I'm not a particularly picky creature, but one thing I absolutely need is my sleep. I can wake up at the early morning witching hour, but I need at least six hours of sleep to do so; deprive me of sleep and things just go downhill.
After a week or so the good-morning beep disappeared, much to my relief, although I always worried that it would come back. I avoided saying "good morning" directly for a while, which was perfectly all right by me. I needed something to break the monotony, and conjuring alternate morning greetings helped achieve this, if only a little bit. Besides, it helped work my mind.
Speaking of my mind, even though Doc Esco had put me on some medications I wasn't sure if they were working. They always looked the same, but I didn't always react to them in the same way. Sometimes I'd feel dizzy or something after taking them, once so much I practically passed out, but unless swooning equates to sanity I didn't think they were doing their jobs. For a while, maybe a week or two, the doc kept his distance; although, I did notice him lurking more than usual. I'd catch him out of the corner of my eye at lunch, or maybe slipping from my room as I came back from supper.
"Hm," I thought aloud on one of these occasions after dinner. "Wonder what he's up to..." I shrugged, thinking little more of it, and slipped into my room, pausing only to fuss with my door a little. I always found it odd that my door's hinges never squeaked. I wasn't complaining, I just liked a vocal door at times. Glancing at the clock redly proclaiming the arrival of the nine-PM hour, I decided to turn in early that night. I performed my meager bedtime routine, then scooted into bed.
For some reason I couldn't get comfortable for the longest time, like my mind couldn't shake something. The trouble was I couldn't figure out what on earth that something was. "Eh," I decided, rolling over, "I'll figure it out."
I started drifting off, slipping deeper and deeper into Nod...
Spastically I almost threw myself to the floor. My eyes snapped open, bouncing around the darkened room like rubber balls shot from a cannon.
"What was that?!" I hissed to the darkened room. Of course, no response.
Whatever that was, it was certainly intent on knocking the sleep clean out of me.
After a minute or twenty of chasing down my breath and feebly assuring myself that nothing had happened, I tried going back to sleep...
...when the sound of a cat yowled from nowhere.
I jumped that time as well, but not nearly as badly as the gunshot... "That's what it was, wasn't it?" I kept asking myself. Frankly I wasn't really sure. But I definitely knew this was a cat. Now, I like cats, I just can't stand their yowl, it sends ice up and down my spine.
I couldn't stand it, I had to get up out of bed. As I threw off the covers the cat seemed to calm down. I paced around a bit, my body aching and longing for sleep, but every time I even looked at the bed some horrific noise came from who knows where. The window? Couldn't have been, the screeching car wouldn't have come from back there, there was no highway. The hallway? The chilling animal sounds couldn't have come from there, either.
So where'd they come from?
I slept not a wink that night, and it took its toll rather quickly. At breakfast the next morning as I sat down--or rather stumbled and collapsed in the chair--for breakfast Russell pointed out to me that it looked like I got hit by a train.
"That could explain that noise," I slurred, careful not to introduce my nose to my oatmeal.
I blinked at him. "You... Didn't hear any of it?" I asked. Russell shook his head. "But, how could you not? I mean, they were all kinda loud..."
"I don't exactly sleep like a rock, but I didn't hear anything unusual last night at all."
Hm. This didn't look good.
"Maybe you should mention it to the doc?" he suggested.
I did, about halfway through the morning. Doc Escobar poked his head into my room; I was trying to keep a safe distance from both the lying thermostat and the bed, and keeping a close but tired eye on both.
He looked from me, to the thermostat, to the bed, then back to me in slight confusion, but he managed to shake it off pretty quickly. "Are you all right, Connor?" the doctor asked, brow wrinkled in concern. I looked him over; he didn't look like he'd gotten the best of sleep, either, but I noticed it wasn't unusual for him to look tired. Any lack of sleep the previous night was probably a business-as-usual sort of lack of sleep for him, I figured.
I nodded from side to side with indecision. "Depends... I was up all last night."
"Yes sir. I... er, I..." I bit my lip. "I kept hearing noises last night."
"Not just any noises: angry cats, trains, cars, gunshot in there, too."
"Those are kind of... extreme, wouldn't you say?"
"I would say they are, and from what I gather no one else heard them at all."
"Does this concern you?"
I swallowed a laugh. "Wouldn't it concern you?" I quipped, then quickly looked to the floor, slightly embarrassed for no real reason.
After a moment or two I tentatively looked up. Doc Esco had adopted a sort of troubled avuncular smile. "It would concern me, Connor, and it does." He took a moment to rub his jaw in learned thought before speaking again. "Look, why don't you come with me to my office so we can discuss some things?"
Failing to suppress a yawn I shrugged. "Sure thing, Doc, but how come not here?"
"I think you're too troubled by these surroundings to focus properly." It made some kind of sense: I could hardly trust the thermostat by this point, and as tired as I was the thought of getting anywhere near the bed repulsed me. With a nod the doctor led me out of my room and down the stairs.
I was so out of it I could barely recall making the short journey to his office. He told me to wait outside a moment, then disappeared within while I yawned in response. Either the doc was really quick with whatever it was he had to do, or it was one heck of a yawn, because he'd reappeared in the doorway by the time I regained awareness of my surroundings.
"Take a seat, Connor, never mind the mess." There could've been a five foot dandelion on a unicycle in that office and I wouldn't have taken much notice. I sleepily grunted in reply and tried not to fall asleep before I hit the chair. The doctor strode over what looked like an exploded stack of papers and eased himself in his own chair. Elbows on the desk, he surveyed me over steepled fingers.
"So, you said you were hearing noises?"