30 Stories in 30 Days #09 – “Heartbeat of the Night”
HEARTBEAT OF THE NIGHT
A small hand on his shoulder woke Mike. He half-opened his eyes and said, “Hmm?”
His seven year old daughter Cindy whispered, “I hear something outside.”
This brought Mike fully awake. He sat up in his sleeping bag and fully opened his eyes. It didn’t matter because it was pitch black and he couldn’t see through the plastic tent side anyway.
He expected to hear something scratching, or perhaps snuffling, but when he stopped to listen he heard – as if from a great distance – a low, short thrum. This was followed by another, and another in a slow, steady rhythm. His half-awake, overactive brain at first thought of it as the heartbeat of the sleeping mountain. Or perhaps it was calling the creatures of the forest together to march off to war.
The image of a marching drumbeat, along with the fact that he now heard another noise mixed in with the thrumming, allowed Mike to identify the sound.
He laid back down and explained, “Somebody’s playing music Cindy. Very loud music, very far away.” He unzipped his sleeping bag and she crawled inside, snuggling up against him.
Once he zipped his bag up again, he wrapped his arms around her on the outside of the bag. Kissing her forehead, he told her, “It’s nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep.”
Of course, now that he knew it was there, it was impossible for Mike to not hear the distant music. Eventually, the song ended, and another with a faster tempo began.
After a few songs, Mike managed to fall asleep again. But strange creatures of the night marched through his dreams.