11 Jan “My Grandpa Doesn’t Sleep” – Creepypasta
That was what my mother told me one day, while picking me up from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I often spent my summer nights there, as I happened to live in the same town as my grandparents, a luxury many other kids didn’t have. During the day, it was everything a kid could hope for: we baked cookies, ate ice cream, visited playgrounds. But at night, whenever I left the spare bedroom to get a drink of water (or take a leak), I could often glimpse Grandpa in the living room, awake in his reclining chair with the light on beside him. Spaced out while watching static flicker on the TV. It occurred to me that I’d never seen him go to bed.
After one too many 3 a.m. trips to the toilet, I finally asked my mother why Grandpa stayed awake in his chair all night. All she said was, “Grandpa just doesn’t sleep. You’ll understand when you’re older.”
By the time I was old enough to understand that my Grandpa suffered from acute and chronic insomnia, I had stopped spending much time with him. Instead, I was sixteen, a junior in high school, and way out of Felicity Alderson’s league. The only time I saw my grandparents were at holidays and funerals. It might sound cruel that I had allowed us to drift apart, that I had inadvertently cut them out of my life when we lived so close in distance, but at a certain point you become too old for playgrounds and cartoons every weekend. Besides, my grandparents were getting old and they had better things to do than look after me.
Things changed when I woke up to a phone call at two in the morning. My heart skipped a beat when I recognized my Grandma’s number, knowing intuitively that late night calls are never a good thing.
“Caleb! Oh, Caleb, please get here quick…” She was sobbing. In the background, I could hear things breaking, glass and furniture thrown and smashed. “It’s your Grandpa… he has a gun…” She dissolved into sobs, but I didn’t need to hear anymore. I told her I was on my way and hung up. I was halfway out the door when I realized I needed car keys. Having just acquired a driver’s license, I didn’t own a car, so I had to use my Dad’s. I ran into my parents’ bedroom, blurted something about going to Grandma’s, and fumbled in the dark for the car keys. The next thing I knew, I was speeding down residential streets that were completely dead, not a car among them.
It was dark, of course, but Grandma’s house was easy to spot because the lights were on. Of course they were. Grandpa doesn’t sleep.
I rushed across a wet lawn in socks, and when I shouldered open the front door, a violent blast nearly took my head off. The sound left me momentarily deaf. When I turned back toward the wall, I saw where numerous pellets had just impacted the sheetrock. The blast had barely missed me.
Ten feet ahead was Grandpa, aiming a double-barrel shotgun at me. His white hair was frizzed out and his arms were scratched up, presumably from breaking things. He fumbled to reload the gun, not taking his eyes off me.
“Don’t shoot! It’s me, Grandpa. It’s Caleb.”
For a moment, there was a vague flicker of recognition on his face, and then he lowered the gun. Instead of taking a second shot, he crossed the distance between us and grabbed my shirt tightly in his fists.
“Caleb!” he spat, wildly deranged. “Caleb, you have to get out of here! They’re coming for me! It isn’t safe!”
“Who’s coming for you?”
“The Insomniacs! I’ve seen them, they’re in the house! Don’t look them in the eyes!”
“It’s okay, Grandpa,” I told him, “No one’s coming after you. You’re safe.”
This I was sure of. What grudge anyone would have against my eighty-two year old grandpa was a mystery, and besides, this day was a long time coming. Admittedly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. The man barely slept, found it increasingly difficult as he got older, and was bordering on dementia, although this escapade had probably sent him over the edge. I reckoned this was the final straw before he’d be admitted to a nursing home, which obviously should have happened sooner.
I gently eased the gun away from him and he slowly collapsed to the floor, old bones creaking, hugging his arms and muttering under his breath. Beyond the entryway was the living room, although now it was in shambles. Coffee tables had been flipped, shattered glass was strewn across the floor, and an ornate hutch containing chinaware had been tipped onto its face. The TV was a frenzy of static. I found my grandma huddled in the corner, shivering and crying. When she saw me come in with the gun, she ran over and hugged me.
“Thank-you, Caleb. God bless you.”
She explained that she hadn’t called the police because she didn’t want grandpa to be arrested or, possibly, killed. As it turned out, the cops showed up anyway because the neighbors had reported a loud gunshot next door. Red and blue lights flashed through the glass window of the front door, and when I opened it, two officers were on the porch step asking if I was okay.
I explained that this was my grandfather’s house and that I’d found him wielding a gun, but he never intended to hurt anyone with it. That he was senile and believed someone was after him. He believed he was protecting my Grandma.
Erring on the side of caution, the officers wanted to talk to Grandpa about his pursuers. Soon, all of us were in the living room, huddled around an upside down coffee table. My grandmother had draped a blanket over Grandpa’s shoulders. It made him look much smaller, frailer, like a frightened child hiding under the covers. He was relaxed now, but spoke of the incident with great vigor.
