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‘The Last of Us’ Clickers Explained

Clickers are gross, y'all.

Alright, so you’re a character in the world of The Last of Us. You’re walking around, trying to survive, thrive, and vibe as best as you can. You’ve killed a couple of zombies already, and you also had a dramatic moment where you looked a man in the eyes and watched the life slowly slip out of them. He was trying to kill you, but you still see his pale face each night when you close your eyes and try to sleep. But other than that, you’re feeling pretty good.

In your travels, you see a convenience store that seems like it’s pretty un-scavenged. There could be some canned food in there. Or maybe some scissors and tape and shit that you could use to make your trusty baseball bat a little more murdery. You go inside and you fill your backpack with stuff. Dope. You see, at the other end of the store, that there’s a series of dark steps that lead down to a damp storage area that might have some really good shit.

But something gives you this weird feeling, because there’s this weird little clicking sound that you keep hearing. It’s probably just a blown fuse or something. Some electrical shit gone haywire since the apocalypse. Or maybe it’s a raccoon. Yeah, probably a raccoon.

However you justify it (even though there is not more electricity and the raccoons are probs all dead), you start descending the gross and creaky steps. The dank air is full of fungal spores, so you slip your gas mask on in order to not breathe in any of the cordyceps fungus that is responsible for zombifying everyone. Reach the bottom of the stairs, and your boot is submerged into some clammy, stagnant water. Ew. You’re gonna have to change your socks later if you don’t wanna get trench foot. This had better be worth it.

You root around in the basement and you manage to find some cool stuff. Some scissors. A couple knives. More canned food. But something is off. You keep hearing that clicking sound, and it’s getting louder. Something bumps your foot; you look down and stifle a scream. At your feet is a bloated corpse, clothes nearly rotted off, gripping what appears to be the waterlogged remnants of a shotgun. You know from your travels that shotguns are dope, so you peel the gross corpse fingers off of the barrel and add it to your pack.

You’re all done in the basement. You’re sufficiently spooked, and still the clicking gets louder. The skin on the back of your neck stands up because there’s a little sound under that clicking. It sounds like a little whine. A little gasp. A little moan. It sounds like a death rattle. The shuddering last breath of a person. You take to the stairs, put your foot goes straight through rotten wood with a loud crack.

And something screams.

The biles rises in your throat. In the darkness you hear something splashing through the water. The clicking is louder and is mixing with the sort of sub-human shriek that makes your legs go all baby deer. You slip your foot out of your boot and book it up the stairs. Something is coming up the stairs behind you. By the sound of the thing’s footfalls on the stairs, you can tell it is wearing shoes. You tear out of the store and pull the 9mm pistol out of your pocket. You wheel around, and coming out of doorway you see the remains of what was once a human face, now blown out of proportion.

The mouth and jaw are there, but the other features are obstructed by fungaloid growths. You empty your magazine into the thing. The bullets slow it down, but only a little bit. You don’t have time to reload. You realize that you are still holding the shotgun in the other hand. You didn’t check if it was loaded, but you’re going to find out. The thing reaches out its rotted hands, its teeth clicking and gnashing. You pull the trigger and a slug explodes into the thing’s chest. It is blown backwards three feet by the blast. It screams and writhes on the ground. Then it shudders and lies still. You don’t stick around to check if it’s dead. You make like a tree and get the fuck outta Dodge.

Later that night, you decide to camp out in an old parking garage. You find a few dry sticks in the street, but you don’t have any sort of kindling. You check your backpack for scraps of paper, and you find an old pamphlet that was handed to you by soldier in the demilitarized zone where you used to live before it was overrun. It was about how to kill infected. You didn’t read it. From practical experience you know that “shoot it ’til it dies” is usually the most effective method. You are about to light the paper on fire, but the breath catches in your throat when you see the same fungaloid face that you found in the convenience store looking back at you on the back of the pamphlet. You take out your flashlight. You see that this thing has a name.

What are clickers in The Last of Us?

As you read further, you discover that “clickers” are the third “stage” of the cordyceps infection. Years after an infected person is bitten, the cordyceps fungus begins to grow outside of the body. The “lumps” on a clicker’s face are actually hardened fungal plates that grow over the infected person’s eyes. The creature is blind and uses clicks and groans as a form of echolocation in order to hunt prey, hence the name. Due to longterm exposure to the fungus, these creatures are significantly stronger than humans, and are significantly more difficult to take down. They hide in dark places in order to hunt more successfully, which seems to suggest they possess a certain level of intelligence.

Next to the picture of the clicker, you see that there is a section marked “Stage Four,” but that section of the pamphlet has been torn away. You realize with a shudder that the thing you encountered had not even reached the final stage of the infection, though you can only imagine what that stage is.

You light the paper on fire and watch thing’s face contort and blacken as it is licked by the flames. You lay down to sleep, and after a while, sleep begins to find you. You don’t even notice that you didn’t think of the man you killed when you closed your eyes. His face has been replaced by something unrecognizable. A skull with bubbling fungaloid growths, and a screaming, gnashing mouth. Your last thought before you drift away is … “Ew, that shit nasty.”

(featured image: Naughty Dog)

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Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.