Saturday morning at about 1am we were awakened by an unspeakably loud high-pitched sound. We leapt out of bed and ran around the apartment trying to figure out where it was coming from. In our sleep-addled state, we ripped the alarm clock out of the wall, but that wasn’t it. At first I thought it was some electronic device that had gone haywire, but we went from room to room, and it seemed to be coming from everywhere. The poor cats were frozen in terror and I imagined their little eardrums exploding because it was so very very loud and would not stop.

Finally, we woke up enough to look out the peephole and noticed the fire alarms flashing and people rushing around. We put some clothes on and opened the door and a neighbor told us there was a car on fire. We could smell the burning rubber and see smoke in the air. It seemed like it wasn’t a threat to us, because it was quite far away, so we left the cats behind and went down to the street.

Our neighbors were gathered around in various states of undress, standing on the sidewalk. One guy stood there with a fluffy cat sitting placidly in his arms. Within a minute or two the fire trucks started to arrive. Eventually there were five of them parked in the middle of Maxella.

The car was an expensive Mercedes parked in our parking structure. It wasn’t completely burned, just the hood. A lady dressed in a sparkly sequined top and black sweat suit stood there sheepishly. “Sorry, it was my car. It just wouldn’t go out.”

The fire guys made their sweep, even raising one of the ladders all the way to the fourth story of our parking structure, and brought in some industrial fans to get rid of the smoke. Eventually the horrible sound stopped, and we went home. The cats were under the bed, scared but apparently healthy.