This experience happened in our house in Vancouver, B.C., in the mid-70s, when I was about 4 or 5. I slept in a crib in my grandmother's room until just before I went to kindergarten. I was sleeping in my crib the night of the experience. It must have been after midnight, because my grandmother rarely went to bed before 11:30 pm in those days, and she was sound asleep in the bed next to my crib. I don't recall waking up, but I recall the abject terror of watching 3 silhouettes apparently dancing around my crib for what seemed like hours (I have no idea how much time actually elapsed) until I must have fallen back to sleep from sheer exhaustion (it surprises me that I was able to fall back to sleep as terrified as I was).
The silhouettes were very dark figures in an already dark room. My 4 or 5 year old brain perceived them as a witch (a caped figure with a pointed hat) a tin man (boxy, man-shaped figure) and an ice cream sandwich man (rectangular body with what looked like evenly-spaced pock marks in it). The witch and the tin man were dancing by the side of my crib (the witch quite provocatively) and the ice cream sandwich man was dancing at the foot of it. Periodically, this latter figure would seem to leap up over my crib and descend down over me.
I know how bizarre it sounds, but the experience was absolutely real to me, and even now, over 30 years later, I can still recall the abject, breathless terror, and the desire to call out to my grandmother, but the inability to do so (all I could manage was a quiet whimper). I remember trying to look over at my grandmother out of the corner of my eye. I was afraid to turn my head for fear of alerting the figures that I was awake. I couldn't move, but I think this was fear, not sleep paralysis. All this is as vivid in my memory as if it had happened last night.
I do not believe I imagined the experience, although I recognize that my child's brain, in its attempt to make sense of what I was seeing, influenced my perceptions. For instance, I perceived the witch figure as female because witches with pointy hats were female in my mind, so in that sense the perception that the witch figure was female may have been "imagined." However, I cannot believe that a wholly imaginary experience would feel so real or would remain with me for so long.
I have always been afraid of the dark, and to this day I often sleep with the light on even when my husband is sleeping next to me. I don't necessarily think that this experience was the root of my fear of the dark, but I'm sure it didn't help. This experience has troubled me since I had it, and I am very interested to hear of similar experiences. I have tried to research it, and the closest I can come to it is the shadow people phenomenon.