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All My Clocks Stopped at 1:13 p.m.

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Aug 17th, 2019
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  1. I read somewhere that when a clock’s owner dies, that clock stops. While there’s no evidence to support such an outlandish claim, it’s interesting to regard. However, if it happens to be true, then I have a problem. I’ve always admired clocks. Something about their simplistic facade fascinates me. In reality, they really only have one job; to keep track of time, to tick every second. But underneath their glassy visages lies a system of wires and gears that is quite complex. Due to this fascination, I have amassed quite a few clocks.
  2.  
  3. Every single one of them stopped at 1:13 p.m. today.
  4.  
  5. ***
  6.  
  7. When I got home from work, I went straight upstairs to change from my work clothes into something more comfortable. The book I had left on my dresser from the previous day greeted me as I entered. My friend and coworker, Randy, had given it to me. The bold crimson letters on the cover read: “Daylight Savings Time: What the U.S. Government Doesn’t Want You to Know.” He’s big into that kind of stuff. I promised him I would read it so we could talk about it the next time we hung out. The rest of my day was booked.
  8.  
  9. It was then that I first noticed something was off. There was an unusual, oppressive silence to my room.
  10.  
  11. See, I found comfort in the symphony of groans, creaks, and clicks of my house. The orchestra of old floorboards, papery walls, and rhythmic clocks, all playing in tune, soothed me, in a way. Clearly, I had grown too accustomed to the music, as I was acutely aware when one of the sounds was missing.
  12.  
  13. An inadvertent side glance revealed to me the clock on my bedroom wall, which no longer ticked in time.
  14.  
  15. I approached the clock; light from the midday sun flooded in through the adjacent window and danced across its face. Out of all the clocks in my collection, I was particularly fond of this one. In fact, I would venture to say that it was my favorite. My father had gotten it for me when I was a child. I greatly enjoyed its design as well; each number was accompanied by the naval pennant for said number. This gave the clock’s face a dazzling array of bright yellows, deep blues, and rich reds. Growing up, for some odd reason, I had an affinity for maritime collectibles. My panoply of model ships meant the world to me. Sadly, I lost them when my father’s house burned down several years ago. I guess you could say this clock was a part of that collection, the sole surviving vessel of my long-lost fleet.
  16.  
  17. It had indeed stopped; the hour hand hovered languorously to the right of the one, the minute hand just above the three. 1:13 p.m.
  18.  
  19. Batteries must be dead, I thought.
  20.  
  21. Admittedly, it had been several months since I last replaced them. A quick battery change would have it up and ticking again in no time.
  22.  
  23. I rummaged through my room, managing to find two seemingly new batteries. I flipped the clock over and popped them in, waiting in anticipation for the reinvigorated first tick of a clock with brand new batteries.
  24.  
  25. Silence.
  26.  
  27. Perhaps this is just a bad batch of batteries? I have more downstairs. Problem solved.
  28.  
  29. As I combed through the various cabinets and drawers in my kitchen, I noticed that several other clocks had stopped at 1:13 as well. I stood as motionless as the timepieces. The restless hum of pure silence crescendoed impotently in my ears, lusting for sound. Frantically, I flew from room to room, searching for any noise. Like an ever-tightening noose, reality slowly set it. It wasn’t just several clocks that had stopped, it was all my clocks. Father Time had abandoned me.
  30.  
  31. In a futile attempt to console myself, I searched “time” in Google, hoping in some way that it would tell me everything was fine. I wagered my sanity on one Google search.
  32.  
  33. “1:13 p.m. Friday, August 16, 2019 (EDT) ” is what it said.
  34.  
  35. I swallowed hard. My heart drummed, off-beat in my chest.
  36.  
  37. In what I now acknowledge as a foolish move, I gathered all my analog clocks. I spread the silent fleet across the cold sea of my bedroom floor, the glassy stillness engendering a visceral anxiousness within me.
  38.  
  39. I began fiddling with each clock’s dial. I needed at least one of the clocks to move, or make a sound, to do anything at all. But, like obdurate children, they persisted, remaining stuck in place.
  40.  
