Note/Disclaimer: This one’s short and rather bland, I know, but it came to me last night when I woke up at the same time as my story’s main character and, well, some people go back to sleep, I just lay awake thinking all sorts of random things.
Tim woke up again. 3:40 AM read the digital alarm clock’s face. This was the fourth night in a row that he woke up at this exact time.
He didn’t pay it much mind; it was likely that he’d been waking up at around that time for god-knows-how-long and only really happened to look at a clock as of late. Nevertheless, when he mentioned it to his classmates after the third such night some of them seemed spooked.
It’s the hour of the beast, said a couple of them, arguing that the hour was a mockery of the holy trinity or some such rubbish. Since Tim wasn’t a Christian, he didn’t buy it. He countered with the logical argument of time zones, after all, it wasn’t like demonic forces operated and moved in accordance to the human-made, arbitrarily designated time-keeping parameters, was it? The very notion was nothing short of ridiculous.
He’d decided, after that dumb exchange, to look up the scientific reasons why he might be waking up at exactly the same time every night.
Sleep cycles, read the various online journals he’d perused and mentally digested, were to blame. His were being disturbed somehow. When he would emerge from one such cycle, which coincided with that particular time of the night, something would wake him up due to how close he was to the surface in a manner of speaking; his proximity to wakefulness. It was very likely a noise from outside, possibly a neighbourhood cat or the like.
He’d considered the matter put to rest then, except that now, this time, he was quite sure it had been a loud noise that woke him up. He lay in bed for a minute or two, quiet, trying to scan the house aurally from where he continued to lay, ears wide as it were. Nothing but the quiet scratching noises one normally hears in any house in the wee hours. He was home alone for the weekend, his parents having left for his Grandmother’s after dropping him off at school, so there would be no late-night snacking noises from his dad’s occasional forays into the kitchen fridge.
His heart was beating fast and would not stop. He scanned the room, his eyes catching on shadows anthropomorphized or given terrifying, menacing shapes. Pareidolia playing tricks on his mind which, at that particular time of night, seemed all too susceptible to the visual illusions a room lit by the crescent moon’s tenuous beams might offer up.
He decided the best course of action was to get up, turn on his room’s light, and then scan the house. He considered taking the bat he had in the closet, as wooden Louisville Slugger, but decided against it. He walked out of the room, the light switched on and illuminating the long hallway from behind him, like a luminous bodyguard whose presence emboldened Tim’s resolve.
After scanning his parents’ bedroom without any eventuality he made his way down to the kitchen on the first floor, nothing there either. He checked the front door’s locks, all secure. After another quick scan of the ground floor he made it up the stairs groggily, sleepiness returning now that the adrenal response had subsided.
He entered his bedroom, switched off the light and plunked down onto his bed. He pulled the covers up – it was rather chilly, after all – and began to count to himself mentally, an old trick that always seemed to work, while he took deep breaths to ensure his heart rate returned to normal.
He was starting to go under, into proper sleep, when he heard the voice, causing his skin to prickle, as if his hairs were standing on end.
“That was kinda scary, wasn’t it?”