Groggy, I lifted my head from the pillow and blinked in the darkness. Did I just hear that? I reached for the remote and woke up the cable, which had gone into sleep mode. 1:34 a.m.


Wide awake now. No second guessing that sound this time. My alarm.

My home alarm is beeping. Someone is in the house.

On the floor next to the bed were the jeans I'd worn earlier. I slid out of bed and pulled them on.

Back to the bed - I grabbed my phone, keys and the kitchen knife I keep tucked under Theseus's pillow, at once grateful I'd continued what at times seemed like a silly precaution.

I eased open the bedroom door and crept down the hall. In the living room I stepped into the sandels I'd left out.


The alarm keypad gave no clue as to what was happening. I'd armed it before going to sleep, but once armed and a door is opened, there is a window of time before the siren sounds and ADT is alerted. The front door remained closed. Did someone get in the basement? Is this counting down to the siren?


I stood at the edge of the living room, making sure I had a clear path to the front door, watching the top of the basement stairs. A creak, a groan - is it the house settling, or someone making their way quietly up the basement stairs? I strain to listen, but soon all I can hear is my heart pounding, the rush of blood at my temples.


I have to get out of here. Didn't I read somewhere that when people carry knives for protection, they usually end up getting the knife turned on them in an attack?



I turned back to the alarm keypad, disarmed it (why?), ran to the front door, tore it open. Raced to my car, backed out of the driveway, drove down the street and turned into a convenience store parking lot.

Two men walked across the street toward my car, talking to each other. One of them was wearing a backpack, the other a baseball cap. They continued past my car without noticing me and went into the convenience store. The bland normalcy of it struck me as funny and I laughed hysterically for a few moments before dialing ADT.

The man at ADT was very nice and explained to me that my alarm had not sent a burglery notification to ADT, nor an error notification. So my system was working. Did I disarm it while it was still counting down to the siren (and burglery notification)? Maybe, but the beeps could have been any number of things, he said. The only way to see what it was at this point was to go back to the keypad and he'd have me enter a code to check the status.

Go back to the keypad.

I can't go back in there. My eyes welled up.

Do you want me to call the police and ask them to do a walk-through, he asked. I told him I did. He asked for my car's make, model and color and asked where I'd be waiting. I'll park in front of my house. Ok, he said. The cops will be there soon. We hung up.

Driving back to my house was difficult and I ended up circling the block twice before finally parking across the street. Before long, three police cars turned up my street and parked in front of my car.

The ADT rep had not explained the whole situation to the police, so I told them what had happened. The alarm... I'm home alone... my husband is deployed... I can't go check the keypad... One asked where my exterior doors are, then headed for the back yard with the second officer. The third asked if I had any pets in the house and if my front door was locked. Three cats and yes, I think so. He took my keys and told me to wait outside.

A few minutes later the other two officers returned from the back yard and told me, to my relief, that the back doors were still locked. They then joined the first officer in the house. I waited in the yard, watching lights turn on and off through the windows.

Finally they all came out - no one was there. I was relieved but also felt a little like an idiot. One officer suggested maybe it was a problem with the keypad battery; a car accident had knocked over a telephone pole on my street earlier and most houses had been without power for several hours during the day. I don't know... All of the closet doors are open, one of them told me, adding I shouldn't worry, they were the ones who opened them all.
I thanked them again and they drove away.

Once inside, I went room to room and closed all the closets, embarrassed at the mess I hadn't realized was in most of them. I also noted, redfaced, my underwear in the middle of my bedroom floor. The officers had had to step over it to make their way into the bedroom. Nice.

I called ADT again and a woman answered this time. I explained everything that had happened. She had me return to the keypad and enter a code to bring up the status. Tell me what is says on the screen, she said.

Phone failure. What does that mean? She explained that it meant there had been an interruption in communication between the cell tower and ADT (we don't have a landline, and my cell is the primary phone for the ADT account). She checked and found the interruption occurred at 12:18 a.m. Sometimes the cellular companies have work done on the towers at night, she said.

I thanked her and hung up. All that for nothing.


My heart eventually stopped pounding, and I was able to fall back asleep - as the sun was rising.

- Antiope

6/7/2010 10:42:19 am

Don't feel badly - when the Spawn was little, maybe 5, and his idiot father was away at AT, I was giving him a bath & distinctly heard a very loud crash in the basement. Without even thinking twice, I grabbed him from the tubv, threw a towel around him & ran out of the house, grabbing - you guessed it - a butcher knife on my way through the kitchen. Fortunately I had my cell in my back pocket & called the cops from there. Like you, 3 cars showed up...two cops went in and one stayed out with us to take my statement...I thought he was going to fall over trying to not laugh at poor Spawn sitting there in nothing but a towel and me clutching my butcher knife like Michael Meyers. The two inside officers found a couple of boxes in the basement that looked like they had fallen over, but the basement door was still shut & locked & no windows were broken. After letting Spawn see inside one of the squad cars and giving him a plastic badge, they left & me neighbors converged...which is when I learned that my house was haunted. All of that being said, I feel your humiliation.


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