Creative Corner: The Devil’s Hour

  1. The following is a short story in the spirit of Halloween

3:00 a.m. is often thought of as the most sinister hour of the day or when the world of the living and the world of the dead are able to coexist.  If you ever have had the misfortune of being up at this time, then you most likely know what I’m talking about (to some extent). The streets are void of people or any life for that matter. 3:00 a.m. is also known as the Devil’s hour for reasons that no one is really sure about. The first idea for it is that at this hour the Demon or Devil that runs hell is at his strongest. The second idea is that most demonic or paranormal events happen between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m. The third theory behind this wicked hour is that Christ died on the cross at exactly 3 a.m. and that this may have cursed this hour forever. But we aren’t here to discuss the “what if’s” and the “maybe’s” around this hour. No. You’re here to learn the truth, and that’s exactly what I’m going to give you. 

Before we can fully understand the evil of this hour we must first discuss what REM sleep is. REM sleep can best be classified as the part of sleep where your body completely relaxes and you experience dreams. But what you may not know is that during this time your body is completely unable to move. This is known as Sleep Paralysis and its main purpose is thought to be to keep you from acting out your dreams. If your sleep is interrupted during this phase you may wake up and find that you are unable to move or speak. While your mind knows that you have woken up your brain has yet to realize this and you are still in the phase of being temporarily paralyzed. This stage between wakefulness and sleep can last anywhere form a few seconds to a few hours. Sleep Paralysis also comes with the feeling of being choked and the certainty that someone or something is in the room.  

As if something is hiding in the darkness of your room and is watching you. Interesting enough, the time that you experience the deepest part of REM sleep is between the hours of 3 and 4 a.m. This means that during these hours you are lying in your bed completely motionless and are breathing very softly, as if you’re subconsciously trying to hide from something.  

Now you open your eyes to find that you are now awake in your bed and staring at the ceiling. It feels like just moment ago you were trapped in some terrifying dream that you can’t quite remember now. You only know that you didn’t like the dream and that you were scared of something. You grow curious of what time it is and how much more time you have till you must get up for school. You tell your neck to turn but find that your body, besides your eyes, are stuck in place. Your brain begins to panic but you soon calm yourself when you remember an article you read in school about REM sleep and how you must just be experiencing a short instant of sleep paralyses. You try to let out a sigh of relief and feel that it is now very difficult to breathe air out at such a quick rate. You manage to move your eyes so you can just barely make out the faint glow of your alarm clock.  

It reads 3:02 a.m.  

You feel a little rush of happiness at the fact that you still have a few hours till you have to get up. You turn your eyes back towards the ceiling and try your best to fall back to sleep. Usually you can go right back to sleep after waking up in the middle of the night but, try as you will, the sweetness of rest alludes you.  

You look back at the ceiling and realize that while you are still unable to move your other senses have managed to return to you. You are first able to realize this when you hear what sounds like something moving around in your room. it hard to figure out what the noise is but it sound like the tapping of long finger nails on your wall. What’s more you can’t seem to pin point the direction the slight clicking noise is coming from. It almost seems like the clicking is moving around your room from wall to wall. 

You try your best to look around your room but find that difficult when you lack the use of your neck. What’s more your room seems different, you were certain that when you had woken up you had been able to see your ceiling. But now you can only see inky blackness above you. You strain your eyes once more and manage to see the red numbers on your alarm clock that now read:  

3:10 a.m. 

But the numbers seem dull, that don’t seem to be glowing as bright as they usually do. Your attention is taken away from the Alarm clock when you hear a new noise. 

This noise is much louder than the clicking, and while it seems odd, you’re almost sure that it’s the sound of footsteps. There come from across your room in what should be a corner, but as you manage to strain your eyes you cannot see the corner but rather a large shadow. The walls are still there and you can just make them out in the dark room, but the corner is just gone as if it was no longer a wall but rather a hole. What’s more the footsteps sound far away as if they are too far away to be in your room. They sound like they must be at least thirty feet away, but that’s not possible for your small room. The footsteps are also slow as if the source of them is unable to move at a fast pace. They also sound oddly wet as if someone was walking on your floor with wads of wet towels tapped onto their feet. 

You close your eyes and try your best to block out the noise. You tell yourself that it’s not real and that this has to be nothing more than a bad dream. But dreams aren’t slow, they’re fast paced and they never stay the same for very long. In dreams monsters are fast and they will chase you through the woods until you make the mistake of looking over your shoulder and running into a tree. The monster wouldn’t even get you in a dream like that, because the act of running in to the tree would most likely wake you up. No this didn’t have the feel of a dream, this feels real. 

You now open your eyes and look at the clock. You’re still frozen in place and the time is now:  

3:25 a.m. 

