Things that go bump in the night

Something jolted me from my slumber. What was that? I lay as still as I could and listened. Silence. Deciding it was nothing, I tried to go back to sleep. Thump, thump, thump. There it was again. It sounded like someone was walking around upstairs. I looked at my clock; it was 3am. A feeling of dread crept into my bones.

We were house sitting in the far north of New Zealand. It’s an idyllic location, just across the road from the beach, but it’s so isolated that there isn’t even a shop there. What would we do if it was a burglar? The nearest police station is a 30 minute drive away. I climbed out of bed, ears on full alert. I crept out of the bedroom and into the pool room. Thump, thump, thump, came the noise from above. I switched on the light in the hope that it might scare them off. Thump, thump, thump. Nope, that didn’t work. Perhaps they can’t see the light from up there. I thought about making some noise, but decided against it. I needed to investigate first.

I climbed the steps to the lounge door, stopped, and listened. There was a gentle thumping followed by a drilling sound. Shit, someone’s trying to break in! Do I send the dog in to check? No, I’ll get Mike up first. I raced back downstairs and whispered, “Mike, sounds like someone’s upstairs. Can you get up and have a listen?” As an afterthought I added, “and put some clothes on.”

The last time someone broke into our house, we were living in Wellington. On that occasion, Mike got up to investigate in the nude. Luckily the burglar had fled seconds earlier, otherwise it might have been a bit embarrassing. This time we’d be prepared. Mike climbed out of bed and pulled on a pair of shorts. Together, we crept back up the stairs and stopped at the lounge door to listen. There was definitely someone drilling. I imagined they were trying to remove the lock to the sliding door.

Mike reached for the door handle but I stopped him, terrified by what we might find. “No,” I said, “Let’s send the dog in first, to check.” Next minute Buddy was listening at the door alongside us. I trembled with fear as more thumping emanated from the lounge. Mike reached for the door again, this time opening it a fraction. The thumping intensified. Is that my heart? Nope, it was definitely coming from the lounge.

Mike and dog were calm. I was a wobbling pile of panna cotta. Mike opened the door all the way and stepped inside. By now I’m shaking uncontrollably, broom handle in one hand, phone set to speed dial 111 in the other. Mike flicked the light switch and took in the scene around him. Nervous laughter emitted from his throat. My grip on the broom handle tightened.

“What? What is it?” I asked, trying to keep the tremor from my voice. What could be so funny about someone trying to break in?

He laughed again as he realised what it was.

“What? What?” I said, still shaking even though there was no apparent danger.

“You’ll laugh, come and have a look at this,” he said.

I stepped into the lounge and looked down towards the source of the noise. A little critter was scurrying over the floor, greedily gobbling up bits of dust and crumbs.

I breathed a sigh of relief, “Oh, it’s only the robot hoover having a late night snack,” I said then headed downstairs to change my underwear.

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