  41. Panic had long since set in. I paced around my room like a madman, unable to comprehend this nightmare. It was in this manic state that I noticed them; the lumps forming in the center of each of the clocks. It was almost as if a pocket of air had gotten trapped beneath the glass.
  42.  
  43. For some reason, my eyes once again drifted to the book Randy had given me. It beckoned me.
  44.  
  45. I decided to call my friend.
  46.  
  47. The line droned as it rang. A moment later, it clicked as the call connected.
  48.  
  49. “Hello?”
  50.  
  51. “Randy, hey.” My voice quivered as I spoke.
  52.  
  53. “What’s up, dude? I can’t remember the last time we had a phone conversation. Everything okay?”
  54.  
  55. I hesitated. “Totally. I was just curious; are your clocks still working? Weird question, I know.” I forced a laugh.
  56.  
  57. “What kind of joke is this, man?”
  58.  
  59. “Indulge me,” I replied.
  60.  
  61. He huffed. “Yes, my clocks are still working. What’s this about?”
  62.  
  63. “What time is it?”
  64.  
  65. “2:30. Are you sure you’re okay?”
  66.  
  67. A sound from the floor derailed my train of thought. My heart skipped at the prospect that the clocks had started again. I soon realized that this sound wasn’t anything like the steady, melodic tick of a clock. This was the sound of something living, organic. It was squelchy, repulsive, and it was coming from the clocks.
  68.  
  69. “I have to go. Thanks, Randy.”
  70.  
  71. “Hold on...”
  72.  
  73. I hung up before he could finish.
  74.  
  75. The sound suffused the air around me. Within the span of my phone call, the protrusions had swollen to an obtrusively large size. I stared down at my favorite clock, watching as its design stretched taut over the emaciated face that now revealed itself. This thing’s other limbs, of which there were far too many, followed suit. They sloshed and gurgled as they emerged from each of the other clocks, continuing this preternatural birth.
  76.  
  77. I thought that maybe if I separated the clocks again, I could stop this, or at most slow it down. I attempted to grab one, only to have my hand phase through it like it was some horrendous hologram.
  78.  
  79. A concoction of revolt and unease brewed inside me.
  80.  
  81. I no longer cared that these were my most treasured and expensive clocks. I just wanted to stop this. I wanted to destroy them all, watch them burn, turn to dust. Anything to get rid of them. But something deep down told me, no matter how hard I tried, I would never be able to
  82. destroy them.
  83.  
  84. Light from the open window faded as an untimely twilight crept over the landscape. All too quickly, malignant darkness bathed my room.
  85.  
  86. I thought Randy said it was only 2:30?
  87.  
  88. With the arrival of nightfall, and the repugnant mix of rot and melting plastic beginning to permeate the air, terror burrowed deep into my mind.
  89.  
  90. Despite the inky void that now lay before me, I could make out several of the thing’s limbs, swaying uneasily in a nonexistent breeze. Its head shook in listless, uneven motions. It had grown substantially in the mere seconds it took the sun to retreat. This thing would manifest very soon, and I didn’t want to be there when it happened. I fled downstairs and hid in the guest bedroom, which coincidentally was right beneath my room. I did the only thing I could think to do at that moment.
  91.  
  92. I called Randy.
  93.  
  94. “So now you want to talk. What is up with you, dude? You’re not acting right.”
  95.  
  96. “Something’s coming after me, Randy. You’ve got to help me. It came out of the clocks, every one of my clocks, they’re...melted. It’s in my room. Something horrible is coming.”
  97.  
  98. “Slow down, I can’t understand you. What happened to your clocks?”
  99.  
  100. “Just get over here as soon as you can, please. And bring your 12 gauge.”
  101.  
  102. “I’ll be there.”
  103.  
  104. ***
  105.  
  106. Putrescence clogged the air as the creature’s smell invaded my hiding spot. I fought back the urge to gag.
  107.  
  108. That was about the same time it started making noises. Keening, whiny and high pitched, laced incongruously with low, booming undertones. It was almost finished.
  109.  
  110. My phone began vibrating in my hand. I knew before checking, it was Randy.
  111.  
  112. “Randy, where are you?” I whispered.
  113.  
  114. “What do you mean, I’ve been knocking on your door for like two minutes. Is it safe for you to come to the door?”
  115.  
