21 thoughts on “Winter of Whimsy and Wyrdness Week One

  1. Jim M

    Jim M, Twitter: @Jim_M848. 500 words with title.

    The Turning Point for John Shade.

    I straightened my undefined shoulders and addressed my fellow oobs;

    “Things are changing. Too long we’ve been shadows in a dark room when the reality, THE REALITY is that we are the illumination. We are the bright light of truth”

    I look to the Americans; Lieutenant Blank, Agent Grey. I nod to the Korean soldiers, “We’re done being tools of espionage for ungrateful governments”

    I turn to Smiley and Twitcher, “Why should you be lost in padded rooms and drugged? There’s NOTHING wrong with you. Well, maybe Twitcher…”

    Pause for laughter. “Seriously though, it’s time to be free men”

    To the children, “We need to protect the futures of all the young ones in clock rooms around the world, you’re scared now but you will be heroes, who you are inside. I’m ready to stand with you.”

    The clock moved back, dust fell in sheaves from the wrought metal hand. I thought again how strange that a room devised in the minds of hypernaturals would be dusty, badly lit and dominated by a clock running backwards.

    “Human nature is both secretive and social, which is a terrible duality if you ask me. We are the antidote to secrecy. They’ll pay millions to keep their infidelities and embarrassments private.”

    I could see from ripples in their shadows that the kids were won, the military were behind me, Twitcher was easily swayed as usual.

    Smiley spoke up. “John, I know we’ve been joking about this a lot, but we’re not extortionists.”

    “No, John’s right”, the Lieutenant barrelled, her shadow solidifying slightly, “My unit’s been sixed baseside for years now. No contact, no family. Blacklist, you understand”

    Her shadow fingers touched her shadow temple, “Any time now, Smiley, they’ll take me out back and give me the old lead retirement, you understand?”

    Smiley shifted, shrank a little and I knew that was it. Much as I love Smiley, he’s a drib negative and a drab cowardly.

    That, there, was the moment that everything changed for us. Twelve years to the day since my 13th Birthday, when two things had started happening;

    1. I’d developed a superstitious aversion to eating in or on my bed.
    2. My head starts exploding at night.

    Exploding Head syndrome is where, in the space between wake and sleep, we afflicted souls hear or feel deafening reports, crackling electrical discharge or booming voices in our heads.

    For many this becomes a doorway outside of our physical bodies, me more than most. I had a prodigious ability to walk unlimited, perhaps owing to my special circumstances, without a focus point. Even the best of the remote viewers need hours studying maps, plans, pictures. I can flit as I please. Karma of sorts I suppose.

    I walked for three years before I found the clock room.

    We’ve started small, a businessman here and a government there.

    The doctor who misdiagnosed and mistakenly took the legs of a twelve year old boy has a serious problem.

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  2. Vin Forte (@MightyVin)

    May The Noble Man Be Dammed

    By Vin Forte (@MightyVin on Twitter) [437 words, with title]

    The clock struck midnight as the masked noble made it to the top of the bell tower. From there he could see the Harbinger Clock across the way, its glowing hands shining through the fog and industrial lights of Brighton Square. The snow began to coat the town, almost as if to blind them from what was about to transpire.

    This was the night that the masked noble had foretold of. The moment was coming and even he was unsure of himself. Could he actually save them? Should he save them? After all, they were the ones who called him a fool and ran him out of town.

    A loud crash echoed through the air. The masked noble jolted his head upward. If nothing else, he did not want to go out afraid. He wanted to at least be able to say he was there and saw it happen with his own two eyes.

    Steadying his hands, he conjured up some stiff resolve and began swirling his fingers in various, undecipherable motions. A bright, blue orb of light appeared between his fingertips. The masked noble proceeded to concentrate this energy skyward and prepared to let off a powerful blast that, he hoped, would mark the new age of salvation and avert the certain demise of everything within a 500 mile radius.

    Just as the blast was leaving his fingertips, the radiant, blue energy pulled his body inward. The masked noble’s eyes widened in shock and horror. His body was imploding.

    His body was sucked into the light within mere seconds as a lifetime of scorn and disbelief flashed across his mind. The masked noble once wondered if legends would be told about him someday. Instead of a legacy he was about to leave behind anonymity. All to save the same people who were so unwilling to accept him and his powers in the first place.

