Chapter 1: The Watch Man
“Tick tock, tick tock. Click and clack. Watch man’s walk……….. Tock Tick, tock tick. Clack and Click. Blind man’s stick….. Tick and click, tock and clack….. Dead man’s Rock, Head man’s sack…..”
Pieces and parts….. The inner workings of mechanisms and of springs, gears and rotors, and of the skilled labor of masters of the craft….. This is no ordinary craft you see….. For the Clockmakers, they are a talent that dates back to the earliest days of history…..
UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA 1960
“Benjamin Banneker, a man fighting for his rights. In a time where color was inappropriate to some of us in our daily lives.….. An innovative, and brilliant young inventor.…... Banneker is heralded as: the creator of the first known clock…..... This was the 1750s….... It was not until December 18th, 1865 that slavery had been abolished in America…..
It is believed by many; that we are nothing more than: biological machines….... The clockworks used in making up our timed events of attentive recognition of realistic necessity: a living representation of systematic order….. This point of view, maintains that what is broken or no longer functions, must be replaced….. The precision skills necessary for the replacement of failing organs, in ongoing promotion of life’s continuity; not unlike those individuals set apart from the rest, that would be as: master craftsman of the Clockmaker’s art…..
It has been widely observed that art mimics life, and argued by many; the exact reverse of this well- known philosophy: life imitates art art….. What greater creation of pieces and of parts exists to this day, than that of the timed and ordered body of existence known as life?
I now give you, the human body…... This vast gathering of knowledge in the continual workings of all our pieces and parts: one of the greatest of designs…... One that can still puzzle even the sharpest of scientific minds to this day…..
The brain- a processor of: timed synaptic activity….. The heart- but a mechanism, needed for the pumping of: life-providing blood, in a system that runs throughout our entire body; this ordered system- providing us with: increases, and decreases of: pressured productivity….... The biological- workings within this stabilizing source of life’s continuity: not unlike the gears of a clock….. The timed precision existing as: cyclical systems of potential for ongoing change…..”
One student arose from his place of seating in silence, his books quickly gathered; as not to interrupt the rest of his class.
“Mister Acron? The class has not yet been dismissed…..”
Sonny Acron, slowly turned to face his instructor- his gaze firm, in an obvious recognition of serious discontent.
“You continue to confuse biology with technology- in ways that should never be considered….. We may conduct many a necessity on a regulated system of timed- biological order, but that does not make us machines…..”
The nineteen year old student turned to leave once again.
“This will cost you your honors…..”
Sonny Acron waved away the comment. Two students quickly joined him; as he took leave of the theory room.
“I’ll still receive a passing grade….. I find no honor in sacrificing my beliefs for symbolism through lies and misinterpretations…..”
The sounds of a commotion arose out in the hall leading from the Biology theory classroom, on the trios’ familiarized walk to the student’s break-room. Two armed campus police officers ran quietly pass them, a look of urgency, never witnessed before of their demeanor. Curiosity, a snag of many an impending complication, now seized hold the attentions of the three.
“Man, I can’t believe Drahmond is still dissing your family…..”
Marco Cain Meinz attempted to wrap his left arm around his continually claimed girl-to-be, a young attractive raven-haired, international- beauty; the name of Ya’llena. Ya’llena Samain, swiftly dodged the predictable maneuver, at the continual attempts in pining for the unnecessary attention of her affections; the girl taking up a defensive position to the left side of Sonny.
“I guess the school-board is not going to partake of our claims in suggestion of manipulation in learning experience; with any serious notoriety…..”
One group of students from another classroom; started to run- cross their path. Marco voiced an attempt to call on one of the racing students’ attentions, to satisfy his curiosity and to change the subject of their ongoing conversation.
“Hey, freshman? What’s going on?”
“There’s been another murder man…... One, right here- on campus.….. It’s the Ouroboros Slasher….. He’s struck again…..”
SONNY’S WATCH AND CLOCK REPAIR
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Magnifying spectacles enlarge the components for the repairman’s eyes. Now thirty-eight years of age, Sonny has found his place in life. Like his father before him, he is an engineer of sorts: a watch repair specialist, and a builder of clocks. Tinkerer has been the single word used, in bringing automatic recognition of the man’s successes. Although, outside of some international locations; this word is rarely used to this day.
