It is Christmas night, actually early morning of the next day, and you are in that fitful sleep that comes after once waking up and deciding that 4:15 is too early to get up when you are on vacation. Suddenly you hear a gnawing sound. You quickly realize it is the fan on your nightstand, except the washer is not on spin cycle, it is not even on, so there is no reason for the fan to jiggle. So it must be gnawing, and Oh Shit!! it must be a mouse. You jiggle the bed a little and finally it stops. Then you know for certain it was a mouse, because it responded to your movement. It is scared now, and being quiet. So you go back to sleep, hoping it will stay scared until you wake up at a more reasonable time, when you will poke around and see if you can find its nest. What you will do then is not something you think about at this moment.
You go back to sleep and you dream of mice. You dream you have woken up and are shining a flashlight around and under your bed, and sure enough, you see them. They are scampering in and out of your box springs, hanging over the edge of the bed frame, chewing on the beautiful pinewood. Teeth marks are everywhere, and there are numerous raggedy holes in the side of your box spring. You wonder why the electronic rat repellers that have been plugged in to the outlets in your bedroom for the past year and a half, ever since a roof rat wandered in and set up camp one hot summer night, are not working. Have they run out of vibes, or whatever makes them work? Or are mice not tall enough to feel them? In and out of this sleep you move, always sleeping but feeling intermittently awake. Once a thought passes through your head that the only thing it could have been besides a mouse is an earthquake, but that is so unlikely it is gone before it is even fully formed. You keep dreaming, alternating between the mice dream and another about someone who has rearranged your classroom in a distasteful way until finally, exhausted, you wake up.
You go downstairs and make a cup of coffee and check in with the cyber world. You write a blog post about having spent too much money – again – at Christmas, and then go to the local newspaper, which you read online every morning. You read the headline, “East Quincy quake felt as far as Butte County” and in a moment of clarity you realize that there are probably no mice in your bed at all. It was indeed an earthquake, and your little fan felt it. And in spite of the happy surprise you feel, you still go upstairs and check your bed for raggedy holes and gnaw marks. Only when you find everything intact do you truly feel relieved. There are no mice. That frantic dreaming was unnecessary. Whew.