I woke up suddenly with a sharp gasp, like a heroine in a 1960’s Hammer Film. I wasn’t scared, but the adrenalin flooding my system told me I was on high alert. Remaining still, I listened for suspicious sounds until I was satisfied that no one was inside the house…and then I noticed the circle of mist on my ceiling.
It was a perfect ring, about a foot and a half in diameter, glowing like a neon halo, the jarring lime green of radiator fluid. It revolved so slowly in a lazy counter clockwise orbit that I wasn’t even sure it was actually moving.
Fully conscious and completely sober, I’m also ridiculously blind. My eyes didn’t stray from the mist as I groped for my glasses on the bedside table, certain that what I was seeing was an optical illusion caused by the dark and my bad eye sight. As I slid my specs on, the radium-like glow became crisp and intensified. It occurred to me that the misty circle was probably emanating from the little operation light on my smoke detector, mounted above the headboard on the wall behind me. I twisted around to check; the light was on all right, but it was red, not pale green.
Convinced I was experiencing a lucid dream, I clambered out of bed in order to wake myself fully. I entered the bathroom,flicking on the light switch. I peed, wiped, flushed the toilet, washed my hands, dried them, and applied lotion. Satisfied that I had performed enough mundane actions to prove that I was truly awake, I turned off the bathroom light,padding the down the hall to my bedroom.
I tossed my glasses carelessly onto the bedside table, crawling back into bed without looking at the ceiling. Deliberated keeping my eyes closed, I pulled the comforter up all cozy around my chin.
Then the internal debate started.
I felt like a cartoon character with a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other as a two-way conversation began inside my head.
So, are you really going to go to sleep without checking to see if that thing is still on the ceiling?
Yeah… it’ll be ok.
The First Voice paused for a moment, trying to comprehend the stupidity of the Second Voice’s answer, before snapping,
Are you fucking high?
With that, my eyes fluttered open tentatively, and I realized two things simultaneously: that the mist indeed was still there- and it’s very presence was a confirmation that I hasn’t in fact, been dreaming. I also understood with more than a passing feeling of discomfort, that in order to have gotten into bed completely willing to not check on the mist, that it somehow must’ve been hypnotizing me into a compliance. Whatever this was, it was real…and it was now brighter, solidifying and definitely moving faster. As I watched the revolutions become more rapid, I tried to think practically and stuff down the dread that was rising up in my chest.
The First Voice suggested,
You should say The Lord’s Prayer
To which the Second Voice replied with disdain,
Someone’s seen wa-a-a-a-ay too many horror movies!
Ignoring the Second Voice, I telepathically communicated to the first Voice, “ Should I actually say it or is it ok to just think it?
There’s no one here, the First Voice answered, either way is fine.
Dutifully, I recited out loud,
The Second Voice cut me off immediately:
You idiot-that’s not The Lord’s Prayer! Who doesn’t know the fucking Lord’s Prayer?
That’s for a funeral or a wedding or something…Get it together!
Seriously, what kind of a lame-ass was I? I hadn’t really been raised with religion but-pun intended- God knows how many times I’d seen The Exorcist, and I certainly listened to Siouxsie And The Banshee’s 1979 punk song version of I The Lord’s Prayer enough to have the entire thing memorized. I wracked my brains, groping for the correct words before I began tentatively,
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name….”
The vapor pulsed on the ceiling, blinking rhythmically while it spun, as though it was transmitting a code. True panic started rising in my chest as furtively wondered if I should ask it to leave.
Then, before then First or Second voice even had a chance to chime in, my real voice took on a forceful tone that wasn’t my own as I abruptly commanded loudly:
“IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, YOU NEED TO LEAVE NOW!”
The words were barely out of my mouth when intense pitch black dot appeared in the center of the circle of mist, accompanied by a quick pressure drop in my ear canals, as though I was in a plane that was losing altitude quickly. Suddenly, like stop motion animation, the black dot widened with a roaring sound , and as it did, and the green mist grew with it, swirling precariously. The mist circle suddenly split in two, both halves leaving the ceiling shooting down towards the bed. Just as rapidly, they rocketed upwards, roaring through the hole, disappearing. The hole then sealed itself shut with a loud crack.
I bolted upright, my hair on end, my entire body covered in goose bumps. I slapped on the bedroom light as I leapt out of bed and crashed through the hall, knocking a couple framed photos off the wall. I turned out the bathroom light, the lamp and overhead in the in the living room, and both kitchen lights. Pacing like a lunatic, I switched on the television, the radio, and my computer. The clock said 3:33… The Witching Hour, I noted only semi-ironically, as I began to cry. It was too early to call anyone, and even if I did, what the hell was I going to say?
I wasn’t sure what had just happened to me, but I didn’t feel comfortable with it…at all. I stayed up listening to talk radio and an early morning local news program, chain smoking and doing busy work that I never normally would do, like reorganizing CDs and dusting. I went out and got sage that morning and smudged the entire place.
A month or so later, a neighbor who lived in the front half of my house asked if I thought it was haunted. He said that the night before, he’d heard footsteps on the roof. I asked him if he was sure it wasn’t raccoons, and he said he was.
Sizing him up for a moment, I decided he looked like handle my story without getting too freaked out, so I told him everything. There was a pretty long pause before he asked,
“Why didn’t you call me?”
“Oh, suuure,” I said, trying not to roll my eyes,
“Like I was really gonna call you in the middle of the night to tell you that a portal opened up on my ceiling?”
“I guess not,” he said sincerely, “But if it happens again, please call me!”
A week after we had that conversation, it did happen again… but this time I was prepared. The mist manifested sharp, dense and considerably larger this time. It had barbs and points sticking out of it like a really badly done late 1980’s Tribal tattoo. I had been on the verge of sleep when it appeared, so it was a lot less disorienting than being awakened for REM sleep. Narrowing my eyes as I stared directly at it, I addressed it with the psychotic bravado of Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickel in “Taxi Driver” -You talkin’ to me? This time I bypassed the First Voice, The Second Voice and The Lord’s Prayer, growling like a battle cry:
“IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST YOU HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW!”
… and it did.
The portal sealed back up and the pressure normalized in my ears. Before I rolled over and went to sleep, I saw that the clock said 3:33.
The next day, my neighbor didn’t mention hearing me yelling, and the mist never came back.
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