Later, I was jarred out of sleep by the smoke detectors--all of the smoke detectors. Of course, my immediate thought was, "Is the house on fire?!" as I jumped out of bed and grabbed my pajama pants off my desk chair. I was still pulling them up as I emerged from my room to find Dad turning lights on in the living room and hallway.
We couldn't smell any smoke, and there was no sign of anything amiss; however, those alarms were wailing and the cats were running for cover. After a few minutes, they turned off, and we all headed back to our respective beds...and then they started again.
This time, Dad called the fire department, and told them what was going on. Within ten minutes, a truck pulled up outside our house to find my parents and I in bathrobes (I was in a hoodie) on the driveway, hugging our arms to ourselves and hopping around to keep warm. There were two guys on board, and they weren't in full gear, knowing that we had no smoke or fire present. The suspected a bad alarm, and they were right. A few minutes poking around our house, and they found the bad one (in the hallway right outside my bedroom) and even climbed up on our ladder to take it down for us.
Bella and Duchess were found, a few minutes later, cowering under Mom and Dad's bed, bodies touching, eyes wide. Millie, however, came out after the noise stopped, and walked right up to the action. I picked her up before she could start flirting with the nearest fireman; I figure they have better things to do than deal with a flirtatious fifteen-year-old cat who farts and has bad breath.
So it was an exciting night, and explains why we've just installed five new smoke detectors. It turns out, according to the firemen last night, that it's recommended that smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years. Our house is about ten years old, so it was definitely time.
It's all's well that ends well--thankfully, our house was not on fire, we were never in danger, and it's sorted now. Though maybe I ought to have let Millie get the phone numbers of those cute firemen before the left...