19

The Resurrection of the Reinhardt Clock

It was the quietness that intrigued him the most as he walked to work every morning, listening to the sounds of the city waking. He always heard the birds first. Sometimes it was Mozart and other mornings it was Bártok and Debussy, but they were always there. Then came the sun, slowly waking to cast her yellow haze over the city as the morning stars began to fade. Apparently in the Old Time the noises of the morning were metronomic, a continuous beating pulse. The city woke to the squeal of tyres and the incessant ticking of the Reinhardt. This morning, as he stood in the middle of road listening, it was a different quietness and to Seth it seemed as though the sun and birds were holding their breath, waiting.

He moved off the middle of the road and onto the footpath as a rickshaw turned the corner, its driver pedalling in a lazy, rhythmic motion. The grass felt soft under Seth's feet and he smiled as the blades tickled his bare feet. Kneeling down, he brushed his fingers against the grass. He remembered the summer days he spent as a child lying on the lawn watching ants struggle through the green maze to their earthen homes. As he pushed himself up, a flowering vine that was crawling up an unlit streetlight tugged at his slender legs. The streetlights had been turned off years ago and now stood in darkness so their yellow glow no longer hid the moon at night.

From the street, Seth could see the workers put the finishing touches on the city. The banners and podium were all in place, waiting until the sun was ready and perched in her spot at the highest point in the sky. In the middle of all the activity was the Reinhardt, a massive clock that sat high above the town hall. It was a magnificent structure, a beacon for the city, designed by their forefathers to last for generations.

But the clock was frozen; in time, in the past and in people's minds. Twenty-five long years had passed since the refined hands had revolved around the stone face. Now they lay still, frozen at one minute to twelve, like every other clock in the city.

Seth paused underneath one of the many blooming Jacaranda trees that lined the street, their purple flowers creating a lilac blanket. The flowers danced around his legs as a light breeze enchanted their delicate petals. Seth could taste the sickly sweet perfume of the flowers. It always reminded him of his mother's favourite perfume, the one she had worn everywhere until the day she died. The leaves of the nearest Jacaranda suddenly rustled and revealed a finch playing amongst the flowers.

"So, summer has arrived, thank you, little one," Seth said.

As soon as he had spoken, the small bird flew off and Seth was surprised to see a car pull out in front of him and drive away down the road. He rarely saw cars these days and as he watched it pull away, smoke billowed from the exhaust. Seth wrinkled his nose in disgust. They were too loud and their mechanical engines grated against the sounds of the morning. He much preferred walking.

"Seth," a voice muttered.

An elderly man leant against a nearby doorway, cigarette in hand, with a toothy smile on his weathered face. Beside him was an old, gnarled walking stick.

"Cornelius."

Throwing the cigarette butt to the ground, Cornelius extinguished it with the heel of his leather boot. He coughed harshly and it reminded Seth of the car with its abrasive noise. The old man was standing outside a small building hidden amongst the maze of streets and apartments. The paint was peeling, revealing a dull grey, and above the doorway hung a faded sign reading 'Museum of Chronological History', which, as the breeze brushed it, groaned and scraped against the peeling wood. Below, the sun pierced a grimy window and tiny flickers of silver seemed to dance amongst the shadows. Seth worked in the museum each week for a paltry sum but he mainly came to visit the aging man. Cornelius was one of the old kind.

"The sun has woken," Cornelius stated, lighting up again, the cigarette shaking in his trembling hands.

"You said you were going to stop," Seth said.

"You said that, I like smoking."

"I'm surprised you're up so early," Seth sighed.

"In the Old Time, Seth, I would wake…"

Seth

Seth squinted at the old man but Cornelius's lips were still moving. Suddenly the breeze picked up and began to swirl around Seth, its bitter fingers caressing his face. He brushed back his black hair as he shivered, pulling his coat closer into his body.

Seth

Seth's dark eyes searched the doorways and windows for the owner of the voice, but they held no answers. The voice was smooth and caressed each word with meticulous pronunciation, like a Baroque madrigal, constrained and musical. But there was something else to the voice, a veiled power.

Seth...look up

"Seth, are you listening?" Cornelius asked.

