Three A.M…. Doctors say the body’s at low tide then. The soul is out. The blood moves slow. You’re the nearest to dead you’ll ever be save dying. Sleep is a patch of death, but three in the morn, full wide-eyed staring, is living death… and wasn’t it true, had he read somewhere, more people in hospitals die at 3 A.M. than at any other time..
— Ray Bradbury, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES
A classic quote from a master storyteller… but it’s not purely Bradbury’s invention. For centuries, 3 am has been known as “The Witching Hour,” “The Devil’s Hour” or “Midnight of the Soul” — brief window between midnight and sunrise, during which time, it’s often claimed, the veil between our world and the domain of the supernatural is pulled aside.
Folklore also suggests it’s during this hour when our dreams are more than just expressions of our subconscious minds, but are actually a form of communication with the Other Side… and as such, they are potentially dangerous.
Another writer — lesser known than Bradbury, of course, but gifted with a unique insight — suggests the myth of “The Devil’s Hour” may be based on a very real phenomenon. The author in question goes by “Nicole,” but is known among the Creepypasta community by the handle Renigaed.
“3:00 in the morning is when the little things come out to play,” Nicole claims. “When the little things show themselves.”
She goes into detail explaining why this may be more than just a figure of speech.
“While you dream, you are unaware of your surroundings,” she writes. “Your eyes flutter open and you check the time on either your watch, cell phone, alarm clock, or simply whatever you have lying around that has the time displayed on it. But knowing the time doesn’t really matter… right?”
It’s during this semi-conscious state, she continues, that the mind fills in the blanks left by your sensory confusion, and at a primal level, when our senses confuse us, we tend to respond with fear. But fear of what, exactly?
“You do not believe in monsters,” she continues. “The boogeyman, sandman, and other monster stories were just stories to give you a spook… But wait… what was that? That pitter of feet seemed to be getting closer. You squeeze your eyes tightly shut as you hear the long, loud screech of your door creaking open ever so slowly…
“Was that a giggle you just heard? No, of course not. Mice don’t giggle. Neither do rats. You’re being delusional, you open your eyes slowly and stare at your ceiling…”
It’s left unclear whether the “You” Nicole refers to in her essay is actually herself, and that the writing is an account of her own experiences one horrible night.
But as she continues, it becomes more apparent that her personal fears are very much a part of what’s occurring… including the creature that may be beneath the covers of her own bed.
“It’s moving towards you slowly, in a crooked fashion,” she continues. “You are frozen in terror, afraid to move or else you might give away your location. You feel something tugging at the loose clothes that you wear. Oh Jesus, what is that?”
Then she goes on to describe the shape under the covers…
“The creature is lopsided, grotesque in a way that makes your stomach turn in knots,” she writes. “It wears torn fabric that looks hundreds of years old. It tilts its head to the right and gives you a crooked smile… its dark eyes without pupils stare at you, unblinking…”
That’s when the awful thing begins to crawl toward her… and on top of her.
“It pulls itself onto you and begins to crawl, slowly, oh so slowly… It smells horrid… you know this smell, even without having smelled it before… The scent of rot, flesh, and blood.”
The victim finally unleashes a piercing scream, which causes the creature to respond in kind with a “a murderous cry” and leap from the bed, scuttling across the bedroom floor and into the darkness of the hallway beyond.
“I cannot tell you how to deal with the little things,” she admits in her final summary, stating with conviction that these unnamable creatures lurk “in every home, every hole, nook and cranny… How many you have in your home is not a question answered easily.”
Then comes the kicker:
“They study you, and they plan your demise,” she concludes. “No wonder they reek of death…”