“You must believe me,” he implored, “they are real and they are coming! I’ve seen them in the house. They’re everywhere… don’t look them in the eyes… those horrible eyes…”
“Do you know who these people are?” asked one of policemen.
My grandfather leaned forward and said in a whisper, “The Insomniacs!”
Even as a sixteen year old kid, I thought it was fairly obvious what the Insomniacs were: a physical manifestation of my grandfather’s lifelong ailment, insomnia. They were spawned from a confusing mess of paranoia and dementia, a fear of never sleeping. Now all those sleepless nights and mental fog were getting to him, and he was powerless against it.
The police probably understood this, but entertained the notion long enough to pacify my Grandpa and put his mind at ease. That didn’t stop them from asking him to describe the Insomniacs, though, and before they left, they’d sketched a depiction straight from my grandfather’s overactive imagination.
It was a black-bodied humanoid, perpetually in shadow so you could never see the details, with no clothes or any defining characteristics. The only visible part of it were the eyes, two white swirls which, according to my Grandpa, were “always spinning”. Looking it in the eyes was akin to being hypnotized to stay awake. Stare at the sun long enough and you go blind; stare an Insomniac in the eyes, and you never go to sleep.
Before the officers left, one of them pulled my grandmother and me aside. “I’m sure it’s clear by now, but these are some pretty big red flags. I can’t force you to take any action, but I strongly recommend that you consider long-term care options, for his safety and for yours. You really got off lucky tonight. I don’t want to get called out here again and find something much worse.”
With that, he pulled the door shut behind him and we were left standing in the entryway. At the thought of admitting Grandpa to a nursing home, my grandmother was tearing up again. I told her it would be fine and that we’d find a solution that worked best for everyone, but truthfully, I didn’t know what other option we had.
My parents finally showed up around four in the morning, delayed by the fact that I’d stolen my Dad’s car keys and my Mom had lost hers. By then, my grandmother and I had cleaned up most of the glass and broken furniture. Grandpa sat on the couch, looking around nervously, occasionally asking me where he’d left his gun. The truth was that I’d hidden it in the garage, but of course, I didn’t tell him that.
“I don’t know, Grandpa. Just try to relax.”
We explained the situation to my parents and by daybreak, all of us decided that a nursing home was the best option for Grandpa. After all, it should have happened long before it reached this point. Grandma was reluctant to agree, but ultimately, she knew it was the best thing for her husband. She was worried how he would fare in a nursing home. How he would sleep without her.
But of course, we all knew that Grandpa doesn’t sleep.
Sunny Oaks was only three blocks away and seemed to be the most obvious choice for us. It wasn’t the largest or the fanciest nursing home I’d ever seen, but Grandma could visit Grandpa whenever she wanted and Grandpa would get the care that he needed. Three square meals a day, light physical therapy, games, social interaction, and proper attention to medication. That was more care than he was getting at home and I had no doubt in my mind that Grandpa’s mental state would soon take a turn for the better. Plus, the staff was friendly and introduced us to Grandpa’s new room with exquisite confidence.
While we organized his clothes and toiletries, Grandpa peeled back the window curtains and scanned the property for invisible threats. He must have been satisfied with what he saw because at some point he turned to us and said, “Yes. Yes, this will be fine for now.”
Before we left, Grandma gave him a long, tight hug and said that she’d visit him every day, as often as she could. She clicked on the TV for him, but as we left the room, I saw Grandpa switch it to one of those non-existent channels that plays nothing but static on a 24/7 loop.
The next time I saw Grandpa was when we visited him as a family the next weekend. At some point he’d been given a wheelchair, which I was glad to see because Grandpa hadn’t been particularly mobile in the past few years. We found him wheeled in front of the TV, watching static while one of the nurses made his bed. I knew from our first visit that this was Cheryl, a studious lady with a cheerful personality.
“Just changing the sheets,” she said when we came in, “though I doubt he’ll need them. Your Grandpa doesn’t sleep a wink!”
My father reminded her about Grandpa’s insomnia and asked if he’d been taking his meds.
Cheryl nodded. “Twice a day, eight and eight, though they don’t seem to be helping much. Every time I’m in here, he’s awake. None of the other residents can keep their eyes open, it seems.” She gave Grandpa a gentle pat on the arm. “He’s too busy watching that darned TV all night. Isn’t that right, honey?”
Grandpa looked up at her as if coming out of a trance, the first time his eyes had left the television. Only now did he seem to notice anyone was in the room. He didn’t say anything, just smiled weakly.
Grandma died after Christmas. It was a shock to everyone. Of the two of them, she’d been the healthiest. The medical examiner said it was a stroke. Brought on by what, nobody knew for sure, but I think we all knew deep down that putting Grandpa in the nursing home played a part.
