Things that go bump in the night...
I was descending the Galibier in a howling gale, my fingers stiff with cold and rain. The brakes were wet making the descent even more treacherous. The speed made raindrops feel like stones hitting my face and arms.
It was 3AM.
Mary sat up in bed. “Did you hear that?” she hissed.
The air conditioner was set at Arctic Blast. When she sat up, she pulled the pitifully thin blanket off of me. “Huh? I didn't hear anything. Go back to sleep.”
Moments later she sat up again. “Did you hear it? There's something in the room with us!” She turned the bedside lamp on its dimmest setting.
I sat up, looked around the room, and then pulled the blanket back up over my shoulders as I lay down again. “No. There's nothing here. Just go to sleep.” A polar bear may have been lurking in the bathroom. I didn't care. The blanket was the only protection I truly needed. A chupacabra could have been hiding under the bed, but if only I could get back to sleep it wouldn't matter. I was losing sensation in my extremities as the cold sapped body heat.
She turned the lamp off, and then just as I was dozing, riding over the crest of the Telegraph and grabbing a newspaper from a spectator in order to stuff it under my jersey as protection from the cold, “There it is again! Get up!” She turned on the lamp, hopped out of bed and turned on the overhead light as well. She went down the hall turning on the hall lights and the kitchen lights.
I got out of bed quietly so as not to disturb that slumbering polar bear. In the kitchen, I got a glass of water and looked around more carefully but didn't discover any bears, elephants, cape buffalo, or any other critter the size of a Volkswagen. And believe me, I looked very carefully.
We went back to bed after I visited the bathroom, stepping over the sleeping bear on the way. Mary brought her cat to bed, an astute move on her part, because the cat's more finely tuned senses would be our early warning device, a trip wire against any intruder. Not that the cat would be much help, of course, since his normal reaction to anything unusual is to have an immediate nervous breakdown requiring hospitalization in a veterinary psychiatric facility. He'd warn us by completely freaking out, howling like a madman while going totally rigid and swelling up the the size of a furry beach ball.
The cat curled up with his tail over his head and went to sleep. Mary went to sleep.
I was wide awake. I got up and kicked the polar bear back to consciousness, and then we went out for coffee.