    The light exploded in a flash, decimating the bell tower and resonating on such a sonic level that the reverberation shattered the hands on the Harbinger Clock. Time stood still as blue streaks of cascading light could be seen from the ground, visibly echoing for minutes in the sky above.

    The townspeople must have wondered what it was all about. They must have been asking for years after where those strange blue lights had come from and how they tied in to the bell tower exploding.

    Only one man would ever know and he didn’t get the luxury of living to tell the tale. Though, with his track record, I doubt anyone would have believed him.

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  3. David Borrowdale

    @MicroBookends

    493 words

    The Collector

    “The second rule.” The master pressed withered finger against withered finger as he spoke. “Keep good time. If you’re going to be late don’t come at all.

    “The third rule. No laughter. In truth no noise of any sort, but especially no laughter. If you work hard and follow these rules, you’ll be paid five shillings a week plus luncheon. I trust this is acceptable.”

    Bella had barely heard the proffered scant remuneration, or the second and third rules; she was still thinking on the first.

    “I trust this is acceptable.” The master said again.

    “Yes sir.”

    “Good. Mrs Read will explain your duties.”

    ***

    Explain my duties? That’s a good one. Bella thought, as the pain from kneeling on frigid stone grew unbearable.

    “Clean the house from top to bottom every day.” Mrs Read had said, before scuttling back to the kitchen.

    No laughter, he says. What have I to laugh about and who am I to laugh with?

    Bella looked around the room and turned her head to listen. The master was at his club. Mrs Read was in the kitchen, probably snoozing by the fire. She dropped her scrubbing-brush in the bucket (the water as clean as when it was drawn; no one had set foot in the music room since she’d last scoured the floor) and stood. Her spine tick-tocked as loud as a clock as she straightened her back. The noise brought back a memory from her first meeting with the master. Her interest piqued, she couldn’t think about work until she was satisfied.

    The study door opened silently. She half expected the master to be hunched at his desk, but the room was empty. She went to the cabinet and twisted the tiny brass key. The lock opened with a pretty click. Bella leaned in and stared at the clock.

    There! Bitsy clockwork people as real as I’ve ever seen.

    There were words engraved on a silver plate above the clock face. Bella wasn’t good with words.

    Experior Horologium.” She spoke the words aloud but it didn’t help her understanding. She shrugged and decided to pick up the clock for a closer look.

    She was no longer standing in the study. She was surrounded by people looking out through a circular window. The master came into the room, peered into cabinet and smiled, before closing the door and twisting the tiny brass key.

    “Don’t worry,” said a girl of an age with Bella. “At least you won’t have to clean anymore.”

    ***
    “The first rule.” The master pressed withered finger against withered finger as he spoke. “You must never touch my collection.” The old man nodded at the glass and mahogany cabinet by the wall.

    Why would I want to? Mary thought. A rusty microscope, a liquid-filled jar containing something I’d rather not think on, and an old clock. Wait. There’s something moving inside.

    The master saw Mary’s eyes narrow. He smiled. “I collect curiosity you see.”

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  4. voimaoy

    Janine’s Head
    @voimaoy
    450 words

    We live inside Janine’s head, looking out of her eyes, the world she sees. She knows we are here, but she likes our company. Where would she be without us, all empty-headed and alone?

    She hears us talking among aourselves, steering her in this direction or that. We advise her to wear the black boots with the kitten heels, to buy that book of poetry. We tell her what time it is, what day, what the weather will be. We help her remember names.

    Before us, she would lie awake all night, listening to the radiator, its hiss and hum. She imagined a large purring creature, a shaggy monster with clumsy claws. Will you be my friend, it said, it is so lonely here in this empty house. Let’s tell each other stories.

    The doctor had another name for it. “Tell me about these dreams,” he said. “How do they make you feel?”

    At first, we were only voices whispering in the dark. But, as the pills grew stronger, so did we. We could see through Janine’s eyes. We could see things take shape in the curtains, blowing in the evening air. We saw the patterns in the wallpaper, faces in the leaves on the trees.

    Janine tells the doctor stories. “Tell me more,” he says, as he writes another prescription. We give her such interesting dreams.

    We tell her what to say about us, what words to write, even the words she is writing now, writing these words in her notebook on the train in the morning, watching the stops go by.

