Several years ago, I was living with a woman that is now my ex. At the time, she was very unhappy with where she was working, and one of the ways that this manifested itself was in pretty much an incapability to wake up when the alarm went off. It got to the point where she would hit the snooze button without really waking up eight or nine times before she would finally get up.
One night, we went to bed as usual. Out of a dead sleep, I wake up to the sound of a man screaming. Notice that I didn’t say yelling. It was a man screaming. It wasn’t a man screaming in anger or in pain. It was the sound you’d hear if you were working in a 1940’s era insane asylum. It was the loud, shrill, and piercing scream of a man in a violent, hopeless, manic rage.
It sounded like it was coming from the front door of our apartment. I kept waiting for the man to move away from the door. But he didn’t. For what was an eternity (although only a second or two), he stood at my front door and screamed.
Determined to call the police, I moved to get out of the bed so that I could call 911 on my phone. When I did, I realized that, in fact, he wasn’t screaming from my front door, but was actually screaming on the other side of my bedroom door. He was in my apartment, screaming like a madman.
My bedroom door is unlocked. Any second now, I expected this, whatever he was, man to come bursting into my bedroom. I jumped out of bed and started running to the door. What was I going to do? I had no idea. I just knew that it was up to me to try to fight off this screaming fiend. There was no time to call for help. At this point, I’m sure that I was myself yelling, screaming, and cursing as I headed towards the door, fairly confident that I was possibly on my way to a fight to the death.
As I was running to the door, in my panic, I heard my ex yelling as well. I thought that she was yelling in fright and panic, so I ignored it, and kept heading towards the door.
As I got ready to open the bedroom door, I finally heard what she was yelling…”it’s an alarm, it’s an alarm!”
Apparently the previous night she’d downloaded a new alarm app. Once it goes off, it only goes off at full volume and does not turn off until you pick it up and walk around with it for some number of seconds. The sound options were man screaming, woman screaming, and fire truck. She downloaded it and set it without telling me or testing it.
She was very apologetic and immediately deleted the application, but she clearly thought that this was a very amusing anecdote. Sure enough, I heard her tell it many times in different settings.
And yes, it’s an amusing story. However, whenever she tells it, it puts me right back in the moment, when I quite literally thought that I was, clad in nothing but my underwear, going to have to fight a screaming lunatic, who might have had, for all I know, everything from a gun to an ax, to one of our deaths.
I think it very well could have been the scariest moment of my life.