I knew they had been planning this for years.
It was that time of night when the dead burrow deeper into their graves to hide from wandering spirits. I switched on my lamp to hold back the shifting shadows and lay on my back with sleep crusting my eyelids, listening to my stomach gurgle. The image and rich scent of the leftover lasagne drifted onto a plate before my eyes. I would never get back to sleep at this rate. I lurched out of my cocoon into the chill. For the moment, my stomach had defeated the shadows.
I padded cautiously across the living room to the kitchen. The furniture loomed like lions hunkered down under a baobab tree. I held my breath and hoped they wouldn’t notice me. The rustling gum leaves outside filtered moonlight onto the floorboards. In our tiny kitchen the appliances stared down at me accusingly.
I fumbled for the switch, but the fluorescent light just made their glares more pronounced. Oh dear, I thought. They really haven’t forgotten that time when I put my cheese sandwich into our rusty old toaster and caused it to die a sticky death. Of course, I had denied that it was my fault. It would have packed up anyway. But I knew they had never forgiven me. They had just been waiting patiently for the opportunity to deliver justice.
I hovered on the border of safety and peril, but to retreat at this point would have been cowardly. I crept onto the smooth, cold tiles. The oven’s green display blinked steadily and the fridge hummed a sinister tune under its breath.
The whirring of the dishwasher surged as I ghosted past it. I froze as a gurgle boomed from the sink’s drain. Any sleepiness I’d had left had been scattered like clouds in front of a blustery wind.
With blood thudding in my ears, I eased open the fridge door. The seal seemed to grip more tightly than usual. At eye level lay the dish of lasagne, swaddled in cling-film. I cradled it reverently in my palms.
Suddenly, the lights surged in brightness and the fridge pushed a wave of freezing air up my nostrils. There was a small popping sound from the electricity box outside, before the power cut, plunging me into ominous, dark silence. I scrambled back to my room, not caring if the whole neighbourhood rose from its sleep.
I huddled under my sheets with a torch and lifted the lasagne to my lips with trembling fingers. I was not going back for a fork.
In the grey morning light, I sallied forth in my pyjamas to warn my unsuspecting mother about the conspiracy. She listened quizzically while re-setting the oven clock.
“You don’t believe me?!” I cried. “Just wait!”
I was right. The next day she found herself cutting off the end of my long ponytail, which had been singed by our vicious stove’s gas burner.