I was smoking on my porch the other night. A spider had spun her web over the steps of the porch and a firefly was bound in the center. Wrapped up, intoxicated, it continued to blink for more than 30 minutes in an ever-weakening pattern, or so it seemed to me: Blink. Blink. Blink. Pause. Blink. (Roughly including four or five seconds at each period.) It was the first time I'd ever seen a firefly in a spider's web, and the spider never left it. I've seen spiders wrap up their prey before and simply leave it hanging for a bit. But for whatever reason, this spider stayed on top of the firefly the entire time, stayed with it. Perhaps the starts of bioluminescence surprised the spider as well, making the spider doubt the efficacy of her drug.
Saturday night, I watched Peter Jennings host a special on UFOs, an older special, and they began speaking about abductions. Some scientists said, as a counterpoint to the personal testimonies to abductees, that these experiences could be attributed to a sleep disorder called Sleep Paralysis (SP). As they described Sleep Paralysis, I was shocked to hear them describe a personal experience from when I was a teenager. They described it nearly perfectly, with the same words that I have used to describe it - it was uncanny and enlightening. This was my experience: I woke in the middle of the night terrified. I heard footsteps coming down the stairs toward my bedroom. I knew someone or something was coming for me, meant me terrible harm. I couldn't move. Then a presence was in my room. It rose up next to my bed - I couldn't see it, but only feel it. The silence of the room roared at me. A knife was raised, so I felt, and I prayed, "Lord, receive my spirit." And it was gone. It was terrifying, and terrifyingly real.
I've always thought of the experience as something demonic. That is my worldview and how I would naturally explain the inexplicable. Apparently, others don't see demons, but aliens. That's the scientific consensus, at least. In the past such night visits were thought to be demons, old hags, succubi/incubi, or even vampires.
I did some reading on SP and learned that some people also experienced the feelings of floating through the air (being taken up into an alien spacecraft, being swept away on a witch's broom, etc.) and realized I could count another case of SP when I was much younger: I thought I was fully awake, but was floating near the ceiling of my bedroom. I explored my entire house that way. And that's it.
Anyway, I am intrigued by stories of cryptozoology and UFOlogy, though a skeptic. But I was thankful for that particular program, which seemed to explain two moments in my life that I had been unable to understand. Those are the only two times I am aware of experiencing SP. Some few people experience it often, some even weekly. Honestly, if I were in their bunny slippers, I'd be scared shitless to go to bed - especially if I thought aliens were abducting me or some strange demon was straddling my chest and choking me. Absolutely bizarre.