Tuesday, August 23, 2016

3 A.M. (By James Darko)

Genre: Horror

3 A.M.
By James Darko

          Debra Singer glanced at the clock on her nightstand. The solid red numbers glared back at her, practically taunting her.

          For hours, sleep had evaded her. She hadn’t slept all night and now it was 3 A.M.

          For insomniacs like Debra Singer, it’s the worst time of night.

          The mind races. Your thoughts run wild and free as you toss and turn in bed. The silence can be maddening. And there’s never anything good on TV.

          Debra rolled onto her side, her back to the alarm clock. She closed her eyes and tried to find sleep.

          The silence was exasperating. It made her feel isolated and cut off from the world, like she was trapped inside a soundproof bubble.

But that silence was short lived as Debra sat up in bed, disturbed by a noise she could not place. It sounded like ringing or a beeping noise.

It wasn’t the house alarm. Debra was familiar with the sound and she’d know in a heartbeat if there was a break-in.

And it wasn’t the phone. She had unplugged the house phone and turned off her cell phone in an attempt to get one good night’s sleep. A lot of good that seemed to do.

But now, the noise was all she could think about.

          It sounded like beeping, like the sound a delivery truck backing up.

          A delivery truck? At three o’clock in the morning? Debra thought. No way.

          Then it dawned on her.

          It wasn’t beeping, but ringing that filled her ears.

          A repetitive jingle.

The jingle of an ice cream truck.

She heard the patter of tiny footsteps through the hall, footsteps that continued down the stairs. She heard the lock snap on the front door, and the alarm sounded as it opened.

"Hali!" Debra shrieked, calling out to her only child. No response.

"Hali, is that you?" Debra called out again. “Please answer me!”

"Don' worry, mommy," Hali replied. "I'm just gon' get some ice cweam."

Debra leaped from her bed, sprinted down the hall. She practically flew down all twelve steps.

The front door was ajar and it swung back and forth in the breeze.

Debra raced outside, into the street.

But the ice cream truck was already gone.

So was Hali...

. . .

          Debra snapped awake, her nightgown drenched in a cold sweat.

          “It was all a dream,” Debra said aloud just to reassure herself.

         Just to be safe, Debra got up and checked on Hali. She was safe and sound, tucked away in bed, cuddling her favorite stuffed animal.

          Debra breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

          She returned to bed and stared at the alarm clock that was stuck on 3 A.M.

          She rolled onto her side, turning away from the alarm clock and closed her eyes. Ten seconds later, her eyes were open wide.

She could hear it from all the way down the block. It was the distinctive jingle of an ice cream truck.