Horror Drama Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

Something was wrong. Fatally wrong. He couldn’t grasp the reason for his anxiousness.

As Clive stepped onto the platform at precisely 06:05 and 35 seconds waiting for his early morning commuter train, something was wrong, he thought. Something was not right. In those moments in his life, his mind concentrated on an image of Newton’s cradle, it was idle, motionless, the big brass orbs, dangling from the brass cradle, all were stationary, passive and still, but there was a sense of anticipation, the orbs were oscillating in anticipation of movement, one of the outside orbs to the left or right would start the motion, and then the orb would send all the others into a monotonous; endless click – clacking. When will one of them initiate the law of the conservation of energy, the transfer of energy, the two-way domino effect? Clive knew. He grinned with the image of Newton’s cradle in the front of his mind. He could count time, the seconds, by the rhythmic striking of each brass orb in Newton’s cradle. The kiss of the cold metal against cold metal. Click – Clack.

Energy converted into time, that’s what made Clive special.

Clive knew how to slow down time, to make it stop.

“Don’t YOU mess up, now! Stay cool, stay calm!” Said the voice in his head. It was his imaginary friend he had been told. Clive knew different.

Mr. Black stepped onto the platform at 06:06 and 10 seconds, in his commuter uniform, his pressed suit was covered with an elegant cashmere and wool full-length overcoat, and camel coloured scarf elegantly arranged on both sides of the coat covering the lapels. His umbrella hung on his angled arm, held in position like a soldier on parade.

“Morning, Clive.” Greeted Mr. Black. “Not so cold this morning.”

Then the hushed whisper, as he passed by Clive, to take up his normal position on the platform.

“What time will she come?”

“Don’t say anything, nothing, you idiot!” The voice said gruffly in his head.

Mr. Gray bundled onto the platform at 06:07 and 5 seconds, as ever fumbling nervously with his numerous pockets, more than likely, trying to check on the whereabouts of his wallet, keys, making sure he hadn’t forgotten anything for the day’s commute, he opened and checked his slim briefcase to locate his phone and book for the umpteenth time.

“Morning, Clive.” Mr. Gray said to Clive. “Bit chilly today!”

Then the whisper from behind his raised hand hiding his mouth, his lips.

“What time will she come?”

“You say a word, your life won’t be worth living.” The voice inside his head hissed.

Mr. Brown arrived slightly late at 06:08 and 30 seconds, he continued to peer in concern at his watch, but brightened as he recognized Clive.

“Morning, Clive.” Mr. Brown said to Clive. “Fine morning.” Then the whisper and furtive look for a fraction of a second, before he said, “What time will she come?”

The voice in his head made a cough, sounding like a grunt. It was a warning signal, not to reply.

Mrs. Mauve and Mrs. Green stepped onto the platform together in deep conversation, talking behind animated hands. As they passed Clive, they both whispered, without turning their heads.

“What time will she come?” They said in unison, and then walked to their waiting positions on the platform.

“Don’t….” Warned the voice in Clive’s head.

Finally, Miss Pink arrived at 06:09 and 20 seconds. She strode confidently onto the platform like a catwalk model, she knew everybody on the platform had waited for her entrance this morning, for all the waiting passengers, it was the thrill of the day she imagined. She walked with the same purpose as a model, a gladiator of hearts and minds, she imagined she was walking a straight line, walking directly, purposely towards Clive, and on cue, her timing was stage perfect, she winked flirtingly at Clive, the wink that meant, anytime, I’m your license to promiscuity buddy, a longing stare to the recipient of her wantonness; an unsaid message - take me!

“Shut the f..k up – you dare, you just dare!” Said the angry slightly nervous voice in his head.

As Miss. Pink passed Clive, she whispered like everybody else. “What time will she come?”

He followed her path looking enviously at her long shapely legs, her tight backside.

Everybody was in their normal position. They all started looking downline for sight of the commuter train to the right. The tunnel entrance to the left was a dark black hole, like a large muzzle of a gun, a void, an impenetrable blackness, it was different to the darkness of the early winter morning, where the light pollution and illuminated glare, diffused the blackness, and played tricks with eyes.

Then the stranger arrived. He wore dark glasses, and a long black trench coat styled raincoat. He looked around the platform and recognized Clive, he bowed his head and strode up to Clive. There was intent in his voice when he said.

“Mr. Caldwell, I need a few words with you, do you mind if we talk?”

“Don’t tell him anything – understand. Not a word!” Screamed the voice.

“It’s an important matter Mr. Caldwell, it’s about your wife….” The stranger in the long trench coat didn’t finish the sentence.

“Be careful now…” said the voice with a menacing tone.

Instantly, the golden orbs started to move in Newton’s Cradle, click - clack, click - clack. The energy, and counter energy started to dance. Both the cradle and balls were shuddering, jerking in an erratic crazed movement.

“What time will she come?” Said the stranger. He didn’t whisper it like the others, but as the voiced question appeared in the hushed morning air, the stranger smiled a knowing smile. Clive thought he noticed a smirk.

“Keep that mouth shut, keep it shut!” The voice in Clive’s head was getting more than angry, it was becoming uncontrollable, insane!

CLICK – CLACK; CLICK – CLACK the golden orbs had really started to move now, they were moving back and forth with the velocity of a funfair ride, Clive had forgotten the name of the ride. His brow started to sweat, his palms started to feel clammy, he felt nauseous.


