There's a noise. There's a noise and my eyes snap open, but it's so dark that I can' t see anything, and I'm in bed, naked, with the sheets up to my bare chest. Or there was a noise. At least I'm pretty sure there was a noise. It was deep, loud, a big WHUMP.
I get out of bed, and the air is cold, dead. The air is empty, lifeless. I know I can't see the bed, or the doorframe just in front of me, but I know that they are there. I can feel everything around me, on my skin cold and clammy. But I can't feel anything. There is nothing there. I know I am staring down the dark hallway from my bedroom into the kitchen, but I know there is nothing there.
I can still hear the noise echoing in my head.
I know that there has to be something out there, things that go bump in the night. Unmentionables, unknowables. Goblins, critters, faeries and imps. Horrid demons, drug-crazed rapists and sadist murderers.
I know that there is something at the end of the hallway. It echoes in my mind. I hear my lady stir, still in bed, rolling over. The rustle of the sheets against her own naked body, and then she rubs her knees together safe under the sheet. But my naked body is open, defenseless, standing open in the dead cold air of our apartment with tensed thigh muscles and clenched fists. What is out there?
It still echoes in my head, thundering one more time before the noise fades and all I can hear is the fan still blowing in the corner, a light whirring. Did anyone else in the building hear it? Is there an uncountable number of duplications - naked men in their twenties standing in their mirrored bedrooms while their lady is still safe in bed, remembering or almost imagining a noise?
My own heavy breathing.
No more noise.
I step backwards, shuffle my feet. My knees bump into the bed, and I lift the sheet and crawl under it. My lady shifts to her side, then slides up next to me, naked and warm. I'm so cold her skin feels like liquid fire. She moans a little in her sleep, and closes her eyes again, while I stare up at the blackness where I know there should be a ceiling.
Was it all in my mind?