It’s been fifteen minutes already. “How can that be?” you ask yourself. You swear that you had only had your eyes shut for a minute at the most. You couldn’t have fallen asleep because you had been having a train of thought, and working minds rarely fell asleep. You listen again and you hear the sound of the footsteps once more, only now they have gotten closer and you have begun to get a slight whiff of a sinister smell. You’re not sure what the smell is exactly but if you had to take a guess you would say it’s the smell of decay. You strain to look at the corner but still manage to see nothing but the inky blackness of where the corner should be.  

You now are beginning understand what a deer must feel like when it runs in front of a car at the middle of the night and freezes. Although the fear that runs through the deer’s mind is quick and only last for a few seconds. You are currently stewing in that same fear for a much longer time and just like the deer you feel utterly trapped. 

You once again look at your alarm clock that seems to be even less bright then the last time. The time reads as being:  

3:40 a.m.  

Once again you feel like that can’t be right and that you couldn’t have been thinking for another fifteen minutes straight without realizing it. Then you hear a much mushier and much closer footstep. 

Your eyes dart back to that black opening. Only now that’s not the only thing there. Standing at what could be considered the mouth of the dark corner is the outline of a tall humanoid figure. His features are concealed by the darkness of the room but you can clearly see that this creature has unnaturally long arms and a completely hairless head. But there is something else about the figure and that is that he appears to be wearing what looks like a dress of sorts. You think that you must be mistaken but, judging by how the garment goes down to hide the figures legs and how it doesn’t cover his arms or head, it looks like a long dress. 

The light horrible smell has now become overwhelming as it forces its way into your nose and into your lungs. You don’t want to look away from this creature but find that you now have a very strong urge to know what time it is. You quickly steal a glance at the clock and it now reads: 3:50 a.m. You look back at the figure and are terrified to find that he, or it, is less than five feet from you. You hadn’t heard it step or make a sound but it was now close enough that you could clearly see that it isn’t wearing a dress at all. 

The creature before you is what I have come to call MR. SANDMAN. He is a creature who has taken a certain horrific liking to all things human. So much so that he is in fact wearing a human skull on his head as if it were a mask. The skulls jaw bone seems to be fused to his own jaw as if he was made of clay and has no bones of his own. The jaw has a crack in the center and behind it you can see an impossible number of rows of black teeth each one is covered in a blackish layer of muck. You can also see that he has a rather long tongue that moves as if it where the tail of a snake. His arms are a sickly white and are covered with what look like blackened veins. He has what looks like a human’s small intestines wrapped around his neck like a scarf. But that doesn’t even come close to what he is wearing.  

His body is wrapped in what could best be described as a dress/garment made of human flesh. The flesh is somehow still wet with blood and it has the same dark veins running across it. The flesh seems to twitch and move on its own. He takes another step towards you and you can see his shark like eyes as they stare at you with a sort of sparkle in them. He can see that you are awake and that makes his face twist in to what can only be thought of as his best attempt at a smile. He’s been visiting you for a long time, but you’ve always been asleep. He could have harvested your organs for his collection while you slept, but he loves it when he gets to see the terror in your eyes as he uses his claws to unzip you. 

You can feel sweat start to form on your head as He raises one of his boney claws to his mouth and mimes for you to be quiet. It doesn’t matter, even if you could find the courage to yell for help your paralyzed body would not allow it. He brushes a clawed hand across your face much like a mother would do to try to calm her crying baby in the middle of the night. One of his jagged razor-sharp fingers leaves a small shallow cut on your face that lets warm blood run down your cheek. 

He then moves a finger to your soft stomach and then you’re sure that this is the end and that soon you’ll get to see what your insides look like on the outside. You close your eyes thinking that maybe just maybe this isn’t real and that you’ll wake up soon. You wait for his cold finger to slowly start opening you up like a gym bag. But you feel no cold claw or warm blood on your stomach. You open one eye and let out a sigh of relief. He’s gone. 

You look to your alarm and see that it is now back to showing bright red numbers that tell you quite clearly that it is now:  

4:01 a.m.  

You let out another sigh of relief, and you sink your head back on your pillow. You then realize that you had moved your neck to see the clock and you look at the corner and are relieved to see nothing but a regular boring corner. You try to tell yourself that that wasn’t and couldn’t have been real. But the shallow cut on your check is the undeniable proof that it did in fact happen and it will be a long time till you sleep with the lights off again. 

Now you know the truth. That at the hours of 3 a.m. to 4 a.m., the world no longer belongs to us. Because that’s when monsters like MR. SANDMAN can enter our world to have some fun. Now MR. SANDMAN isn’t the only creature that can show up at this time, as there are plenty of things that go bump in the night. Things that a mere glance of can drive a man insane in an instant. Things that make the Bogeyman look like Santa Claus. Things that want to peel you like an orange, gut you like a pumpkin, and then drag you back into that dark corner and into their world of the unknown where you’ll be kept alive even though you shouldn’t be. Chances are you’ll encounter one of these Things at some point in your life. After all, you do spend one-third of your life asleep.