    Someone across the aisle wants to get to know her, it’s as if we can read his mind. How can he talk to her? How could he make her happy? Ah, that is the question he is asking himself.

    Look up, Janine, let him notice you noticing. Exchange a sympathetic glance at how tedious these train rides can be. You want to talk to him, too, don’t you? See how easy it is, how happy you have made him. Now he will do anything to please you. When can he see you again? Where can you go for lunch?

    Let us indulge this fantasy further. Could this be love? Let us imagine a meeting of minds. We can do that for you, too. Let us imagine a honeymoon in Paris, lunch in a little cafe. Can you see it, now? We want to see the busy streets, the shops and the chic Parisian women, while you walk together, hand in hand.

    Yes, let’s go to Paris, shall we? Haven’t you always wanted to go? We want to see Paris with you, Janine, see it with your eyes.

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  5. cedrixclarke

    Time and the Magician

    By Cedrix E. Clarke (@cedrixclarke)
    499 words

    “No one can stop time,” I pleaded. “Time is perpetual. Linear. The earth turns. The earth revolves around the sun. That is time, and it can’t be stopped. Anyone who says it can is a fraud.”

    And yet, the council chose to believe. They needed to believe.

    He called himself the magician. He wore flowing black robe, and his hair was wild, like black snakes moving this way and that. But it was his dark eyes that brought my distrust. He had secrets. I knew, and yet I could only speak against his belief that time could be harnessed.

    The magician’s response was simply, “Let me show you.” His oily voice was slippery with promises.

    The more I spoke against him, the greater his power became, until only I held my ground against him. And I was silenced by my colleagues hope. What’s it going to hurt to let him try? they asked, and I had no answer. We were dying, We’d been childless for decades, and were only a few thousand now.

    So we followed him out of the council chambers to the clock tower, and up the stairs, two hundred steps. I trailed behind, my knees struggling after the hundredth, stiff and in pain. When I walked into the wheel room, the others were gathered around the back plate of the clock face, and I could see the city in the distance. The second hand visibly swung around the face of the clock like a force of nature.

    The magician stood at the front, waving his arms about like a madman and he bellowed an incantation. Had I tried to stop him, the frenzied council would have turned on me and perhaps tossed me, the oldest of them, to the street below, so I stood back and watched.
    This is a waste of time, I thought, and yet even I felt his power. I watched the second hand and it struggled forward. I thought it may have lost a few seconds, but decided it was my imagination, until the second hand stopped for a full five seconds. I counted. And then it started again, but languidly, and the magician words rose until all I could hear was his voice.

    Then time stopped. He had done it. The second hand froze at the between the VI and the VII on the clock face, and the council was conscious but couldn’t move. The magician went from one member to the next to lay hands on them, and I only know now that he sucked the life from each. I was the last, and when he stood before me, he said, “I shall let you live to tell my tale.” And he turned and ran through the clock face as if he had no substance and dove over the edge. All that was left was one feather floating up about the wheel room. The second hand ticked, and all but me fell to the floor dead.

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  6. Jacki Donnellan

    The Almanac of Kinks in Reality

    “Something amazing,” whispers a voice in the darkness, “is going to happen at midnight.”

    Sighing, I pull my duvet over my head.

    “Go back to bed, Thomas,” I say.

    Silence. I begin sinking deliciously back into sleep, when-

    “Shan’t.”

    I whip the edge of the duvet off my face. “Look, Thomas, will you just-“

    “Tonight,” Thomas says. “It’ll happen tonight. At midnight.”

    I reach out and snap on my bedside light. Thomas is standing there in his pyjamas, clutching a book. I can’t see the title but I know what it is: The Almanac of Kinks in Reality. Mum was stupid enough to give it to him for Christmas and he’d barely stopped reading it since. And being Thomas, he took it all ridiculously seriously.

    “Very interesting,” I say. “No”-I hold up a hand as Thomas begins to speak- “no, Thomas, I was being sarcastic. Which means that actually, I don’t care what you think’s going to happen tonight, and I want you to go back to bed.”

    Thomas blinks. Scratches his nose.

    “At precisely midnight tonight,” he continues, “whatever we are wishing for, at that moment, will become reality, due to a crack in the Energy Continuum.”

    I sit up and press my face into my palms. “Thomas,” I moan, “None of that’s true. It’s made up. It’s just a book. Just please go back to bed.”

