“MUUUUUUMM !!!!” The fear laced scream jolted me out of a deep, dreamless sleep. Jumping out of bed, I quickly ran to the children’s bedroom to see what was wrong. And stopped dead in my tracks. Both the kidlets were tucked up in bed fast asleep, their breathing slow and steady. Neither of them were hot or sweaty. The bedding was undisturbed, wrapped snugly around them just the way they liked it. Nothing seemed to be amiss.
I swear to God I had heard that bloodcurdling scream. So where, and more to the point, from whom, had it emerged?
Too rattled to go back to bed, I walked slowly to the kitchen, turning all the lights on along the way. This was not a time to walk alone in the dark even in my own home. I was nervous enough as it was. Turning the kettle on I reached for a mug and some instant coffee. A strong hit was what I needed. That and nicotine, my staple go to nerve tonics.
Blimey Charlie, what do I do now ? It was not my custom to smoke inside. However, tonight I made an exception to that rule. There was nothing in this world that would make me go outside onto the veranda for a smoke. Instead, I turned on the exhaust fan. At least it would draw up some of the smoke.
Having calmed down somewhat, I turned my thoughts back to that scream. It had sounded like one of the kids. It had sounded like it came from their bedroom. There were only the three of us in the house. Neither of the kids have ever talked, let alone screamed in their sleep. What did that leave me with? A very damn realistic dream? A ghost? A voice from ‘beyond’? None of these were options I would normally even consider. I am a very practical, down to earth person, feet firmly planted on terra firma. So why was I considering them now?
I jumped in fright at every creak and squeak the house made in the still of the night, nerves frayed and jittery. Too scared to go back to bed, I was at a loss what to do. I didn’t want to turn on the TV. Crazy as it sounds I wanted to be able to hear every little noise. Reading was out of the question. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. Crossword puzzle? No, I would just get frustrated at not being able to come up with the right words. A tour of the house just in case there was an intruder? I probably should, but on my own? I didn’t want to wake the kids up. They’d get scared because first I’d have to explain it all to them. I definitely couldn’t call the cops! What would I tell them? That I had heard a bloodcurdling scream ?! Call a friend? It was 3am, they’d tell me to stop being so silly and go back to bed. All in all that was probably the best option. Going back to bed that is. But I just couldn’t do it. So I sat there at the kitchen table.
I must have fallen asleep for the next thing I knew someone was touching me on the shoulder. I screamed. It was the kidlets. Big grins on their faces they asked Did you hear it? Hear what I asked, all of a sudden suspicious. The scream, they said. It was just a little experiment – for school.
Thanks to Sharron Heys for this three word prompt – Little gives more.
© Raili Tanska