Drip, drip, drip.

Monica slammed her hands over her ears, squeezing her eyes shut, hoping to shut off that sound. That infernal, incessant noise.

Every day, she awoke more tired than she had gone to bed, blearily facing the monotony of her day, staring at her computer screen as the whining callers complained about their misbehaving mechanical devices. She would nod and smile at no one as she logged their calls and dispatched the repairmen.

Hour after long hour, nothing ever varying.

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your problems, Mrs. Johnson,” she would said, her voice warm despite the cold exhaustion in her bones. “I’ll send a technician over as soon as possible.” She keyed in all the information, knowing that once Rob or another of his tech crew arrived, once again at Mrs. Johnson’s place, he’d find out that the old bat had unplugged the microwave like she had done in the previous five calls. But customer service was still their business. So back out they would go.

Not that she ever went out. People terrified her. She had honed her skills with computers early on and thanks to an amazing work from home program, she was able to bring in a steady stream of income without ever setting foot outside the safe confines of her apartment.

Food, clothes. Everything she would ever want or need was available with a push of a button and the click of a mouse. A simple knock on her door signaled the arrival of a new something and once she was certain the coast was clear, she hurriedly unlocked the door, yanking the packages inside and once again, the door closed out the world.

A veritable paradise for the paranoid.

If it weren’t for that damned leak.

Drip, drip, drip.

She rolled over onto her stomach, covering her head with the pillow, resisting the urge to scream.

She had called the building supervisor to report the dripping faucet in the apartment upstairs from her when the sound first appeared in the night. The burly ape on the other end of the line had brushed her off. She could see the gnawed-on stub of a cigar butt bouncing in his fat maw as he told her he’d get to it when he had the chance.

Had the chance? She had opened her mouth, set to fire off with a scathing retort when the upright gorilla hung up on her.

That had been three days ago.

Drip, drip, drip.

Finally, able to take no more, she bounced from her bed and hustled for the kitchen. Her eyes scanned the sparse offerings until she spied a broom. Quickly she grabbed the wooden pole arm and returned to her bedroom, ready to wage a battle with the rude leak. She tugged on her nightshirt as he climbed onto the bed, her weapon of choice prepared to give the ceiling a good poking when the sound simply stopped.

She froze, broom poised and ready to strike, but the only thing that met her ears was silence. Blessed, beautiful silence.

Not about to look this gift horse in the mouth, she heaved a sigh of relief and scrambled back beneath the covers, tossing the broom aside, a childlike smile soft on her lips as she closed her eyes. She had only settled in for a moment when the sound returned.

One eye cracked open as she waited. She counted her heartbeats in the echoing silence. Assuring herself it was just her imagination, being so accustomed to hearing the sound that it had merely filled in the silence with missing rhythms. Once again, she nestled her shoulders deeper into the pillow-topped mattress and shut her eyes.

Drip, drip, drip.

Oh, for Pete’s sake.

She flung the sheet off her, rolling onto her back to stare at the ceiling. The white popcorn stared back at her, mute and seemingly innocent in all of this. Her eyes scanned the pale surface, hoping to find some variation, some dark spot that would indeed prove that there was a leak in the upstairs apartment. However, only foot after foot of ecru blandness met her gaze. She felt her eyes pulled toward the digital clock on the nightstand.

3:52, the bright red numbers announced joyfully. Only a couple more hours until the little box went into vocal mode. Her eyelids scraped across her tired orbs, fluttering down as she gave a weak prayer to whatever deity might be awake and listening to the ramblings of a sleep deprived call center employee for no more drips.

Her pleas were met with limited success, for the sounds began to diminish, as if the source of the leak was moving further away from her. The furrow in her brow deepened as she strained her ears, hoping that lifting her head would confirm her earlier suppositions.

The sounds did appear to be…moving.

Not stopping, not lessening, but moving. At first the staccato tics were directing above her head as they had been all the other nights. Tonight, however, the sound seemed to be emanating from somewhere near the foot of her bed.

And still it traveled, the drips drifting further down the hall, she would swear to it.

Scoffing at her silliness and very overactive imagination, she forced her eyes to close yet again, one ear peeled, just in case.

Seconds turned to minutes as the drip remained absent. The tenant upstairs must have finally found the source of the leak and fixed it. That had to be it. Not knowing her upstairs neighbor, nor any of the other building denizens for that matter, she decided that he had been out of town and must have recently arrived back home to the leaky faucet and, being unable to sleep as well, he had done his civic duty and shut off the naughty tap.

Smiling at her own cleverness, she began to slip into a gentle slumber.

Until the jarring sound of a slow creak echoed down the deserted hallway. The door leading to the stairs was always sticking and tonight was no different. Yet, this night, as the heavy metal door thunked shut, another sound resonated through the narrow corridor.

Drip, drip, drip.

As the plinks grew closer, her blood began to run cold.

Could the sounds be coming for her?


Happy Halloween!