The Dark Magic of Sleep Paralysis in Silvermore Creek 

By Aresena Equihua

If one were to ask a student who attended camp Silvermore Creek during the year of 1979– in the middle of an unnamed California forest– what they remembered, they would not be able to help but answer with a look of reminiscing horror. The events taking place were truly traumatic for every child. All of those who went home were unable to rest comfortably in their rooms, keeping a flashlight on each of their nightstands, crucifixes resting over their beds, and overdosing themselves with caffeine in order to keep the demon away. When ignorant parents, horrified for their children, sent some of them to mental asylums or attempted to soothe fears of what they assumed were of the boogeyman, the children only shook their heads and repeated under their small breaths,“vigilate peccatis vestris: nolite loqui verbum tuum in consanguineis ac prope oculis vestris, reddere pretium”1 

She screamed it into their ears. With her voice, shrill and static, full of an ear-splitting cry. However, the witch did not visit them in their homes, she was confined in the prison of Silvermore Creek’s boundaries. Her spirit could not venture beyond the Redwood trees, their blood scorched her impurity if she dared try. 

1 watch your sins, do not speak a word to your kin and close your eyes, pay the price

The nights were always humid and hot during the summer. So hot that most students would sleep on their beds without a blanket or simply in their undergarments beneath the sheets. The camp itself was lonely near the lake, the nearest town lying more than seven miles east. The dorms were outlined with rotting wood and coats of moss that crept between its cracks. Sleep was never without the scent of mold, often making the students sick in their slumber, yet never sick enough to risk venturing out into the restrooms of the dark knight. It was never because of the darkness itself, but rather the creature that was hidden within. 

The students of 1979 all survived but one. An unfortunate boy with long black hair, his brown skin highlighted his malnutrition, constellations of flea bites scattered across his chest, and his sharp nose was crooked from being broken by the school bully in the second grade. 

The boy shivered in his sleep. The witch sat on his chest, restraining him from movement, blocking his airway, and screaming into his youthful ears. Although his eyes were closed, they moved rapidly under their lids in panic, she was controlling them now. Waving her thin fingers over his face, feeding off his innocent soul. 

It was quite a disturbing sight indeed. A small body that was not quite awake nor entirely asleep, still but restless. The witch cannot be seen with the naked eye, her magic could only be captured through holy lenses. None of the children knew what she looked like, not even the boy being tortured by his own breath. He only knew what he heard. The spirit of Mephistopheles would consume him through the witch’s hungry fangs, for she was merely a tool to carry out his bidding. A beautiful one at that. The way she described herself was the antithesis of her demonic presence., painting herself as a white mist forming a beautiful woman with black eyes and cherry red lips along with foggy pitch-black hair. Whether or not she screeched the truth was a mystery. 

The poor boy was frozen, petrified. Perched on his chest, her hands circled around his larynx. She was tempted to rip it out from his throat to ensure that he would not scream, stifling his voice under the silence she mocked. 

Other boys in the cabin were oblivious to his state, all peacefully sound asleep, dreaming of fantasy lands where they’d rescue a princess or lead an army in a land full of candy and innocence, free of parental authorities. None of them cared for the boy being consumed by the witch’s hand. 

For a moment, she stopped. The sunrise was near, the boy could feel it. When the sunrise was threateningly close, she stiffened her grip. No longer pressing further pressure. She was too slow. There was a fear that began to quake at the tips of her fingers on the boy’s bony throat. Mephistopheles only accepted his dinner warm. The boy’s soul would be colder than a corpse by the next moonrise. So the screaming was replaced by the quiet callings of the morning Blackbirds. Although the tips of the boy’s soul were mouthwatering in comparison to the others, it would have to wait. 

The second she was gone, his chest was relieved of the smothering pain and his breath returned as he regained consciousness. His hair was damp and his small forehead beaded with sweat, fear shadowed his little eyes. Tiny hands shook underneath the covers as his elbows ejected his body from the bed. His heart pounded in his chest while his lungs graciously embraced every ounce of oxygen after spending so long without it. 

He looked around desperately, in hopes that someone would have witnessed what he had felt. However, his hope was in vain, as all the other boys were what he was not. 

At peace. 

The boy was restless. He swung his beaten, naked legs out of bed, wearing nothing but faded Mickey Mouse boxer shorts. The bruises on his legs were from the nightmares that the witch left behind, so that he’d never forget he was her favorite. The nights where he would slam his shins against his bed frame so loudly the cabin would wake. The staff would consider calling the boy’s parents, but all the others knew that if he left the witch would find a new favorite to replace him. They all made excuses of getting too carried away with their horsing around or midnight pranks. 

