Things that Go Bump in the Night, Should Be the Least of Your Worries
Alicia glared at the harsh light of the alarm clock, set to go off in exactly three hours and twenty-four minutes.
"Fuuuuucccccckkkkkkk," she whispered with exasperation into the otherwise dark and empty room. The barely audible curse floated up to the vaulted ceiling in a silent prayer of desperation, then slowly returned to sender.
It grew larger as it came back down to her, ultimately enveloping her in a shroud of silent rage.
Every moment that passed seemed like a cruel instrument of torment, each minute lingering for maximum agony, as if the gods themselves were gaining sadistic pleasure from the abject state of misery she suffered every night.
Seething with frustration, she tossed and turned.
Alicia had used every trick in the book to try to get some damned sleep. And every single damned one failed her miserably.
Counting sheep? ... Nope. She even tried advanced algorithms with the sheep, manipulating them to create ellipses and complex polygons. The sheep were obedient to her every mathematical whim, but still proved to be ineffectual.
And while nighttime yoga may have been helpful for others, the only benefit she reaped was increased flexibility. Which, in turn, gave her a few new configurations for tossing and turning her exhausted body at night.
She tried bubble baths, nightcaps, hypnosis -- but nothing proved to be helpful. Melatonin and Nyquil proved to be temporary fixes which ultimately created more frustration as their efficacy peaked, then quickly diminished.
Finally, after begging for a solution, her primary physician reluctantly suggested a new medicine.
That night, her attempt at rest was a disappointment, just like every night for as long as she could remember.
Unable to fall asleep after taking her prescription sleep aid, Alicia found herself in a bizarre state of mind.
She ended up in a heated debate with her cat, Mr. Fluffaluffagus.
"I fucking told you, Mr. F! Schroedinger's Cat was both alive and dead! ... No, I don't know why he didn't choose a dog! ... Are you actually offended by that theory?"
"Well, I just don't think it was a good analogy for ANYTHING," the cat snidely replied.
The debate escalated as the night went on, and became so intense that her neighbors came to the door, demanding to know who she was arguing with. They were well aware that she lived alone, and that her love life was non-existent.
Alicia lied and said she was rehearsing for a play, and they threatened to call the police the next time it happened. She closed the door, relieved that they finally left, and turned to see Mr. Fluffaluffagus glaring at her with smug satisfaction.
Damned cat, thinks he's so much better than me.
Alicia sank down in her wing-back chair and buried her head in her hands, shortly before passing out.
The next morning, she couldn't remember how she got there, or why her cat seemed so resentful toward her.
The rest of the day was beyond surreal. Reality and fantasy seemed to blur together, with no real delineation between the two.
She figured it was just an adjustment period for the medicine.
That night, things became even stranger.
Colors seemed more vivid, eliciting a sense of elation as she explored the depths of a particularly enchanting rabbit hole. She laughed uncontrollably as she traipsed through the wonderful land.
Nothing in this fantastical world made sense, but she had resigned to the fact that nothing actually needed to make sense any more. Everything that her life was before -- the string of devastating losses, the agonizing isolation that followed -- fell away as she went further and further down this hole.
All that mattered now was the journey, and the adventures she would have along the way.
After all the tension, being so tightly wound that even her closest friends couldn't stand to be near her, Alicia had found a moment of self-awareness and realization.
Deep inside, she had become like a cage that imprisoned the tiniest and cutest of animals. No one around her could see through to what was inside; all they knew was the cold, metal frame on the outside.
Before tonight, she didn't know how to show the world who she really was. She didn't know how to free all the lovable, furry creatures that dwelled within.
But now, she knew what to do.
In the surreal land, she climbed to the top of the highest mountain to reveal to the world what she had hidden inside for so long.
Alicia found the key to the cage, and as she slowly turned it, the adorable creatures were squealing and dancing with anticipation for the freedom they had never known. The more she turned the key, the more excited they became.
She never knew how many fluffy animals had been bound up inside, not until she gathered the courage to free them! And out they came: the bunnies, the hedgehogs, the sugar gliders, the baby otters, and the potbelly pigs, all so excited to finally be free, to share their unbearable cuteness with the world!
And with their emancipation, Alicia felt so light, so happy for their freedom, so happy that everyone would see her for who she was on the inside! She finally shared everything that had been locked up for so long! And it felt so good! She spread her arms and bared her chest, surrendering to the freedom and laughing as she slowly drifted away.
Hours later, a popular after-hours nightclub was shut down. Yellow tape with the words, "POLICE LINE. DO NOT CROSS," wrapped around the building.
As he pieced together the final parts of the puzzle, the policeman shook his head. He had finished writing down the account of the bizarre incident's final witness.
A young woman, roughly in her mid-20s, had entered the club that night, acting very strange.
This was a place where bizarre behavior -- even a disheveled woman laughing maniacally for forty-five minutes straight as she wondered around aimlessly -- went without notice as the club's patrons, too drunk and too stoned to care, would laugh it off and continue dancing.
It wasn't until she climbed into an empty dancer's cage and, in a state of pure bliss and ecstasy, gutted herself in front of the entire room of screaming witnesses, that it occurred to anyone that something was actually wrong.