She bought the mattress on Sunday.
She spent the entire day deciding on whether to buy the blue one with the white welting cord. It was as stiff as a board but recommended for her back by her doctor. It was the whole reason she needed to replace the mattress she already had. She studied it, compared prices and opted to get the other one – a white tufted one peppered with lilac flowers. It was also kind of stiff but mostly plush and it brought a smile to her face. Shouldn’t she get the thing that made her happy? Wasn’t it her money? Her back?
She bought it for close to twice the amount needed for the drab blue one. She didn’t care though. This was her mattress.
The night terrors began on Tuesday.
The first two nights were uneasy. Breaking in the mattress was proving to be a tall order. She tossed and turned and tossed and turned. Basically, she had had four solid hours of sleep combined. Not to mention her back hurt more than it had before. She considered returning it to the store but thought otherwise. She had already ripped off the protective covering and she doubted that it would be taken back.
Tuesday night was different though. All the fatigue she felt slammed into her all at once and she blacked out on the bed at 7:36 pm if her bedside clock was to be believed. She slept for six hours – blissfully at rest before she felt the hands on her throat.
Cold hands. Like they had been immersed in ice. Her airway closed. She couldn’t breathe. The clock by her table screamed to her in luminous green numbers 3:47 am. She kept hearing in her head, “Time of death, 3:47.” It looped around in her mind as she gasped for air. Her hands grabbed at her neck trying to dislodge the ice-cold digits. She couldn’t do it but suddenly she discovered she could breathe again. She filled her lungs with desperate gasps as she felt the wall for the light switch. Flicking it on, she saw nothing out of the ordinary. The room was as she organized it. Nothing was out of place. The door and windows were still shut. She hesitated to look under her bed but mustered up enough courage to do so anyway.
Still, she couldn’t go back to sleep.
Wednesday night, she was afraid to go to sleep but eventually, she did. She slept through the night but in her sleep, she yelled and cried as she saw dead hands reach for her. They stopped just short of her face and disappeared. In the waking world, she had kicked away her covers and soaked her sheets in sweat. She opened her eyes just as the clock turned five.
On Thursday, she got sleeping pills.
Taking two of the pills, she set her alarm for seven in the morning and drifted off to sleep. This time the hands did not come but she felt a presence. In the corner of her room there stood a figure in black. The malevolence could be felt even in her dream. The figure looked at her resting body and smiled. It licked its lips with a tongue so red and vile. She stirred and opened her eyes for just a second but in that second, she saw it. Its fangs were barred at her and her heart was filled with dread. It reached out its hand and she felt the coldness cover her foot. She jolted awake and hit the lights. The figure was gone.
On Friday, she took four sleeping pills. They didn’t work. She was too terrified to close her eyes so she took more. The lights were on in her room. The pictures on the walls taunted her. The mountain landscape that seemed so peaceful now looked like a blunt instrument of murder. The snow caps reminded her of the cold hands on her neck. The cold touch on her foot. She took more pills. The picture of the cat saying, “Hang in there” was menacing. Hang in there? What? How? She took more pills.
As the chemicals flooded her bloodstream and her eyes became heavy, the clock struck 3:46 am. She stared at the blinking device as the room suddenly became frigid. The clock clouded over as the minute passed. The dark figure slowly materialized and her eyes went wide but that’s all she could do. The pills had rendered her muscles unusable.
The figure approached and slowly placed its hands, its cold dead hands, on her neck and squeezed. She did not make a sound as her life drained from her body and was absorbed into its. She let out one final breath. The figure smiled its ugly smile and disappeared.
Time of death, 3:47 am.
If only she had bought the blue mattress. It was better for her back…