07 July 2014

Sleep paralysis in a science fiction story

"Gorged, yet strangely empty, Starfinder sinks into a fitful sleep.  During it, he dreams an atavistic dream that he has dreamed increasingly often of late.  In the dream he is a Cro-Magnon savage walking weaponless across a starlit plain.  Just ahead of him and to his right is a small shadow-filled copse... As he comes abreast of the copse a huge saber-toothed tiger leaps out of the shadows and bears him to the ground.  It crouches above him, its massive forelegs resting on his chest, shutting off his breath, its horrible tusked face grinning down into his own...

Starfinder knows that in a moment he will be dead, and yet he canot move.  This, far more than the tiger, constitutes the nightmarish quality of the dream.  This numbing paralysis that grips him, that makes it impossible for him even to try to save himself.  His arms lie like lead at his sides.  He cannot so much as lift a single finger.  All he can do is lie there helplessly and wait for those gaping jaws to complete their relentless journey, and close.

He wills his arms to rise; he wills his fingers to sink into the tiger's tawny throat.  But his arms do not stir; his fingers do not even tremble... He wakes sweating.
From Starscape with Frieze of Dreams, by Robert F. Young (published in Orbit 8, 1970).

A clinically accurate description, incorporating not only the paralysis, but also the dyspnea and the autonomic response.


  1. here is a blog post that mentions boo hags and their connection to sleep paralysis http://travelswithpersephone.blogspot.com/2014/05/goddesses-in-dust-haints-boo-hags-and.html

    1. I have some literature on the "old hag" phenomenon in Nova Scotia. Not surprised to see it in other cultures. Tx for the link, Tom.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...