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Sleep Deprivation?

September 2002

This didn’t happen to me, this is an account from an ex-coworker, who said this happened to her friend a few months after she moved into a new apartment. It should be noted she never drank anything stronger than soda pop and never touched illegal drugs, nor was she even taking any legal ones...

The building she lived in was an older one that had been renovated and redecorated to make nice apartments. For the first few months all went well, she was able to walk to classes and bike to work.

Then my coworker’s friend began having trouble sleeping due to work and school related stresses, and especially thanks to the upstairs neighbors’ teenage son who had been throwing loud all-night parties almost every night ever since his parents left town on a month’s vacation. While, to her relief, someone called the parents and they came back early, mercifully putting an end to the wild parties, the insomnia only worsened over the next month. It was to the point she was only getting a few hours’ worth of sleep every week, but despite all this she was too proud to see a doctor, and thought it would run it’s course on it’s own, so she put off making an appointment.

Early one morning she awoke after only an hour’s sleep feeling nauseated and nursing a pounding headache. She decided it was finally time to see the doctor, so she called to make an appointment for later that morning. After making the call she went into the kitchen to get some water and aspirin to tide her over until the doctor could see her.

As she entered the kitchen she noticed an odd smell, like that of sun warmed fresh asphalt mingled with a slight scent of decay. She thought it odd, because there was no road construction nearby that she knew of. In fact the windows were not even open to admit such a smell even if there was. Then she saw something on the kitchen counter not three feet away that made her stop in her tracks in astonishment. Disbelieving, she blinked slowly and rubbed her eyes, but it was still there.

She couldn’t tell much about the thing except that it was slightly bigger than a large house cat and covered in thick, shaggy brown hair that was matted and snarled with leaves, twigs, and dirt. As she stared it began to move away, but not in a shuffling manner like a cat or a dog, rather, it floated across the counter without seeming to move any limbs, as if it weighed no more than the air itself. It hesitated at the sink, then it bounced lightly to the floor and glided toward the balcony door. As it reached a patch of early morning sunlight, she saw it more clearly.

There was nothing about it to suggest it *was* a cat or a dog or *any* animal she recognized. There was a slight bulge at one end that might have been a muzzle or a stumpy tail, but any other features it might have had were completely hidden by it’s shaggy coat. It bumped gently against the glass door, then it seemed to melt into the floor and disappeared from view.

Now thoroughly unnerved and not sure if what she saw was real or a result of her headache making her eyes play tricks on her, she decided to go on to the doctor’s office an hour early, simply to just be out of the apartment. She was greatly reassured, however, when the doctor asked her if she had had any hallucinations. She told him her tale, and he nodded knowingly. Yes, that sounded exactly like the kind of illusion her exhausted mind would conjure up, he told her, a waking dream, so to speak.

So he prescribed her some strong sleep aide and sent her home with orders to rest for the next few days. Her boss was understanding and told her to take all the time she needed. She could get her class’ assignments off the Internet so she wouldn’t get too far behind in school.

That might have been the end of it, but for a phone call from her landlord that came just as she was going back to bed. He told her to be on the lookout for a small stray dog that he, the janitor and another tenant had seen wandering around in the building, and that if she saw the dog, to chase it outside if she could, as no animals were allowed in the building.

She asked what the dog looked like. The landlord paused. It was an odd-looking little brown dog, he said... at least he *thought* it was a dog. It was so shaggy it’s features were indistinguishable, and it was very unkempt, dirty, and smelly, too. And somehow it kept eluding anyone who tried to catch it, as if it were simply vanishing into thin air....

She had packed up and moved to her parent’s house by the end of the week.

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