The beeping smoke alarm

August 3, 2010 0 Comments

I’m not too sure exactly what’s going on in this dream I appear to be having, but one thing is definitely registering strongly. I’m aware of an incessant beep that permeates each level of my consciousness as I start to rise up from what was a pleasantly deep and much needed sleep. Now I’m awake, and groggily trying to figure out why I would be hearing a noise like that in my sleep.

“Beep!”  “Beeeeeeep!”

I was definitely awake for that one. Now I’m completely alert, and after another five minutes punctuated by this persistent noise I find myself swinging out of bed to investigate further. There are only so many electrical components in the house that can be the cause of a sound like that. First port of call is each of the three smoke alarms that have never done anything of note other other than irritate us at the most inconvenient times. This time they’re all merrily glowing green though, so I continue on to check the house alarm, fridge and any other appliance I happen to come across on my rounds. The house alarm is content, and the fridge for once hasn’t shut itself off. That leaves me back to the smoke alarms which are of course located in the most inaccessible places (probably to stop intentional home-owner vandalism of the type I’m about to engage in).

Armed with the pole from a mop that has seen better days, I patiently reset each of the smoke alarms a couple of times. This has no effect on the periodic beeps which echo around a quiet house in such a way as to make it impossible to figure out if the culprit is the one right above my head, or on another floor. The last time there was a noise-related issue with one of these it involved an awful lot of time and effort just to pry the one alarm with a red light off the wall enough to be able to wedge sharp implements into its guts and eventually extract the offending battery. Getting a new one inserted back in again was a whole other story and involved multiple attempts by different people over a number of days. I’m pretty sure this is going to turn out to be something similar, and at 2am in the morning I’m just not up for declaring a war I doubt I can win. After a couple of experimental swipes with the pole I establish that they’re not magically going to detach from the ceiling and return to bed in defeat.

By this time the noise has woken even the heavy sleeper of the house. I’ve barely climbed back into bed before he takes off to roam the house in a zombie state. The scrape of chairs being dragged into place and thuds from above and below indicate that he’s taken the same route – the continuing beeps every couple of minutes tell me his attempts are proving about as successful. He returns looking none-too-pleased in the gloom. No comment is passed on the situation as we individually attempt to get some kind of rest despite the noise. It’s the aural equivalent of trying not to see the elephant in the room. Although desperately tired, I find myself constantly tuned in and actually waiting to hear the next beep each time. Thankfully there’s some kind of cycle which eventually involves a long enough period of silence to fall asleep before it begins complaining again. I manage a very light sleep with dreams punctuated by that bloody sound.

At around 9am we finally abandon all hope of that weekend sleep-in we were desperately looking forward to. It’s bright outside and we’re awake enough now to attempt a collaborative assault. After comparing notes we rapidly put two and two together. We’re agreed that our tormentor is the one on the top floor. I’m confident it’s the battery despite the lack of a warning light, but after a bad experience with the one downstairs, didn’t attempt to balance on chairs and remove the unit last night to confirm this. “No, it’s not that. I removed them all from the ceiling last night and disconnected them from the mains, and it didn’t work”, the other half says.

With a dawning sense that perhaps we should have had this conversation hours ago I respond. “Um… you know that it’s probably beeping because the battery is getting low… which is still going to power the unit when it’s disconnected from the mains?” Two minutes later the unit is on the floor, more or less in one piece. After wrestling with the battery for another five minutes I find a scissors sharp enough to pry it out – miraculously managing not to dismember anyone’s digits. The alarm is literally in pieces on the floor where it will quite possibly remain for some time.

There are no more beeps. Take that beeping smoke alarm!