.
Anything that takes people “before their time” as they say.
The real fun is when the auras venture into the red end of the spectrum, though. Every now and again I’ll see someone who’s basically a walking stoplight.
Those are the ones who get murdered or kill themselves. It’s such a rush to see them and know their time is numbered.
With that in mind, I always get to class very early so I can scout out my classmates’ fates. The first kid who walked in was basically radiating red.
I chuckled to myself. Too damn bad, bro. But as people kept walking in, they all had the same intense glow. I finally caught a glimpse of my rose-tinted reflection in the window, but I was too stunned to move.
Our professor stepped in and locked the door, his aura a sickening shade of green.
As some of you might know, I used to work in a waist recycling plant. I say used to. It’s hard to believe but I loved my job, standing in front of a conveyor belt, picking recyclable materials out of household rubbish and putting them into separate skips.
That was until the night I was working in the pre sort area of the plant. My job was to pull all of the large pieces of waist off the belt, so that the pickers further down the line could fine pick the smaller stuff.
I was on night shift that night and luckily my friend, let’s call him Darren, was working on the same belt as me.
It was a normal, nothing special night. I can remember, we were getting our arses kicked by huge amounts of cardboard coming down the line.
At about three in the morning, everything changed.
I had just pulled a huge bail of cardboard off the belt, and turned to see Darren reach out to grab a large old looking bag.
Pulling it off the belt, he opened the bag, and turned it upside down to empty it.
I have no idea what happened next, it was all so fast.
I remember, Darren was complaining that something was stuck inside of the bag and after shaking the bag furiously, he put his hand in to try and pull what ever it was out.
I should tell you that Darren is, or was a big guy, not one to complain about a cut or anything like that.
So when he started screaming and shaking his hand and the bag, I knew something was wrong.
I pulled the emergency stop cord and literally jumped over the belt to help, slipping on something as I went over.
By the time I got over the belt Darren was shaking his arm furiously, shouting that something was biting his hand.
At first I thought there was a rat in the bag, being a waist recycling plant, seeing the occasional rat or having a one run down the conveyor belt is not unusual.
Grabbing the bag with both hands i pulled with all my strength and, falling backwards, I maganged to get Darren’s hand free.
At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
A doll had latched it’s self onto his hand, just..
One of those dolls with a porcelain style head..
It was a kids toy, but now it had a tight grip in his arm and was bitting down on the back of his hand, shaking it’s head and ripping off chunks of flesh.
I couldn’t move, shocked at what I was seeing.
Stan the shift manager, ran up the iron stairs that led to the belt. Shouting, asking why the belt had stopped, giving his usual “time is money” speech.
The Dolls head snapped round in Stan’s direction, I swear it’s blood covered face smiled as it leaped from Darren’s arm.
Landing on the floor, it made a bee line for the shift manager, jumping onto the scaffold that surrounded the belt, it jumped again, arms outstretched, mouth open.
I picked up a shovel and swung it in the direction of the doll, but missed.
By the time I had regained my balance and had the shovel ready for my next swing, it was too late.
Stan, was on the floor, with the doll on his face, one hand in his mouth the other, holding into his nose as it tore the flesh from his cheek.
I stepped forward, not really knowing what to do to get the doll off Stans face, when Darren pushed past me, he kicked out,
The doll let out a sickening scream as his kick caught it in the head, sending it flying down the iron stairs.
I have no idea, I don’t know where the doll landed.
The plant was shut down for a few days, while the police and Health and Safety investigated, statements were taken, security cameras were checked and rechecked.
After the investigation had finished and the decision was made to keep the incident quiet, the plant was reopened and deep cleaned in an attempt to find the doll, but it was nowhere to be seen.
I have no idea what happened to Stan after that night. I handed in my notice a few days later.
Darren works as a delivery driver for some parcel firm now and me?
I cleared out and destroyed every doll in my daughter’s bedroom, and the house. I am truly sorry for that Autumn, honest I am.
Oh yes, I work from home now.
As for the doll.. it was never found, maybe it’s still out there.
My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky for having a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with, they try to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine, considering his confine to a dark room in an institution.
I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times, each shorter in duration than the last. Every time without fail, it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest, my dad’s razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom’s vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using “last chances” sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him.
I hate it when Charlie has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.
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 bare it any more.