Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you.
The instances of the number six permeate this novel, and for a good reason. Six: God created man on the sixth day; six six six, the number of the Beast; six scrawled across notebooks and on walls of an apartment "devoured by sixes" by a "castrated frankenstein, never getting to see the results of my labor open its eyes, never knowing if my life's work would have come to fruition"; six bullets in a chamber of a revolver. The narrator is the "accidental subject of photos, living in the background," an Everyman, but with one crucial difference: he experiences glitches in the universe. As events loop in time, he learns to control them and becomes capable of changing them. But it is an arduous process: "a riddle, nagging at me ... i feel like i'm trying to solve a puzzle without any pieces."
Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that hell is other people, and the unnamed narrator is suitably nauseated — "the noise of the city on me like insects, stinking of greed and aggravation and despair" — but his own company is troubled as well : each morning begins with a game of Russian Roulette. "morning ritual, sixteen point six six percent repeating, i'm beating the odds into submission, the numbers melting into each other.."
as i pull the trigger the universe races away from me only to inject itself back into me in a heartbeat, exploding into my bloodstream, filling me, completing me. i'm alive, and i'm not sure what to make of it.i go out into the world and find things beautiful again."
Enthralled and repelled in equal measures by his "brilliantly insane" girlfriend whose conversations are "infinite tangents that rarely resolve themselves," the unnamed narrator is teetering on the brink, stuck in a Groundhog Day loop were "everyday feels identical .. trapped in artificiality, living in a box within a box within a box, and it's all made out of plastic, third rate manufactured reality," and aided by the fact he may be deranged:
"paranoid schizophrenic is a pretty heavy phrase, yet for whatever reason it still slides right off the tongue. paranoid schizophrenic. schizoid. schizo. psychosis. that fucking lunatic. you fucking psycho."
The episodes of repetition, "part of the same broken record," are mistakes, the universe correcting itself. A mentor helps him control the events, he enters episodes at will and changes the course of the loops — "i smile. i keep walking. a man doesn't get hit by a car. a boy doesn't fall off his bike" — but tells him, "you'll keep questioning yourself and start to wonder if i ever existed. if i was just some figment of your delusional mind. and maybe i am. maybe you'll crack and end up in an asylum somewhere, drooling and scratching at the walls."
And that is exactly how you are left. As the narrator's thoughts repeat, come in and out of focus, become scattered and tangental, the reader has to to sift through the cracked reality that he presents: "we are just our memories after all, and usually, we're misremembering everything anyhow. what's one more incorrect recollection?"
Kristopher Young has turned out a compelling genre-bending piece of fiction with a great hook. Click embodies the grit-lit of the streets, an element of science fiction and a smattering of a thriller, a picture of a man at war with the world and with himself, right until the final pages when the last click comes "harsh and loud and true."
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Click by Kristopher Young
Another Sky Press