|When the Clock Strikes Twelve
Author: Ranguvar27 PM
Henry Adams is at a New Years' Eve Party with his wife, Maude. It's at her relative's house, and Henry is quite bored. He also keeps hearing about a tradition that happens when the clock strikes twelve...Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror - Words: 859 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 12-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3086747
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When The Clock Strikes Twelve
Henry Adams sighed, looking around the smoke-shrouded living room. He idly twirled his glass in his hand, the ice clinking together, and took a sip of watered down Scotch, grimacing. Why he had ever agreed to let Maude drag him to this dreadful party in the middle of nowhere was beyond him. They could have been spending a nice, quiet New Year's Eve at home. Instead, they were here at one of Maude's relations..either a second or third cousin, Henry couldn't quite recall, and he had been forced to participate in banal, meaningless chitchat and listen to tinny, dissonant music played at a very high volume.
He was a small, fastidious man with black hair combed in a severe part, large, horn-rimmed glasses, and a pallid complexion pockmarked with freckles. His ears were overlarge, and he had pale, spidery hands. In all, he had the look of a man who spent most of his time indoors. He had two expressions-he was either frowning or looking upon the world with an air of supreme disdain. His wife was the complete opposite-young, pretty, outgoing and sociable.
Maude came over to him, her face rosy from drinking. "Henry, do please try to enjoy yourself more."
"Maude, it was your idea to come here. I agreed to come. However, I did not agree to enjoy myself. Besides, every one of these people keep talking about the same thing."
Maude laughed. "Oh, you mean 'Doing it when the clock strikes twelve?' It's just an old family tradition, Henry. We've been doing it for centuries."
"Well, I don't like the way they look at me when they say it. As if I were a prize cow or something. Well, all I have to say is if they expect me to join in, they've got another think coming! I refuse to debase myself."
Maude sighed, used to her husband's temper, and spoke in a long-suffering, patient tone. "Darling, it isn't debasement! Why, it's over in a moment, and it would mean ever so much to me. Please, Henry, do this one thing for me." She batted her long eyelashes at him, and he sighed, then nodded. She beamed. "Wonderful! The countdown is about to begin! Come on, we need to go to the living room."
Henry followed her into the other room, where the other party-goers were gathered. The only furniture in the room was a large grandfather clock that stood against the far right wall, and the only egress was the door that lead back to the large ballroom they had just left.
Maude locked the door, then walked over to Henry, looping her arm around his. She leaned in and whispered in his ear. "Dad's going to say a few words, then we'll count down."
"When does my part come in?"
"When the clock strikes twelve."
Maude's father, a venerable looking old man with snow white hair, raised his hands. "Friends and family, we are gathered here on this New Year's Eve to celebrate a new cycle in our lives. This year sees us cleanse away the dirt and toil of the old year and begin anew, invigorated. This year, it was my little Maude that made our renewal possible. Thank you, Maude."
Maude blushed. "You're welcome, Daddy. Is it time to do the countdown yet?"
"It is. Now remember, we have to do it together. And Maude honey, you get to go first."
Thirty voices sounded in unison.
Henry began to feel vaguely uneasy. Everyone was staring at him as they shouted. They looked-hungry.
He looked around, gulping when he noticed there was no way out. And now the people didn't just look hungry, they looked famished. Maude was staring avidly at him, her blue eyes glittering.
Henry broke and ran for the door, twisting the knob wildly. The crowd advanced on him, Maude leading. "Henry, don't try to run. It will only make things worse." She smiled, her teeth somehow much sharper than he had ever seen them.
Henry threw himself against the door, but it was made of solid oak. He pressed himself against the wood, whimpering. "Why?"
Maude smiled. "It's tradition, Henry."
Her father spoke up from behind her. "Didn't Maude's maiden name give you any clue as to what we truly are?"
Henry gibbered. "Her...her maiden name?"
Maude smiled. "Ghul. It's German. I'm sorry, Daddy, but I never told him."
Her father patted her shoulder. "Oh well, can't be helped."
Henry whimpered, looking wildly around for an escape route, but he was hemmed in on all sides by hungry faces. A few of the partiers began to reach for him, their fingers tangling in his shirt. Maude's father glared at them, and they retreated.
Maude gently brushed his cheek. "Henry, I want you to know that I really did care about you, but this must be done."
The crowd was nearly on top of him now.
The clock struck twelve.
Henry screamed once.
When it was over, the ghouls wiped their chins and returned to their homes, ready for the new year to come.