In the days running up to our stay, and on the day itself, I received a series of jokes and “warnings” from my Uncle – all accompanied by ghost emojis. They were entertaining enough, and I forwarded them on to Jen – hoping to wind her up. I was impervious to them, and far from being spooked myself, took them as a bit of banter.
The house didn’t disappoint. It’s over 500 years old, with walls several feet thick, and oozes history and mystery from its pores. We were shown to our room, which used to be my grandparents, and where we would stay for two nights. Above the bed was a truck, or crook frame – which was reportedly from a Spanish galleon, and that was several hundred years old. You’re not going to take a large piece of wood from a ship that’s still sailing, so what history did this hold?
We went out for dinner, and I had two pints of beer and a steak. Not much to drink, and nothing spicy.
We turned in for the night. I tongue-in-cheek wished Jen “good luck”, and without a second thought closed my eyes and went to sleep.
At some point later, and with the room in total darkness, I woke – having been roused by a dog barking. I was immediately aware of something in the room with me. Straining into the darkness to see, I could see nothing. I could feel a presence, and I could feel it approaching me – unseen. It was in front of me. Around me. Approaching me. Close to me. Enveloping me. And then through me. I lay rigid with fear – not knowing what to do.
I then became aware of what felt like unseen hands on my shoulders – my right shoulder being further forward than my left. And then I was being shaken by my shoulders.
The shaking subsided, and I lay in the pitch black – my arms by my side. I didn’t want to move. I’m not sure that I could move.
The room was airless and hot, and Jen had thrown the covers off her. I was fully under the covers, and was shivering and clammy. My heart was racing.
The sensation of an unknown and unseen presence returned. I could have called out, but I didn’t. I could have woken Jen, but I didn’t. I could have turned a light on, but I didn’t.
I struggle to describe the emotional feelings I was experiencing. Fear. Powerlessness. Panic. Almost a sense of grief. The last point echoes how I have felt in the past when starting to take Sertraline – a sense of crushing and unimaginable grief, hollowness, and hopelessness.
I might originally have been in a sleep state – in effect possibly having a nightmare. By now, I am as certain as I can be that I was now fully awake – my eyes wide open, and hating every moment. Nothing in my life comes close to how I felt at this point – nor how much I wanted it to end.
Then there was a noise in the room to my left. I nearly screamed. I looked at my watch, noting the time (01:15). The sense of something being present in the room continued, and I hoped with all of my life that this was as bad as it would get – and that I wouldn’t see anything, or be subject to harm.
After an unknown amount of time, I managed to get to sleep. I have no idea whether it was 60 seconds or 10 minutes later.
The next day
When we woke, Jen asked me how the night had been. I started to tell her, and it was clear that she thought I was winding her up. In time I managed to persuade her that No, I wasn’t winding her up, and that I’d experienced something truly terrifying the night before. Something that I never, ever wanted to experience again.
Through the day, including when we were sitting by the beach at Lyme Regis, I could “feel” the experience and terror return to me. I could feel it.
Talking to the owners of the property later, it transpired that they’d let their dogs out into the garden at about 1am, and the dogs had barked. They’d then come to bed, and the staircase was immediately behind our room. This would explain two aspects of what I experienced, but not the sensations and experience.
Looking to better understand what had happened, I looked at my Apple Health. I rarely wear my Apple Watch while asleep, but on this occasion I had. I checked my heart rate for the time before, during, and after the episode. There was nothing – not a flicker of change.