Breakdown by Some Other Putz ou wake with a start and you haven't been dreaming. That should concern you. When you have a nightmare, and you're frightened into wakefulness, that's easy to deal with. You just spend a few minutes reassuring yourself that the nightmare was only a nightmare, that you don't have to ransom your loved ones back from a deranged college acquaintance who has a key to your house and a hook hand. Reality restores itself and you go back to sleep. Y But when you weren't dreaming, and you don't know why your awake, because you don't remember the thing that woke you up, that is the definition of unsettling. Especially as your brain starts filling the gap with what you think you heard. Because it's never something that's threatening but rational, like a gunshot or a slammed door. It's always something absurd, like the phrase "Let's get small" snarled drunkenly outside your window, accompanied by a sick laugh. Now, there are drunk people in your neighborhood. That is a thing that happens. There's a college not far away, and every now and again at two in the morning you hear idiots laughing because beer makes idiots think unfunny things are funny. It's not a big deal, and it's usually in the background. Part of your environment, but not your life. This was different. Or maybe your mind just made you think it was different. But why would your mind do that to you? Why would your mind decide that 3:48 in the morning is a good time to twist whatever it heard that summoned you from sleep? Double-check the clock again. Yep, 3:48 There aren't any drunk college kids milling about making noise at 3:48. They're decently sleeping in their throw-up. Whatever you heard was not that. Whatever you heard was... Was that it again? Now your mind is arguing with itself as to whether it heard what it thinks it heard or whether it invented it. And your mind is not capable of judging this effectively. You look down at our wife but she is sleeping and you'll feel like an idiot for waking her up and scaring her, especially if it's nothing. So you do that thing where you sit up in bed in the dark and you tune your ears to every noise. House settling. Wind in trees. Cat leaping from counter to floor. What in the hell does the cat do at this hour? There's nothing for it to do. Yet it's always doing something. The life of a cat must be this epic confusion when night falls. Does a cat understand "night"? Is it a concept? Or is a cat continually surprised by every sunset? Is that really sad, or... Whoa. You definitely heard it that time.