No prompt from Chuck. I feel like setting up a challenge myself, but I don’t want to tread on his toes, and I don’t have the following! Driving home the other day I thought of doing those ‘five things to include’ stories, and spotted a man with a walking stick, thought of a budgerigar, and then thought of opening the dictionary to pick a noun three times at random. Then I decided to go back to a prompt list of March 2013 and got five alternate words from that; not random, just the odd numbered ones. Last time I used this list was for Dolphin Replay… a very early offering! Let’s see if these 500 words are any better. The key words are listed at the end, in case you want to guess them.
Thinking is bad for you
Tick, tock, tick, tock…
You would think a library would have a silent clock. An electric one, like the classic schoolroom type, white-faced, black claw-like fingers pointing at the Roman numerals. They had a bevelled wooden edge, mahogany-effect.
The silence of the vaulted room is disturbed by the steady count of seconds leaching out of our lives.
Once noticed, it pervades my head. I am not the only one: I watch a man walk past, as slowly as an undertaker, in step with the ticks, processing his way to the DIY section. Do they have books to build-your-own grandfather clock? Or are they filed under Horology?
The mind works in strange ways. I am researching the use of echo-location in dolphins, because I want to use sonar communication for aliens in my next novel, but instead I am thinking about timepieces. I wonder how my spacemen would cope without a power source for their navigation instruments – including their timepieces. Now I am thinking about relativity and how in the science fiction world we ignore Einstein, who showed us that if we travel at the speed of light, time dilation occurs, and we could go back to our own world a few weeks later with centuries having elapsed there. How does Star Trek get over that? Huh?
A train of thought that, once started, envelopes you. Clock, seconds, time, relativity, space travel. Four-dimensional spaces. Sigh. Back to Echo-location.
The ticks do not echo. Why not? Chimes do, I notice as the clock strikes three, daintily, like a carriage clock. Incongruous for a standard wall clock. It should not chime. At least it is only the hour. It would be intolerable if it chimed the quarters, in a library. I feel like shushing it. Why do the librarians allow it?
My temper has risen in indignation. They should not allow it! Nor should they allow the workman in the corner to rattle his toolbox as he fixes something under the stairs, surrounded by Oversize books. At least he is working quietly, rasping away with a gentle touch, allowing the wood to smooth itself into submission in his hands. I see him take out a chisel to work on the edge of the door. Refitting it, perhaps. A cupboard full of papers, I see as the door swings open and shut at his command.
It squeaks. It did not squeak before. This is perverse. A silent door, mended, starts squeaking. An electric clock ticks loudly and chimes. There is no sense in the universe, and the man dressed all in black returns in his funereal march from the object of his research, clutching a flamingo under his arm. I am certain he held a black umbrella before.
Is it a dream? Is it an hallucination?
The dolphin stares back at me from the open page of my book, and grins. Then he winks.
Time to go. I have a spaceship to catch.
© J M Pett 2015
[Library, Dolphin, Undertaker, Envelope, and Chisel. I cheated with envelope]