Around 4:15 this morning, I was dreaming of something with the feel of fractions, or nested intervals, or cups of varying sizes. Suddenly, something happened whose translation into the world of my dream was alarming, necessitating some sort of action. A couple of minutes later it happened again, and I put words to it: someone was knocking on the door.
I bolted upright, eyes open, heart racing. What did this sign mean? Surely it required a response, but what kind? "Someone's knocking on the door. What is - why?!" I asked out loud to Ed, who was still asleep. I patted my bedside lamp to turn it on.
Once I figured out what door-knocking means in our world, I crept to the door and peeped through the fish-eye lens set therein. I saw, I thought, two women in their early 20s.
Should I open the door? I should not, I thought. My door has (I verified) no chain or little bar to allow it to be opened partway. Perhaps these women were the harmless front of some attack. Why were they knocking at such a late hour? I crept back to my room.
I am sure they saw that I had turned on a light. They knocked again, louder, and again a minute later. They were knocking quite violently. Did they need help? Had they been attacked, raped, left abandoned at my complex? Did they hope for me to call the police, a taxi, their mom? Was I prolonging their plight by ignoring them? Were they our downstairs neighbors, dealing with a water leak?
Ed sat up in bed, dazed, Frankensteinian in his sleeping mask and earplugs. He thought it was morning. What was happening?
"Someone is knocking on the door," I said. "I don't know what to do. I think I'm going to call the police."
Yes, someone is knocking on our door, and they won't stop, I imagined saying. I don't know who they are or what they want, but they won't go away. Maybe they're in some kind of trouble.
"Unless you want to answer it," I said. I told him what I had seen of the knockers. He crept to the door and back. He hadn't seen anyone and thought they had given up - he heard them knocking next door.
Holding my phone, and knowing they were no longer at our door, I opened our door and stepped partly out onto the walkway. A woman stood alone outside of the next door down. She saw me but said nothing.
"Did you need something?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said casually. "My friend lives here." She was pointing at the door. "Do you know Jared?"
"No," I said.
"No," I said.
She was silent.
I went back in and to bed. It took me a while to fall asleep again.