Grandpa took the news better than I’d expected. If he even took the news at all, that is. He just stared at the TV, watching static crackle across the screen.
When I realized that Grandpa was no longer getting daily visits from anyone, I started seeing him more often. I don’t know what compelled me to do so. Part of me hoped I’d find him sleeping, that I could rest assured it was even possible for him anymore, but each time I visited Sunny Oaks he was awake.
He was wholly unresponsive and stared at the TV static with red, tired eyes. Drool leaked out of his mouth and into his lap. I picked up the remote and changed it to Spongebob. Before I left the room, he changed it back to static. Frustrated at him, at everyone, maybe at no one in particular, I changed the TV back to Spongebob and kicked the remote under the bed. Grandpa made no effort to pick it up. He gave no indication he’d noticed the change.
Something about watching him sit there, dumbly, with no emotion and no frustration made an irrational anger build up inside me. I told him his wife was dead and that he didn’t care. That he’d nearly shot me in the head because of some imaginary monsters he’d created. That Grandma might still be alive if he’d put a little more effort into controlling himself. After I ran out of things to berate him for, I yelled about all the other things that made me angry.
What made me angry more than anything though, was that by the time I left, he was still watching the TV as if he hadn’t heard a word.
I didn’t visit Grandpa until another month had passed. I was scared he had heard me, or even worse, had understood me. By the time I was ready to apologize, I found him reclined in bed, staring into space. Cheryl told me that the staff had been encouraging him to sleep ever since they realized how severe his insomnia had become. After that, they kept a close eye on him. His sleeping medication had been changed to something much stronger, but miraculously, it didn’t seem to be helping. I wasn’t surprised, not really. After all, Grandpa doesn’t sleep.
When Cheryl left the room, I stayed for a while longer. I didn’t want to wrestle the old man further from sleep with a useless apology, so instead I pulled up a chair and sat at his bedside. I don’t know how long I sat there before Grandpa became the most responsive he’d been in weeks.
He gasped loudly, so suddenly that I leapt from the chair, arcing his back as if he’d just been pulled from the brink of death. His eyes darted wildly around, lucid and afraid. When he noticed me, he was no longer an unresponsive vegetable but the same man who had nearly shot me in the head a year ago. He grabbed at my clothes, pulling me closer.
“Caleb! You can’t be here! The Insomniacs are here with us! They’re in the building! You have to listen to me! It’s too late for me, but you can save yourself! Don’t look them in the eyes, Caleb!”
It wasn’t long before all the yelling attracted the attention of several nurses nearby. Soon, there was a team of people surrounding my Grandpa, trying to restrain him. I backed away until I felt myself hit the wall. One of the nurses brandished a syringe and struggled to stick it in my grandfather’s arm. A sedative.
But after several more agonizing moments of chaos, nothing had changed. I knew the sedative wouldn’t work. Grandpa doesn’t sleep. He just kept yelling my name and screaming incoherent nonsense, so I left. I could still hear him at the end of the hall, and by the time I left the building, I was sure he was still yelling. Yelling about the Insomniacs.
I didn’t visit Grandpa for a while after that. I told myself that seeing me might trigger one of his violent episodes, but deep down, I knew I was afraid. Not afraid of his delusional rantings but afraid of seeing him in that vegetable state, staring blankly at static. I hated seeing him that way. It wasn’t the Grandpa I had known, and it wasn’t the Grandpa I wanted to remember.
Who knows how long I would’ve gone without visiting him – maybe indefinitely, until I wouldn’t be able to anymore – if I hadn’t seen it. The Thing.
I was waiting at a crosswalk, on my way home from school, when I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.
There, across the street, was a shadow figure.
I blinked, rubbed my eyes. It was still there. A silhouette in broad daylight. In the distance, but watching me. Watching me with eyes made of spirals that twisted infinitely into its head. It was hypnotic. Enchanting. Voices filled my head, strange whispers that my mind was picking up as though tuning to a distant radio signal.
Then a bus passed between us, and the creature was gone. The voices faded away and I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. The overwhelming feeling that I’d just seen something I wasn’t supposed to made me nauseous. I remembered the police sketch depicting an Insomniac and recognized it immediately.
I couldn’t process fully what had happened, not right then, but I knew there was only one person who could help me. Instead of going home, I turned on my heel and ran as fast as I could toward Sunny Oaks…
…but by the time I reached my Grandpa’s nursing home, I found his room empty. The bedsheets had been neatly folded on top of the mattress and the TV was switched off.
Frantic, I asked the nurse at the front desk where my Grandpa was. She told me he’d been transferred to the local hospital that afternoon when they realized how severe his insomnia was. She didn’t think he’d slept at all in five consecutive days, which was extremely dangerous for a person his age. Instead of thanking her, I turned and ran.