Sonny’s workshop, it was a masterpiece of art all its own. His bench, built on an original design of his own imagining. The lamps could be raised and when locked into position, the bulbs would turn on automatically, as the circuits are connected. This is the same to be said for his component drawers; which could be raised and locked into position; or lowered to make space- for working on larger than average sized time-pieces.
The stools on both the front and the back of the work- bench; could be swung outward, and extended into different positions. The work surface too at times; could be unlocked and extended in order to provide the tinkerer with added workspace for his repair projects.
Things, they have been slow for Sonny of late. The clock, it was such a great advancement in the past. The invention of the watch, an even better technology popular for its size and convenience in portability. These days, to Sonny’s disappointment; people are known to use their cellular phones, and their tablets, and their laptop- computers. The watch, regrettably to this mid-life tinkerer; it is his last hope in salvaging anything more from his down-spiraling business. Clocks, other than those particular pieces using digital electronics; are becoming slowly forgotten with the passage of time.
The old pocket watch he now worked on, a piece of art from a time now long passed. Framed in gold with a sundial etched on the lid of the outer casing; this time-piece, it has become an obsession for the tinkerer; although, not yet an unhealthy commitment with which to be overly concerned of. The gold-cased pocket watch, it was a gift granted to him, by the natural passing of his father. The piece, a family heirloom that has been passed down from one generation to the next.
Sonny, cursed beneath his breath; a critical component- necessary for the continuing operation of the old pocket watch, it had somehow fractured. This tiny gear, not all that easy to find. Perhaps, if it had been American made, but this, this; it was not the case. Sonny’s family, they originated from 1840s Ireland; his father and mother moving to America in the early nineteen- fifties. The watch, it had been purchased during the time of the first World War; so many years ago.
Sonny, removed the magnifying spectacles from his brow, and instinctively wiped the sweating perspiration from his forehead with a clean cloth. The red-velvet cloth material dripped with blood. The tinkerer, he leaped from his stool dropping the cloth to his workshop floor. The unexpected hallucination now gone. Sonny, looked about his shop intent on finding signs of some kind of change. Everything, it seemed to be as it was meant to be and this; it was no small feat for a boy growing to live so ordered an existence.
Today, something had not felt right to the tinkerer. Something was off the normal standard, and Sonny; he could not place a finger on, just what it might be. The lights, they had been unplugged in the shop spaces surrounding his workbench; a necessity of commitment, to keeping the monthly power bill below the average two-hundred dollars. Not an easy task for anybody running a business these days.
Returning to his bench, Sonny once again placed the magnifying spectacles over his eyes, his forehead holding the modified glasses in place. The tinkerer now set out to finish the process of taking the time-piece apart. In order to repair the antique pocket watch, it may become necessary for Sonny to upgrade the old time-piece with modern, compatible components.
The tinkerer, he now felt a strangeness; he had never realized before, as he returned to the old broken heirloom. Sonny, searched his surroundings once again- looking to his left side, and behind him; as an unexpected breeze caught hold his right cheek and ear. Words of whispering, causing the expert repairman of fine watches; to once again rise from his stool. His workshop, it had always been a place of sanctuary for the tinkerer- a place, where he could sit in quiet solitude, and contemplate on all of his accomplishments. No matter what mood- Sonny would ever find himself in; this place, it would always give him a warm comfortable feeling of home and hearth.
The cooler, it was set to low cool. The early- evening temperatures, they were in the seventies. Sonny, he refused to believe anomalous decreases in temperature, could be- anything but: a change in the wind conditions, and in increased precipitation- and yet; his grandfather, and his great grandfather before him; they held onto many extraordinary beliefs, that would defy scientific explanation. Sonny shook his head, the thirty-eight year old tinkerer speaking aloud jokingly: “We’re closed. Business hours, are between eight in the morning, and six in the evening”; before returning to his work. The experienced watch repairman is taken back, by a visual noticing of two glowing serpents circling the pocket watch, the head of the first spectral serpent, eating the tail of the second; the head of the second, eating the tail of the first. Strange characters flashed before his eyes: symbolization of an old script; the educated tinkerer had never- before seen. Separated from the tablet of the script, the symbol of two ram-horns, connected to a spine, slowly pulsated in a rhythmic recognition of a beating heart.