"Did you? Never mind…" Seth trailed off as Cornelius crinkled his forehead. Cornelius obviously hadn't heard the voice so had he imagined it, then?

"The parade's today," Seth said to break the awkward pause.

"I know," the old man spat. He blew a thick cloud of smoke into the air and Seth knew the conversation was over. Cornelius was like that. Seth had always wondered what he was like before. Was he full of life then, a man with a purpose?

He left Cornelius to his cigarette and stepped through the doorway. A rush of stagnant air besieged him and Seth could feel his nose begin to itch like it did every morning. The room reeked of smoke and little specks of dust hung in the air to form a murky veil over the area. One day Seth would try and clean the room. A collection of clocks lay discarded on the floor, their faces smashed and hands broken. But the main feature of the room was the large window that invited the morning sun in and overlooked the surrounding buildings. A dusty curtain rod still rested above the window but no material hung from it. No one used curtains anymore.

Seth sat at a desk near the window, holding a broken clock and absentmindedly turning it in circles with his fingers. The clock was ancient, its fragile hands frozen, and Seth's hands appeared as a stain on the exquisite timepiece. His hands were worn and gnarled, his fingernails chewed, his palms calloused and rough. But as he sat in these familiar surroundings he couldn't stop thinking about the voice.

Seth sighed and set the clock down. He loved restoring the clocks, repairing the damage they had received in the lead up to the revolution and Seth often found himself daydreaming about their history and what they had seen in the Old Time. He had started taking this clock apart yesterday, lovingly cleaning each piece but today he found himself idly chewing his fingernails and staring out of the window. From his desk he could see the town hall and the Reinhardt clock towering high above it. Large banners hung down the building and he could see black spots moving around on the roof, workers, he presumed, that were probably getting the firework display ready. It was meant to be the best firework display the city had ever seen.

Seth

It was the voice again. Seth searched the room, his eyes trying to pierce the musty darkness. There was nothing.

Seth

Seth stared out the window and pressed his hands over his ears, trying to block out the musical voice. Maybe ignoring it would work. A glint of light caught his attention and Seth blinked his eyes rapidly. It was the Reinhardt clock. The clock rose over the city and the sun seemed to be attracted by its stature, embracing it in her brilliant rays. As the sun hit the clock, the hands glinted, sending spirals of light towards him. He shook his head. It was a coincidence; the clock was not trying to attract his attention. But as he stared at the Reinhardt, Seth couldn't ignore the light that shined in through the window.

Do not doubt what you are seeing, Seth

A clock was not speaking in his head. Clocks don't talk. He had worked with clocks everyday since he was little so why would one start talking now?

Because he's ill...

A loud crash behind Seth startled him and he turned to see Cornelius swaying in the doorway, his walking stick on the floor. Seth rushed over to the old man and helped him to a chair.

"What are you doing? I said you should see a doctor," Seth said as he picked up the walking stick.

"Coming inside and no," Cornelius wheezed. As much as Seth had tried, Cornelius was never one for words unless it was about the Old Time. After his parents died, Seth had moved in with his father's friend. While their friendship was definitely dysfunctional, Seth had grown close to Cornelius. He was good company and didn't distract Seth when he was working on his clocks. As he handed Cornelius the walking stick, he heard a sharp knock and a shadow fell upon the doorway.

"Cornelius Haggarty, we've come to search your museum for any active clocks," a voice called and several young men entered the room, their harsh footsteps echoing off the walls. They wore dark green suits and flashed their shimmering badges at Seth before starting to search the room. These were the Time Monitors, or the Toms, as everyone liked to call them. They were young men that hadn't experienced the Old Time, recruited to search for active clocks throughout the city. They would come in, do their spot-checks and disappear just as quickly, often leaving behind a chaotic mess. Seth had been told they were formed shortly after the end of the Old Time to enforce the new way of life.

"You can search but it's all legit," Seth said, standing as tall as his lean body could. The leader leant in close to the young man. Seth thought he could almost feel the man's stubble scratch his smooth skin, like sandpaper to a varnished floor. He wrinkled his nose at the man's breath.