    Thomas slowly looks down at the book in his hands.

    “It’s not just a book,” he says, “It’s an Almanac, compiled with reference to astronomical charts and independently corroborated scientific-“

    I’ve had enough. I throw back the covers and leap out of bed. “Just go back to bed, you freakin’ weirdo! You’re sixteen years old, for pity’s sake!”

    I grab Thomas’s shoulders and begin pushing him towards the door.

    “But- it’s nearly time! It’s nearly midnight!” he squeals, his shoulders squirming and his slippered feet digging into the carpet.

    “Get OUT!” I yell. I use my entire bodyweight to force Thomas through the door, and shove him onto the landing.

    “It’s not just a book!” he sobs, pathetically. “Please, Sarah! It’s not just a book!”

    “Just SHUT UP!” I yell. I slam the door and fling myself back into bed, jabbing off my light and waiting in fuming silence to hear my mum come rushing upstairs to give me another poxy lecture about how I need to remember that my freak of an excuse for a brother is ‘different’…

    But I don’t hear anything. And I can’t remember, now…what was it I was waiting for?

    I glance sleepily at the clock.

    One minute past midnight.

    Shame, I think, that I wasn’t wishing for something, right at the stroke of midnight! Because, according to The Almanac of Kinks in Reality– a book that I adore and believe in wholeheartedly- whatever anyone had been wishing for in that moment would have become reality.

    Never mind. I drift into sleep, wondering why I feel oddly disturbed, tonight, by the fact that I’m an only child.

    @Donnellanjacki
    500 words

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  7. Mark A. King

    Even stopped clocks are right twice a day

    @Making_Fiction #FlashDog

    496 Words

     

    Prologue

    10:10.

    They’ve tried for a child for decades.

    With every bloody miscarriage, every buried stillbirth, she cradles in his arms; he holds her tight and whispers reassurance. She feels doubt in his words.

    But … she knows today will be different. Their girl will be born.

    Exchanges were made. Exchanges of promises. Of dreams.

    Her pain is like she has never experienced before. She is dying. She knows it’s part of the deal.

    He shouldn’t be here, the father at the birth, is not normal for this age.

    She screams. He squeezes her hand. The child is born.

    They should be celebrating, but as the swaddled baby breathes first-air; her mother breathes last-breath. And the clocks stop at 10:10.

     

    2014, Killorglin, Co. Kerry 10:09

    ‘Neath the statue of the King Puck, the goat king, the jewellery shop nestles ‘tween the gaudy betting shops, stale-smelling pubs and Eurozone supermarkets.

    Nobody knows how it has survived for generations, or how old Máthair is. Máthair means, mother, mammy, or matriarch. But people often get her confused for her mother or grandmother. Older residents say she is the spit of her family folk of bygone years.

    Like all jewellers and watch-sellers, all the clocks and watches read 10:10, but in real-time, the watch on her wrist, she has less than a minute to finish her drink before her work begins.

    10:10am arrives and the world stands still. It is always the same. She has but one minute to change a life. She wants to go to America, to Australia, to China, but she is forbidden from travelling across time zones.

    In a care home in Norwich, Reggie sleeps. He is on borrowed time, but he’s been a fighter all his life; he knows no other way. He lies in his own waste, unable to move. The medicinal smell of bleach is absent; all that hangs in the air is the miasma of anomia, sickness and impending death. His war medals once hung by his bedside, now taken by carers that care only for what they can steal; they’ve left him nothing in return but uncleansed surfaces, dust and indignity. Máthair holds Reggie’s wrist where once a watch would have been. He feels the smoothing touch of his mother and slips peacefully away.

    Later, it is 10:10pm. In a bedroom in Galway, overlooking the hulking gas towers, Summer counts her success by the money she has retained on her bedside table and the number of white lines that have dulled her memories. She stares into space, they all do at 10:10. Máthair holds her wrist. Whispers names of shelters and sanctuaries. She will continue at 10:11 and remember long-forgotten places where she can find help.

    And so it goes on. There are millions to save. But she can only save two a day.

    In the glossy magazine adverts, in the shop windows, the time is always 10:10.

    She can’t save everyone, but, even stopped clocks are right twice a day.

