Last night Rach and I were awoken at 2:00 AM by a loud crash from somewhere inside the house. It sounded like a box of crockery being thrown down a stairwell. Immediately the Critical Incident Response Team (me) went into action. I grabbed my night vision equipment (mobile phone with backlight) and headed out into the now eerily quiet house to investigate.
Creeping into the living room I saw in the dim light the shape of a man standing against the far wall. I did a Ninja roll to my right and came up clutching the nearest available weapon, a medium sized stuffed tiger. I was milliseconds away from launching an all-out assault when I realised the intruder was just our large Bob Dylan poster.
I dropped the tiger and turned around to face the glass sliding doors that open on to the deck. A naked man was standing out there, shining a small torch in at me. Terror hit like a bucket of icy water. Adrenaline flooded my neuroreceptor sites. Just as my brain stem was considering the options – fight or flight – I recognised the depraved prowler as simply my own reflection. Phew.
Everything in the kitchen appeared to be in order. Likewise the bathroom and other bedrooms. Teesha, our fearless attack cat lay sleeping on the floor under my desk. I moved silently towards the laundry. Whatever night demon had invaded our home must be hiding in there.
I flung myself around the laundry doorway and flicked on the light. The room was empty. There was, however, evidence as to the cause of the mysterious noise. The metal vacuum cleaner tube, which had been leaning against the wall, had fallen over, knocking to the ground an eski, which in turn flipped over the garbage bin. But how could this have happened spontaneously?
The day before had been incredibly hot, with a cooler change occurring late in the afternoon. My thoughts turned immediately to the possibility of thermal expansion of the metal vacuum cleaner tube. Had heat-related changes at the atomic level in the metal tube caused the infinitesimally small adjustment in position required to send it crashing to the floor?
I crunched the numbers as I stood there, paying attention to the angles involved, the relative friction (both static and kinetic) of the laundry wall, converting temperatures from celsius to kelvin and back again. Even taking into account my estimate of the coefficient of thermal expansion of vacuum cleaner tube metal, I concluded that no evil forces were at work here. This was simply a case of something going bump in the night.
Either that, or it was a poltergeist.
P.S. When I returned to bed Rach told me that the noise had interrupted a nice dream she was having about a marble cake.