I woke from a sound sleep at two this morning with the sound of a metallic crash still reverberating in my ears. Naturally I assumed the cat had knocked something over, and since I was scared I reacted by yelling several obscenities really loudly, because ghosts are scared of yelling.
Then I got up and turned on all the lights.
Jekyll was in the hallway outside my bedroom, his tail fluffed up and his eyes big and round.
These are my thoughts, as near as I can remember them:
It's a ghost.
No, a neighbor cat must have jumped onto the outside of a window and scared Jekyll.
But what made the noise?
Is someone trying to get into the house?
I'd better look outside.
I went to the front door and peered out, then turned on the porch light and peered out some more. Nothing stirred in the yard.
Then I turned around and saw that part of a plastic "FOR SALE BY OWNER" sign had fallen out of the capped chimney and onto the electric heater that sits in the fireplace, along with a lot of soot and cinders.
I don't know what a FOR SALE BY OWNER sign was doing in my chimney. I didn't put it there. The chimney was capped something like ten years ago when the house was remodeled, long before I moved in, and presumably the cut-down sign was used to block off something up there. There's no flue in the chimney anymore and, of course, the chimneytop itself has a metal cover over it, although there are ports in the cover's sides, presumably for ventilation.
The wind gusted outside, making the house creak gently. Then I heard scrabbling in the chimney.
I pictured a sooty and furious, probably rabid, raccoon leaping down from the chimney and attacking my face. So I banged on the heater and yelled more obscenities, and the sounds stopped. I waited a long time and didn't hear anything but the wind, and there wasn't a draft from the chimney so hopefully the FOR SALE BY OWNER sign wasn't blocking off something important. I cleaned up the soot and cinders, threw the sign away, and turned off all but one living room lamp.
Then I went back to bed and stared at the ceiling, listening tensely, for the next four hours.
Further details if any come up.
Edit: I left the house a while ago to run down to the post office, and three young raccoons and what I initially thought was a white cat ran from my side yard across the street. About the time I realized the "cat" was an albino raccoon, they were gone and I wasn't able to get a picture. But, you know, mystery solved. They were probably fighting crime.