It hadn’t been the alarm. Those fast-paced electronic wails don’t wake our neighbors but on the rare occasion that they sound, we leap -- frenzied -- from our slumber. It could have been a phone chime, the baby crying, or perhaps just a hunch. Either way, I moved, quasi-upright, toward the bedroom door where I’d seen her exit, disappear into the hallway. Courtesy of the minimal light reflecting up the staircase, I saw Alice the Merchandiser vanish again -- this time into the foyer. The flash of her movement that I caught was quick and hunched, creepy like one of those alien snippets from Signs. It should have frightened me more than it did.
I should’ve been afraid for what she might be doing or what her intentions were. Instead, sordid motivations sent me -- grumpy at being awakened, startled and pissed by her presence -- after her. As is my tendency, I hadn’t thought it through and had no plan regarding what I’d do if I caught her.
For what seemed like an hour, though, I couldn’t find her. She was nowhere on the main floor and the more the time passed, the more I panicked. No doors had chimed; she wasn’t outside or in the basement or garage. Still, I could pick up no trace of Alice.