It got later and later, the alarm louder.

There is no reason why anyone should be here so late, but then why have an alarm? An empty room with an alarm, blaring out a klaxon of sound with the echoing ring of a bell, except of course it doesn’t have an echo because it doesn’t stop or change pitch. It rings. It screams. There is no red metal disc like the one you’re imagining, no epileptic arm banging against a sonorous dome, there are no a flashing indicator lights or loudspeakers.

What I’m trying to get across is that nothing visual changes. The light is on, the room is empty, the alarm is sounding.

We can’t hear it now, obviously. Perhaps these words are the only record of the head-splitting sound. Silent words going round and round in your head, making you imagine the noise in that squat, windowless box of a room. That’s all you know about it, not whether it is underground or in a tower or on an island or in a hidden space not very far from where you are now.

All these things you do not know. All you know is the room and the noise. A constant above all else. The effect on the walls is that microscopic dust falls from the vibrations. You can’t see this though even if you are in the room because your eyesight is not acute enough, and you have that strange reaction to noise of shutting your eyes and screwing them up tightly to try and block out the pain of it.

You might cover your ears.

What’s the use?

In this sort of racket your bones are no more than a new mode of transmission, your blood is no dampener.

Then the moment of clarity, of sanity.

Oh, my beloved, this box and this noise are inside your head.

And it is very, very late now.



This piece is part of project three-six-five, a challenge to write stand alone fiction every day for a year. This is #173 and was written on February 2nd.

If you enjoyed the writing please feel free to drop me a line on twitter @GabrielleBarnby or on Facebook. Thanks.

Gabrielle Barnby