Sonny Acron, jerked himself hard awake- from sleep, the tinkerers’ heart beating rapidly; his shaking body sweating profusely.
“Another nightmare?!” Sonny spoke aloud; to nobody particular.
“I do miss the days; when I used to dream…..”
The dazed tinkerer looked around his bench. The old family heirloom of a pocket watch he had been working on; it was nowhere to be seen.
"News Report: Breaking News….. Black-outs and fog- continue to hamper relief efforts…..”
The Clockmaker cleared his eyes; his own timekeeping device of work’s ongoing observation to strike four.
"The southeast, it has been hammered by outbreaks of tornado activity for the past three days Jen..... The path of the cyclonic systems, carrying winds and rain to the north….. What it seems to me Jen; is that: Tornado Alley, it is actually expanding….. The eastern states, they haven’t seen so many funnel touch-downs; in their entire life, and that’s not even the half of it…... Normally, these states would be witness to smaller vortexes: F2s and even F4s…….... These current tornado touchdowns have been the largest ever seen: F5s and F6s….. We even have one unconfirmed claim on….. Good- god, Jen! An F9!”
“The wrath of God- John?”
“….. Could be Jen..... John Jones, signing out.....”
“This has been a special news report bulletin….. Jen Jansen, channel three news reporting…..”
Gathering his thoughts, the Clockmaker looked over his tabular schedule. His itinerary for the morning- lost on him; from the sleepiness, that continues to muddle his mind.
“Coffee?! Need some!”
The Clockmaker spoke aloud; again to nobody particular. Checking his pockets for his ring of keys and for his wallet; Sonny slowly arose from his workstation. Shadows quietly followed the Clockmaker as he passed the threshold leading into the hallway. The darkness of his workshop reigned in, with the closing and locking of a door.
(Best to freshen- up first.....), the Clockmaker thought; in silence. The Bath Room, to be his next stop. A quick washing of the face, and brushing of the teeth; followed by a trimming of two days growth upon the face, and application of his stock of DDT: Old- Spice deodorant, and he’s ready to go. Except of course for the pounding in his skull; from the night’s battle with: Jack and with Jim. For this Clockmaker; he has fallen on hard- times. Which, by his interpretation; is to be a just cause, to gorge one’s self on one’s favorite foods and liquors.
“Tick- tock, tick-tock….. Where to go: five o’ clock…... Tick-tock, tick- tock….. None home, fore- six o’clock….. Tick- tock, tick-tock…..”
Maximilian Stewart, a rich, lonely and miserable individual of a man. This one, he never did like clocks. Unimportant things, of wasting ones’ attentions in the practiced art of staring.
The morning breakfast bell rang. The seventy year old billionaire rose slowly from his desk; not a good idea to rush one’s self when in so distinguished a category of being. His figures, in working many days’ accomplishments, their results; they will have to wait. At least until he has eaten of his favored selections of choice provisioning. Turning off the light to his study, Stewart took slow leave of his quiet space, his world of wealth and of greed now behind him.
Something had felt off this day. Stewart, he just could not shake the nagging feelings, that he had forgotten something. Mumbling gripes of aged contempt beneath his breath, something in German; Maximilian Stewart turned to make an early return to his personal study. He had never, not in a million years (or sixty years, give or take a few); had done such an unexpected act of aging carelessness. He had forgotten his favorite pipe.
The door to his study, it had seemed strange and unfamiliar to Stewart this day. Not completely aware of why he was having- so queer the feelings over this place that had been his for so many years; Maximilian cautiously tested the handle of the door. The handle, it was ice cold to his touch. The wood by his perceptions, it seemed to have warped ever so slightly; or had- contracted due to the elements, for the door to his study; it was now stuck.
