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I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep no matter how hard I try and it’s all because of him! He took something from me. He took EVERYTHING from me! I keep trying to remember, but all I can see is his face and he’s smiling. No, he’s LAUGHING AT ME!!! That same damn chuckle over and over again, it’s driving me mad!

I couldn’t see, everything was blurry and there were flashes. I heard voices, but they were muffled and drowned out by the sirens. Oh God, what happened? It was something terrible because I felt something grabbing me and pulling at me. Everything started to move in one big blur, but that’s not how the world moves. No, I was being carried off somewhere.

Why can’t I just remember? If I could just lay my head down and sleep, I know it would all be clear by the time I woke up. But I can’t do that because I’m cursed! Maybe I’ve done this a thousand times and I slowly remember each time only to forget again and start all over. Or maybe this is all just some twisted nightmare and I really am sleeping right now.

Every time I try to close my eyes, I just see that devilish grin and those soulless eyes staring back at me. I keep hearing that laugh over and over again, echoing through my mind. Where did I see him? The hospital! I was in the hospital and I could hear doctors talking. If I could just rest and concentrate a little, maybe I could remember what they were saying.

Through the haze I could make out scattered words like “vehicle”, “head trauma”, and “critical condition”. I must have been in a car accident, but I don’t think I was in critical condition because I was awake, or at least conscious enough to hear them talking. If they weren’t talking about me then… Oh dear God, no! I wasn’t alone in the car because I was driving home from a party with my wife, Sylvia.

I don’t know what else I can do but pace around the room trying to remember what happened. I am tormented by the image of a strange man and the sounds of his laughter in response to my pain. I can feel his dark presence with every breath I take and I know he’s the one who won’t let me rest.

My vision must have been clearer than my memory is now because I remember a doctor coming and talking to me. I can recall the tone of his voice being cold and clinical, but with a touch of sadness. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it meant I could go see Sylvia. I think they wanted to keep an eye on me too because I had a concussion or something. All I cared about was being there for my wife.

I keep seeing that face! I can’t stand thinking about who or what that thing is. With every memory I piece together, I see more and more of him flashing through my head! Each time, the look on his face becomes more and more of a diabolical grin. AND THAT LAUGH!!! It’s just the same damn laugh over and over again and it gets louder and louder and LOUDER EVERY TIME!!!

I’ve got to focus if I want to remember. Think of how beautiful Sylvia was when she was sleeping. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to join her in a long and blissful slumber on our bed. No, I have to focus! She would have been just as beautiful as she always was. No hospital bed or car accident could take that away. I didn’t leave her side for hours. I stayed there holding her hand and praying for a miracle to save her. I was prepared to die to take her place. That’s when he appeared.

The first time I saw him, I thought I was hallucinating because he disappeared in the blink of an eye. It was a flash, just like the ones that torture me now. It must have happened a few more times and I remember a feeling of deep dread that this… thing was the angel of death, come to take my Sylvia away from me!

Then the hospital floor got quiet and it seemed like no one else was around. Why would that happen? Was Sylvia’s condition stable at that point? No, it couldn’t have been. She was dying, so HE must have done it!

He isn’t human and he barely looks like one. His skin is stone grey and there isn’t a single hair on him. His eyes are big black voids and he NEVER stops grinning! He wears a silk suit so black, you could swear it was just a set of coveralls. When he speaks, it’s like Lucifer himself is hypnotizing you into doing his bidding.

Everything else in my memory is cloudy or disjointed, but his image and voice are as clear as day in my mind. He appeared before me and greeted me with that godforsaken laugh of his.

“It looks like someone is having a bad day.” I knew he couldn’t be real, just some hallucination brought on by the accident. I told him right to his SMUG face that he wasn’t real. “Oh, I can assure you that I am very real. Think of me as a traveler between worlds. You see, I was just here to pick up the drunk driver that hit you. Don’t worry. He’s dead.”

His twisted smile grew larger for a moment before he spoke again. “When I couldn’t help but notice you sitting here in despair. So I came to you in order to make a deal. I can save your wife from death if you agree to give me something in return.”

I could have responded in so many different ways. Was he the devil? Was he the angel of death? What was he about to ask for? It could have been my soul, my life, or an eternity in hell. But in my desperation I didn’t even care. I simply told him to name his price.

“Oh, it’s nothing you’ll miss. In fact, it will give you more time with your wife. From now on, you can watch her sleep because you won’t need to. That way, you can spend every moment together and treasure each other. Do we have a deal?”

I agreed without question and he began circling his hand over Sylvia’s unconscious body. It was like a murder of crows hovering over a fresh carcass before swooping down to pick its bones clean. That’s what it felt like too, but I was just praying that she would be okay. Nothing else mattered. Not even my life, which I would have gladly given in exchange for hers.

The heart monitor began beeping loudly and rapidly for a few seconds as Sylvia’s body jolted from the dark energy that was emerging from his hand. Then, it all got quiet again and he turned to me. “When the sun rises, she will be awake and in perfect health. Now, it is time to fulfill your end of the deal.”

He placed his hand on my head and I began to feel my entire body get cold, so COLD! Something was draining out of me. My body became a living corpse and I became painfully aware of every sensation in it. Pain began to swell in my head and my ribs felt like they were torn to shreds beneath my skin. My eyes throbbed inside my skull with an inescapable burning that made it impossible to close them.

When he was finished, he turned and began to walk away. I managed to stutter out the words “What are you?” He turned back and glared at me with those empty eyes. “Like I said, I’m a traveler between worlds. I don’t really have a name, but I like to call myself… The Sinister.” He disappeared into a shadow on the wall. That’s the last clear memory I have.

After that, everything is in flashes of images or waves of emotion. I can’t even REMEMBER being with Sylvia after that! That THING must have tricked me because I didn’t get what I was promised. I keep seeing these flashes of other women and then I get angry that I can’t remember my wife and I see red. I feel my hands around their throats and I squeeze as tightly as I can. WHERE IS SYLVIA!? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER!?!?!

The more I see, the worse it gets. First I see them then, I feel the rage. I grab them and squeeze until their eyes turn red. After that, I get the image of their eyes hollowed out like his and their lips pulled back in a little grin. I hear people on the news talking about “the Insomnia Killer” and I see myself painting three words on a wall. “I… CAN’T… SLEEP.”

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