3 A.M.

I tossed and turned for what felt like hours, unable to sleep. I looked at my clock. It was three o’clock in the morning. I wanted to throw the clock against a wall. Instead, I dragged myself out of bed and made my way downstairs, careful not to wake my husband.

“There’s no time like the dead of night to sit down and write,” I told myself. So I plopped down at my desk and got to work on my latest novel.

I typed away for an hour and a half before deciding to give sleep another try. The quiet in the house made me uncomfortable.

But as I approached the stairs, a light flashed through the window of my front door. It caught me off-guard, but maybe the neighbors were out having a better night than I was. I started making my way up the stairs.

I turned my back to the door. But there it was again, a light shining through the front window. It lit up the wall at the top of the stairs. I moved a little faster to get a look from the upstairs window.

And there they were, two headlights, parked in my driveway, pointing at my house. I rushed into the bedroom and woke my husband. We had heard about nearby break-ins a few weeks ago, and with our house being semi-secluded, we had reason to be concerned.

My husband got out of bed and made his way downstairs. He stood by the door waiting to see if the intruder tried to get inside. I watched from the upstairs landing, phone in-hand, 9-1-1 typed and waiting for me to dial.

Then it came — the rapping on the door, so loud it could have woken the dead.

“Who is it?” my husband shouted, unable to identify the visitors through the frosted glass, though he could tell there were more than one.

“State troopers!” they yelled back to him. We don’t have a local police department, so we rely on the state police.

He inched closer to the door, knowing there was no good way to verify their identities without asking them to come to a window. And if they were intruders, how much protection would a window offer? I sat on my perch, heart pounding, armed with my phone. He opened the door.

I took a deep breath, relieved, when two uniformed officers entered our home. I wouldn’t need to call the police after all. They apologized for the scare and said they received a call from our alarm company.

“Our alarm didn’t go off,” my husband said. The officers were told that the alarm went off around three o’clock. But I woke up around three o’clock, and I heard no alarm. The dog never barked either. The dog would bark if the alarm went off. He always did.

Sure enough, the alarm system’s status code showed that it had gone off. But we never heard an alarm. And we never received a call from the alarm company, which should happen before they call the authorities. The officers accompanied us as we checked every entry point and found one of the doors hanging wide open.

What started as a late night fright, thinking potential intruders were trying to get into the house, became much worse. Did someone already come and go? Did the wind blow open a poorly-sealed door, perhaps even affecting cell reception, explaining the lack of calls? We didn’t notice anything missing. And we never did find out. But the worst part of all was the realization that help, should we need it again, was an hour and a half away.

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