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  8. lhedgecock2014

    Practical Magic
    Liz Hedgecock (@lizhedgecock)
    451 words

    Do you remember how, when you were a little kid, life was easier? When I didn’t know how something worked, I just assumed it was magic. Money in endless supply from a hole in the wall; boring old flour and butter becoming a butterfly cake. It was like a beautiful show where you can’t see the musicians sawing and puffing in the pit, or the scene shifters heaving away behind the velvet curtain.

    I wish life were still like that. The more I know about how it all works, the harder it seems to get.

    Looking back, one of the reasons why I married Simon – apart from loving him, of course – was that I thought he would shield me from the grittier aspects of life. He does, while explaining them to me in great detail.

    When we went on a trip to London, my plans included standing on Westminster Bridge at sunrise and reciting Wordsworth while contemplating the silverfish Thames. Simon’s surprise was a tour of Big Ben. ‘Including the mechanism room!’ he proclaimed. He counted the steps up the tower while Tilly and I moaned.

    We arrived at the top to find London laid out before us through the portholes of the clock faces; a perfect doll’s house city inhabited by red bus-ants. We marvelled, while the relentless facts droned on. ‘…four point two metres in length, one hundred kilograms in weight when you include the counterweights…’

    I tuned them out and gazed spellbound at the landscape where so much history had unfolded.

    ‘…and now we will head for the Mechanism Room to learn more about the internal workings…’

    Tilly squeezed my hand. Simon walked over. ‘Come on, Fen, people are waiting.’

    I sighed, and gave up.

    I watched the second hand grind to a halt, and run backwards, picking up speed with every revolution.

    As you can imagine it caused quite a stir. The guide was particularly keen to get to the mechanism room and see what was going on. Footsteps clattered down the stone stairs, leaving Tilly and me free to enjoy the splendour.

    Simon thanked me later for his opportunity to get an extended view of the clock mechanism. ‘I hope you were careful, though,’ he said, somewhat sententiously. ‘I wouldn’t have wanted Big Ben to get damaged for my whims.’

    ‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I know what I’m doing.’

    That’s the problem. I dream of being the sort of witch who turns people into frogs or base metals into gold. Unfortunately I am the sort of witch who mends fuses. Our milk never turns, and our lightbulbs never blow.

    I’ve been blessed, and cursed, with practical magic. I just hope Tilly gets the proper kind.

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  9. C Connolly

    Statuesque

    @FallIntoFiction
    #FlashDog

    (500 words)

    There is a time of year – any year, for what it matters, which is little – when we hold our revelries amongst you. Time ceases turning for moments, whilst we wander; weaving our way amongst your numbers, as you hold obligingly still. We call it so, though there is little say in it. The command is made and you obey. There is no choosing when the touch falls upon you. Stone moves through your limbs and they slow. You settle into solidity, frozen features displayed, moonlit, as they freeze. Only then are we free to walk unseen; unnoticed. For a time. That is how it is and must be.

    This, then, is our time – our gift – brief and fleeting. A captive audience to our revelries, as the night passes – with you and among you; marionettes in the making. Music, unheard by human ears, moves with the breeze, as arm links with arm. We link with yours, too, as we pass, though we travel quickly – must do – through your masses. Time is fleetingly ours; merest moments only – stolen from where they will not be missed and hoarded for our purposes over the months. We do not ask where they originate from. We cannot – must not – linger; with our favourites or otherwise. It is not – would not – be permitted. Such is the deal which has been made, though you will never hear of it. Suffice to say, to break it would be sacrosanct; sanctions ensuing.

    We want to be with you – to see your faces, though they do not – cannot – see ours. Their expressions are familiarity themselves – time’s frustrations erased; eased. A momentary boon. You are youth itself, to us – we are eternal now and ever. Beside, yet beyond and by and with you, though for the moment. It, too, will pass. It always does – until the next time; though by then you may not be there. You may perhaps be here, by then. We cannot tell. That is not ours to know. The knowing lies beyond. Until. Then and only then. That is when we know. Then, when it is upon us.

    The night is all too short. The glimpse of the sun’s rays on the horizon has us hiding from its gaze; passing a quick caress upon the shoulder of the nearest body. There is no time for more. Not now. The time has come for parting, once again, now it is truly on the turn. We know this of old, though some of our number are new to our ways. Those are the eyes which linger; seeking.

