My research has taken me into the fascinating world of lucid dreaming and sleep disorders. I’ve delved into nightmares, night terrors, sleep paralysis, sleep talking, sleep walking, even sexsomnia—a condition in which a person actually has sex in their sleep and wakes up with no recollection of it.
I‘ve uncovered some shocking and terrifying stuff.
Take, for example, the case of a Vancouver man who, after passing out at a party, was charged with sexual assault. He was later acquitted after the defense proved that he was a sexsomniac and therefore not responsible for his actions.
Then there’s the infamous case of the Toronto man Kenneth Parks, who was charged with murder after police discovered his mother-in-law bludgeoned and stabbed to death in her home. There was no question Parks had committed the murder. But was he cognizant and therefore responsible for his actions? The defense was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Parks was sleep walking at the time. The result. Acquittal. Not guilty, by reason of sleep walking.
These true stories are frightening in their own right. But it was during my research on sleep paralysis that another, perhaps even more disturbing phenomenon, emerged. Sleep paralysis is a condition that occurs during that transitional stage between waking and falling asleep whereby a person becomes completely immobilized. During these episodes, people may hear, feel, or see things that are absolutely terrifying and panic-inducing. They might be awake and aware of their surroundings, but otherwise completely frozen, leaving many to wonder if they’re actually dying, or even traveling out of their bodies. Some have reported soaring through visually stunning colors and passing through a time warp and into another dimension.
During sleep paralysis, some people see the mysterious Hat Man, a darkly cloaked shadow man with a wide-brimmed hat. Widely documented, some believe he is a powerful evil force who actually exists in another dimension.
Seeds of The Dark Menace, the working title for my work in progress, began to grow. “What is this Hat Man?” I asked myself. “Is he a sleep-paralysis induced figment of one’s imagination? Or is he real?”
Theories abound on the existence and agenda of the Hat Man. Many people report seeing him in their waking lives. Some claim he’s a guardian angel of sorts while others are convinced he’s the devil come to harvest their souls. He has been connected to alien abduction, preying on fear, and striking you when your defenses are low and you are down and out. Some claim he’s trashed their houses and tried to strangle them to death in the middle of the night.
According to Heidi Hollis, author of The Hat Man, The True Story of Evil Encounters, the Hat Man is not only real, but he is the devil.
She writes, “Victims worldwide have reported seeing this man peering into their homes, their bedrooms, their baby cribs, their cars and even—their souls.”
Some have been able to defeat him by calling out the name of Jesus, or having their homes blessed, while others simply just beat the crap out of him. Some simply order him out of their homes.
So what is he? A guardian angel, a figment of the imagination, or a powerful evil force?
That’s exactly what Noah Janzen, the troubled lead protagonist in The Dark Menace, my work in progress, intends to find out. Noah is plagued by a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes horrific images of the feared Hat Man. To his horror, he learns he also suffers from night terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking and even the dangerous and little-known condition called sexsomnia.
One morning he wakes up in his pickup truck in the middle of a grassy meadow with no idea of how he got there and no memory of the night before. It isn’t long before he learns two sexual assault charges have been filed against him and one of his enemies has been found brutally murdered. As the noose tightens around him, his life begins to unravel. He’s thrust into a battle to prove his innocence, preserve his precarious relationship with his girlfriend, and confront The Dark Menace he believes is responsible for all the carnage—the soul-harvesting, evil Hat Man.
While everyone around him thinks he’s plunged off the precipice of sanity, Noah believes the Hat Man is not only real, but actually exists in a dangerous and deadly other dimension—one the Hat Man affectionately calls “the dead zone.”
The Dark Menace, a fact-based “fun thriller,” will be released sometime this summer or early fall. I’m excited about its possibilities. Due to the creative process, plot elements are subject to change. Here’s a tantalizing teaser for your reading pleasure:
The muffled scream echoing eerily from the hallway leading to Noah’s bedroom wasn’t enough to stir Barbara Jansen from her couch-potato, channel-surfing position. With one hand, she reached into the glass bowl cradled on her lap and shoveled a mouthful of potato chips into her mouth, unaware of a few chips that spilled down her gray sweatshirt, one lodging in the crotch of her sweat pants, a few others spilling onto the couch. She grabbed the remote, adjusted her bulk, and turned up the volume. The crotch-trapped chip crunched into powder. Oblivious, she flicked the channel quickly six or seven times and finally stopped at Bride of the Monster, a 1955 B-grade cult horror film. She leaned back and grinned, exposing crooked, decaying and nicotine-stained teeth.
“Mooommmmy… heeeeeelp me!”
Have you seen the Hat Man? If so, drop me a line. Good or bad, I’d love to read about your experiences.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you in the tenth dimension. Don’t worry. It’ll be a riot.