It was oppressively hot, again. Now, neither of them could sleep at night without the air conditioner whirring in the background. Sleep had become an achievement, not a given. They were tired all the time.
The sweltering heat had come early this year. It seemed as if every year grew hotter still. The floorboards in the room swelled with heat during the day and at night the air conditioner's cold blast contracted the boards, letting out loud cracks that woke them both. It was as if the floor were coughing, or the room itself was sick. The first time it happened, the couple feared for their safety, imagining the noises to be an intruder. The snapping and crackling like kindling in a fire in the centre of a perfectly dark room.
However, in time the two came to live with the swelling and contracting floorboards and the inevitable cracks and snaps that accompanied their temperature change. The heavy hum of the aircon soon became second nature to them, too. Like many mammals living in the city, survival was easy and their instincts had been sacrificed for comfort. So, when the men entered their home early that summer morning, neither Bill nor Michelle batted an eyelid. In fact, they never woke up that night, or any other night. Sleep wouldn't be a problem for either of them ever again.