    As you wake, you shudder, though no time has passed, from what you know. You feel the passings as the barest hint upon the hairs of your neck, which stand to attention. We are gone beyond you – though we will return to walk where you stand again. To reunite ourselves with those with whom we were acquainted. Time depends on perception. For one night we pretend none has passed at all.

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  10. this once and future life

    Glimpsing Time
    Joann Varnell (joann.varnell@gmail.com)

    474 words

    “Have you ever noticed it looks like there’s something stuck to the clock face?” Ariel was dusting the mantel and noticed the antique clock they had found in the attic of their 1895 home. They had bought the home just after she and Graham had gotten married in 2011. Five years of dusting and winding it and she had never noticed what looked like a circular piece of paper behind the hands.

    Graham walked over. “That’s odd.” He picked up the clock and walked over to the couch and sat down. He got out his pocket knife and loosened the screw that held the hands on and removed them.

    “Careful. Who knows how old that clock is!”

    Graham teased, “I’m always careful. It’s just some paper.”

    Ariel sat next to her husband, “Hey, it’s a mirror! And it does look really old. You can tell it’s not a modern mirror. I wonder if it’s as old as the house.”

    “Who knows. I think it looks better with that paper on it.” Graham tried to place the circular cut out back onto the clock face but it disintegrated in his hands.

    “Always careful?” Ariel winked. “Just put the hands back on and wind it; I’ll put it back on the mantel.”

    As Ariel put the clock back up the arms started to spin wildly clockwise. “What did you do?” She could barely make out her image in the mirror because the spinning hands gave the illusion of a nearly solid black circle.

    Graham stood next to his wife just as the arms slowed and then stopped. “That’s weird. I don’t have a beard.”

    “And I didn’t look like that a minute ago. I mean, my hair isn’t that short.” Ariel was a little bit weirded out.

    “Hey, those aren’t mirror images. Look, I’m, I mean, that me is holding something.” Graham squinted and stepped a little closer.

    “What are you, uh, he holding? It looks like a blanket.” Ariel grabbed Graham’s hand.

    “Oh, my . . . it’s a baby!” Graham had barely gotten the words out when the hands started spinning clockwise again.

    Ariel held more tightly to Graham. When the arms stopped they peered into the mirror and this time saw themselves, even older, looking very tired. Graham was holding a little boy of about two or three and Ariel was holding a baby in a pink blanket.

    “Graham, do you think . . .” Ariel shook her head. “That’s silly.”

    “What? Could it be us in the future?”

    The clock hands spun again and then slowed. This time, when it stopped there was Ariel holding a boy of six or seven on one hip and a little girl about four years old on the other hip.

    “Where am I? Why aren’t I in the mirror?” Graham began to shout. “What happens to me? Why aren’t I with you?”

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  11. David Gentner

    The Hastur County Herald

    D. B. Gentner

    500 words

    The Hastur County fairgrounds had never seen such a turnout. The fresh sweet corn on the cob and greased pig races had always drawn in the locals, but never had they seen so many outsiders. In the last twelve hours the county, and specifically the fairgrounds, had teemed with strangers. Ever since the clock tower had been unveiled, more and more people had been drawn to its side. The hands of the clock now pointed to five minutes until midnight and, as the stranger approached, the congregation began to chant, “Hail! Hail! HAIL TO THE KING!”

    Earlier that summer the county had begun preparations to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the fair, and it was decided to build a grand clock tower in the center of the grounds, near the pavilion. Many artists and clock makers submitted plans and bids, but one stood out among them. An unknown artist had approached the committee, late one evening, his face and hands bound in bandages, grey and smudged with time, and his yellow cloak hanging around him in tatters. He begged they forgive his appearance, explaining his anonymity was paramount if they were to accept his proposition. He had with him many leafs of yellowed paper and they crackled as he unrolled them before the judges.

    The tower was sublime in its design, leaving those who viewed it with memories of happier times, though few could remember specific details after they left that evening. The stranger proposed that he would create this monument for the county as a gift. Despite his outwardly appearance he assured the panel he had been a resident of the county all his life and wanted deeply to give it as a gift. There was no debate and construction began the next week.

