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The Clockmaker Boy

By Way_Out_There All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Poetry

Chapter 1

is hunched over
What is he doing? Endless
building, twisting,

Miranda looks up from her book. “Hey, Green. What’s up?”

If it were any other person, then he would scream at them for using that nickname, the one based on the strange color of his eyes. But not with her. She has no bad intentions with using that nickname. He and Miranda have known each other for over ten years, since they live in the same area in the same tiny town. She has always been his only friend.

skin is the palest
from staying inside,
he looks untalented but his
fingers they glide Over the clocks
that he makes every day, he
doesn’t mind the work,
they are the ones
that stay

It hurts, how uncomfortable Miranda looks that he is standing so close to her right now. It is only a few days after they last spoke to each other, what with him being a few years younger than her and them barely being in any of the same classes, but the almost—shame—on her face hurts. He knows even then that he loves her, and he can’t bear the idea that she doesn’t feel the same way. He looks up at her other friends, and they stare back down at him, unbridled curiosity mixed with fear in their faces.

“Hey, Green,” she mutters, looking down at her feet. “Um, would it be okay if we talked about that a little later? I hate to be a bother, but I’m talking with Felicia and Charlotte right now.”

He walks away, anger boiling.

eyes are
the strangest
but richest of greens,
and they say that he gets
revenge by any means The
clockmaker boy, ghostly
and quiet. But dangerous,
there are no attempts
to deny it

“Green, is this because of what I said earlier? Because I am sorry,” Miranda rants after finding him tearing up one of her essays on the far end of the schoolyard. “I like you, I really do, and I’m sorry that I’m not always there. But you have to accept that I have other friends that I like talking to as well. So—just—could you please apologize for tearing up my essay? Or at least acknowledge me in any way?”

He looks up at her, eyes expressing what he doesn’t care to say. He’s angry at her. But he can’t stay angry at her. She is still his only friend.

say that
one day, his
father went missing.
He was never found, but
the boy always was wishing
For his father’s return, even
though the questions
of others cast him
in a glow

His father comes and looks at his project. “That’s great, Jack! You’re going to be an amazing clockmaker someday, just like your old man.”

Jack looks up at his father, finally speaking. Home in his studio is the only place that he ever dares to open up his mouth. His voice is slightly raspy. “Father, you have to admit that machines have taken over the jobs that humans used to have. Artisans are slowly becoming obsolete.”

His father smiles at him, proud that his son speaks with such big words. Jack’s father never got much schooling, always giving it up to help support his parents, both who had early-onset arthritis. “You might be right in some cases, Jackie-boy. Machines are wonderful things, but they take up the jobs that humans used to hold. But no fancy technology can ever replace having a hand-crafted, hand-made clock. It’s the effort of a real human being to make it beautiful and functional that makes having something so special. Have no fear, you’ll still manage to be a clockmaker when you grow up.”

Jack looks up at his father, nodding, again unwilling to let his voice out. His father might be the person that he fears the least, but Miranda is still the person that he loves the most. And he still doesn’t even have the courage to say that maybe he doesn’t enjoy being trapped in this prison of a workshop, that he doesn’t love the feeling of laying each tiny spring and gear into its position (at least not yet), he doesn’t want to make clocks forever.

one day,
when he was
barely fourteen,
from the edge of the
town there came a scream.
A boy disappeared on the
very same day, and
suspicions have
never been
quite cast

Jack’s teachers have paired him up with Danny for a school project. What they don’t understand is that Danny has tormented Jack forever, and that they do not get along. They both hate each other.

Jack sees an opportunity in this, though. He invites Danny over to his house. Jack has been working on a special clockwork creation, and he is extremely proud of it. It is something like a robot, and Jack has complete control over it with a remote. If Jack were anyone else, or lived anywhere else, or showed it to anyone else, then those people would realize how talented and smart Jack really was.

When Danny sees it for the first time, he looks slightly afraid. “Hey, weirdo, that’s really fucking creepy,” Danny spits.

Jack stares at Danny for a few moments. “But rather impressive, wouldn’t you think?”

Danny looks back down at the metallic robot, a clock in its chest, two knives for hands, and an eerie smile on its metal face. It is obvious that Danny thinks that his fear is perfectly normal, and that anyone sane would feel unnerved by this clockwork creation.

“Loser, that robot thingy is the weirdest thing I have ever seen. It’s creepy. You’re creepy. What the fuck does it even do, anyway?”