His bare feet were quiet against the planks of wood. Cold, paler than the rest of his tanned body, and scratched up from wounds that could be from a feline creature. Walking over to another’s bed, he shook the boy awake whispering, “Wake up, Tyrone. Please, I need to pee. Come with me.” 

Tyrone, pale in his rest with bags under his own eyes, stirred in paranoia. “Jesus, Oliver. You’ll wake the whole damn camp. We don’t need to make another excuse.” 

“Please, Tyrone. I’m scared. Come with me to the bathroom or nearest tree, I’m begging you. She visited me tonight! She was going to take me to him! Please, oh, please don’t make me go alone.” He whined desperately with his small voice, shaking Tyrone harder. “P-please.” On the verge of tears, Oliver knew that none of the other boys would consider accompanying him to the restroom. It was halfway across the camp.

“Oh, hell. Go to sleep!” 

Oliver sunk in his thin shoulders, his rib cage moving in and out since his breath was quickening. He could not piss his shorts again, he did it twice from the nightmares, one more strike and there would be a phone call home. It was not something that could be risked. 

Hence, was the reason he pulled over a torn oversized shirt. The shirt was so big that no one could see his boxer shorts, just so he could run across the camp fast enough while returning to the cabin safely. Running to the door, slowly turning the knob so that the lock would slip through the frame effortlessly, he slipped through with quiet feet. Breathing in the fresh scent of dawn, he searched the grounds to assure no one was looking as he ran through the halls. His rapid footsteps echoed through the halls, then stomped on the dirt. Mind swimming thoughts of the witch, how she almost took his soul, haunted him deeply. His mind was full of thoughts that no nine-year-old ought to bear, the fear that accompanied them made him pant violently. The rising sun caused his brown hair to glow tinted red and his eyes were colored like honey in its light. 

Finally, the restrooms were not far off. He looked around, again, checking for any children or staff to catch him alone. When he saw no one, he went inside the grubby restroom where cobwebs were hidden in the toilets, under the sinks, and in the corners of each stall. As soon as he entered the first stall, his shorts fell to the ground and he peed frantically so that he could be right out. Pulling his shorts back up, the boy froze after a too-soon sigh of relief. 

She was back. He could feel it. In the goosebumps of his neck, the shiver up his back, and the screeches that were arriving. 

Fili hominis in animum denique post nocte incomitatus audes……”2 

“No!” He screamed. He covered his ears in fear, screwing his eyes shut. “Go away! You’re only supposed to come at night!” 

She did not stop, her screeches grew louder and the static drowned out the last minutes of peace he had regained from dawn. Her presence was drawing closer and the boy shivered violently. His back slid down the wall of the stall and he held his knees to his chest, tears running down his face. His 

2Son of Adam with a soul so fine, you dare come alone after the death of night

lips frowned and his eyes were horrified with eyebrows drawn so tight together that his face began to ache. 

Until his body gave in, it lost all weight. Again, he was frozen. She held binds over him like a marionette, he was sunken in deeply almost as if he were hanging by a rope. A heavy mist coated his brown eyes, completely vacant of expression. 

The eyes of death. It overwhelmed him. 

Outside of the stalls, his body hovered over the ground. His hair was tattered and messy and his feet were scarred and bloody from rocks and branches he trampled on. She waited for him at the doorway, one hand raised in order to keep him in place. Her mouth was open, red lips wide apart, his soul departing from his body slowly so she could savor his taste. 

The boy was already gone. Yet he wasn’t. He was still in full function but his mind was vacant and his soul no longer resided in his body no matter how healthily his heart pumped. His mouth was open wide, gaps between his teeth from missing baby ones, and his arms were limp at his sides. He was as good as dead. There was no future for him now unless he was frozen this way forever. The human in him was no longer. To finish the dead, she yanked his heart out of his chest to kill the body so that it could rest in peace. 

Once she had what she wanted, the body dropped to the ground and the witch disappeared. Mestistopheles would be angry, but his soul was too enticing to resist. 

The boy was no longer. 

When the authorities arrived, there was no explanation for what happened. The boy’s heart was completely gone. There was a hole where it had been stolen from on the left side of his little chest. His eyes were wide with death. The body was carried away in a stretcher with a rugged sheet rested over it, concealing it from view. He was taken to his home, where his parents never stopped mourning his death. 

The witch remained confined to the boundaries of the camp and would remain there for centuries. Although, her power to kill men had been terminated. Mephistopheles did not take betrayal lightly and no longer needed her pathetic services. She was punished severely and could no longer satisfy her lust for human death, being limited to only slaughtering rodents, whose souls were stale and

without depth. Still she tried, she sat on the chests of the children to come. Toyed with their dreams, placed their minds in the world between fantasies and reality, and kept them frozen in their beds until she gave up. 

The children of 1979 never spoke a word of what they knew, and never would for as long as they lived.