I place my digital camera — Sony Cybershot — lightly on the rough wooden surface of the coffee table next to me and crouch down to pick up the books from the lower most levels of the bookshelf. I see Needful Things, Grownup, Catch 22, Catch Your Death, Pet Sematary, Cell, Clifton Chronicles series and several other books sitting nicely stacked against each other.
There’re so many books that it’s past time we got a new bigger bookshelf. Ugggh… How many times will I have to argue with Dom to get the damn thing? Looks like I’ll have to do it myself.
I shake my head in frustration, huffing a frustrated sigh, and pick up half of the books stacked against each other in the second last level, and gently keep them on the floor beside dozens of other books that rested harmoniously on the cream colored marble floor in lazy heaps.
After putting the remaining half of the books, from the same level, on the floor beside others, I grab my camera and take a few pictures of the books that I just kept on the floor. This is my way of keeping a tab on the books I have. Easy and hassle free.
I press the ‘preview’ button and check the pictures I just took, and that’s when I hear a loud thud from the other room.
What the hell?
I keep the camera as it is with preview window open back on the coffee table facing away from me and go to the bedroom to check.
As soon as I enter the room I feel a cold current of electricity run through my body in a matter of a split second. At it felt like electric current to me. The hair on my arms and legs rise and I stand at my place dumbfounded. I shake my head to get back my bearings and discarding it for a shuddering I enter the room.
The first thing that I notice is that the bedroom, somehow, seems unnaturally placid. I mean there’s obviously no one here, still it feels quaint to be here right now. Trying to ignore a strange feeling rising in the pit of my stomach I look around the room to find everything in order. There’s nothing misplaced or fallen on the ground.
Honestly, I was expecting to see the pile of folded clothes on the floor as I knew the window next to it was open, but when I check, the pile is sitting neatly where I left it in the morning next to the window.
Where did the sound come from?
Maybe the noise came from the kitchen or outside and I mistook it for the bedroom. In spite of my gut telling me that the noise came from the bedroom, I drop the matter thinking it might have been Tom, the street cat, or some squirrel running around outside the window or maybe a bird or something else.
I return to the study room and make my way to the bookshelf on the right-hand side wall. But as soon as I lower my head to see the floor, I find everything scattered on the floor.
What the fuck?
All the piles of my books are lying on the floor as if someone kicked them. More than a few pages of my once neatly bind books are lying around scattered about the disheveled books. After a few seconds of shock, I notice that most of the books are not only just scattered around the floor, but are torn apart.
My heart starts beating fast thinking about who could have done so. My anger flares up in an instant and I start cursing, Tom, who visits me every now and then. I’m sure now that it is his doing.
It has to be!
I sit down on the floor, picking up the torn books carefully, one by one, trying my best to control the tears welling up in my eyes and that’s when I hear it.
My head snaps up to look at the camera, sitting on the coffee table just where I left it, but instead of facing away from me it is facing at me. My heart starts beating fast but I try to tell myself that I might have kept it like this in the hurry to go to the bedroom, or maybe Tom did it… but I know it’s not possible. I remember clearly how I kept the camera when I left
Click. Click. Click.
I freeze at my place and before I could even blink, a cold shiver runs through my body again. Just like before.
I muster all the courage I could and get up from the floor, not taking my eyes off the camera. Its lens looks like it’s staring right back at me, daring me to see what it has captured.
My heart thumping loudly in my ears I take calculated steps towards the wooden coffee table and my camera. Sweat starts dripping down from the sides of my head and the hair on my neck start to rise as I get closer to the camera.
I stop, just long enough to quickly glance around the room, as if to make sure there’s no one around. I feel completely jittered and my throat starts to feel dry.
I start to rethink the entire situation. Maybe it was my imagination playing tricks on me? Maybe it wasn’t a click that I heard, but some other noise from outside? Maybe Tom is still inside the house trying to find food in the kitchen and making all these noises there?
Or maybe I’m just freaking out?
Click. Click. Click.
I immediately look at the camera and notice that it has shifted a little from it was a minute ago.It is a little sideways now. But how in the hell is it even possible?
I hate to face it, but I guess there’s something around.
I try to back away from the camera carefully, one step behind the other. But just as I reach the place where I was sitting, the clicking starts again.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
I turn around and dash for the door. As soon as I’m out the room I shut the door behind me. I try to catch my breath but the frantic clicking noise makes me feel dizzy. It’s getting more and more urgent now…
Please, someone, stop it!
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click…
I cover my ears with my hands and run towards the bedroom. Entering the room I close the door behind me and bolt it shut. I wipe the tears and sweat off my face and feeling increasingly hysterical I pat my pockets searching for my cell phone. But then I realize that I left it next to the shelf on the floor in the study room.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I sit on the bed and try to steady my ragged breathing. I wait for a few heartbeats to let the feeling of nausea pass and then start thinking about a way to go outside and get my phone back. Dismissing the idea, I look around the room frantically in hopes to find something. Anything.
And that’s when my eyes land on the pile of folded clothes neatly sitting by the window and there, under the bright light of the sun, my eyes land on the camera sitting on top of Dom’s light blue shirt, facing towards me.
And right then, I hear the sound that’ll haunt me for each and every waking second of the rest of my life – Click.