Let me start off by saying that, if this were to ever happen to me, the world as a whole would be likely to face my wrath and I am certain I would find a way to make it hurt for more people than not.
Thankfully, it is not my story I am going to unfold for you but, rather, a plague that haunts altogether too many brave souls out there in the world. (Of course, with the way I feel about things with more than four legs, one person is too many but apparently this happens to a lot of people!)
As I understand this epidemic, it is a type of waking dream or hallucination with a healthy and frightening dose of realism thrown in just to fuck with folks.
Upon waking, those people suffering from this malady see a large spider hanging over their beds. In each and every one of the cases I have read about, the person suffering from the hallucination has just come out of sleep and is vividly aware of their surroundings. With the unwelcome and unwanted addition of a large spider hovering above them or climbing on a nearby wall or ceiling.
Holy shit. That alone would be enough to cause me to bring the walls of the world crashing down around all of us.
They are able to clearly see and distinguish the spider with an unnerving level of description. Even to the point of being able to make out individual hairs on the spider's legs. (Excuse me while I shiver violently for just a moment.)
Some of these people don't even have any kind arachnid related fear! (Fools!) I know one person who this is actually happening to (hence the fact that research into the topic has taken place) and, my hand to whatever god you believe in, I have watched her stare in beauty and amazement at living spiders and their web-like creations. (In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, I think they damned things are hell-spawn and stare at her in morbidly fascinated fear when I have seen her looking at it in such a way. For my part, I keep my distance and to hell with anyone who thinks me less of a man for that fact.)
Anyway, a few moments or minutes later the spider just... goes away...
The moment it occurs to them that, "this can't possibly be real," it isn't!
Sometimes, they watch it fade from view. In other instances, it just isn't there any more, logically, prompting the person to get out of bed and look for the fallen spider.
I swear to god guys. This is freaky shit!
Once the person becomes aware enough to realize that the spider wasn't real, they are able to return to sleep easily or even just get up and cheerfully go about their day.
I can honestly say that, in no way, is this condition made better by the fact that it fades in such a manner.
If I were to find myself in the shoes of one of these poor, poor souls, my dread of waking up would stop me from ever going to sleep at all!
Now, I should let you know that there are apparently some other specific things that are often associated with these awakening hallucinations. I can't for the life of me remember what they all are but, apparently, one woman has come to be used to having to reach between a stranger's legs to turn off her alarm clock each morning.
Throughout my life, I have suffered from a number of different sleep disorders and I have known people who suffered from most of the other ones out there. There are clinics in the world dedicated to studying, understanding and (hopefully) finding cures for all of these ailments. Yet this one in particular doesn't even have a name!
It seems that the symptoms have been explained away as belonging to a number of other disorders but nobody has looked into whether or not this could be an entirely new disorder in it's own right.
Come on Docs! We owe it to these people to find them a solution! Nobody should ever have to wake up to a gigantic monstrous spider danging over their heads!
Somebody needs to get on top of this now, before it happens to me because no place is safe from an enraged irishman being chased by bugs that only he can see. There is no calming someone like that. Trust me. I know of what I speak!
Personally, I think we ought to name the disease "There-is-a-big-hairy-multi-legged-fucking-boogie-man-hovering-above-me but-he-can't-possibly-be-real-so-that's-alright-then Syndrome". We can call it "Fuck That Shit Disorder" for short.
Spider venom comes in many forms. It can take a long while to discover the full effects of a bite. Naturalists have pondered this for years: there are spiders whose bite can cause the place bitten to rot and die, sometimes more than I year after it was bitten. As to why spiders do this, the answer is simple. It's because they think this is funny, and they don't want you to ever forget them.
-Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman-