Today I thought I’d share a creepy experience I had as a kid. I’ve always figured it was some type of hypnogogic hallucination, since I know for sure that I had at least one such experience at about the same age. I’ve always privately referred to this experience as the “Fish Light”.
It has to do with a spot of light in the shape of the outline of a fish, so let me start by sparing you all the trouble of quipping that it must have been a Jesus Fish. Very droll and clever. Full marks for the spared effort.
I must have been about 11 years old. We lived in a small ranch house in Costa Mesa, California. I got up one warm summer night, when the house was dark and everyone was asleep, to visit the little boy’s room. There was plenty of moonlight and my eyes were well adjusted, so vision was not a problem. It seemed that it would have been more scary to turn the bathroom light on, thus creating a too-bright room and a too-dark abyss into which I must soon descend, so I left it off, and was secure in the generally dim house with enough filtered light to deny hiding places to monsters.
In the bathroom, I noticed a spot of bright light on the bathroom counter, in the shape of a fish, perhaps five inches long. It seemed curiously improbable, so I investigated. I fussed with the window blind until I was satisfied that it was not light from outside. I placed my hand under the light so I could follow it to its source, but the fish light would either spill off my hand or fade out as I tried to lift my hand from the counter. After some minutes of fidgeting, I gave up, intrigued but not to the point of distraction.
A week or so later, when the fish light was a faded memory, I got up late at night again for a drink. The bathroom was next door to my bedroom, so that was not much of a trek, but all the way to the kitchen was quite the brave journey. I had to pass many monster hiding places on that heart-pounding commando creep, but arrived safe at last.
There, in the center of the linoleum floor, was my old adversary, the fish light. This time I didn’t plan to retreat without a victory. I circled it, waving my arms, until I verified (to my 11-year-old satisfaction) that it wasn’t coming from anywhere. I got down on my knees and tried to put my hand under it — and here was the real surprise. My hand covered it, obscuring it, as if it was shining up from the floor itself. I could lift a corner of my hand, and saw that it was brightly lit underneath. I lay a magazine on top of it, smothering it, and went back to bed.
Unfortunately, no memory survives of whether the magazine was found in the morning where I left it, because that would be a helpful clue to whether the experience was hypnogogic or just a dream. What are your suggestions?