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'My Scary Story', or, 'Why I'm No Longer An Atheist'

So, here's my story. It's not all that scary, but it's not something I talk about a lot. Because honestly, it's hard to say outloud without questioning myself. It just sounds so ridiculous. I accepted a while ago, that, no, I'm not exaggerating or making things up. I know my truth, even if my truth seems impossible or no one else believes me.

(Also, no mainpaging. Please please please, for the love of all things, no mainpaging.)

Since I was little, I've seen shadows, or at least that's what I called them until recently. One of my earliest memories is seeing them in my bedroom at night, crawling over my walls and ceilings. They lived behind my headboard and came out in the dark and stole words from my mouth when I was sleeping. I tried to tell my parents but the only word I really understood for swoopy crawling night things was 'moth'. And they thought I was saying 'mops'. I was maybe 4. At that point, I decided I couldn't have any light in my bedroom when I slept anymore. My reasoning was, if I couldn't see them, they weren't there. So, before bed I'd make them hang blankets over the windows and door so no light could come in. I couldn't see the shadows anymore.

But shutting light out of my room, didn't keep them out of my dreams. I've always had really horrific dreams. I don't mean nightmares, everybody has those sometimes. These aren't nightmares. They're horrific images that happen during otherwise normal dreams. I'll be walking thru a park going to a picnic talking to a giant sloth in a top hat, and to my right a shadow will be playing with the entrails of a corpse. I'm not frightened, but the horrific image is still there in an otherwise normal dream. I guess, to a lot of people, horrific scenes of death might be nightmares. But they're so common for me they don't bother me. I am not afraid and they don't keep me awake, so I don't really consider them anything other than dreams. Since they aren't nightmares, I've never really bothered to figure why I was having these images in my dreams. I sort of just figured I had some unprocessed trauma from my youth. It wasn't until more recently that I finally connected the figures in my dreams to the shadows I'd seen when I was younger.

A few years ago I was contemplating a career change. I had a unique opportunity to go to school on a full scholarship. I was looking into mortuary school and had gotten an application from a local school. I worked in a funeral home in high school, and as depressing as some people would find it, I really enjoyed my work. I'm not afraid of dead things and I'm good at helping people while keeping them focused. My family was encouraging and agreed that it was a good fit for me. Not because I'm dark, morbid or depressive, but because despite being a painfully optimistic cheerful person, I'm still the 'dark' person of my family. My mom says I just have a dark aura, something that despite my cheerful happiness, tells her in different life I'd have been an assassin or a sniper. I've always agreed. Some people are more comfortable with death than others. And I've always been very very comfortable.

Monday night, I filled out the application for mortuary school and went to bed an atheist. By Tuesday morning, I was trashing my application and was no longer an atheist.
It was a few hours after I'd gone to sleep. I was having the best dream. It was Sandwich Holiday and all the shops were giving out free sandwiches. I was in line, waiting for mine in a shop, and they'd set up those bins that they throw cheap DVDs into. I was rummaging thru the bin looking for a DVD for my son or niece when I saw one about Tinkerbell. I opened up the case and there was a booklet inside. I started reading the booklet and everything around me grew very dark. The booklet described different types of fairies...but the pictures where moving. Some of the fairies where just smoke and shadow, others were grotesque with out of proportion limbs and heads that moved as if they were attached to their bodies by a loosely coiled spring.

Terrified, I woke up relieved it had been a dream turned nightmare. I stared for a few minutes into the blackness at my ceiling, letting my heart rate and breathing get back to normal. I was confused why something so unscary, could leave me breathless and with a lingering fear. A few minutes passed, and I fell back asleep and began dreaming again.