    On the opening day of the fair everyone gathered for the unveiling, but the artist was nowhere to be found. Elected officials gave speeches, and grand gestures were made, all in front of the monolith draped in a shimmering aureolin fabric. Finally, as the sun rose to its zenith, the time had come. A ribbon was cut, the fabric tugged down, and the tower revealed. All in attendance gasped as its radiant composition gleamed in the sun. Its edges were incongruous with any trick of geometry known to man and its surface was covered in strange symbols and line drawings that shimmered seemingly of their own volition. Then it began to chime the noon hour. Several attendees collapsed, ears covered, screaming and gnashing their teeth, but few paid heed to their wailing. What the others heard was like the clarion trumpet call of Gabriel. They raised their hands in praise, weeping tears of exultation, until the chimes were silent and the clock began its countdown to midnight.

    No two descriptions of the chimes were the same. Some said it brought them memories that were not their own, others saw strange unknown lands, but all agreed that the clock heralded the coming of the King.

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  12. Wisp Of Smoke

    @Blukris #FlashDog
    498 words

    Hands of a Charlatan

    I ate clocks in the beginning. My therapist said it might help, she said I had nothing to lose.

    They don’t taste all that bad, a hint of manufactured bitterness on the palate, but I have an iron stomach, so I chomped away. Digital, mechanical, quartz, atomic, water, cuckoo, and analog; a cornucopia of time that I placed between my desperate teeth. I even consumed sundials and hourglasses. They didn’t cure me. Nor did therapy.

    I tried surgery next. After extracting my heart, which the surgeon said was fatigued and bathed in shadows, he placed an alarm clock in the gaping hole then stitched me up with his finest synthetic thread. My pulse was in tune with the tick tocking, creating a melody of synchronized clock-beats. A shrill bell would vibrate against my ribcage randomly, a plastic quake to snap me out of the doldrums. It was more annoying than anything else. It didn’t fix me, but I never overslept.

    I tried living in a massive grandfather clock after that. It wasn’t cheap and it took months to arrive from Germany, but it was worth a shot. I had to curl up in the fetal position to fit inside, which seemed appropriate, I didn’t mind. Polished cherry wood is pretty to look at, and that brass pendulum was rather majestic, but it was too loud in there. To be honest, grandfather wasn’t the quietest of fellows. Every hour on the hour, a thunderous bong would roust me from my stupor. There were just too many creaks and monotonous chimes for it to be any sort of remedy. I only lasted two weeks inside that chamber of gears. If you look close, you can still see my claw marks.

    My neighbor, Claudia, is an amateur magician. Nothing revolutionary or anything, she uses steel rings, playing cards, and black top hats. She does the occasional children’s birthday party and the kids seem to believe that she is the housewife version of Houdini.

    I told her about my dilemma yesterday. She nodded excitedly and said she could help me. She told me she needed a keepsake to make the trick work properly; something cherished, something that was smeared with the residue of grief. I told her I would bring Hannah’s Movado bracelet watch that I had given her on our first anniversary. It was stainless steel with rose-gold plating. She used to wear it everyday, her delicate wrist burdened by the weight of caustic love. She eventually removed it and placed it in a jewelry box, an ornate coffin for lost things. Claudia said to bring it over tomorrow along with her forty dollar fee.

    I’m not hopeful that whatever illusion she has planned for tomorrow will work. They say time heals all wounds, but maybe that’s a myth only fools believe. I’ve tried everything to diffuse the sorrow, a yearlong journey of failure. My belly is full of clocks, but the pain is still there. And Hannah is still gone.

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  13. necwrites

    The Mistress of Neglected Time

    No one cares about 8:43.

    The spiral of days roll past, the minute hand tickles across his belly. 8:43 curls nose to tail, trying to tune out the chiming departure of 8:45 two minutes on.

    The change comes one winter night, a gibbous moon peering through the clock face. The minute hand plods toward 8:43 bringing with it the siren song of a summon. At last! Manifestation!

    Onto a kitchen table.

    His toes tangle in the lace tablecloth, pitching him into the salt and pepper shakers. He’s about to stammer out an apology when he hears, “Hey, there, little fella’.”

    His summoner, a woman in a floral housecoat and flyaway hair. A lollipop bulges her cheek. Pineapple, by the smell. Some kitchen witch dabbling at evocation in her smoldering years.

    “What can I do for you, m’lady?”

    “Oh, dear, so formal.” She scratches the quills that rill his backbone. “I have tons of work and a deadline. Can I get a bubble?”

