When Something Squeals in the Night and You Throw it Out the Window

Family Matters on 03.05.13
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Photo: Chika/ Creative Commons

At first, I was suspicious the sound was an intruder (because I watch too many true crime shows), so I went downstairs to check the alarm. All was quiet. But fifteen minutes later, there it was again, like a high-pitched baby coo-ing, far away. 

11:32 p.m.: "Trey, wake up, do you hear that?" I asked, whacking my husband on the shoulder. He rolled over and flung his arm around me, apparently thinking I wanted to cuddle.  

"Oh my God, it's like a squealing sound. Can't you hear it?" I insisted.

He peeled off his sleeping mask and popped out his night guard (for grinding). "It's probably the squirrel in the ceiling."

We mostly ignore what sometimes sounds like a small woodland army above our bedroom, but their parties always take place during the day. 

"Owwww...cooooo..." went the sound. Finally, Trey shot out of bed.

11:42 p.m.: We checked the kids. Nothing. We checked the boiler, the humidifier, the dishwasher, the dryer. Nothing left on. Our dog was soundly snoozing on the armchair next to our bed, undisturbed. Back in bed, all is quiet.

Drifting off to sleep, this time I hear a distinct, "Wowza..."

I scowl, realizing that mice and squirrels do not say, "Wowza," I was looking for a toy. Casing the room, I peered under our bed, dresser and desk, then narrowed the search to the hamper. Piece by piece, I shook out the dirty clothes, vowing to do laundry in the morning. He is in the bottom. A brown and white Zhu Zhu Pet from several Christmases ago. Zhu Zhu Pets are battery-powered hamsters that run around and make squealing noises as they bounce off the walls. They are difficult to power down. I cannot find an off switch.

12:22 a.m.: Downstairs, I google, "how to turn off Zhu Zhu Pet," and get a bunch of responses that say, it's actually difficult to turn off your pet, but you can put it to sleep by pressing the center of its back. As long as it is undisturbed, your pet will remain in inactive mode. I pressed its back, left it on the dining room table and went back to bed.

12:40 a.m.: "Wowza," fainter now. 

"Please, Trey, just go and get it," I begged.

He brought Zhu Zhu back upstairs with a screwdriver. But the toy was so old that the screws were already stripped. Battery removal thwarted. So I placed the furball in a box deep in the closet and settled back into bed. Trey fell asleep almost immediately. But I lay there, annoyed this battery-operated rodent had cost me sleep. I vowed never to buy another battery-operated toy. 

And then, just as I drifted off, there it was again, the tiny squeal and the spinning of wheels. How was it even possible? I began to entertain the notion that the Zhu Zhu Pet was possessed. I did not want to wake Trey, so I did the only thing I could. I grabbed Zhu Zhu out of the box, opened the storm window in the bathroom and threw him out into the night. 

The next morning, six-year-old Maia, Zhu Zhu's owner, who only plays with these "pets" once or twice a year, overheard Trey and I recounting our middle-of-the-night drama to the older kids. Of course, she freaked out. 

"That was my first Zhu Zhu Pet, and I wanted to keep it forever...and give it to my own baby," she sobbed.

Eleven-year-old Chet promptly called her a cry-baby, so we sent them both outside on a hunting expedition. A light rain was falling. We pulled on rain boots over pajamas and stomped around the backyard, theorizing about the trajectory of my throw.   

Somehow, there Zhu Zhu was, under a tree, with dirty, matted fur, whimpering ever so softly. Maia rushed inside to set up a triage. Saved. 

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