April 26, 2016

The strange noises of a Staten Island night

It's a bird, it's a plane... at least that time they figured out it was Superman! Not the same can be said about what people heard last night in Staten Island, NY.

I am a light sleeper and I'm usually woken up by thunder, cars roaring down my street, or unusual noises in general, but what woke me up last night, at around 3:40 AM, was something more than unusual. It was downright scary and eerie.

Because Spring has finally sprung here, I was sleeping with the window a bit open and my side of the bed is quite close to it: I like feeling the cool breeze of the nicer weather lull me to sleep, but alas, last night I got more than a breath of spring air.

It was raining and it was coming down pretty hard, and this is when I think I started to come out of my sleep, also because at this point lighting was stricking and my eyelids must be just eyes accessories because they don't shield me much from nuisances like these. So the pit pat pit pat of the rain coupled with the flashing lights at the window, and now I was up.

In my grogginess, my ears slowly started to capture a weird noise beside the pit pat and the occasional thunder: it sounded like... it sounded like... and this is where I started to get a little scared. It sounded like nothing I heard before and while half asleep I struggled to understand what was happening.

My first impression was that it was a plane flying low in the sky above us, but usually in that case the noise gets louder as it gets closer, and shortly after that it goes away. This noise didn't change in intensity and it wasn't going away, it just kept coming and going. On and off. It sounded like a plane yes, but as if the pilot was drunk or playing with the gas pedal, speeding up and then letting go, speeding up and then letting go. With each new noise my heart started to beat faster.

I didn't want to give in the fear and I kept telling myself that I was being silly, but with each new loud noise, it became harder and harder to keep calm. Weird thoughts of war or being attacked by 'something' started to cloud my judgment. I woke my husband up.

I told him 'Listen'.

I was afraid he was going to laugh at me, and I actually hoped he had an explanation to calm my fears so I could go back to sleep, but he didn't. He actually stood at the window listening for what felt like a whole minute. The noises were still out there. Somewhere up in the dark sky but somehow so close.

All the reruns of Twilight Zone kept playing in my head. A little bit of Stephen King's The Mist. Fortunately I never watched The Walking Dead because my next thought would have been 'Zombies are coming!'

And then, just like that, the noises stopped. The rain stopped. We heard a few fire trucks pass by. And then, my husband went back to sleep. But not I!

As a mother and a good citizen, I wanted to make sure that everything was ok, and really needed a rational explanation for what had happened. I couldn't just go to sleep. So I turned to my virtual friends on a Staten Island Facebook group. I posted a note asking if anyone else had heard what I had heard. And the comments started pouring in! All of us up in the middle of the night wondering and no one had an answer. Just a million different theories: aliens, thunders, a tornado, gas escaping from a plant in NJ, steam releasing from somewhere in NJ, a plane falling down... basically nobody knew.

Of all the good comments one described the noise perfectly for me, the way I couldn't: it sounded like  a blow torch going on and off. A blow torch, yes, but not as if your neighbor was doing a little work in his backyard, no, this sounded as if Zeus was torching something up on Mount Olympus!

After reading for a good hour all the comments that kept coming in, I was finally able to relax and go back to sleep.

But waking up this morning and still finding nothing on the news about it makes me uneasy. Were all the reporters deep asleep? Is this something no one cares about? Or did Staten Island really cross, for a brief period of time, the borders of the Twilight Zone?


Soos said...

How are you otherwise?

Here you go: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Staten-Island-Loud-Noise-Cause-Revealed-NYC-377139751.html

NY Spender said...


I'm fine, thank you! And you? Thanks for the link, now it's all over the news, last night nobody knew. So weird.