I pulled the comforter up over my ear, snuggling down into the bed, consolidating whatever warmth could be found. It was well past midnight, but I couldn’t seem to get settled. My thighs ached from trying out my new bicycle this afternoon, and my body tottered between too hot and too cold no matter whether I snaked a foot out from under the sheets or not.
Plus, there was that thing with the Wi-Fi speaker.
I’m not sure of when it began – I’m generally a heavy sleeper – but I know it’s gone on at least a week now. Sometime around midnight, Google answers a question.
I know it sounds insane. Maybe I’m hearing things. Well, certainly I am. I’m hearing the generic male voice I chose respond to… something. I don’t know. Even I think it’s insane.
You may ask, do you talk in your sleep? and yes, I have in the past and have no reason to believe I haven’t continued to do so. But here’s the thing: my phone’s screen is dark. I didn’t activate the Assistant, at least not from my phone. The app isn’t even running. Not ever. I checked every time.
There has to be a logical explanation. Right? I mean, I’m pretty bright, but I can’t think of anything except a serial killer toying with me or ghosts looking for directions to the nearest Starbucks.
That’s why I got the camera. Fancy infrared and everything. I set it up almost defiantly, my back stiff, hackles raised. If there was a ghost watching me, I did not want it to think I was afraid of its translucent ass. I mean, I was. Obviously. But it didn’t need to know that.
Maybe I should get a cat? They can see ghosts, right?
I shook myself back to the task at hand, brushing my hands together and padding back over to my laptop to check the camera angle. I pulled up the feed and saw the seafoam puck centered on the screen. Running my thumb over the touchscreen on my phone, I verified that I had the same view in the app. Nodding in satisfaction, I softly closed the device.
I sat bolt upright. A quick glance at the clock showed 12:01 am, my phone next to it, the screen dark. The darkness was almost palpable, thick and heavy around me. And still. As if every atom held its breath.
I scrambled for the phone, nearly dropping it in my haste to open the camera app. The light stung my eyes at first, but quickly adjusted.
Not a damn thing was happening on camera. The light on the puck wasn’t even on, indicating that it had spoken.
But it had.
I heard it. I heard it plain as day, as if I had been standing right next to the speaker as it answered yet another question. And while I had no idea what the question was, my heart nearly stopped at the answer.
Just two little words. Spoken succinctly in that confident, baritone voice…