I was up late last night, working out a new plot outline for The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook, but I figured I could sleep in this morning, as I had no real reason to be up before 9:00. Thus, I went to bed after 1:00 AM.
Sometime before 7:00 AM, I was dragged mercilessly from the depths of slumber by what sounded like a troupe of Appalachian cloggers accompanied by a greased pig in terror of being caught. Now, as I know that one set of neighbors has a wooden deck, it took only a few seconds before I understood the source of the noise, but I vaguely thought that it was a bit early for them to have a patio breakfast. The tromping and screaming continued until I was more coherent, and my brain recalled that today was indeed Easter, and I was hearing the sounds of young children on the hunt for colored eggs.
TROMP TROMP TROMP. Squeal!!! TROMP TROMP TROMP. Squeal! It went on for 40 minutes, during which time I tried in vain to block out the sound and drift off again.
This, however, proved ineffective, as another neighbor let out his dogs to bark. Normally, the dogs just sit and bark to get back into the house, but this morning they could hear squealing, tromping children, and they got worked up into a rare frenzy over not being able to join in all the excitement.
Just when all this was beginning to die down and I was starting to doze off again, the phone rang once. I grabbed it, but it was a wrong number.
Plopping my head down onto the pillow, still in a tired stupor, I did actually lose consciousness again for about 5 minutes.
Then there was a harsh, abrupt voice, which barked a command. It sounded like it was right outside my window.
I vaguely approached consciousness.
The command again! With an abrupt cut-off and a sound like static!
My sleep-fuzzed brain connected the sound to that of a walkie-talkie. Police?!! Were they in the yard?! What on earth had happened?!
I half-rolled out of bed, grabbed my glasses, and stumbled into the next room where the window would give a better view.
Again the command! I jumped. It was so loud! And it had the same cadence as before.
I froze, mid-stride, half-way to the window. Was this a recording? Had some kid planted a recording to startle me?
My almost-unfogged brain came to the conclusion that I should try to understand what the possible recording was saying, so I stayed put and focused as well as I could in my semi-confused state.
"Dumbledore will see you now. Sherbet Lemon!" Whoosh!
Minerva McGonagal was shouting at me.
By now I was fully awake. And laughing.
On the shelf was a small toy I'd received as a gift not long after the first Harry Potter movie was released. The toy has the Hogwarts tower leading to Dumbledore's office, and when you push the lever, the stairs roll into place, and McGonagal says her line, her voice recorded from the movie.
Only, this morning, the batteries were on their last dregs of energy, and the recording got stuck, playing over and over, even though no one was triggering the lever.
There was no going back to bed at this point. My rude awakening was thorough.