Day 18 – Dirt in the Ground

Don’t ask.


Word count: 754


Within the lonely field there stood a house made of old stone and a rusting roof. A bare, solitary tree guarded it from the South. The house had been there for years beyond reckoning but myth had it that from the very first stone lain down, the great and watchful oak had not grown a single leaf since. Instead, it’s bark dried to a hollow gravestone, battered by the barren winds from the North. A crow flew the house and came to rest on a branch that grasped out towards the top window of the house. The crow stretched its feet and ruffled its brittle feathers. It cackled like a mad old witch by a cauldron and disturbed the sleeping man from his nightmarish slumber.

A grey daylight fell on his opaque face. A constant stubble was on it chin and an unearthly exhaustion hung like weights underneath his dark, almost black, beaded eyes. His mind was still rapt with the screams of his subconscious. This was his norm, his routine. Inhaling the stale air, he extracted himself from his blankets and covers and sat upright upon the edge of his bed. His attention strayed to the crow still perched on the branch just outside his window. As their eyes met, the crow’s feet faltered and the creature fell pathetically to the grass below. The man’s heart reigned in his emotions; he felt a tear being sucked back into him as exhaled a long and weary breath.

Downstairs, the man fumbled around in a cluttered cupboard for a glass and poured himself a glass of dusty water from the tap. The pipes rattled and throbbed with age. Chunks of choked up out of the tap and into his glass, but the man ignored this and continued to finish the glass until it was completely empty.

From behind him the familiar cacophony of clocks ticked, tocked and chimed. All along and on every available wall space there was a clock. From antique to modern, there was a clock for every style that there possibly could have been. There were miniature ones, grandfather clocks, simple clocks that would have sat perfectly in a classroom. There were coloured ones and some made of solid gold. There were plastic ones and many with cuckoos biding their time to spring out of their houses. Together, they were like a pox – a viral menace attacking every inch of the wall. But the curious thing wasn’t his strange obsession with visual time interfaces: it was the fact that each and every single one of them had not only a different time but were ticking to a different speed. Some were fast, some were slow; some plodded and some skipped. No two clocks showed the same time and if anyone submerged themselves in their symphony of sound, their incessant ticking would have driven even the most patient mad.

Three clocks started to chime. Out of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of clocks that were on his wall, he knew exactly which ones were singing their hour. When he approached the wall, though, it wasn’t them that he stretched out a frail hand to; it was a tiny little pocket watch dangling just below a vintage swiss clock. The pocket watch was dusty and the metal had faded to a dull matt from what might have been a vibrant shiny of gleaming gold. Now it was merely a sad resemblance to its glory days and when he clicked the mechanism open, he saw that its glass had been smashed a long time ago. The hands, ticking at such a pitiable pace, were carved out of a gorgeous black thread of metal. Feeling its feeble tick slowly ebb into oblivion in his left hand, he tore it from its place on the wall and placed his right finger, so simply, so terminally, on the face of the clock and stopped the hands from moving any further. There was barely a struggle on the part of the hand as it whimpered to a lonely stop.

The man tuck the pocket watch inside his long black, raggedy robes and walked over to the front door. He caught sight of the dead crow, lying limply on the ground beside the tree. Perhaps he was momentarily struck with a sense of finality and emptiness, perhaps not; for it wasn’t long before he took his scythe from his coat hook and let the front door swing shut a few times in his wake; a metronome to the remaining time.

~ by S.G. Mark on October 25, 2011.

One Response to “Day 18 – Dirt in the Ground”

  1. Nice twist!

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