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It was quiet, at first. A gentle tapping, like branches on a distant window. Tap-ta-tap-ta. Ta-tap. Tap-ta. She barely even noticed it.

But gradually, over hours and days and weeks, it got clearer. Closer. Wherever she went, she could hear the tapping. From the wall. From her desk. From her coffee cup.

She tried to ignore it, but it was always there. Always the same pattern. Tap-ta-tap-ta. Ta-tap. Tap-ta. Tap-ta-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap. Ta-ta-tap. Over and over again. Yet nobody else seemed to notice it. She thought she was going mad.

She was in a meeting, trying to pay attention to the latest fiscal reports and ignore the tapping from her cup. Ta-ta-ta-ta. Ta. Ta-tap. Ta-tap-ta.

She gasped, clutching her ear with one hand. Her eardrum throbbed painfully, filling her head with a deep wobbly sound.

Wom-om-wom-om. Wo-wom. Wom-wo. Wom-wo-wom-wom. Wom-wom-wom. Wo-wo-wom. Wo-wo-wo-wo. Wo. Wo-wom. Wo-wom-wo. Wom-wom. Wo.

She clutched her head and fell off her chair, her balance disrupted, her head filled with the throbbing, the by-now familiar pattern that was starting again.

In desperation, trying to get the sound out of her head, she thumped her fist on the table along to the pattern. Once through. Twice. Her hand was sore but she couldn’t think of anything but the pattern, the throbbing in her head.

One of the older finance assistants frowned, stood up and leaned over the table.

“Can you hear me,” he said, sounding puzzled.

The throbbing stopped. She stared up at him, blinking. “Wha- What?”

“It’s Morse code,” he said. “That’s what it said, can you hear me.”

She stared at him for a moment, then the throbbing returned. She thumped the table again. The finance team stared in astonishment as she banged desperately on the table and the finance assistant translated.

“We are coming.”

They looked at each other, bemused, confused, disbelieving.

“Prepare to die.”

© Kari Fay