Gerald squeezed the pillow around his head to no avail. He could still hear that infernal buzzing noise.
He’d been hearing it for years now, ever since they first moved in. At first, it was just on the edge of consciousness, but once he realised he was hearing it, he couldn’t stop hearing it. Some days, it was all he could hear.
Mike claimed he heard nothing, and the more the buzzing invaded Gerald’s life, the more distant Mike became. No end of hearing tests had found a problem, and no-one seemed to listen when Gerald explained he only heard the damned buzzing in the house.
The buzzing eventually drove Mike away.
That’s what Gerald told himself, even though, deep down, he knew it was Gerald that had sent him packing. None of that seemed to matter now though. All that mattered was the fucking buzzing.
Gerald threw the pillow away, and tossed the covers aside. He didn’t bother with his slippers, nor a robe, and stomped naked down the stairs, following his ears, the same way he had followed them every night for years.
Tonight though, the buzzing seemed louder. Clearer. And he felt sure he could locate it. In the dining room, he crept across the floor, trying not to make the floorboards squeak, knowing any intrusion into his hearing might mean losing the elusive aural scent.
It was getting louder.
Each tentative step bought it closer.
Until he was pressed up against the wall, his ear pushed into the plaster. And beyond, he heard it. The buzzing was behind the wall.
Terrified of losing it, he scrawled a massive X in pen, and ran out to the shed. The grass was wet, and his balls swung in the cool air. He found a sledgehammer in the moonlight, and ran back inside.
The plaster crumbled to dust with the first blow, making him cough and splutter. He didn’t care. He took another swing, and another, and another, exposing brickwork and ageing mortar. And then, with one final blow, he cracked through. The rest of the wall fell away against his weight, revealing an old, bricked up closet beyond.
And there, louder than ever, the source of the buzzing.
Gerald knelt down in the dust and rubble, ignoring the pain of it digging into his flesh. He pushed his head closer, and looked at the source of his decade long woe.
It was an extension socket, with plugs jammed into every orifice. Each of the six slots housed a further extension cube, and from each of those, old, dangerously wired plugs ran cables into the wall.
The buzz was a cacophony to his ears now.
He reached with one finger to the switch at one end, pressed it.
And turned off the universe.