“Ollie? Blast- it! Get your ass over here to my study; on the double! I can’t get back inside to retrieve my pipe! I need my pipe!”
Oliver Basset, Steward’s personal man-servant; a young student of a man, quickly answered to his employers’ beckon call.
“Yes-sir! I’ll have the door opened back up for you promptly!”
Young Basset attempted to ram the door while turning the knob to no avail.
“Apology-sir! I’ll need to fetch my tools to fix the door………... Shall I escort you to the servant’s walkway?”
“Don’t be ridiculous boy! I know within my study; where it is! You, Burgess? Go around to the servant’s walk; and fetch me my pipe! Be quick about it! Fix the door Basset; or I’ll be finding me a new servant!”
“Yes-sir! Right- away sir!”
Basset made a rude and obnoxious face behind the old and crotchety billionaire; as he creeped slowly away from his study. His tongue stuck out and his right thumb on the tip of his nose, his fingers willfully fanning the air.
“Charming, this sentimentality of yours young Basset.....”
Oliver Basset froze in motion; the young man quickly dropping his hand to his right side. Melony Stewart, smiled at the boy- servant; over his actions.
“Oh, now? Don’t bother over so trifle a thing..... I’ve been wanting to do that to father many times myself…..”
Basset bowed in respects to the young and attractive raven-haired; green- eyed daughter of his employers’ lineage.
“Beg- pardon ma’am? I’ll fetch my tools!”
“Nonsense Basset..... You will join me for breakfast first.....”
“Enough of that! Call me Melony?”
“…..I don’t believe that your father would approve ma’am.....”
“Nonsense! It is what I want after- all..... Father, he never questions me; on what I want.....”
Melony Stewart grabbed young Basset by his left arm, and hooked her right arm around his.
“Walk with me Basset?”
Oliver Basset quickly relaxed. This one girl, she gives him purpose to continue in desolation of ongoing servitude.
“Call me Oliver ma’am; I mean Melony?”
“That’s better Oliver..... I like you..... I want to get to know you better.....”
Monty Burgess, he is known for being of the nervous, and paranoid- sort of a man. Continual target of Stewart’s- wrath. The servant’s walk: a long and darkened hallway; that encircles the estate from the front entry around to the east wing, to the garden; and around to the west wing, and back to the entry once again. All lighting fixtures having been removed, for the greed of a truly despicable and selfish man that cares not for the needs of those few that are of aid in service to him, and to his family. Flashlights and lanterns- battery operated; having been provided to Stewarts’ staff, on advisement from one of his many high- dollar lawyers, and the concerns of his one, and only daughter.
The dim light shining from the battery operated lantern did little for the steading of his over-active nervousness. The long and foreboding servant’s walk; it was cold- chilled by the natural morning temperatures. Maximilian Stewart, he is a man that does not believe in the use of furnaces to heat his home. Brick fireplaces being more his idea of a cost- efficient source, in necessary expenses of heating. Shadows fleeted as he slowly crept onward; giving the frightened servant just cause, to turn back and about to see if someone may be following him from behind. It was not beneath Stewart to capitalize on Burgess- of this excessive compulsive nervousness, by sneaking up behind the man to give him a good fright. The walk behind him clear; Burgess continued his long walk to the study.
Monty Burgess gulped down his rising fear; the man- intentionally clearing his throat, as he neared his destination. The thoughts of ghosts as a part of Stewarts’ cruelness; in torment upon his concerns, though- he has been told many times by his own psychiatrist; that such apparitions thought to- be known as: ghosts and as spirits; only exist in the imagination of the creative mind; or in the fears of the paranoid delusions of psychological disorders. Burgess, he- cannot help these feelings he is now having, for in his mind: something evil lurks within the walks.
Burgess relaxed a bit, as he tested the door to the study- while reaching for a belt-loop on his right side. The servant cursed aloud on details of so ignorant the misfortune: Burgess, he had forgotten his keys. The servant quickly turned back down the walk to begin the long stroll back to fetch his ring of unlocking- implements; his right shoe kicking over something that jingled upon the walk’s tiled floor. Somehow, the ring of keys had fallen off from the belt loop of his breeches.