  116. The noise from upstairs hadn’t become loud enough to drown out the sound of someone pounding on my front door. If Randy had indeed been rapping on the door, I would have heard it.
  117.  
  118. “Randy, there hasn’t been any knocking.”
  119.  
  120. “I don’t understand.” He responded.
  121.  
  122. “Try the knob.”
  123.  
  124. Through the phone, I could hear the doorknob click as Randy entered.
  125.  
  126. “It’s unlocked. I’m running upstairs right now.” He said.
  127.  
  128. The truth hit me like a freight train. He wouldn’t find anything up there.
  129.  
  130. “There’s nothing here. I’ve had enough of this, just tell me what’s going on.”
  131.  
  132. I couldn’t muster the strength to respond.
  133.  
  134. “What the hell is going on?” He shouted into the phone.
  135.  
  136. “Can you do me a favor?”
  137.  
  138. “Not until you tell me what’s happening.”
  139.  
  140. “Check the clock.”
  141.  
  142. The line went silent for a moment.
  143.  
  144. “What about the clock?” His words were brisk.
  145.  
  146. “What does it say?” I intoned.
  147.  
  148. “It says 1:13. But that’s wrong.”
  149.  
  150. “I’m hiding in the guest bedroom. Come downstairs, and I’ll explain everything.”
  151.  
  152. The line went silent once again as Randy made his way downstairs.
  153.  
  154. “Okay. I’m here, and you’re nowhere to be found. So, what’s going on?”
  155.  
  156. “When I got home from work, I found all my clocks stopped at 1:13.” I paused, letting the numbers linger in the air. “I don’t know if it’s a sign, or if this is some sort of divine punishment but...it’s dark here, and there’s this thing emerging from the clocks. I can hear it scratching on the floor upstairs. I don’t want to find out what happens when it fully emerges. I don’t know why you can’t see me, though. I was hoping that you might know.”
  157.  
  158. “You’re not really in your house.” He muttered.
  159.  
  160. “What?”
  161.  
  162. “See, there are so many people who disappear each year under mysterious circumstances. But upon closer inspection, those circumstances aren’t really that mysterious. It’s the government performing some sort of experimentation.”
  163.  
  164. “I’m not following.”
  165.  
  166. “Let me explain. You’re not actually in any real danger; you’ve just been selected for some government testing. There is no monster. Hell, that’s not even your real house, it’s just a replica, a set they built. They probably released some hallucinogen into the air to make you think there’s a monster. In reality, there isn’t anything there.”
  167.  
  168. The crazy thing is, I actually tried to believe him. I wanted to believe him. Anything would have been better than what I was witnessing.
  169.  
  170. “But,” he paused. “No. I don’t think that’s right. The government could pull off pretty much anything, but in all the documented cases I’ve read, they’ve never done something on this scale. I mean, making it nighttime to further induce terror? I’ve never seen that before.”
  171.  
  172. “Randy.” I interrupted.
  173.  
  174. He continued. “Wait. This is not good. If what you’re saying is true, then you could possibly be stuck in...”
  175.  
  176. “Farewell.”
  177.  
  178. I hung up.
  179.  
  180. Seconds later, my phone began vibrating. I didn’t answer it. I didn’t want to hear the rest of Randy’s theory. For some reason, I thought that the situation was salvageable. I couldn’t risk him masticating the morsel of hope I still had left.
  181.  
  182. But things were already getting worse.
  183.  
  184. I heard the creature take its first steps. They were clumsy, and uneven, like those of a newborn fawn. It soon began screaming. Not aloud. Inside my head. Agonizing, ear-drum rupturing wails reverberated off the walls of my mind.
  185.  
  186. After a while, the screaming stopped. Instead, it now makes the sound my clock used to make. Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. So accurately, that when it first began, I thought the clocks had started again. That isn’t all, though. At random intervals, it whispers to me: 1:13, in the softest, most soothing voice, I’ve ever heard. It switches between the ticking and whispering cyclically.
  187.  
  188. It won’t be long now before it finds me. I’m going to try and run. I haven’t been outside yet, and don’t know what dangers await me, but there’s still a chance I can make it.
  189.  
  190. After all, it’s only just started making its way down the stairs.
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