This took place over the summer of 2007 in El Sobrante California.
I always believed that people were responsible for their behaviors, and that paranormal phenomenon was just a Hollywood gimmick.
This summer changed that.
Among the range of human emotions, anger has never felt right to me. In fact, the physical sensations one feels when angry drain me so thoroughly that I avoid conflict entirely when I can.
My family often accuses me of being a push over. As the most introverted among us, I don't mind being left to myself.
Living at the end of a culdesac our home was a comfortable two story. I lived upstairs in my bedroom; next door are my two younger brothers, and across the hall is our mother.
There was nothing unusual about our summer; we had spent the week poolside, or just making pico de gallo. There was no turmoil in the family; we were all happy and peaceful.
Come to think of it, everyone in the neighborhood was.
It came as a shock to me the first night I woke up agitated. My skin crawled, my throat felt clenched, without any provocation - my body felt wound up. After some journaling and chamomile tea, I fell back to sleep around 4:30 AM. All my dreams were empty.
For the rest of the week, I woke up at 3 AM on the dot, FURIOUS. What started as an annoying itch upon waking up started to grow into something murderous. I never had any dreams. Each night this feeling of fight-or-flight tensed my entire body.
By the fifth night, I had become paranoid. My rational mind told me that I wasn't in any danger, but instinct told me to check on the house. "Something is going to hurt you. You must hurt it before it hurts you. You must hurt it badly." My mind looped on this and nothing but this. The doors and windows of the house were locked. Nothing was amiss.
I became extremely precautious after everyone had gone to bed. I'd triple-check the locks on the doors and windows. My dread increased.
On the eighth night, I was beside myself. I shot out of bed and smashed my pillows with my fists over and over and over; I wasn't rational anymore. I felt feverish and incredibly wronged/insulted. Someone, something, had to pay. I exhausted myself with the pillows, ripped my bedding off the mattress, and was going to begin ripping up some old journals when I suddenly felt frigid.
On a clear summer night in the East Bay, this cold wasn't natural. This cold was bone chilling; I could see every exhalation.
Today, I am glad something snapped me out of my irrational rage. I checked the thermostat: it was off. I poked my head into my brother's room, and my mother's room; everyone was sound asleep.
When I got downstairs, I found the source of the draftiness. Our front doors were wide open onto the street. Every single window was lifted up as high as they would open. The glass patio doors were thrown open. The entire first floor was exposed.
I rifled through our house, shutting and locking everything. I wake up my brothers and our mother: "We've been robbed!"
Hours later, with a police report filed, we found that nothing was missing. No evidence of forced entry. Nothing. That night I didn't sleep. I interrogated my brothers - they never touched the doors or the windows.
We were all shaken up, but worst of all (for me at least,) was my mother pulling me aside and asking if I was experimenting with drugs. "You have been completely off. I feel like I am watching you become an angrier and angrier person. Talk to me!" This hurt to hear. I couldn't see how I changed, but her fear struck me - I have never been an angry person.
I confided in her. I told her about waking up every night at 3 AM for the past week.
It could be that confiding in her is what saved me. Sleep was hard to achieve but little by little, this unprovoked rage went away. I still had no dreams.
Two weeks later, the entire neighborhood heard several gunshots from just outside the culdesac. Police and paramedics flooded our quiet neighborhood. Five houses down a man my age took out his father's handgun and shot his family as they watched reruns of their favorite football games. The parents were killed, only two of his siblings survived.
I knew one of the surviving siblings from school. Recently she told me that before the shooting her brother began to wake up from naps and from a nights sleep inconsolable. I pressed her for more. "I've never seen him that angry. He was always very loving and affectionate with us, but on waking up, he would take hit us. At first a random pinch, then a slap upside the head at the dinner table, to coming into the bathroom and socking us as we brushed our teeth." I asked her if they had a home invasion before the shooting. Her eyes flickered for an instant,"Every window, and every door was wide open early in the morning. Nothing was stolen. I remember it was freezing that night."
Are there things that can drive us to be our worst selves?