His eyes fixed on mine. They were darkness before darkness—an abyss at the bottom of a smooth lake.

I felt his claws climbing up the sheet toward my helpless body. I tried to turn on the desk lamp to scare him away, but my arms responded less than a body seized with terror.

They called it sleep paralysis—that variation of being awake while the body sleeps. I dubbed it ecstasy to hell—being a passenger in Charon’s boat while Hades himself is the oarsman.

His claws continued to inch forward until they reached my chest. I felt his breath along my neck. His rough tongue ran down my cheek, lapping my tears. Surely he fed on my suffering. I wanted to ask for forgiveness for my life, for his.

My body reacted spontaneously. I flicked the lamp switch on, only to continue seeing darkness. It must have been a bad dream. After all, I suffered from parasomnias.

I woke up twenty minutes ahead of my alarm clock. I took a cold shower, hoping to carry inside that feeling when I would fall off this world. I got dressed and grabbed my cane, my dark glasses, and the cage where I had Hades locked in, the cat that would be my cornea donor in an experimental surgery.