Tick, tock, tick, tock…
These are the sounds I am forced to hear all my life. The constant clicking sound as the pendulum swings by my bed, just barely missing me, never removing my suffering body from this wretched life. But instead, I don’t get to escape this everlasting nightmare, being forced to keep my tormentor alive. Now while I wouldn’t call myself a clock maker, as I did not forge this beast, I would call myself a clock-hand or engineer. Another term that would be fitting for myself, is slave.
I don’t know what that old man is scared of, but he doesn’t want the clock to stop for anything, not even daylight savings. I have to constantly keep this clock running every second of every day. If this clock stops, I will never hear the end of it, the old man will scream and curse and stomp all over my frail body. Then, he will just go find a new slave to run his machine.
Now many of you would have done this already, and just let the new guy get to work, but not me. I don’t want anyone else to have to endure this.
And as I lay there on the ground, I hear a small sound, a faint clicking noise. Now of course, many would’ve just blended this in with the normal ticking of the clock, but not me. I listen closely to the clicking, trying to time the clicks with the pendulum. The pendulum swings to the left, and I heard the define click just before the ticking of the clock. The pendulum swings to the right, and I hear a tick, but no click. I pause, letting the pendulum swing back to the left, and I heard the click once more.
Is there a bolt loose on that side?
I remove my blanket, standing from the ground I was lying upon, and look up to see what the problem is. There it is, the anchor is off, and isn’t hitting the escape wheel at the right time. I move toward the closet to get my ladder, when I hear the clicking get louder. Turning back to the pendulum, I can see that the anchor is becoming completely off-set, slamming into the escape wheel. Before long, the escape wheel will be completely broken, or one of the pallets will break.
I’ll have to work fast.
I grab my ladder and tools from the closet and make my way to the pendulum, ducking low as to not be hit by the weight. But just as I set up my ladder, I hear the door knob turn, and it creaks open. The old man looks at me with such anger, his nightgown reaching down to his ankles, and his cap crooked, “What is going on up here?”
“The anchor is crooked Sir, I’m fixing it.”
“You better, I’m not paying you to sit around while the clock breaks.”
“You don’t pay me at all, Sir.”
“Exactly, so maybe you should work harder, and I would consider giving you a raise.”
I look back to the clock, sighing out a small phrase, “Likewise.”
The old man snaps at me, “What did you just say?”
I look over, “What do you even care about this clock for? The people don’t even need it anymore, they all have their own pocket-watches or clocks in their homes.”
The old man shakes his head, “You would never understand the purpose of this clock. If it were to stop—” A loud sound of scraping metal end our discussion as we look back over to the clock. The pendulum has stopped, and so has the ticking of the clock.
The old man’s eyes grow wide with fear, “No. No, no, no, no, this can’t be happening. If the clock has stopped, then that means—” He cuts himself short, falling to his knees and letting out a scream like none heard before in my life.
I hear the door creak open, and I see a man step inside, his fine black suit perfectly ironed, and his hair combed. But there was something about him that was off: his eyes. Whereas the rest of his body seemed to be perfectly human, his eyes were nothing more than two black orbs inside his skull. He smiled, “Well, I see I have returned.”
The old man continued screaming.
“Oh, don’t be like that. There’s nothing to scream about, it’s just a deal.”
I looked at the man, “Who are you?”
He chuckled a bit, “Oh, so you’re the one I should thank for allowing this clock to stop. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is… well what do you call me here? Oh, I got it! My name is Mr. Scratch, or you might also know me as the Devil.”
I nodded, “And what is it you want?”
He smirked, “Well, let me explain.”
He walked back over to the old man, “Me and the old man here had a deal a while back. You see our friend here liked to gamble, and gamble he did. He gambled all the way to his death. See, while our friend here liked to gamble, he also liked to cheat. So one night, he slipped a few aces up his sleeve and magically won the game with four aces. Well if there is one thing I know about cards, it’s that there is only one thing that beats four aces, and that’s a gun.”
Kicking the old man to the ground, he rolled him onto his back, pulling out a knife and cutting open the stomach of his night gown. Peeling back the fabric revealed a gunshot wound, “This here, is where our friend’s life should’ve ended, but it didn’t. I am known for being a pretty habitual liar, so I had sympathy for this old sinner, and I cut him a deal. If I put him in control of this clock tower, and if he kept this clock tower running, he could keep on living, but if it stopped…”
He lifted his hand, dragging his finger horizontally across his throat.
Putting his hand to the old man’s throat, he lifted him into the air, choking him. Smiling at his work he looked to me, “I really should thank you, you know. Because after all, with the amount of sins in this soul, I should have plenty to feed upon. So tell me… is there anything you want in return?”
I shook my head, “No, I already have what I want.”
“Very well then, I guess I’ll keep an eye on you friend, just in case I need to repay this favor. A very, close eye.”