Jack presses a button, and the robot attacks Danny. All Jack feels is pleasure that his creation is powerful enough to overpower Danny, to hurt him, to rip through his soft, flawed, human, flesh—

And then Danny slams the back of his hand into Jack’s robot, and the robot falls apart easily. For one of the first times in his life, Jack feels real, burning rage: at Danny for destroying his robot child, and the robot, for being weak enough to fall apart, and at himself, for creating something so weak and caring about its destruction.

The robot sparks slightly, and then dies completely. But on the ground, Danny’s throat seems to have been severed, and he chokes slightly before the life leaves his eyes at well.

Jack wonders how long it will take to build a better robot and leaves Danny’s body on the floor.

A string
of killings cut
through the town,
and the boy’s inventions
never grew in renown. Nobody
knew why it was this way,
and nobody knows
anything to
this day.

Miranda is 17 now, with Jack only 15. The age difference doesn’t matter to him. He is absolutely devoted to her, and he cannot imagine her feeling another way.

But she is. It hurts so much when he sees her walking hand in hand with another boy, with someone who is not him. It should be him and Miranda holding hands, it should be Jack and Miranda being the talk of the school rather than Aaron and Miranda. He glares at Aaron’s back every day until Aaron passes out of sight. What does that boy have that he doesn’t? Jack has managed to grow slightly muscular. He thinks that he is attractive. And he is a God. He has had people’s lives and deaths depend on him. And yet Miranda sticks with Aaron.

And if Aaron goes missing a few months later, then, really—what could Jack have had to do with that?

No one ever suspects him.

then one
day, as he was
making a clock This
teenaged boy got quite
a shock, for he realized
that of many things
under the sun, his
hobby was
really quite

He’s in the workshop again, fixing a broken clock, when it hits him. In this workshop, he has power over everything. He is the ultimate authority. He can start universes within his clocks and then let them go to see what happens. He can smash them and end them and he is the ruler no matter what.

He loves it. He loves every second of it. He loves being able to hurt things that hurt him and do whatever he wants to. He finds that he loves it almost as much as Miranda.

He builds everyone he can think of a clock and programs the clocks so that they’ll move at different paces. And if he notices that the hands of someone’s clock is getting close to midnight or noon—who cares it’s all in how you think about it—and he’s feeling particularly wrathful or bored, then he knows that it’s time for another robot to be sent out, another person to die.

Tick tock goes your clock. Drip drop goes your blood. You’re mine now.

say he was
in love, once upon
a time, so in love it should
have been made a crime. For say
what you will, but you have
been warned: hell hath no
fury like a man
that’s been

“You’re responsible for all of this, aren’t you?” Miranda accusingly screams at him, and for all the world Jack can’t figure out why she sounds so damn angry at him. “You killed all of those people! All of them! Why?!”

“Because,” Jack answers. The thing is, he really can’t think up many reasons other than those were people who annoyed him and got in his way, and in some cases hurt him. And somehow he doesn’t think that Miranda will appreciate how much he loves to play God, to have someone’s life and death, their fate, their destiny in his hands. It’s one of two things that he loves, Miranda being the other.

“That’s not an answer, you bastard!” Miranda shrieks. “You killed them! You killed them all! They had family and friends and lives and you fucking took that from them all!”

It dawns on Jack that Miranda is getting a wee bit hysterical. And normally at this point he would know that the person is unworthy of living in his world, of living at all, because having all of that raw emotion makes them weak and human. But with Miranda, Jack finds it slightly endearing.

“How could you? HOW FUCKING COULD YOU?” Miranda screams at him. “You’re a fucking murderer!”

And then it dawns on him. Miranda is essentially asking him to choose between his two great loves, her and killing. He can’t do that.

Except killing is perfect for him, and allows him to feel like a God of his own world, the world of all of the clocks tick-tick-ticking away the lives of all of his victims, lets him watch the life draining away from another imperfect human’s body. And Miranda does none of that. She’s just as flawed as anyone else (although Jack can take that) and she challenges him and makes him feel like he’s not perfect and she refuses to love him back like he loves her.

So he makes his choice.

No robots this time. He strides across the room, his workshop, his universe, and grabs a knife and grabs her by the neck and slits her throat just under his hand. Just a large red smile across her neck. And he feels her blood pulsing over his hands, and hears her cry, and lets go of her and sees her slump to the floor, but it’s like he’s in another universe and he doesn’t feel anything—

And then he realizes what he’s done, and he can’t take it anymore.

The authorities find them both the next morning, up in the house high on a hill, with Miranda in a pool of her own blood on the ground and Jack holding her hand with a pocketknife buried in his own heart.

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