Air conditioning. Expensive. But oh-so-nice after finally getting the bedroom A/C installed and turned on last night, as well as supercleaning the living room A/C. The house is actually reasonably liveable on the main floor at least, and in bed I wasn't sweating.
But I didn't sleep. Or rather, I almost slept. Suspended in that half-dream state where you are not quite awake, but aware of everything going on around you, and everything takes on a surreal quality.
It's the kind of night when they visit.
I remember the first time I saw one of them. I was younger, maybe 12 years old, and in that same kind of half-awake/half-dream state where I couldn't move. It looked like a light hovering around the foot of my bed, but it wasn't bright-- like a point of moonlight. It would have been a strange bluish-green tint if it would have had color.
As it hovered, I could sense that it was alive somehow, and got the impression of great age; as old as civilization, maybe older. I could feel it thinking, but couldn't understand. What I felt was a sense of darkness. Not malevolent, not evil, but dark and powerful. It was watching me, and I was afraid.
I told my parents about it the next morning. They laughed it off as the stuff of nightmares, but I know the difference between a nightmare and what is real.
And this was real.
Maybe not the concrete reality of buildings and rocks and trees, maybe it's the reality of the night where the layers between worlds becomes thinner, more tenuous, and tendrils cross over some unseen boundary.
I didn't ever tell them about the visits again for fear of ridicule, or worse, punishment. I lived through the terror of not being able to move, while the light hovered and moved around me, all the time thinking at me in some arcane language I was unable to comprehend, full of symbols and shapes and textures and smells so unbearably alien, yet familiar somehow.
I don't remember when they stopped. Probably when I was in my late teens, and I started becoming infatuated with girls. They took up a lot of my conscious thought, and a lot of my dreamtime. And as I got older and adulthood took its toll, I managed to push myself hard enough that when it came time for sleep, I would veer into unconsciousness as soon as possible to keep from being watched, or at least to be oblivious to it.
It didn't always work. Sometimes they came, two or three at a time, and had conversations amongst themselves, like I was being studied, or graded, or discussed. I got the feeling there was some tension between them, even though there was a cooperation. And always the lockdown feeling that I couldn't move, couldn't speak. And always, the fear.
It's been years since they last came. I had thought that they were done, that I had somehow become an experiment gone wrong, discarded, interest lost.
But last night he showed up. The first, recognizeable as a handprint. Solid, and clear with a simple message:
it is time
And now I wait.