I’m scared of the dark. Always have been. I know that some people think I need to “get a grip” but they are just kidding themselves. I mean, what if the day you ignore the noises in the house, is the day you are murdered by an escaped lunatic with a fetish for chainsaws?
That noise you hear between husband’s snores? Do you know what that is? Sure, you can tell yourself it’s the “roof contracting after a hot day”, or “just the cat”, but are you certain? If husband would just stop his rasping, thunderous cacophony, you’d be able to hear it properly. But instead, it’s just a snippet here and there. And it sounds suspiciously like someone’s in the house.
I didn’t sleep last night. The noise returned and I was torn between waking my husband (surely this is the reason I even got married in the first place?), or confronting the creature/ serial killer/ chainsaw-wielding lunatic myself. After an eon of trying to convince myself it was nothing, I slid from the covers. I shook husband, but he was busy dreaming of swimsuit models and pizza buffets.
I padded to the bedroom door and turned the handle silently. The door opened a crack, and I could quite clearly hear something wasn’t right. There was a huffing, slurping sound coming from the kitchen – exactly the sound an escaped lunatic would make before revving up his chainsaw. I looked in on my daughter but she was asleep, little puttery snores escaping in quiet rhythm.
I got on my way again, thinking about the things I could use to defend myself. Cast-iron frying pan full of leftover vindaloo? Kettle full of tepid water? Can of beetroot? Between me and lunatic, things weren’t looking good for me. But thinking of my family, I took a last look back at the bedroom door and moved forward, heart-beat pulsing out of my eyeballs.
I pushed open the kitchen door.
A shadow near the stove stopped me in my tracks. It was moving. The sounds coming from it confirmed my worst nightmares. Staring into the inky darkness, I was paralysed with fear. My feet were wedged in concrete boots.
But then I thought of my girl in the room down the hall and reached for the light switch, ready to leap forward and sacrifice myself for my family.
As the kitchen blazed into view I remained fixed to the spot, but the fear evaporated. I was more confused than anything – I couldn’t quite understand what I was seeing.
My cat was on the stove-top, shaking his head worse than a bowl of jelly on a vibrating machine (yes, I’ve tried it). At first, I thought I must have left the stove-top on. But no – there was no smell of burning cat (yes, I know what that smells like, but only because I have a cat who has no head for self-preservation).
And then I realised what happened. He had investigated the stove for a midnight feast and partaken in the leftover fare. He sampled one of the hottest vindaloos ever made, and was trying madly to soften the chili burn by sneezing with machine-gun rapidity while erratically pawing at himself.
There’s really nothing I could do but take him off the stove and put him on the floor as I tried not to laugh.
After several minutes, he calmed down and I gave him a bit of a pat. He looked at me, looked at the stove, then jumped up and began licking the pan again.
I didn’t sleep last night. I made popcorn and watched the show instead.