Pendulum Heart

Submitted by C clayton Bowman to Contest #2 in response to: Write a story about someone who's haunted by their past.... view prompt

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

The sounds of a clock had echoed in Marcus’s head for the last week. At first he thought it to be the clock on his wall, but even after removing the batteries the ticking continued. It was slowly starting to affect his day-to-day life. He grew more and more panicked. This morning he threw his expensive wristwatch into the nearby river. Nothing seemed to be able to stop the ticking.

A sudden realization came over Marcus. He decided this weekend he would escape to his family home out in the country. Where he could get away from everything. Yet the sounds of the clock never stopped.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Marcus slammed his door shut and locked it. He quickly ran to the kitchen and threw a burlap sack into the sink. A viscous liquid seeped out of the fabric. His panic was etched into his face as he checked out his kitchen window. There stood a woman in an almost unnaturally pale blue dress.

A nest of unkempt black hair covered her face. But somehow Marcus knew exactly who she was. He tried to block out the name, yet it rang out clear as day. “Elizabeth.” His first true love.

He could remember the day he met her like it was yesterday. He had come into her repair shop when his wristwatch had stopped working. She was stunning in her dark blue dress; it made her hazel eyes and flowing black hair really stand out. She barely gave him a second look, but for Marcus, in that moment she had become the light of his mundane world.

He clenched his eyes shut, hoping that what he saw would just go away, but it was almost like the image was burned into his mind.

The sounds of the clock drowned out even the sound of his own heart. He covered his ears tightly with muddy hands.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock.

Elizabeth was killed a few weeks after their meeting. The police never found the killer though. By now it was probably just another cold case to them. For Marcus it was his obsession.

“No, she can’t be here, she just can’t.” Marcus muttered to himself. He walked over to the sink and took a deep breath. As he looked down at the burlap sack, his vision grew hazy. He felt like he was going to vomit as he shakily took the sack back into his hand.

“Sh, calm down.” He held his hands together and shook his head before trying to open the burlap sack again. This time his hand involuntarily jerked and smacked against the edge of the sink. He reeled back in pain.

“I said calm down!” Marcus bellowed as he grabbed the sack and threw it hard against the far wall with a metallic clang as it hit the floor. A streak of crimson liquid ran down the pale yellow wall.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

June 25, 2009. That date played over and over in Marcus’s head. It infected almost every thought and dream that he had. It was the day Elizabeth died.

He had bought a special clock that couldn’t be moved into the shop; it was an old Victorian era grandfather clock. He had placed it in his family home and waited for her to arrive. He set the mood in the house with candles and flowers. Today would be the day he finally confessed his love for her.

She arrived right on time. Marcus thought she must be just as excited for this as he was. She knocked on the door, when he opened it he had expected to be greeted like a friend she hadn’t seen in ages.

To his disappointment she tried to confirm his name, like it was strictly business. She must have forgotten my name, that’s all it happens all the time. Marcus thought to himself. Elizabeth walked toward the room with the clock in it unsettled by the setting that Marcus had created.

“Are- Are you expecting your girlfriend or something?” She asked nervously.

Marcus just stared at her dumbfounded. As if she doesn’t know. He thought. “Ah, you could say that.” He said trying to play it off as a joke.

Elizabeth became more and more nervous as she worked on the old clock. Every time she turned to make small talk she could see Marcus staring intently at her as if he was waiting for something.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

“There you go, Mr. Edson, all fixed.” She said after a while. She started to pack her things to go until Marcus grabbed her hand.

“How… How can be so calm?” Marcus said, starting to breathe heavier. His grip on her hand tightened as she tried to pull away. “We are here, all alone. Just you and me, like we were meant to be.”

Fear covered Elizabeth’s face as she tried to pull away from him. Marcus just held her tighter and pulled her closer. He was not a small man. He towered over Elizabeth by at least half a foot, so overpowering her took very little effort for him.

She struggled against him, clawing at his arm in an attempt to break free. It was useless, Marcus was too strong. In one last ditch effort she kicked him as hard as she could, causing him to fall to the floor.

Elizabeth quickly ran to the door and tried to open it but it was locked. Marcus must have locked it while she was working. She heard glass breaking behind her as she tried to pry the door open.

“Elizabeth, why? I thought you loved me!” Marcus screamed at her. When Elizabeth turned around she saw that he had broken off the pendulum of the clock she had just fixed, all it was now, was a jagged piece of metal.

Elizabeth could only scream as the large man charged at her with the jagged pendulum.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

Marcus picked up the sac and carried it back to the sink. This time he opened it with ease. He remembered everything.this was the only piece of evidence tying him to her. When the police questioned him he had stated she never even showed up to the house. It had taken them weeks before they had gotten to him though. He had paid extra for her discretion claiming it was a gift for his mother that visited the shop often.

By then he had plenty of time to clean down the house and remove all evidence of her ever being there. Marcus even showed them the broken clock she was coming to fix. The grandfather clock with no pendulum.

They left without a second thought. Marcus, on the other hand, never stopped thinking about her. He visited her shop every month after that. A part of him wanted to think that night was just a bad dream and she would be waiting for him there with a smile. Every time he went he would buy a clock and place it in the room with the grandfather clock.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.

Marcus looked back out the window, but now the woman was gone. He took the jagged piece of metal into his hand and turned around, only to see the ghostly image of Elizabeth standing before him. She slowly walked toward him, her feet barely touching the floor, as if she was gliding.

“Marcus.” The specter breathed as she stood before him, gently caressing his face. The smell of decay and blood filled the air.

Marcus tried to back away, but she had pinned him between the kitchen counter and herself. He knew she couldn’t be here. He made sure of it. He could feel her hands slide across his chest.

Tick, Tock Tick, Tock.

The sounds of the clock grew louder and louder until they were almost deafening as Elizabeth looked him in the eyes and smiled. Then the smile faded to unbridled rage as she forced her hands into her murderer’s chest.

Marcus couldn’t even hear himself scream in pain over the sound of the clock. With a blink she was gone. Marcus fell to the floor, he could feel himself being dragged to the room. The room with the grandfather clock. He looked up and saw the pendulum hanging inside the clock. Then everything faded to darkness.

Tick, Tock. Tick, Tock.


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