During my weeks in London, I stay in a side-room in an office.
Tonight, I went to bed at around half past midnight. I said goodnight to the two people who were still in the office, shut my door, and settled down to sleep.
Then suddenly woke up at 2am, jolted awake by the recognition of the distant sound of the burglar alarm being armed. Something in my sleeping mind recognised the sound, and realised it was a bad sound. I'm quite impressed.
I remained very, very, still, then slowly cracked my eyelids open and peered up at the motion sensor in the corner above me...
Did I imagine it? Or was I now in a building with an armed burglar alarm, complete with loud siren at 2am and a link to a remote control centre?
I considered the distance to the alarm control panel, and the fact that I was totally naked. When you unlock the door, the alarm starts beeping down a countdown before which you have to key the number in. Could I leap out of bed, grab my dressing gown, rush out, and disarm the alarm before it went off?
I carefully rotated my head to see the sensor better. It was in the corner right above the bed, looking out towards the large window. I was probably not within its field of view, but where did the field of view extend to?
I extended my left arm, the one directly beneath it, and carefully shifted my books off of the bed, then gingerly, heart pounding, slid myself out from under the duvet until I was directly beneath the sensor. I could now lift my head, and start trying to look around the room to try and find out where I'd left my dressing gown.
The alarm went off. No beeping warning that I had ten seconds to enter the code: it just went off, screaming. I lept from the bed, dived onto my dressing gown, shoved it (balled up) into my groin, and burst out of the door, along the main hall of the office, and typed the deactivation code faster than I've ever typed before.
Silence fell. Apart from the slamming of my heart pumping on overdrive, my system flooded with adrenaline.
I walked back to my room, trembling and sweating, fumbling to put the dressing gown on properly.
At which point, for some reason, the printer suddenly burst into life and printed another test page. I picked it up from the out tray and dumped it into the pile of test pages next to it, leaving smears of finger sweat on it, then went and curled up on the bed until I felt up to writing this bizarre experience up.
Now I'm going to go and make a sign to attach to the alarm control panel: "DO NOT ARM IF ALARIC IS ASLEEP".
Then try to get back to sleep, which I suspect will take me a while.
The alarm panel is showing a series of numbers on its display, rather than the usual blankness. I'm still wondering if the police are going to turn up or something, since I'm pretty sure it's linked to some remote location.
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