It is not unusual for me to go to bed after 2:00 a.m. and last night was no exception. In fact, for the last few weeks, I’ve been plagued with insomnia no doubt brought on by the Prednisone I’ve been taking. Prednisone, I’ve learned is often called “the Devil’s drug” and it definitely seems to have an evil effect on my body even as it goes to work healing my sinuses and ears. Still, I admit when I’m on it my brain is not exactly clear.
Last night, however, it’s primary effect seemed to be hyping me up enough to undertake a variety of suddenly important activities such as organizing and alphabetizing my DVD collection at 2:00 a.m. The pugs are used to me being up and about at night, like I said, but usually I’m working on the computer, reading a book, writing an article, watching TV, not running like a mad woman around my bedroom ripping DVDs off the shelf and stacking them over the bed and the floor. They weren’t sure where to light as my lap was unavailable and the bed was full. Thus, they too were running around, chasing each other, doing circles, uncovering their toys.
And, eventually when all else failed Alfie went on her insane and never-ending hunt for the invisible fly. This urge to hunt often takes over late at night and at times when she should be quiet. It involves staring at the ceiling, jumping up and down off the bed reaching toward the ceiling and barking maniacally at thin air, most often at times when she should be the quietest.
I hushed her and scolded her to calm down to no avail. I tried to get a toy to distract her. No luck. I was worried she’d wake the other members of the household, so I shut my bedroom door and that’s when things got creepy.
I’m not one to become easily spooked. I’m a night owl and thus, don’t mind the dark and am accustomed to the creaks and groans of an old house. My sister-in-law keeps a dream diary of paranormal experience, but I’m not one to dwell on those sorts of things. Nor do I worry much about crime. But suddenly I found myself getting a little unnerved.
It started with some movement behind my window shade. Wow, Alfie’s actually caught a live one here, I thought to myself, assuming the slight movement from behind the shade was a sleepy old housefly. After all, Alfie was staring at the window with all the perseverance and authority of a German shepherd or Doberman pinscher. Congrats, Alfie, I was about to say when the shade moved some more and not just a little bit. That was not a fly behind the shade. It was too big. A squirrel, I thought? Or a mouse? But the movement was coming from the middle of the shade and there seemed to be no perch for either of these. If it hadn’t been the middle of winter I would have assumed the window was open the way the shade moved in and out, but I didn’t think I felt a breeze.
Alfie was frantic by this point and that’s when things got really strange. My shades, which are always difficult to move up and down, actually had been torn the last time I had moved them and suddenly, like a scene in a horror movie the tear started to spread. Now the shade was moving in and out and tearing from the top. I pictured long claws skimming the surface behind it and considered darting off for help before shaking my head and telling myself this was no poltergeist. If anything it was probably a prednisone- induced hallucination I thought. My bedroom is on the second floor and there was no way anyone was getting in and while the logical thing might be to look behind the shade I had no desire to do that. What if it were a rat, after all?
I did have a desire though, to do what we are all trained to do since childhood when we encounter something scary – I wanted to dart beneath the covers and not come out until morning. And, that’s exactly what I did, sweeping the DVDs off the bed and ushering Waffles and Alfie to their crates.
Alfie, I have to admit, should be rewarded for her gallantry. She was hard to move, standing between me and the offending shade with her fur bristling. You have to remember she is used to this game, standing guard many a night against her invisible fly. Eventually she tires. Since, by this point I was acting very unperturbed, she eventually seized the chewy meatball I offered her and curled up to munch away, uttering only a bark and a growl here and there as we both sat listening to the tiny tears in the shade.
Like I said, I’m not one to easily spook and once I had set my mind on the practical approach of hiding beneath the covers, things did seem to go more smoothly. I readily admit I considered getting up at one point and reaching for my faithful old stuffed teddy bear, Sam, who I still keep in my room, but as any good child knows the only way the blanket defense works is if you stay safely tucked under them and that’s just what I did until morning. After awhile I convinced myself there must be a draft that had gone to work on the shade and when I awoke in the morning I discovered that’s exactly what had happened. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I had left my window cracked a tiny bit up top and although I didn’t notice the chill, it had done the job, leaving tiny tears like the nails of a poltergeist.
I suppose I should feel foolish and I suppose some of you might wonder how I could have fallen so soundly to sleep, but like my pug, Alfie, I have to admit it may just be easier to fight against an invisible enemy than the real thing. I have promised not to be so harsh with her nightly hunts and, I have to admit a slight sense of pride in myself. We always wonder how we’ll handle ourselves in an emergency and I think I did quite well. You know all those movies when you question the actions of the protagonist as they leave the safety of their bedroom and go exploring in the dark? Not me, I held my ground! The pugs and I tucked in safe and sound and survived the demons in the night.