Things that go Bump in the Night

It was approximately 2:15 am when I was woken by a piercing shriek.

I bolted upright and hit my head on the ceiling as the scream came again.

It was close by.

I tore out an earplug in a split-second thought to confirm what I was hearing – repeated shrieking right outside my car, where I was spending the night in a strange neighborhood for the first time.

Only a second had passed since jolting awake and I was already diving for clothes. Figures something like this would happen the first night I sleep nearly naked. I crouched down, clutched something to my bare chest and cracked open a window covering to peek out.

Wait a minute – no one was there.

It was obvious which direction the sound was coming from, unmistakable through the night’s rain and loud enough to wake neighbors down the street in any direction. Occasionally it garbled…but, I realized, that’s too consistent to be human.

I snatched the window covering clear off and searched the night in earnest. The suburban neighborhood sat empty and still, save for the intensely voluminous ruckus occurring precisely where I’m attempting to spend the night discreetly.

And then the moment I saw it it all came back to me. The alarm. I’d been cooking in a vacant house earlier and accidentally set off the smoke alarm, placing it outdoors to make it shut up. Then I forgot about it. And when the rain came…

Oh God – people. People will come. They’ll have a problem with me being here. SHIT!

So this thing is shrieking away and I’m now scrambling in a mad panic to find something decent to throw on. Lacking my reasonable faculties, I opted for only my rain jacket, which reaches just past my hips. I checked one last time for people and decided a mad dash partially clothed was the way to go.

Please tell me living out of a car won’t always be this colorful.

Barefoot in the mud I quickly retrieved the digital screaming baby and my only thought was to make it shut up. Fast. Stop attracting attention. The water-logged movement was affecting the sound and it now more closely resembled a dying walrus than any digital source. Shut up, shut up, shut UP. My fingers raced to find solutions. I partially buried it in fabric while scrambling for the battery compartment, bare legs hanging out of the car and…nope, this isn’t going to work.

Jumped inside and slammed the door behind me, creating a hurricane of a mess inside my newly organized tiny home as I did so. STUPID BATTERY COMPARTMENT. I buried it again while feeling around for a flashlight amidst the newly created chaos surrounding me. Found one. My torn nail beds screamed bloody murder as I recklessly yanked at the piece of plastic until – at last – the 9 volt battery was exposed and I pulled it out.

Silence.

A moment of relief.

Then shock.

I don’t know how long it was before I realized I was trembling from head to toe and frozen in a half-seated fetal position for quite a while, judging by the muscle cramps. As my senses gradually checked back in, I became aware of details such as wearing only one earplug, my rain jacket on bare skin, the wet chaos surrounding me. And while I wasn’t quite sure which objects exactly I was sitting on they were exceedingly uncomfortable.

Slowly, I began to move again.

Peeking out the windows on every side, I realized no one had come to investigate the noise.

I gradually set about making myself comfortable again and bedded down for sleep.

Morning’s observations: my shoes are soaked right through along with some laundry and my car looks like a tornado happened inside it with a generous lacing of dirt to boot.

I will figure this out.

Edited from a forum post originally published October 2014.

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