What was that? You snap to alertness for a split second before you chuckle to yourself. Nothing. Of course it was nothing! Probably some electronic device or the furnace or whatever cycling on or off. You glance at the clock: 4:25am. Perfect. You can probably snag another complete REM cycle before it's time to wake up. You close your eyes and begin to drift off.
Your head snaps towards the door, your ears strain against the quiet. That was definitely something. You didn't imagine it. Was that a footstep? Your heart races.
Suddenly your office door is illuminated by the screen of your computer coming to life.
I leapt out of bed, body heaving to keep my breath up with my heart. A weirdly calm murderous rage kind of melted over me. Someone was in my house, and could potentially harm me or my wife. I was going to find them and murder them, then call the police. But they would definitely be dead first. Because how dare they even assume I was a rube they could steal from, right? The violation of it all, of someone entering my home and rifling through my stuff a mere 10 feet or so from where I sleep, was enough to make me want to maim them viciously.
I should point out here that I haven't been in a fight of any kind since like the 8th grade. I go to a gym three or four times a week and punch a bag. I'm not deluded enough to think, in my normal logical brain, that I would have the ability to actually fight off an attacker.
But when you think there's a stranger in your house your fight/flight response kicks in and mine said Locate this person, hurl the entirety of your mass into them as hard as you can, and once you've knocked them off their feet gouge their eyes out with your thumbs to incapacitate them.
With that happy plot in my head, and with my sleeping wife still blissfully unaware in bed, I crept towards the bathroom where I'd originally heard the rustling. I threw open the door: nothing. Immediately I turned to my right, where my office door opens, expecting the intruder to be busy trying to detach our computer from its stand: nothing.
And it turns out there's a weird rubber band effect that happens in your brain in situations like this, where at first you only want there to be nothing there. You want to be the paranoid person afraid of the dark, because it's much easier to laugh at that than to deal with the prospect of a stranger forcibly entering your house.
But once you get yourself all worked up and ready for a fight to the death on the carpeted basement floor, when it turns out there's nothing there a weird anger bubbles up. How dare these fuckers not show their faces. There HAS to be something here. I'm up. I'm panting like a dog. My muscles are so tense I'm rocking a charlie horse in my right hamstring. This had better be for SOMETHING. I need to dump this adrenaline somehow.
I make my way to the stairs, listening. Our house is 70-something years old; the floors creak like an old frigate in a storm. If someone were upstairs I'd hear it the second they put their foot down. I check the bathroom again: some of Kat's various soaps or lotions, wet from her shower, managed to slide off the ever-so-gently-sloped tile shelf. But that doesn't explain the computer! I check the office again. It's off. Did that part even happen?
I drowsily stomp back to bed and try to slide in without disturbing Kat.
"What was it?" she asks.
"Some stuff in the shower fell off a shelf."
"Yeah, that's what I thought it was."
Well I really wish you'd have told me that at the start, I think to myself as I stare at the ceiling for another hour, waiting for the alarm to go off.