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Paranoia

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    It was two in the morning. Why did she do this to herself? How could she have possibly built up this much anxiety over a tiny little thud?

 

    She knew the answer, obviously. For the past week Christine had stayed up until three in the morning watching episode after episode of Criminal Minds. And after even a day of watching women be kidnapped or killed in their own homes, she thought she had a right to be a little on edge.

 

    Even now she grimaced at the picture on her laptop screen, a paused episode of- wager a guess- Criminal Minds, as she heard the thud coming again from downstairs.

 

    Christine barely even spared a second thought before picking up her phone and dialing. A sleepy voice whispered, “Hello?” raspily through the receiver.  

 

    “Jenna,” Christine blurted, clutching her phone tightly, pushing back her blankets. “There's some kind of thud coming from downstairs and I've been watching way too many episodes of Criminal Minds and I'm going down to investigate and I want you on the phone in case I get murdered.”

 

    There was a solid moment of silence, and as Christine stood up from her bed she held her breath, waiting for Jenna’s reply.

 

    “Okay, Chris, I'll stay on with you. Or maybe we should videochat, so if you really do get murdered I can I.D. the guy.”

 

    That made Christine laugh despite herself, and she grinned even as she stepped out of her bedroom and headed down the hall towards the stairs, turning on her phone's flashlight as she went. It hit the wall at the end of the hallway, illuminating the horrible yellow wallpaper that her mother kept “forgetting” to renovate.

 

    “Earth to Christine, come in Christine, are you being murdered?” Jenna's teasing voice broke through the silence and Christine huffed.

 

    “Not yet, but I've got my eyes open,” she whispered back, slowly turning to head down the stairs.

 

    There were two possible directions for her to shine her light in when she reached the bottom. To her right was the front door, and to her left the living room. If a murderer were to come here at all, Christine thought, he would have to use the front door. So I'll shine my light there.

 

    “But that also depends on how long he's been inside,” she muttered, speaking aloud in light of the realization. There was a muffled noise of confusion from the other end of the line, but Jenna didn't say anything, so Christine kept talking. If nothing else, it soothed her nerves.

 

    “I heard the first thud about twenty minutes ago-”

 

    “Twenty minutes! Were you even thinking of your parents? Your cat! He could have gotten to your cat in twenty minutes!” Jenna wailed jokingly.

 

    “-so he's had plenty of time to move.” Christine bit her bottom lip and headed to the left when she reached the bottom of the stairs. It was more than a little freaky. Her house seemed like a different place in the dark, and she shivered as she passed by the windows, bracing herself for some shadowy figure to leap up and scare her through them. Since no figure was forthcoming, Christine moved on to the kitchen, freezing in the doorway.

 

    “Jenna,” she hissed. “Jenna, oh my god.”

 

    The answer was immediate, panicked.

 

    “Chris, what's wrong, are you hurt? Do you need me to call the police?”

 

    “Oh my god.” Christine nearly dropped her phone, and she bent over, wheezing. “Jenna, it was the cat.”

 

    “Finkles? What about him? Is he okay?”

 

    “Jen, he got up onto the counter and knocked some soda bottles off,” Christine replied, trying to suppress her laughter out of courtesy to her parent's rights to sleep. “I don't think he knows how he's gonna get down.” She shook her head and set the phone down, stretching out her arms to her cat. “C’mere, buddy, I'll get you down.”

 

    Finkles jumped into her arms with a loud, indignant meow, and coiled around her ankle when she set him down.

 

    “Well I guess I'm going to end my Criminal Minds binge,” she said, picking up her phone again.

 

    “Uh-huh.” Jenna sounded amused. “Call me when you've finished season five, babe, I want to hear your reaction to the sixth season.”

 

    Christine laughed.

 

    “You know me too well. Thank you, Jenna. Goodnight.”

 

     “Anytime, Chris. Goodnight.”