"Can't sleep," I said. "Clowns will eat me."
She rubbed her bare toes against the outside of my leg, under our blanket. "There aren't any clowns upstairs. I already checked."
"Of course there aren't now. They come out once the lights are all off."
"Then leave a light on," she said. "Leave the one in the bathroom on, and crack the door."
"The snakes come out when the lights are on."
"Snakes," she said.
I nodded. "Yep. Long ones. I'm not sure what kind they are. They're big, though. Like rolled up carpets."
"And they can climb up in the bed and get you?"
"Well, no, not on their own. They get boosted up."
"By the clowns?"
I shook my head. "By the evil robot spiders."
"Jesus," the Muse said.
"Nah, not Jesus," I said. "He only scares me when I'm eating tacos. He just stares at me from the tortillas, all accusatory and shit. Creeps me the hell out."
"At least that one I can understand," she said. "I mean, he is a zombie and all."
I nodded. "And that's why I eat tacos so fast. Eat Him before He eats me."
"I don't think I've ever known anyone before who was afraid of a cannibal Jesus."
"I figure it's only fair," I said. "The Catholics have been eating his flesh for a long, long time. It's payback, if you ask me."
"You're a Buddhist. I don't think you need to worry about karmic Jesus payback."
"Never know. Better safe than eaten."
She regarded me. "You know, you're an absolute fucking freak."
"You say that now, Muse. Wait until you're in bed, and you hear the squeak of a dozen tiny unicycles coming your way in the dark."
"If I get squirted by a seltzer bottle or showered with glitter in my sleep, I'll know who to lay the blame on."
"Man, Muse," I said, frowning at her. "When you say it like that, it all sounds rather silly."
"No! Really? You think?" She repeatedly kicked me in the leg. "Get up. Go. Quit blaming your refusal to go to sleep on invisible evil robot clown snakes, or whatever the hell it is. Just go and get in bed and get some rest."
"Okay, okay! Just quit kicking me." I tossed the blanket back off myself and got off the sofa. "Just you remember, Muse, when the crime scene investigators are here tomorrow trying to measure blood spatter trajectories and looking for all of my fingers, just remember who it was that sent me into that hornet's nest of a bedroom."
"Oh, so now you've got hornets up there too? What, are they the size of crows, with stingers as long as turkey basters? I bet they wear World War I flying goggles, too, don't they? Do they smoke? I bet they do. Giant Cuban cigars, in flagrant violation of the trade embargo with Cuba. And they speak fluent German and all have Hitler mustaches. Nazi hornets, that's what you have, right? Buzzing around all night long and tapping cigar ashes on your forehead, right? Right?"
"Hell, Muse," I said, stunned, eyes wide. "I didn't know you saw them too!"
"Gah!" she exclaimed, and threw her arms up in the air, then got off the sofa. "I'm going to sleep. You're just a hopeless freak." She stomped up the staircase.
"Watch out!" I shouted after her. "The hornets go for fruity smells! You have strawberry shampoo, Muse! Strawberry shampoo!"
"Freak!" she yelled back down at me. "Go to sleep!"
I got back on the sofa and turned the television on. We'd see who the freak was in the morning, when one of us would have been watching Cartoon Network all night long, and the other woke surrounded by a forest of balloon animals...