Authors: David Kiely
She tried to rouse her husband, but her arms as well as the rest of her body were frozen into immobility. Nor could she speak. Frantic thoughts were churning about in her head. When she tried to pray, the words kept slipping from her as if they were in some alien language. She had never been so frightened in her life.
She is unsure how long she lay there, pinioned to the bed. She believes that she passed out, to regain consciousness hours later as dawn was breaking. By then, the coldness had lifted. The stench in the room was now only just perceptible. She experienced what she describes as a sensation of “lightness,” and knew at once that the unholy visitor had gone.
Only gradually did the paralysis leave her. Feeling returned first to her fingers, then to her hands, then to the rest of her body. She was in a cold sweat, and utterly terrified. When John woke next to her she remembers him commenting on an odd smell in the roomâ“like a campfire,” he saidâand concluding that someone nearby must have been burning garbage, or perhaps had “lit their chimney.” She recalls feigning sleep, afraid that if she spoke, he might notice something that would betray what she had been through.
She heard him go downstairs to make breakfast. Next thing she knew, he was waking her with a cup of tea. She managed to tell him that she was feeling unwell and needed to sleep more. He left the tea on the nightstand.
“That's all right, love,” he said. “I'll see to the kids and take them to school.”
Half an hour later, Julie heard them leave. She remained in bed, feeling wretched. She had ample time to consider what it was that had come to her in the night. When examined in daylight, the visit appeared as unreal as a bad dream. Perhaps that's what it was, she thoughtâa bad dream. She got out of bed, feeling a little better.
“I really did believe it had all been a nightmare,” she says. “The more I thought about it, the more logical it seemed. But God, when I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, I nearly died of fright.”
The glass reflected all too clearly the terrible truth. On the left side of Julie's faceâthe side that had been in contact with the unshaven visitantâwas an angry red rash. Horrified beyond words, she backed away from the mirror and fell against the bathtub. Nightmares were not supposed to intrude upon one's waking hours, and certainly not in such an utterly ghastly way.
If the County Antrim housewife thought then, in that fall of 1980, that the experience was an isolated incidentâone that would teach
her a salutary lesson about the dangers of Ouijaâshe was very much mistaken. Julie Neville was to endure many long years of the company of the creature who called himself Dubois. He would return again and again. There was no fixed pattern; his visits seemed random. Sometimes he would haunt her every night for a week; sometimes weeksâand even monthsâmight separate his visits. But, like some infernal bad penny, he never failed to turn up.
Julie's tormentor was conforming to the nature and behavior of the incubusâliterally “one who lies upon”âa male demon said to sexually assault women in their beds. Although the entity is generally believed to visit its victim in nightmares, there have been reports of women experiencing the assaults while in the waking state. The succubus is the female equivalent.
The entity would intrude most often while Julie was alone in her bed, but he came also while her husband slept soundly beside her. All her attempts to banish Dubois through prayer would have no lasting effect. Whenever she thought she had got rid of him, he would return with a vengeance. He gave her to understand that he was not prepared to go quietly, and were an attempt made to cast him out, Julie would have to come with him.
But that was later.
The night following the first assault, as ill luck would have it, Julie had to sleep alone; John was again at the hospital. In desperation she had pleaded with him to cancel, to get someone to cover for him. She was not feeling well, she said. Anxious. He told her not to worry; Gordon was there to protect her. Besides, he had used up all his free time. He would see her the next day.
She got the children off to bed early and retired to the living room. She intended to stay up as late as possible, in order to postpone the dreaded hour. Her Methodist upbringing had impressed upon her the importance of regular Bible study, and she turned to the Good Book now.
“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” She whispered to herself the ancient words of praise, willing them to
bestow upon her the peace they had seldom failed to deliver in the past. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, thoughâ” She stopped.
Behind her, the door was opening.
Julie gripped the Bible more tightly. She thought it might be one of the children, unable to sleep. At the same time, she wondered why she had heard no footsteps on the stair. She stood up and turned to face the doorway. She did not know what she might see.
The light in the hall was on, but there was no one there. She strove to remain calm. It had opened by itself, she reasoned; the door handle was always faulty anyway. With this thought uppermost, she went and shut it, returned to the sofa, and continued reading.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are withâ”
It happened once more.
This time she was more irritated than frightened. She strode across the room to shut the door again. But, as she did so, as her fingers gripped the handle and turned itâ¦she felt the handle being grasped from the
side. It was turning back all by itself. The door could not be shut; a countering force was pushing it open again.
“I fear no evil; for you are with meâ¦
” Julie cried out. The opposing force was winning; she could not shut the door. Her strength was failing.
“For you are with me,
please, dear God, please!
The Bible fell from her hand. The door flew open, its impetus sending her reeling across the floor and sprawling into an armchair. She struggled to her feet again.
The horrid stench and the coldness were back. “It” was in the room. The thought terrified her. “It” could attack her anywhere. Where could she run to? It was two in the morning. The children were asleep; she could not leave the house. Nor could she go outside to await the daylight; it was unthinkable. Julie felt crushed. She climbed the stairs again to her bedroom, Bible in hand. With great deliberation, she placed it on her night table.
It cannot have been easy for Julie to draw back the covers, return to bed, and face the darkness. Yet she did, and she lay there, praying and sobbing and waitingâ¦simply waiting.
“I had the mad idea that if he saw me crying, he'd take pity on me and leave me alone,” she recalls. “How innocent I was! I know now that these things feed on your fear. The longer it went on, the more fearful I became, and the worse it got.”
Through her quiet weeping, Julie heard what she was dreading. The door began to ease slowly open.
