“Alarmed” by Holly Sheidenberger

It was June. Dale was sleeping soundly when his alarm jolted him awake.

The clock said 7:10.

Odd. He’d never set the alarm for 7:10.

That evening, during Jeopardy!, a startling sound made Dale jump. He spilled his Miller Lite.

The faulty alarm clock was blaring again.

It was 7:10.

Dale tried to reprogram the alarm. But it screamed promptly at 7:10 every morning. And evening.

Desperate, he yanked the plug from the wall.

Mercifully, the clock faded, as dark and silent as death.

Until 7:10.

It blazed to life, incessantly flashing its warning: 7:10 – 7:10 – 7:10.

Dale couldn’t take it any longer, so he smashed the clock with a hammer.

Then came July. Dale was exhausted. Every time he laid down, he saw those dreaded numbers, haunting him, keeping him awake.

He took some pills to help. Too many pills.

He never opened his eyes again.

The date on his tombstone read July 10, 2019.

Seven Ten.