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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Click (04/18/13)

TITLE: Don't Be Alarmed
By Cheryl Harrison


The bull-pen. That's what we called the cramped, 10'x10' office space shared by Maggie, Patsy and me. A closet of an office, furnished with three fully equipped secretarial desks, two file cabinets, the latest Xerox copy machine, and a healthy Schefflera plant. The complete opposite of spacious.

During peak business hours, the non-stop clickety-clack of our IBM Selectric typewriters could be heard miles away.

Clickety-clickety-clack-clack-clack, as we prepared loan documents in triplicate.

Clackety-clackety-click-click-click, as we added miscellaneous documents to the ever growing pile.

One Friday afternoon, our boss surprised us with a new computer. All work ceased as we watched a skillful technician assemble the technological miracle. He connected a myriad of cables to the machine, and then—drum roll please—he clicked the power button. The computer whirred to life. After a series of clicks and beeps, the screen welcomed us to the home page. Our gleeful applause reached heaven, and I believe the angels sang a stanza of the Halleluiah Chorus.

Static anticipation filled the air. Each cursor flash represented diminished workload and less typewriter noise-pollution. Within a few days of installation, the computer became a functional part of our office, complete with the newest version of the WordStar Merge System software.

A few weeks later, on a particularly busy day, the gentle whir of our new computer suddenly changed. It was replaced with an annoying beep.


Maggie, Patsy and I were stunned. We considered ourselves to be technology toddlers, and we didn't know anything about troubleshooting. Thus, our first response to trouble was the proverbial open-mouthed, deer-in-the-headlights stare.


Most witnesses to the bizarre ordeal would have concluded that an explosion was imminent. I cautiously approached the computer. At first, I peeked behind the monitor, and then I looked under the computer desk. Nothing appeared to be out of order.


I clicked the power button to the off position. The computer shut down, but the beeping continued.


I detached several cables and unplugged the power cord from the electric socket. Nothing changed.


I unhooked every single wire and cable. Nothing.


Maggie, Patsy and I gawked at the computer, completely amazed that the beeping had not stopped.


Then, after all the confusion, I spotted the problem. My giggles quickly changed to thunderous laughter. I pointed my index finger toward the source of all beeps. As soon as Maggie and Patsy saw what I saw, they burst into roaring laughter, as well. We must have hee-hawed for at least ten minutes. The combination of our laughter and the continued beeping of the computer brought several curious co-workers into our office. They wanted to join in on the fun.


As the laughter subsided, I knelt down next to the computer desk and unplugged one last electric cord. The beeping abruptly stopped. Glorious silence. I gently tugged the electric cord which revealed the source of the noise—a small alarm clock that had been perched on top of the computer the entire time.

Can you imagine the fun that ensued? It still makes me chuckle.

The moral of the story? Don't stress out too much when the topic for the Word Challenge is "click", because you can always write a story that beeps.

The end.


Author Notes:

True Story.

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This article has been read 382 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/13
Oh dear this was so funny. I loved the jaunt down memory lane. Your descriptions divine. I have to keep this for my hubby's IT collections. He will love it and probably be proud that you figured out the beeping without having to call tech support! You have a whimsical sense of humor that I totally enjoyed and I can't wait to see what you're write when the topic is beep! I'm torn over the last line. My analytical part said you don't tell the reader the moral of the story! But then when I read it, i truly did laugh out loud, for quite a while and my fun side overrode my analytical side and declared it a hit!
lynn gipson 04/27/13
You took me back a ways also. Only I didn't have a typewriter, but one of those IBM Keypunch machines. You then put the cards in a computer the size of a refrigerator. They didn't clickety clack, they made more of a grinding noise. Loved this wonderful, humourous, well written piece!
Lori Dixon04/27/13
We still own the electric typewriter as my daughter loves the sound it makes. :)
Great story! The fact that is was true only made it that much more enjoyable.
Christina Banks 04/27/13
After reading this all the way through, I love your choice of title. Great wordplay! You descriptions were fantastic, and I was just as amazed as your characters when the beeping continued. I personally felt that the story might have been stronger without the moral, especially since it's usually not a good idea to mention the challenge in your entry. Still, this was a lot of fun to read. Thank you so much for the smile.
Judith Gayle Smith04/28/13
Clack keying on an IBM 024 Keypunch machine (I still dream about "star wheels" - this brought quite a few crazy memories. I am glad you finally raised the alarm . . .
Cinda Carter04/29/13
I thought the title for the story was so, ideal and I was letting my imagination run with me what could possibly make it beep like that. It turned out to be something so, simple it sometimes triggers our funny bone and makes us want to laugh. And then when you come to the punch line or moral of the story it made it even funnier in especially good way. Thank you for sharing.
Alicia Renkema04/29/13
You certainly were on topic for this one. It was a fun read being there with you and your co-workers in the "Bull Pen." For me anyway, the title didn't give the ending away, I never would have put two and two together during the story. I loved the ending. Cute story.
Loren T. Lowery05/01/13
Not only did this bring back a lot of memories it reinforced my faith in the electrical cord - great invention in forward thinking and preventive melt down for the technically challenged. Great, humorous story - well told!
Bea Edwards 05/01/13
I remember those technological toddling days. Good job.