Y’know, it’s a good thing Isaac Newton never had children, because if he’d had a toddler he would have had too many experiences with antigravity to ever come up with his theory.
Allow me to set the stage: I have a slight cold which manifests itself primarily as a rasping cough whenever I lie down. I have thus been taking Nyquil for several nights running in an effort to prevent Shadow Jack from moving to a different continent. Whenever I take anything that includes a soporific, it messes with my REM sleep and I don’t dream. My subconscious mind–which is quite the prankster–hoards these dreams, and after a few nights I wind up with nightmares when asleep and a bad case of the fantods when awake.* Under normal circumstances, for example, I’ll attribute a sudden thump in the basement to the water filter kicking in. If I’ve been taking soporifics for a few nights, it’s an axe murderer, guaranteed.
So, around 2:30 this morning I’m awakened from unsettling and murky dreams by a dog who has to potty.** It’s not only pitchy black outside, it’s foggy and raining. Beyond the halo of porch light, the bare trees raise distorted limbs menacingly skyward. The dog hears something in the woods.*** her eyes narrow and her hackles rise. Expecting a nightmare made flesh to rush from the darkness, I tell her that if she doesn’t finish Right Now, I will pick her up and wring her like a dishrag. She looks affronted and squats. I breathe a sigh of relief as I hurry inside and close the front door, certain that we’ve narrowly missed some hideous doom. I go back upstairs and turn off the light. As I make my way across the dark, silent bedroom, snippets of ghost stories and more horrible things flash through my mind. I reach the bed, expecting a cold, necrotic hand to clasp my ankle. And just as I pull back the covers…Shadowboy shrieks like a banshee from the next room.
He does this in his sleep sometimes: One blood-curdling screech, then silence.
I will leave my reaction as an exercise for the reader.
*Even though I know, intellectually, that there’s nothing to fear, the Stephen King Lobe of my brain gives me a constant feed of, “What if [fill in the blank]?” What if ghosts existed, and they weren’t just harmless apparitions, they were the bloody, fanged ghosts you see in Japanese horror movies? What if the institute for the criminally insane that I’m sure exists around here somewhere has misplaced three or four of its psychos? What if there’s somethingcreepingupbehindmerightnowaiyeee? So you see.
**On the one hand, I could just beat her when she does this. On the other hand, I, personally, have a bladder the size of a lentil, so I can sympathize with her plight. What I need is a dog with opposable thumbs that can let herself out.
*** The dog always hears something in the woods. She’s not exactly a pillar of courage herself.