Monty Burgess shook his head; the man breathing a sigh of relief. Fear, it has been so great an actual role in his everyday life. Those active realities, he actually needs in order to face the chaos of unexpected changes, continuing to be evasive to him. Burgess, he now spoke aloud; the man voicing his words more at an attempt to comfort himself, than to talk to anyone of specific mention.
“Well? I guess there is nothing to fear in these old walks- after all.....”
Darkness- blacker than the unlit spaces of the walk drew Burgess quickly into a zone void of sound; as the servant turned back- around to face once again; the servant walk- access to Stewart’s study. Monty burgess attempted to cry aloud his fears; but he could not hear his voice. Unnatural darkness slowly consumed him. Burgess, could not hear himself scream.
“Tick tock, tick tock; no one home fore five- o’ clock…………. Tock tick, Tock tick; back to zero, CLACKETY- CLICK!”
Unlike so many others, Sonny; he enjoyed his daily walks. Considered to be an experience of productive social everyday activity for students young and old. So many shops, so many people. Never once for the Clockmaker has there been- a truly despised day that would cause him ill refute of his decisions.
Now Sonny; he didn’t go for those new- age coffee houses; Sonny- he feels, he has outgrown- these places; with his final exit from college- interests. No. Sonny, he liked: the old style coffee shops; the places his father and his mother, and at times his grandfather had frequented.
As prosperity would have it, this tinkerer of timed- mechanics, he didn’t have to travel far; for his daily fix of regulated caffeine intake. The proprietor of this establishment; a kindly bald- headed Italian gentleman by the name of: Donatello Leonardo Da-Vinci. His coffee shop decorated with artwork; reminiscent to the three extraordinary components of his family’s naming.
“Ah! Sonny? Morning to you- young sire….. You thinking; of anything, but- the usual today; my- boy?”
“Better make it a: two- for Don..... I have a busy day ahead of me.....”
“Two extra- large dark roast; one creamer, and three sugars for each….. I’ll throw in a muffin of your choosing for free..... It is a new promotion I am starting for all of my regular customers….. One free muffin and coffee each month; with- the purchase of a large or extra- large coffee…….. Have you not heard from the lass?”
Sonny sat down at the breakfast bar; the stool squeaking, as he turned away from the coffee maker: an evasion- tactic, in an attempt to avoid an awkward situation. Alas, Sonny; he could not help but open up to Don; he has become like a father to him.
“Ya’llena? No, I’ve not heard from her since Marco’s funeral.”
“Sorry lad...... I know how it is; when you lose someone close to you.”
“How about Brianna? How is she doing today?”
“Ah, she is the heart of my mother’s undying love…..”
Don placed the two coffees; the- Styrofoam covered cups into a cardboard carrier, and handed Sonny a paper sack for his muffin selection.
“Here you go lad..... Add one additional muffin on me.....”
“Thanks Don...... You’re still the best.”
“Tick tock, tick tock. Watchman’s- coming, run the clock………….. Tock tick, Tock tick. Shadows- fleeting. Wiseman’s stick…..”
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
Ya’llena Maia Somain always had been of a generous sort. The sounds of the unfortunate many living around her; reaching for her attentions each and every day. Volunteering her services had become a regular routine for this black haired, green- eyed beauty of Indian descent. Much time of her focus on those affected by the lack of hearing, and of speaking and sight.
One middle aged man in faded and in tattered clothing- not seeming as unfortunate as many that visit this pantry; he immediately arose from his seat, as soon as she opened the front doors. The man’s sightless eyes, concealed beneath- shades of black. His right hand grasping his cane of personal choice: a stick carved from cedar, the head carved in the shape- of a great eagle; its wings spread open wide for flight.
Marshall Alan Roberts, he was no ordinary blind man; for he had been blind the whole of his life. As such, Marshall; he- perceives things in curious adapting ways, that others- have no hope in experiencing. The man using his remaining senses; not only to get by from day to day in his challenged existence, but to impress- upon those around him; an extraordinary talent- for those skeptics that would refuse to believe in: Second Sight.
“Ya’llena? You’re late girl…..”