The explosion came from the black tunnel entrance, the impact, the latent energy of the explosion was made more catastrophic as it was ignited from inside the tunnel, and then the trapped energy blasted outwards with more force at its mouth, the entrance, a titanic release of deadly energy, huge pieces of masonry, metal flew like missiles through the dark morning air hissing with a deadly force, the sonic boom of the explosion deafened the dark morning skies. Clive had a slow-motion image of the chaotic debris decapitating some waiting passengers on the platform, their bodies smashed into pieces by the force of the explosion.

Clive slowed the titanic forces in his mind to a still photograph type image – he made it STOP.

Click – clack, click – clack the sound of Newton’s cradle returned from his peripheral hearing, as the sound of the explosive forces stopped at the same instant as the horrific images.

“She won’t come now!” said the voice with evil mirth in Clive’s head. “She’s gone forever.” There was a sense of finality in the last words.


 “They will be ready for you shortly Mr. Caldwell.” The nurse said chirpily.

Clive was handcuffed to the wheelchair. Two burly attendants on each side of the wheels.

The door opened suddenly, and Clive was wheeled into the meeting room.

There was a committee of three men and two ladies waiting inside, all seated behind desks, files and papers, laptops in front of them, and on the side seated ready to take minutes, a transcriber of the meeting was a young administration lady, wearing a bright puce lady’s suit. Sitting separately in the corner of the room was a strange man with dark glasses. The attendants and the chirpy nurse stood at the side and behind Clive, seated in the wheelchair.

“How are you today, Mr. Caldwell?” Said one of the women, a member of the committee.

Before Clive could answer, the women started the introduction to the meeting. “The psychiatric team of Edmundston Mental Hospital, in attendance today, Dr, Schwartz, Dr. Sery, Dr. Braun, Dr. Zeleny, and myself the chairperson Dr. Malva presiding over case: 10476; Mr. Clive Caldwell.” Dr Malva paused.

“Now, Mr. Caldwell, under the Mental Health act of 2018, we are required to conduct a regular status review of your condition. The committee has your records, and we have duly reviewed all the details, including your recent status of the last 6 months, and we find some improvements in your condition.”

“We have some questions for you today. Do you feel in a frame of mind to answer?”

Clive paused for some moments, before he answered calmly. “Yes, that’s OK.”

“OK, looking at the records we find that your medication is stabilizing your previous traumas, there are no reported incidents of violent behaviour.”

“Do you have visions, or when was the last time you had any distressing visions, Mr. Caldwell?”

“I can’t remember, not for some time.” Clive quietly replied.

“Good, and what about voices, do you hear any voices in your head nowadays?”

“No Ma'am, and I don’t have any headaches either.” Clive added.

“Very good, we the committee believe that you no longer pose a security risk, not whilst you are in this institution, and you are taking your prescribed daily medication. We have also agreed that based on a clean incident free record under the constant observation of this institution, that in 6 months, we can look at a release program. What do you say about that Mr. Caldwell?”

“Great! - gettin' me time back again, - thank you Ma'am." Clive said with some hesitation.

He looked to the corner of the room at the seated stranger. The seated stranger took off his dark glasses and peered directly at Clive. He had no eyes, instead where there should be eyes and eye sockets there were two black holes; they looked like tunnel entrances, with the scars and scorch marks of fire caused by a tremendous explosive blast were evident on and around the circumference of the black holes. The stranger’s expression didn’t change, his face was peering directly at Clive, and then he smirked, and mouthed silently. “What time will she come?”

“Who is that?” Clive thought.

“The past, and the future, YOU arsehole, don’t look at him, you idiot!” Said the voice in Clive’s head.

“OK nurse, take Mr. Caldwell away, and we will see the next patient.”

The attendants reversed the wheelchair out of the meeting room. Clive’s first thought, 5 minutes, and 12 seconds – meetings are getting shorter. Clive was grinning, a crooked smile which never disappeared off his face, but no one noticed his eyes, peering at nothing, there seemed to be something going on behind the masked appearance on his face, his pasted-on smile, his eyes; it was a charade for the continued monitoring and inspection of all at Edmundston. He wore the mask like a reveler at Mardi Gras, his unique disguise. Fake it, to make it.

The voice in Clive’s head. “Told you we’d be out of here, just keep smiling sonny, just be patient with these arseholes for a little while longer! – who’s always looked after you, sonny Jim, always - right from the beginning of time!”

CLICK – CLACK The sound of the orbs in Newton’s cradle continued counting time. Clive's time.

February 24, 2024 07:32

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Michał Przywara
21:37 Mar 04, 2024

Interesting story! Pretty early on, we get a sense that maybe the narrator isn't reliable. It's curious too, all the names based on colours - makes me wonder if that's actually the case, or if these are the nicknames he's given these people. Either way, it's looking like his con is working, and that probably means more chaos - thanks for sharing!


John Rutherford
06:40 Mar 05, 2024

Colours and Characters, well spotted. Thanks for the comments Michal.


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John Rutherford
06:34 Feb 25, 2024

Thanks Trudy


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Trudy Jas
02:00 Feb 25, 2024

A doctor once asked a patient: Do you hear voices? The patient answered Yes. And what do the voices say? Dr. Smith call the operator. Dr. Sm...." Sanity is defined by the one holding the chart. Having said that, Clive is sick. :-) slow, steady build up. Great story.


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Mary Bendickson
21:01 Feb 24, 2024

Seriously demented. Takes talent to write so realistically.


John Rutherford
06:34 Feb 25, 2024

Thanks Mary.


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John Rutherford
11:27 Feb 24, 2024

Thank you. I think the character Clive could be interesting to evolve.


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Stella Aurelius
11:24 Feb 24, 2024

Very, very creative take on the prompt. I love the world building. Great job !


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