    “How big?” 8:43 grows nervous. Even at his peak, stable bubbles were tough. He’s out of practice.

    “My study. I’ll show you.”

    Books overflow the shelves and piled into plateaus.

    “I don’t know how long—”

    “We have the rest of the month”

    The thought of getting a nightly summon for the next month thrills and terrifies 8:43.

    She sets to work, pawing through tomes and ledgers. He strains to maintain the pocket that increases her efficiency tenfold. By the time the twelfth hour calls him back, she’s excavated the desk.

    “An excellent start,” she declares.

    The next night’s easier, and by the second week, he can maintain the bubble and give her a sheath of swiftness. The downhill side of the month, weariness crowds her eyes. He crafts an envelop so she can nap while he takes over the arranging. That’s when he stumbles across her journals.

    “You once commanded hours!” he gasps.

    She stretches out her legs. “You’re just as useful as midnight.”

    He scoffs, thinking of the power that throbs around the top of the clock face. Impossible.

    She rubs his back quills. He senses the tingle of potency. Age hasn’t diminished anything.

    The last day, they’re back in the kitchen. Her withered hand strokes his spine. Her housecoat swallows her shoulders.

    “You’ve been getting your affairs in order.” He hates himself for not recognizing the truth of it earlier. “But why not…?”

    “Extend my life?” Her laugh rustles like a dry scroll. “You couldn’t imagine my age.” He wishes it weren’t the last time he’d feel her fingers in his quills.

    “No minute has more power than another,” she tells him, instead of farewell. “Your significance is up to you.”

    Sorrow creeps back into 8:43’s slot with him. He hears weeping, sobs all over the clock face.

    “What’s wrong?” he whispers to a sniffling 8:42.

    “I don’t know about the others,” she whimpers, “but I had the most magical month, with the most—”

    “—wonderful mistress,” 8:43 finishes for her.

    Somebody once cared.

    500 words
    Nancy Chenier
    @rowdy_phantom

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  14. Carlos

    Like Clockwork

    The long line attracted Rupert to the clock tower.

    “What’s this line for,” he asked. The group of people nearest the rear mumbled “I don’t know,” or shrugged.

    Rupert understood, as did the others, long lines meant something important or lucrative was waiting at the end. Because of this, he stopped his questioning and filed in behind the last person.

    The line moved at inconsistent intervals, sometimes moving a couple of meters per minute, and other times not progressing at all. Rupert considered leaving the line, but he did not want the hour he had already waited to have been for naught. So he shuffled forward when he needed to, and shifted his weight from one foot to the other to relieve the pressure on his heels. After a couple of hours under the hot sun, he reached the inside of the clock tower.

    The inside of the tower was dark and cool, which made standing in the line much more bearable. The beads of sweat that had soaked his shirt cooled Rupert off, and he felt better about his decision to stay. As he began ascending the stairs, a ticking sound became audible. This delighted him a bit more than it should have, but Rupert realized this was his first time he’d ever been in a clock tower. He sent his gaze skyward and noticed the mechanical gears revolving and whirring above him. This made the time in line more enjoyable, until he reached the middle of the tower.

    Here the ticking became louder, and having been hearing it for the past two hours made it agitating. The dynamo above him lost its wonder and the grinding that burst forth was maddening. The people in front of him began complaining and it wasn’t long before he joined them.

    Once he neared the top he noticed people trying to make their way back down, but the stairs were so full of people that moving in any direction besides forward was impossible. They realized this then continued their penguin shuffle to the top.

    By now Rupert and everyone else had their hands cupped over their ears. With every tick, Rupert felt his sanity break. The echo of it reverberated in his head and scrambled his brain. He wanted to make his way back down but knew it would take longer than the ascent had taken, and all the while he would still hear the ticking. The quickest way out would be to continue on.

    After another hour, Rupert came to a giant oak door. He was sobbing loudly, barley able to stay on his feet. The ticking sound had destabilized his equilibrium. A robed man appeared at the door and led him inside. Rupert saw the culprit of the ticking sound. The giant black hands of the clock revolved around its face. The robed man pulled a dagger out of his sleeve and presented it to Rupert.

    “Thank you,” Rupert muttered. He took the dagger and drove it through his heart.

    @goldzco_21
    500 words
    #flashdog

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  15. Pingback: Hands of a Charlatan | Wisp Of Smoke

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