“Time, it just never gives way when you need it to, does- it Mister Roberts?”
“…….. Ah! Still- bright, and cheery; I- see….. Please, call me- Marshall? Your- seat, it is still- free; if you have time for coffee today…..”
“….. Sorry Mister Roberts….. We were told to come in for a meeting….. I will take you up on that offer next week…..”
“Excellent..... I’ll update my itinerary then…..”
Shift director Sandra Falcone; she snuck up quietly behind the blind man, as he pulled from his right pocket; an old flip- style cellular phone.
“He never gives up; does he?”
“Huh?” Marshall, smarted. “Oh, it’s only- you Sandra…….. Sorry..... Me, I’ve got other plans today Sandra…..”
“Ha, ha, ha! You’re one of a kind, Marshall..... Don’t change? “Ya’llena, we had best get going…..”
“Bye- ladies! I’ll- be thinking about you…..”
Ya’llena, dropped two bills into the blind man’s charity jar. Marshall lifted the jar with his left hand, the blind man- knowing just where to reach for his daily donations. The two girls, they watched Marshall curiously; as he picked up the jar, shook the jar two times, and slowly turned the container in his hands counter- clockwise; while blind eyes behind black shades; seemed to look upon the contents within the jar. Marshall Roberts, smiled wide on Ya’llena.
“Why, thank- you Ya’llena, that was two five- dollar bills I see.....”
Ya’llena, shook her head in amazement.
“You are truly an extraordinary talent; Mister Roberts…..You, take- care now?”
“You do the same Ya’llena….. Remember….. Friends are forever!”
The gathered unfortunate rose fast from their seats. Lock-out time, a necessary procedure for duties of cleaning and of- business; in meeting that now takes precedence. The last three words the blind man had related to her, caused the Indian girl to turn back in an attempt to question- Marshall; on some familiarity of the words.
“What is it, Ya’llena?”
“….. Marshall’s words? What he just said to me….. It is similar to something my mother used to say…..”
Ya’llena, she waited for the crowd of unfortunates to disperse. The blind man named Marshall; he was nowhere to be seen.
“….. Come- on Lena….. You don’t want to be late for the meeting…..”
MARCH 23, 2017
HIGHWAY 132; NEAR MODESTO
Police officer Paul Bryant, stepped slowly away from the gruesome scene. The victim, a woman seemingly seven; or eight months into her pregnancy, and her nine year old son had both- been slain. Carved upon their foreheads with some kind of razor: a symbol reminiscent of a ouroboros. Blood excreting from the stab wounds, dead- center; dripping down their faces. The dying fear locked into their eyes; it was just too much for the officer to bear.
Paul Bryant was fresh out of the academy. His family supporting multiple generations of police officers; committed to the protection of their respective communities. Sergeant Maxwell Sergio Stanton shook his head.
“That bad huh?”
“Yeah.....The bodies, they’ve been mutilated.....”
“Cripes! Just what we need, another sicko on our hands!”
“One more thing Sergeant..... The markings on the bodies, are familiar..... They have been carved into their foreheads…..”
“Great! What a way to end such a nice quiet day! Get back to the scene when you’re ready.....”
“Sergeant Stanton? We’ve found something else! Over here!”
“What is it Reilly?”
The highway patrolman handed his superior a letter that has been now sealed inside a plastic bag. Maxwell Stanton gave in- to a deepened- sigh; followed by a discontented groan of considerable- voice.
“Damn! This nut job, he thinks he’s the Ouroboros or something!”
“….. A- cipher?”
“Right..... We may have some kind of copycat on our hands!”
“One problem, Sergeant….. The Ouroboros; he never brutalized bodies like this….. Their eyes, they’ve been removed; and it looks like their heads have been scalped.....”
“What the hell?”
“….. It looks as if we are attracting onlookers….. You had better take over here Sergeant.....”
“Reilly? You and Bryant, see to those onlookers..... I’ll check in with forensics.....”
“Tick, tock…… Tick, tock…… Dead man’s head, where’s the rock? Tock, tick…… Tock, tick…… Blind man’s walk, Watch man’s stick…..”