You know how sometimes, if you fall asleep with the tv on, what's on the television can infect your dream? And even though you're sleeping, you know there are pieces of your dream that aren't coming from you, but from the tv? This new dream was like that. I could tell this dream wasn't from me. In my dream, I was asleep in my bed. A large, salamander sort of...person was waking me up. Finally I opened my eyes enough to see him, but I couldn't speak, because I was sleeping. He said that he was a death fairy. I could feel him reaching into my mind, and fairy wasn't the right word, but it was the closest he could find in my vocabulary. He told me that I couldn't go to mortuary school. That, for whatever reason, I attracted a lot of death spirits to me and that they liked being around me. But, if I worked around death, he couldn't promise safety for me or my loved ones. Then he showed images of me working in a funeral home, with shadows made real that bit and cut and followed me from room to room before following me home. He said it was my choice, but it would be a dangerous one. The entire time he was speaking, I could feel his breath on my face and I was struggling to wake up convinced that if I could just wake up enough to move I would be safe. Finally, I was able to break thru my nightmare and wake up. But I didn't feel safer.

Terrified from my most recent nightmare, I called for my cat, because she's the best nightmare remedy and rolled over to my side as I felt her jump onto the bed. I felt her walk up behind me from the foot of my bed to my pillow. Then, I felt her walk up from the foot of my bed to my back, again. As I lay, paralyzed in fear I tried to use logic to explain why I felt her move the length of the bed twice without me feeling her move in the opposite direction. I figure I must have dozed for a moment and she was just making circles getting comfortable. As I felt her finally lay down against my back, I felt her headbutting my knee. I looked down at my cat walking towards me as I felt her curled up against my back. Frozen in fear I watch her coming closer and closer to my face. As she gets to my chest, she looks behind me over my shoulder. She immediately begins to growl, her fur stands on end and she hisses. My sweet kitty, who I've never heard growl lets lose with an unearthly sound that makes every hair on my body stand on end. I am terrified to move. Completely paralyzed, I lay like that for hours, with her watching over my shoulder at something behind me I can't see. Eventually, I doze off again.

I awake, some time later. I can see from the light coming from the window, it's closer to daylight than it was before. I lay there in bed, remembering my crazy dreams and thanking the heavens that's all they were. Because they had to be, right? It has to be. I sit up in bed and try to recall everything that happened that night. I turn on the bedside lamp and just sit in my room on my bed. I don't want to go back to sleep, because clearly it's crazy nightmare night. I consider reading, but my book is in the living room and I don't want to leave the safety of my bed because I'm still spooked. So, I sat quietly. It was in that quiet, contemplative state that i heard it.

You know the sound that cheap carpet makes when you walk on it? The soft crunchy sound that even a cat's footfall makes? That's what I was hearing. My cat's footsteps on my cheap wall to wall carpet. The problem? My cat was curled up at the foot of my bed. I could just barely make out the almost silent footsteps. I was straining to hear them, too afraid to move or speak. What happened next, was so fast, it's difficult to describe. As I sit at the head of my bed, I'm looking at my cat at the foot of the bed when I feel something jump up onto the bed near her. I watch as she wakes up and looks in the direction I felt something land. As she's waking up, something pushes her towards the edge of the bed. I see her eyes grow big and her fur stand on end, her claws are ripping at the sheet as she tries not to be pushed off the bed totally. She gives an unearthly howl as she finally loses the battle to whatever unknown entity and falls off the bed. And now I'm alone and awake, with something I can't see at the foot of my bed.

I sat there motionless for another 2 hours until my alarm goes off for morning. It's been light outside for a while, but I didn't work up the courage until the sound of my alarm broke the silence. I threw away my application to mortuary school before going to work that day. It took my cat several days before she calmed down and started acting normal. As an atheist, I either had to accept I had some sort of mutual mental breakdown with my cat, or I had to accept maybe there was something else.The problem with accepting that one thing is real? Logic will dictate that if one thing can be real, all things have the possibility of being real.

I told my friend Artemis about what happened that night. She is my only friend who truly believes in things otherwordly. She's always insisted that I was a witch or prophet or a healer or something. I've always insisted she was a little cray cray. When I told what happened that night, she said that my world would be different now. That things would happen more often because now that I'd seen, I was seen in return.

She's right of course. Not about the witch/prophet/healer/whatever. But about being seen. It's the reason why non-believers don't usually have spiritual experiences. Atheist aren't possessed by demons. Christians never manifest Kali. Why a family can live in a haunted house but the father never sees the ghost. It's not the belief alone. It's that first contact. It's the first piercing of the veil. Once you see a piece of the spirit world, the spirit world sees you and takes notice. And it's so much simpler to interact with someone you can see.

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