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The Possessed Smoke Alarm

I’ve been working on removing the popcorn ceiling from one of my back bedrooms, and it creates a lot of dust. Although I try to confine it to the back, some of it invariably floats around the house, settling on and in various things.

The other day I came home from grocery shopping to find one of my hall carbon monoxide/smoke alarms going off. The dogs were inside and seemed fine, but I opened every door and window and turned on the fans to be sure. I also checked for anything that could have burned or smoked but found nothing.

However, I couldn’t turn the thing off. Resetting it worked for only a few seconds, switching it from the carbon monoxide alarm to the fire alarm. I finally figured that dust from the back room must have gotten into it and caused it to malfunction (none of the other alarms were going off). I got up on a stool to disable it and found that it was hard-wired.

Finally, half-deaf from the constant alarm, I yanked it out of the ceiling and pulled the wires off. Then I took it outside and put it on the back deck, figuring some fresh air might clear it out and I might be able to re-install it at some point.

Then I forgot about it.

Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:45 a.m. As I lay in bed in the morning quiet I heard a faint noise. It sounded like four peeps in a row. Was it my cell phone? A travel alarm? I couldn’t figure it out.

It wasn’t until later, when I opened the garage door, that I heard it again. This time it was much louder. I yanked open the door to the deck.

There it sat, squatting malevolently outside the back door. A freezing fog had moved in overnight and it was covered with rime, icicles dripping off the cover. But still it announced in a shrill voice, “Warning! Carbon Monoxide! Leave immediately!”

I grabbed the thing and fumbled with it, seeking some other source of power. I could see what might be a battery case, but I couldn’t get it open. It appeared to be covered by another piece of plastic. “Leave! Leave! Leave!” it bleated frantically. The dogs cowered in the corner of the garden, as far as possible from the shrieking evil object in my hand.

Finally I clawed open the battery case and yanked out the battery. It subsided into blessed silence. I stood panting on the deck in the frigid morning air, the final screams of the disemboweled device echoing in my ears. Wires dangled through my fingers like guts.

I shoved the remains in a plastic bag and guiltily stowed it on a back shelf. Now only the wires poking forlornly from the ceiling remind me of its existence. I will, of course, have to install another one at some point. But I think I’ll wait a while.