My head snapped up off the pillow in the wee hours this morning, startling awake to a room full of darkness and confused by the incessant chirp of an electronic alarm.
The Puddinette tapped my shoulder urgently, panic rising in her voice as she whispered. “Honey, what’s that? What’s that noise?!”
My brain could process neither the electronic bleeps nor the sounds she was making. I’m not sure what language I might have been capable of comprehending at the time, but English was not among them. Luckily, the high pitched noise seemed somewhat familiar.
The security system.
Before anyone gets all freaked out about home invaders or alien abductions, take a breath. Our security system is occasionally oversensitive and has, in past, been triggered for a variety of reasons, including a long-term power outage that drained the back-up battery, faulty motion detectors, and a few other reasons. In those past cases, usually the alarm has gone off during day, but at inconvenient times. Like when we were at church on Easter Sunday. Nothing like seeing a police car racing through your neighborhood, lights blaring, just as you realize they’re going to you house. Happy Easter, Officer.
At any rate, no, we were not being burglarized.
I have little that might interest the Pink Panther, anyway. We do have lots of scented candles, I suppose.
I leapt out of bed, literally, and dashed through our room toward the door in my Joe Boxer Naughty-or-Nice Christmas print boxers. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my head, a voice wondered if the cold had somehow knocked out the power while the backup battery was being temperamental again.
That thought quickly evaporated as a string of cursing erupted from my mouth when I charged directly into the small chair The Attitude keeps in our room in case he feels the need to demand some mid-morning time with a LeapFrog video. As I’m a big fan of my own cushy recliner, I usually don’t begrudge him the addition of a toddler-sized piece of furniture to our Master Bedroom set.
As I stumbled over it in the blackness this morning, I was suddenly not such a big fan.
After extricating myself from his theater seating, I pushed forward, feeling a sense of urgency. Our alarm has a brief disarming period, intended to give the home owner a chance to turn it off before the Great Squealing Alarm of Doom is released upon an unsuspecting neighborhood.
My time was running out.
I approached the doorway and could see the alarm pad glowing red in the hallway. Not far now, I was going to make it!
But then my shoulder crashed into the open door of our bedroom like a business traveler after one too many tumblers of Jameson meeting the doorframe of his hotel room.
My second outburst of cursing was drowned out by the ever-present chime.
Finally, I reached the control panel just as my bleary, sleeping-like-a-stone-40-seconds-ago vision began to see, you know, things.
I raised my hands to the panel, intending to do…something. Whatever one is supposed to do when terrible, obnoxious, chirping alarms Won’t. Stop. Beeping. I realized the keypad was composed of buttons printed with strange-looking sigils. Those should mean something, I thought.
Numbers, I realized, still in a daze of befuddled, semi-wakefulness. Yes! A code! Type in a code and make the beastly noise stop! Hopefully before the Great Squealing Alarm is triggered and every child within 3 blocks is instantly awoken.
My fingers pressed buttons, more from muscle memory than from actually recollection. But my brain was still woozy with sleep, and I hit them incorrectly.
The terrible beeping escalated; beeps cascading relentlessly right on top of one another.
5 seconds left. My whole body thrummed with panic. Must prevent the Great Squeal.
Certain that I had the code right and must have fat-fingered* it, I repeated the process. The angry red panel was displeased. The chirping continued.
3 seconds left. One more chance. Holy crap, I thought, I’m doomed. In 2 seconds all of my kids are going to be awake and either scared to death or wondering why we’re having a fire drill in the middle of the night.
At that moment, the fog in my head finally lifted and clarity washed over me. I was keying the right code, but the procedure was wrong. In a rush, I punched the buttons the right way.
And muffed it because I was hurrying. The timer on the alarm panel hit double zero. My time was up.
The Great Squeal of Doom then erupted through our house like a World War II bomb siren. It reminded me of the high-pitched scream made by European police cars in movies, but sped up several times, like an Alvin and the Chipmunks song. The pitch wasn’t the worst part, though. The volume was downright skull-splitting. The alarm was so loud that I felt like someone had chucked a metal garbage can over my head and was hitting it with a hammer while 472 third graders played cymbals right beside to me.
Finally, out of sheer desperation, I entered the correct code, the right way. Blessedly, the Squeal was quieted.
While waiting for the inevitable call from the security company, I took a deep breath and walked the house to insure that the alarm had, in fact, been set off accidentally. It’s nice that they call to make sure no one’s stealing my Yankee Candles.
When all was said a done, the three older kids were awake, but somehow The Attitude slept through it. Thank goodness for small favors.
And that’s how The Great Squealing Alarm of Doom became my alarm clock this morning.
Well played, Monday, well played. This round goes to you.
*A technical term