Click-Click-Click-Click [Short Story]

by Grant Gougler

What is the worst sound in the world? Fingers drumming against a tabletop? Nails screeching across a chalkboard? A baby wailing in a movie theater?

None of the above. The worst sound is the sound that’s keeping you awake.

It could be an argument between neighbors, the chirping of a cicada, a freak whistle of wind. It could be a toilet that never stops running, or a ceiling fan which isn’t quite balanced. Tonight it’s the restless claws of my dachshund, Pal, who sounds like he’s trying out for 42nd Street on my hardwood floors. He semi-circles the bed, then taps down the hallway and back again.

Click-click-click-click. Click-click-click-click. Click-click-click… click.

So why don’t I just get up and yell at him? Ah, but you’re thinking like a waking person. You need to come down here where I am, gliding on the mindlessness between day and tomorrow, body all-but paralyzed while my thoughts pulsate with worry…

Bills, school, work, money. Bills, school, click, money. Bills, click, click, click, click, money. Bills, click, click, click, click, click….

And you know what? I am yelling at him, but only in my head: For fuck’s sake, Pal! Shut! The fuck! Up! Let me go to sleep!

Sometimes he does shut the fuck up, but only long enough to get a drink of water or to lick his crotch or whatever the hell he’s doing down there. But then he goes right back to clicking again… click-click-click-click-click-click-click-aaaagggghhhh!

That’s it! I have to do something!! I have to do something right clicking now!!!

Forcing myself to sit up is like trying to claw my way out of a pool of wet concrete, but I manage, and I open my mouth to yell at the top of my lungs. Then I catch sight of Pal sitting in his bed, trembling in fear as he watches the thing that’s walking around the room, going click-click-click-click.

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