A riot of sirens woke me at 4:26 this morning. The sound of the fire trucks, or ambulances, or whatever they were, were accompanied by a piercing, persistent, awful sound. I tried to ignore it, but it actually hurt my ears.
I ran through the usual checks. Sniff. OK, house not on fire. I listened… The noise definitely was coming from outside of our house.
By this time, Billy was awake too. I got up to look out the window. Nothing amiss. The sirens were long gone, but the awful noise remained. It was at a pitch that was so uncomfortable to our ears. I was reminded of the idea of a dog whistle.
Billy said, “I don’t think I can go back to sleep with that noise going.”
I marveled at the fact that Billy was focused on returning to sleep, while I was completely focused on uncovering what the sound was, and, possibly, making it stop. I am the kind of person who tends to have catastrophic thoughts about things I can’t figure out, particularly when it’s the middle of the night. What if the rest of the city has been eliminated and we’re the only ones left? (Really, I thought that. Then I thought, eliminated by aliens? by terrorists? …. What can I say, I have a vivid imagination and it was the middle of the night.) What if that sound is a warning siren, and there’s a tsunami? (Never mind that our house is a couple of miles from water in the three directions where there happens to be water, and that it is on a steep hill.) What if there was an earthquake, and I slept through it? Then: Are there sirens to notify you if there’s been a bad earthquake? Again, what can I say, it was the middle of the night. I started to wonder if the noise was a fire alarm that malfunctioned, or a siren that was stuck, or a security alarm. I wondered if I should call someone about it. I wondered if my dog’s ears hurt as much as mine did, since dogs’ ears are supposedly so much more sensitive.
Finally the noise stopped. My ears were actually ringing. Billy went back to sleep. I did not, and instead at 6:30 finally gave up and took the dog to the park. I still don’t know what the noise was, but I am fairly certain that the city was not eliminated overnight. Also, I saw my neighbor walking her dog, and she seemed fine, so Billy and Howie and I are clearly not the only ones left.
I made a sour cream coffee cake when I got back from the park. It’s a favorite around here, topped as it is with a mixture of brown sugar, butter and walnuts. Billy ate four pieces when he woke up. I browsed the local papers online for mention of night-piercing, high-pitched, monotonous sounds that made local residents’ ears ring, but saw nothing. It’s like the whole incident never happened.