CHAPTER SEVEN- The elevator of life drops to the basement.
Just telling you that Ray Meadows couldn't sleep that night- not after seeing that thing- could be considered a strong candidate for Understatement of the Year. A six-pack of Jolt Cola would not have left him more wide awake. At least he was gracious enough in his nervous panic to not wake Barbara. He got out of bed quietly and made his way downstairs. Didn't bother with his flashlight. He could see everything in the house perfectly. Moonlight and adrenaline have that effect. First, a stop in the kitchen for a glass of water. His mouth felt like someone had put a wool sock in it. An old one. There were dust bunnies under his tongue. Ray got a glass out of the cupboard and went for the tap water to avoid opening the refrigerator door. Too much light in there. When he was done, he sat the empty water glass silently in the sink and wandered into the living room. The street lamps on Compton Road seemed unusually bright tonight. The world seemed unusually silent. Had he heard any noise at all in the last hour since he went to bed? Ray couldn't remember. Maybe seeing that thing made him deaf. Geez- there's a weird thought. Especially when he thought back to how it heard him, and he wasn't making any noise. Not that he could hear, anyway. Ok, Ray thought, so I'm deaf. Life goes on. No more background music. Deal with it. What's next?
No, Ray Meadows isn't deaf. But if that tree doesn't fall in the forest, how would you know if you could hear a sound? It was a very quiet night and Ray himself was going out of his way to not make any noise. So there was nothing to hear. May as well be deaf, Ray. One wide awake Ray Meadows sat down in the recliner in the living room, in the dark. He was in no mood to recline. He sat bolt upright, thinking. What should he do? Call the police? Sure, that would be interesting. What did he see? Don't know. What did it look like? Don't know. Where did it go? See above. Maybe don't call the police. How about tomorrow? What was the desk sergeant's name? Robins? Robinson? That's it. Ray decided to call her tomorrow. She should be working the same shift. He could catch her at work before lunch. OK, now what?
How about calling the neighbor- the one under that roof? Oh, sure, that should be good for a giggle. Ray thought about that one, and decided it wouldn't go as well as a call to the police: "Hi! I'm your next door neighbor and I just saw some weird animal or something go skipping across your roof. What? Well, yes, I know it's one a.m. What? No, I can't sleep. You see, this thing went- Hello? Are you there?" Ray went with the theory that if that thing made any noise itself, the neighbor would have heard it and got up to look. No lights on over there. Let's leave it that way.
The thought of going outside and looking for the Whatever It Was did occur to Ray. Several times, in fact. But every time it did, his mind played back that vivid scene in the bedroom not more than an hour before. It heard him raise up on one elbow in bed to get a better look. It heard him do that from the roof of the house next door. He didn't hear himself do that, and it did. Now, what are the odds of being able to sneak up on this thing? Just about zip-a-de-do-dah, and Ray knew it. So he stayed inside. Why bother?
By two o'clock in the morning, Ray was channel surfing on the TV with the sound turned off. The light from the screen seemed glaring, but he needed something to take his mind off the earlier events of the night. And that's what TV was made for. Slowly clicking the remote, he had realized by now that he wasn't deaf. The sound of the remote buttons clicking, and the hiss of the muted TV both told him all was not lost, sound-wise.
His hearing was fine. A stop at the weather channel for tomorrow's forecast. No rain, warming trend continues. That's nice. Another stop on