One might wonder why she did not run screaming from the room at that moment, but Julie states that, with the opening of the door, a peculiar numbness crept over her, rendering movement impossible. She describes the feeling as similar to being conscious under anesthetic; her mind was alert but her body seemed paralyzed. The entity appeared to have the power to immobilize her from a distance.
Again she was aware of the vile odor suffusing the room. She heard the dull footfalls crossing the carpet. Moments later, the crushing weight was upon her; the stubbled cheek bore down on hers. She thought she would go insane. Her ordeal began anew, and the hours dragged past. At some stage, through terror-induced exhaustion, she blacked out.
She awoke in a worse state than on the previous morning. She was shattered, could barely speak. She made other arrangements for the children and went to see the family doctor. Although his practice was two streets from her home, Julie arrived there on the verge of collapse. She recalls that she had to stop twice on the way and lean against a wall for support.
As it was, the general practitioner confessed bafflement. He could find nothing physically wrong with her, though he was dismayed by her appearance; her two nights of terror and insomnia showed. She seemed to be teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
She told him as much as she dared. To her surprise and relief, the doctor did not dismiss her story out of hand. On the contrary: he asked if she had ever had a brush with the paranormal. He wondered
aloud if perhaps she might be “acting as a medium.” She had been doing nothing of the sortânor had she any wish toâshe told him in no uncertain terms. In the end, he prescribed a course of Diazepam, and suggested that she keep up her prayers. There was, as yet, no talk of exorcism.
Julie returned home that day, invigorated by the doctor's support and sympathy. She commenced the course of antianxiety medication at once. She had hoped that they would help. In fact, things grew worse.
“My life and my home were never the same after that day,” she says. “I felt uncomfortable, especially when I was alone. I began singing French songs and the French national anthem, even though I had never learned French. Every night I'd sit up as late as possible because I was so terrified of what was going to happen. Even when I tried sleeping in another room, it would still come for me. I hinted to a few friends that I was hearing things in the house. I asked if they believed in ghosts, that sort of thing. But I couldn't come right out and tell themâ¦. I just
bring myself to tell anybody, not even John, about the sexual assaults, about what was really happening to me. It was a living hell.”
The months passed and the hauntings continued. Having her husband beside her at night helped somewhat. But John was no defense against the evil that lurked in the darkness of the bedroom.
“Through time, I was forced to accept my suffering. There was nothing else I could do. The more I prayed, the more I was tormented. If he didn't come for me before I fell asleep, I'd wake up to find him pressing down on top of me. He was determined that I had no peace, no peace whatsoever.”
She was startled into wakefulness one night, as if from a “falling” dream. Dubois had changed tack.
“It felt as if an invisible fist was pounding my pillow,” she says. “I can find no better way to describe it. The pounding was so fierce that my head was bouncing off the pillow. It went on for a whole minute, maybe two. Then it stopped altogether. I was asking myself if I hadn't dreamed the whole thing. So I tried to get back to sleep
again; I was really tired. But whatever it was that was hitting the pillow obviously didn't want me to sleep, because the next thing I knew the bedclothes were whisked off meâin one fell swoopâand dropped at the foot of the bed.”
It was the start of a new phase in the attacks. As time went by, the pounding on the pillow and the removal of the covers became such routine occurrences that they failed to unnerve her; she would simply leave the bed half-asleep and rearrange the covers.
Pierre Dubois had taken up residence in the Neville home. More odd things began to happenâoccurrences that could not be explained away by logic or science. Lights would flicker for no reason; water taps would turn themselves on, then off. There were minor anomalies in her bedroom, little changes that only she would notice. She would sometimes find the items on her dressing table mysteriously rearranged. On several occasions she discovered her perfume hidden in a corner of the closet. One night she drew the curtains, went to the bathroom, and returned to find them pulled open again. The children began to complain of hearing mice in the night, but Julie was certain there were no mice in the house.
Often, when she had friends and neighbors over, they could very clearly hear floorboards creaking upstairs, as though somebody was walking about. The children heard the creaking too but, as is often the case with children, they got used to it, and to the other noises and unexplained presences.
Julie urged them not to speak of those things at school or elsewhere. It was bad enough that she was subjected to the disturbances and torment; the last thing she wanted was to attract undue attention to her family and herself. People do not, as a rule, react compassionately to reports of preternatural infestation; many tend to suspect that the victim has somehow, whether by word or deed, “brought it on herself.”
It reached the point where Julie could no longer be alone in the house during the day. The uninvited “lodger” was no respecter of the daylight hours; he could appear at any time.
“I was faced with a choice,” she says. “I could stay in the house and go out of my mind, or get out as often as I could.”
She decided to go to work again, and found employment as a shop assistant. It helped.
But working by day served only to postpone the nocturnal ordeal; Dubois would be there on her return. In the evening, as soon as she turned the key in the front door, she felt that someone or something had been waiting for her. There was the pervasive smell of burning coal and a heaviness in the air.
Monsieur Dubois was watching her.
The years passed. The entity continued to keep its nighttime appointments with Julie. It was a battle she fought practically alone. She kept it from her husband; she kept it from her children.
It is interesting to observe how quickly the abnormal can become a commonplace in a person's life when paranormal activity takes hold. It seems that, as was the case with Julie, and in the absence of rational explanations or solutions, the beleaguered person is forced to accept this unorthodox situation and somehow learns to live with it.
“I know how strange that might seem to a lot of people,” she says. “But, you see, I was prepared to put up with it because there seemed to be nothing else I
do. In the course of time I saw a pattern to it. Whenever I prayed really hard to be rid of Dubois, things would get worse and he'd attack me even moreâtry to suffocate me, or worse. Those times I didn't pray, I found that he'd be just a presence in the house. I'd hear him walking around upstairs, or sense him standing in the corner of the bedroom or on the landing.”