Ticking

I have signed the contract and even received confirmation and permission to talk about it. So, it is official that my first standalone story, a novella with the working title of ‘Forever and Always’, will be published by Sirens Call Publications. My cheeks are actually sore from smiling when I think about it.

In other news, I am very ready for spring. I have had enough of this snow and cold to last me forever and I already know I only get a year. Its bad but I am already dreading next winter.

That being said, there is a lot to do between now and then. My newest short story is almost done and I will be submitting it to Cairn Press in the next week or so. Deadline is the end of the month so it is now or never. I have other short stories that need to be written/submitted and I am still working on the third draft for my first novel. So many words, so little time.

Have a good day and I hope you enjoy the next story.

L. E. White

Ticking

The clock was ticking.

A loud, echoing clack as the gears smacked together with each shift of the mechanism.

For each slap of the gears teeth grinding together, there was a small, sharp noise as the arm shifted up and down, moving the gear that forced the thin, red second hand to jump over to the next mark.

Frank was surrounded by clocks. Most of them did not turn, many would never be able to turn again, yet he still had them lined up for inspection. His workbench was covered in springs and gears and discarded hands, except for the spot directly in front of him. Here sat a small rack of tools, the only thing that he kept neat and orderly, beside the arm which held the magnifying glasses.

At this moment, Frank looked through two of the lenses. He had flipped them down so that a spring, smaller than some yarn, looked like a fat, Cuban cigar. Trembling, palsied hands moved the slender loop at the end over a rivet inside of the old pocket watch Mr. Anderson had brought to him.  When the spring was in place, Frank released his grip on the pliers. The spring snapped into place with a tiny click. Frank smiled, twisted the knob on the top of the watch, and was rewarded with the gentle bouncing of the gears as they began to move. “Ahh. Fixed.”

“Is it?” A barrel chested and potbellied man struggled to his feet from the sunken cushion of a chair that sat in the corner of Frank’s workshop. He waddled up behind Frank and peered around the lenses to watch Frank close the face back down over the gears.

“It is as good as new,” Frank said. He wiped the piece down with a rag before handing it back to its owner. “Just be careful not to over-wind it again.”

The standing man dropped one meaty hand down onto Frank’s shoulder, but he hesitated just before making contact. The pat had started out with enough force to have bowled the spindle thin tinker over, but ended so gentle that he might have been playing with a new puppy. “Thank you ever so much Frank.” The big man laid three crisp twenty dollar bills on the bench beside the tools before leaving with a spring in his step that made his belly jiggle and push his pants down until he had to use one hand to hitch them back up.

With the fat man gone, the ticking increased in volume. Many of the clocks seemed to be working in perfect unison, making the glass faces of some vibrate. Other clocks sounded like they were just a bit off, which made their own mechanisms sound discordant. Together, the cacophony was mind boggling.

“I understand,” Frank said. He turned to a closed cabinet and opened the door. “I know you don’t like to be closed off but someone would try to destroy you if they saw and heard you. Nobody would believe that a clock could talk.”

The clock inside the cabinet continued to tick and tock, but mixed between those sounds, the match of the synchronized and out of sync clocks, came mechanical, soulless, words. “You must listen to me Frank.”

“I understand,” Frank said, turning his back on the only thing in his work shop that was older than he was. “I am sorry but protecting you from others is more important than your disdain for my closing you off from the world.”

The clock stood in still, impassive indifference. Yet, if the hands of the individual faces were considered, for this clock told more than just the time, it resembled a scowling countenance.

“I understand,” Frank said, his face growing pale as he turned back to the clock. “I won’t do it again.”

The hour and minute hands shifted, moving closer to the top of the hour as the clock continued to tick and tock.

“No, please don’t.” Frank brought his hand up in front of him, palms facing the clock. His arms shook and his lip began to quiver. “I promise I won’t close you away from the next customer.” His was growing louder and the stooped old man began to rise from his work stool.

Ticks and tocks.

“Please. Please.”

On one very loud tick, the minute hand lined up with the twelve on the clocks face. The next tock came so soft that Frank almost missed hearing it. He sighed, his hunched shoulders relaxing a bit.

And then the clock struck a tiny bell to mark the hour.

Frank jerked, bending forward like he had just been punched. He slapped his hands over his ears and dug his fingertips into the sides of his head. At the second chiming, the crisp, high note of the bell was drowned out by Frank’s agonized scream.

The third chime drove Frank to the floor.

The fourth marked the moment when blood shot out of his nose and mouth.

The fifth caused Frank’s body to start jerking in violent convulsions until the sixth chime brought them to an end.

The bell continued until the clock was finished announcing the hour to the world.

Then, it stopped. No more ticks, no more tocks. The little dials which sat together below the central shaft were each facing out; pointing up like the corners of a smile.

 

 

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Categories: Book, Flash Fiction, Horror, Writing
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