The Clock Tower

Submitted into Contest #125 in response to: All clocks suddenly stop. Write about what happens next.... view prompt


Fiction Horror Suspense

Imagine a small London town on a particularly grim day. As you walk the main road you see everything through a silver lens, due to the pelting rain that often accompanies daily life in these parts. Small cars pass, steam trailing behind as the exhaust rendezvous with the chilly air. You try not to look down the alleyways as you pass by, it’s better to not think of what the shadows might conceal. Men in top hats holding umbrellas over women in petticoats enjoy an evening stroll. Some may even say the town is beautiful on nights like these, it’s dark aesthetic contrasts nicely with the reflections of the streetlamps on the flooded street. 

Your eyes are pulled in every direction due to the constant activity. But the massive clock tower at the end of the road is impossible to miss. It’s not particularly grand, it’s gothic style and sharp features fit in well with the rest of the town. But you will still hear folks saying the same things.

 I don’t know, there is just something eerie about it. 

I think I heard screaming from it once on my early morning walks. 

You will never find me near that cursed thing. 

Lately, many townspeople have complained of recurring nightmares, the feeling of impending doom and visions of that massive grandfather clock interrupting their sleep. 

The old man begins flinging objects behind him, desperately searching for the item he lost. The dim candlelight casting hideous shadows on the walls in the small room. The man’s long disheveled hair producing the appearance of a lion's mane. He was on a hunt indeed. 

The room is dingy, the stench of mildew permeating the air. The only natural light comes in the form of the moon’s glow entering through the openings of the giant clock. “Looking for something?” A taunting, growl of a voice reverberating in this small chamber. The old man looks up. He can see the small, hourglass talisman hanging from the clock's big hand. Almost in the 12:00 position. “Come and get it,” the challenging voice says.

“GIVE IT BACK!” The old man screams, knowing it would not be that easy. He knows if he attempts to leap towards the dangling hourglass, it would surely be pulled up at the last minute, and he will fall to his death. 

The demon contained in this tower became increasingly volatile the last couple of weeks. The old man, who could usually control the clock easily (when he possessed the talisman), felt it’s dark power increasing. He would often wake up and find the talisman, always around his neck, laying a few inches from his small bed. Over time, the distance became gradually longer. The old man also found himself sleeping longer than he usually does, sometimes just in time to command the passing of another hour. 

“Now you will see what your Beloveds do when they are free of their chains,” the possessed clock snickers at the old man. 

It was almost midnight, and the old man knows it. 

The clock knows it too. Although, he plans on letting the last minute pass. The big hand strikes 12, and a string of loud, haunting chimes fill the town. Down below, people look up expectantly at the clock tower.

“What do you want?” The old man asks, his light grey-blue eyes surveying the room.

“Perpetual midnight.” 

The words strike the man’s heart like an ice pick, chill and sharp. He cannot win this time. Hes too old. And weak.

The clock continues, “When they are forced to live in this black eternity, you will see. Neighbors will slay neighbors over a stick of butter, mothers will starve their children, brothers will betray their brothers. These people who you love so much, will be driven into madness… and you will have to watch. Then you will understand.”

“So you’re teaching me a lesson?” The old man’s rage begins to burn. Deep within the pit of his belly, he feels the acidic substance travel up, almost choking him.

“I’m just showing you what true freedom leads to.” 

A man, with his wife, taking their habitual midnight stroll, hears the chimes. He looks up and sees the looming face of the clock peering down at him. It almost appears menacing, he thinks. He continues his walk, unable to shake the feeling of dread he has been feeling the past couple of weeks.

The local clock maker, looking around his shop, noticed all the clocks stopped ticking. How strange. He taps his pocketwatch, one his grandfather passed down to him, and nothing happened. The stillness of the second hand looks back at him with dreadful certainty. What is going on? 

A small boy is seen running through the damp streets, his jacket over his head to prevent the rain drops from getting into his eyes. Ma’ is gonna kill me. He has been late the last week, almost scaring his mother to death, and does not want to deal with the fallout of her worry, which would turn to anger quickly. He looks at his watch to see how late he is this time and… How odd, his watch continues to show midnight, even though he heard the chimes, what he thought was, 10 minutes ago.

Back in the small room, the old man looks on the town with dread. He has no other option, seeing he is bound, his garments caught in the gears of the clock’s mechanism. 

“Soon enough they will begin to notice, especially when the sun doesn’t rise and darkness reigns their little lives.” The clock, almost speaking directly in the old man’s mind, mocks.

Down below, the old man can see the similar looks of confusion spread like some contagion across the town. Minutes, hours, days would have passed, but they didn’t. Soon the sun will not show, and the moon will stay in the same position. Panic and blame will soon permeate the town, pitting everyone against each other. Maybe there will be trials, executions, mass sacrifices to the gods that caused this in the first place. The old man continues to look on, tears streaming down his wrinkled cheeks, getting caught in the many cracks, paying no attention to the demon’s cackle. This fallen world was not made for eternity.

December 25, 2021 03:41

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Patrick Samuel
14:36 Feb 17, 2022

I second "This fallen world was not made for eternity" as one beautiful sentence. And a perfect way to end a story.


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Miranda Roulleau
17:02 Jan 01, 2022

This is amazing :)


Jessie Hartness
02:44 Jan 02, 2022

Thank you Miranda!


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Tommie Michele
05:25 Dec 29, 2021

Great story, Jessie! Cool take on the prompt, and I loved that last line: “this fallen world was not made for eternity”. Really nice work! —Tommie Michele


Jessie Hartness
06:30 Dec 29, 2021

Thank you Tommie!


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