Jeff Sharman

August 27, 1998

Post #733 – 19980827

Sunday night was pretty routine at first. I didn’t watch the X-Files. I went to AM/PM for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Read for a while. Went to bed. Couldn’t sleep. Got up. Read, put on a CD. Fell asleep. I was finally sleeping pretty contently. At 2:45 AM I was jolted awake by the sound of an explosion. I felt the rumble of the shock wave roll over me, more than I heard it. It was steady, deep, & lasted about 3 seconds. In the moment after I switched directly from beta sleep to full consciousness I was completely positive that everyone in Seattle was about to be killed by nuclear fallout. Every hair on my body stood on end as I felt the first wave of deadly radiation. I layed in bed for a few minutes, reasoning things out. My original thought, that there had been a nuclear explosion, wasn’t rational. I peeked through my blinds, moving as little as possible (in case there was a sniper). Everything seemed normal. I went into the kitchen & poured myself a glass of water. I couldn’t hear anyone else walking around the house. How could everyone have slept through the explosion? There was no one around to discuss this with; no one to help me figure out what was happening. I called the non-emergency police number & asked a vague question. “Did something happen about ten minutes ago? Maybe an earthquake?” (I knew that it wasn’t an earthquake.) “I was just jolted awake by . . . ?”

“Nothing that I was informed of,” said the voice on the phone. I watched TV. There were no news reports about the explosion. I considered calling the person who was working the early shift at work. But instead, I went back to bed, figuring that it would be better to find out what horrible thing had happened after I’d had a full night’s sleep. The next day, before going to work, I talked to my roommate Jon. He had heard the explosion, he told me, and had considered going outside to find the source. But he had fallen asleep before making a firm decision to check it out. I found no reports of the explosion in the papers or on the internet. The sound remained a mystery. I heard the noise again the next night at about 2:00 AM. It was much quieter, like it was coming from farther away this time. There were whirring sounds accompanying. There were more explosions, & other sounds that weren’t exactly explosions, some closer to me than others. Just when I thought they’d stopped, I’d hear another sound in the distance. I faded in and out of sleep for the rest of the night, hearing every sound.

The next morning a shower didn’t shake my sleepless paranoia. I stepped outside to go to work, squinting my bleary eyes at the sunlight & cursing the morning.

I’d walked about a block before I realized that I was still hearing the sound. It had become a background noise. I stiffened my soldiers a little bit more each time I heard it. I swivelled around and ran in the direction the sound was coming from. I was going to hunt this thing! I was going to destroy it! I dodged around a corner into a parking lot & came face to face with the source of my misery. A garbage truck drove carelessly over a curb, sending its cargo crashing. An aluminum can flew from the back of the truck. Its mighty claws flung the contents of a dumpster into its back. The truck fitfully crashed the empty dumpster into the pavement, nearly capsizing it. Briefly, as the truck lurched into the street, I caught the garbage man’s eye. I shot a grief-filled look, fuelled by sleep deprivation, in his direction. He looked at me blankly & drove through an intersection; ignoring the stop sign.

Daniel replies:

More self-publishing by visitors. You are welcome, Jeff-- and a nice little piece of writing it is. Of course anybody who has lived in NY is apt to say, ""Yeh? So?"" The sound of the garbage men at night is reassuring and comforting to many. I have heard of people who hang a microphone out the window to make a recording of the trash noises so they can take it with them on a rural vacation, lest they get no sleep.