Fiction: ‘Time Keeper’

18 - Time Keeper

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He knew his time had come because the clock had stopped.

Of course, there were other signs too. You couldn’t miss them, really. The TV set had frozen on an image of some infomercial nightmare; the radio had cut the presenter off midsentence; the sound of lawnmowers, passing cars, and singing crickets had all stopped together.

But none of those things had quite the same effect as the clock.

It was altogether an ordinary looking clock, with three slender hands; one for the hours, one for the minutes, and one for the seconds. The gears clicked rather loudly. When the clock hit either midnight or noon, it would ding twice, and once when it hit six o’clock in the morning or evening. The numbers were plated with silver and looked even larger under the thick crystal that sheltered its simple face. When it came down to it, the clock did nothing but tell the time.

It had also managed to keep up the precise time for the past four hundred and seventy years that it had been in his family’s possession. Even the most accurate atomic clocks in the world will eventually lose or gain a second, but he knew that his clock would keep going for hundreds of thousands of years and never miss a tick.

After all, it wasn’t quite like all the others.

He still remembered when the strange man had appeared at their door. There was panic gleaming in his eyes and he kept looking back over his shoulder at his rickety cart, as though afraid someone might take it. The man had spoken very quickly. He had to repeat himself several times before his father had come to the door, causing the stranger to turn away in frustration, run to his cart and bring back the clock. At the time, it had been such an advanced piece of mechanical engineering. Something only the wealthy could afford to keep. The man handed it to his father, muttered something in a foreign tongue, and disappeared.

Now, for the first time in centuries, its gears had fallen silent.

He moved to the window and spread the curtains to look out at the milky twilight. Birds were frozen in mid-air. A jogger stood on the sidewalk, mid-step. Cars sat in the middle of the busy road as though parked for the night. He breathed a long, slow sigh of relief. There was so much time now. He could run off to any place on Earth without feeling guilty or being shackled by his duties.

It wasn’t his responsibility anymore.

Without time, he could be free.

He began rushing around the apartment, shoving clothes and tools into an old backpack. The clock sat on the mantle, watching him. He finished packing, zipped up the bag and stood before the clock.

He wouldn’t take it with him.

What for?

When time stands still, there’s suddenly more than a lifetime of opportunity waiting for you. There’s a whole new world of freedom. With a violent shove, he knocks the heavy clock onto the ground where it shatters into pieces, its gears rolling away unceremoniously across the floorboards. For the first time in four hundred and seventy years, he could truly live.

He would not be its slave any longer.

~ Ekaterina

8 thoughts on “Fiction: ‘Time Keeper’

  1. Seems rather allegorical than literal, though there is a great deal of mystery and mysticism involved. I’ve always wondered in these “time stop” stories how the hero could breathe or even move. If everything is frozen, that includes the atmosphere. Air should be a still as stone, so not only could an active person in frozen time not take a breath, it would be as if their body were cast in a block of transparent plastic. They would be held absolutely motionless while they suffocated.

    The only answer would be that they exude some sort of force that puts everything immediately around them into their regular time, thus air crossing that threshold would be breathable. That would have to be true for anything they picked up, otherwise food would be frozen and impossible to move, let alone eat.

    The horrible thing is if they touched a person or animal, that part of the living being they touched would move forward into the hero’s time, aging at an incredible rate while the rest of the living thing remained frozen. The 1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Timescape” dealt with such issues and I always wondered how they got hatches and turbolifts to work.

    Liked by 2 people

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