The distance between Sunny Oaks and the hospital was a long one, especially on foot. I found myself keeping to the shadows, lowering my head. Sometimes I risked a sporadic glance over my shoulder or a quick sweep across the street, becoming increasingly paranoid. And what was worse was that I did spot them. High up in windows. Driving cars. Reading newspapers.
How I’d never noticed them before was a mystery beyond the end of time. I decided that seeing Insomniacs was something you had to unlock, something that shouldn’t be visible to the naked eye. At least, I’d never noticed them in all the time my grandfather spoke about them.
Strange, otherworldly whispers faded in and out of my head as I walked, thoughts that weren’t my own, threatening my sanity. From the edges of my vision, Insomniacs watched me, their spiral eyes tempting me to look into them.
When I finally reached the hospital, I demanded my grandfather’s room number and what they had done to him. I learned that the hospital staff had, in an emergency effort to give him rest, attempted to medically induce a coma but for some unknown reason was unable to. But I knew the reason. Grandpa doesn’t sleep. He was holding on for now, they said, but things weren’t looking good.
I found Grandpa on the third floor, reclined in a bed, hooked up to a heart monitor. The beeps were slow and steady, coming more scarcely than I thought they should. Grandpa didn’t look at me when I walked in, just stared ahead, seeing nothing. I knelt by his bedside and nudged him gently.
“Grandpa! You were right! You were right all along, I know that now. Nobody believed you. Not even me. But I’ve seen them. The Insomniacs… they’re real.”
Grandpa didn’t acknowledge that he heard me. I didn’t expect him to, but it felt good to get it off my chest. He just laid there, his breathing ragged and shallow. Tears brimmed my eyes and spattered on his bedsheets.
“Please wake up, Grandpa,” I said, holding his hand with both of mine. It was too cold, I thought. “If you can hear me, please wake up. I’m scared. I should have believed you. We never should have taken you away from Grandma, you were just trying to warn us. Please forgive me, Grandpa, I’m so sorry…”
I didn’t say anymore because my throat closed up and I couldn’t choke the words out. Instead I just lowered my head and let the teardrops fall into my lap. I sat there for a long time, listening to the soft beeps and whirs of medical machines.
I looked up. Grandpa was looking at me. His voice was weak, barely audible, but I’d heard it. Shakily, he moved a hand over mine. “Don’t be afraid, Caleb. Don’t be…”
His voice trailed off and I had the peculiar impression he was looking not at me but through me. Then his eyes glassed over and the heart monitor flatlined in a monotonous tone.
I shook Grandpa, but he didn’t move. “Grandpa!” I said in denial. “Grandpa, wake up! Please wake up!”
The tone was still ringing in my ears as several doctors rushed around me and attended to the body, attempting to revive him. Nothing took. In the end, I decided it was for the best. It was a rest for which he was long overdue; Grandpa doesn’t sleep.
We buried Grandpa next to Grandma. The plot was ready to go, since Grandpa’s passing wasn’t entirely unexpected. It still hurt more than I could’ve imagined. I thought about all those times we got ice cream and watched movies. I decided that was the Grandpa I was going to remember, not the bedridden widower that had spent the last year of his life trying to warn the rest of us about things we refused to see.
The funeral was small, led by the pastor of a church he had not attended in over a year. It was a windy graveside service on a cloudy summer day. I didn’t hear much of the eulogy. I was busy watching the creature at the edge of the tree line, the one with shadowy skin and spirals for eyes.
Ever since I’d first glimpsed the creature across the street, sleep had been next to impossible. The only solace I had from the paranoia was steady white noise, and television static was my only hope for drowning out the whispering voices in my head. I could look at it for hours, and when I was alone in my room at night, I did. It was as easy as turning to a channel that didn’t exist and letting myself melt into a void of endless nothingness.
After the funeral, I didn’t grieve with the rest of my family. I had already done that in the days leading up to it. Now I was exhausted and scared, dreading a life without sleep. I got rid of my bed because I knew I wouldn’t need it anymore. Underneath was Grandpa’s shotgun, the one I’d taken for myself when we sold his house after Grandma died. I’d already stockpiled my Dad’s car with ammo, in preparation for what I was about to do. After all, the Insomniacs are what did this to him. To me. I would make sure it never happened to anyone else. It was a long road ahead, and I was out for blood.
I left that night. I had to make one stop first. I wasn’t going to make the journey alone, of course. There was no way I’d stand a chance against all of them. I parked at the front gate and popped the trunk, then removed the shovel.
The place was locked and I had to climb the fence to get in. The spiked iron bars tore at my clothes, the ones I’d worn to the funeral only hours earlier. The headstone was just as we’d left it, but when I put my ear to the dirt, I could hear him moving. Breathing. Scratching softly from below.
I put a foot to the shovel and forced it into the earth. It would take a while to get six feet down, but of course, I knew my grandfather was waiting on me.
Grandpa doesn’t sleep.