"We'll see," the man young man said and picked up a dusty clock between his fingers, studying its unmoving arms before carelessly tossing it to the ground. Seth started to protest but stopped but as a coarse hand grabbed his arm. Cornelius despondently shook his head. The sound of the clocks smashing tore at Seth and he furiously bit his chewed fingernails. He wanted nothing more than to stop them, but now was not the time.

Do you want to stop this?

Of course, Seth thought half to the clock and half to himself, wincing at the smash of glass. The Toms continued to search through the cupboards and knocked against the walls, looking for hiding spots. Their green suits looked out of place but apparently they were chosen to make the Toms seem friendlier. It wasn't working though, Seth thought.

Well, you can later

"Your clocks are all inactive," the leader said, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping his dusty hands in disgust. He abruptly turned and followed the other men out, slamming the door behind him. Dust fell from the ceiling as the walls shook from the force of his exit and Seth could feel his nose tingling. Wiping his nose, Seth looked closely at Cornelius. The old man was slumped in his chair; sweat materialising in tiny droplets above his grey eyebrows. Seth winced at Cornelius' pale appearance. He looked so frail. When Seth had first met him, Cornelius was still dedicated and full of life. As a child, Seth would seat near the window, playing on the floor with the broken clocks while Cornelius leant over his desk in deep concentration. A large part of his childhood memories were Cornelius' hunched shoulders and squinting eyes.

"I'm going," Cornelius muttered and pushed himself up from the chair. Accepting the walking stick from Seth, the old man hobbled past the window, coughing harshly. Then he was gone, disappearing through a doorway into another room. The door closed behind him.

It's killing him

Scrambling over to the window, Seth pressed up against the glass, his palms against the cold surface.

What is? Seth asked telepathically but there was no answer. He sighed, exhaling air from his gritted teeth. He did know what was killing Cornelius. It was the Old Time. The old man couldn't live without it and now he was slowly fading away as Seth watched, unable to do anything. He seemed to pale and fade just a bit more everyday.

Would you do anything to keep him alive?

The voice in his head spoke, the lyrical tenor transforming into something deeper and menacing.

Would you do anything I ask of you?

Seth hesitated. He wanted to help Cornelius but he wasn't sure if he could trust the voice. The voice reminded Seth of a neo-classical concerto, cheerful but with a sinister underlying tone that he couldn't ignore. But it was Cornelius; he had to help him.

What do you want? Seth asked, rubbing his eyes, not sure if he was doing the right thing.

Come outside

Seth stood in the middle of the room in silence. He had to go and check on Cornelius before he left. He'd fallen into the ritual of checking on him as the old man's health had deteriorated. Especially after he had found him in an exhausted sleep on the floor, not having the energy to get to his bed. He worried about Cornelius too much. Cornelius lived in a room attached to the museum; it was the size of a sunroom but with only one, tiny window. He knocked on the door several times but there was no answer. Seth opened it, the loud creak announcing his presence. Cornelius spun around from where he was hunched over at his desk. Seth was surprised to see the old man awake.

"Oh, I'm going out," Seth asked.

"Okay," Cornelius said.

"I'm not sure for how long," Seth said.

"Okay."

"I'll go now."

"Sure."

Seth waited outside on the stairs. The sun was slowly rising to her highest spot in the sky. The streets were full of rickshaws and bicycles pedalling through them as people were already starting to head to the town hall for the parade. It was the 25th time the parade had taken place. It was a celebration of the New Time and of what they had left behind but Seth didn't intend on going.

I wish for you to make my hands move again

Seth jumped as the voice talked in his head. He looked at the people's faces to see if anyone had heard the voice.

No one else can hear me, I thought you would have realised that by now

How's this going to help Cornelius? Seth asked the clock, annoyed at the voice's arrogance but unsure where to glare.

I will bring back the Old Time and that will bring back the old Cornelius. You do want to help him?

The voice was getting annoyed, each word now an agitated pluck of a string.

Yes, but…

You want him to die? To wilt away into nothingness after all he has done for you?

No. No, I want to help him, Seth burst out.

Good, do what I say then

High above him, the Reinhardt clock seemed to grin.

Seth waited on the corner for a bus. He didn't particularly like buses, as even though they ran on natural gas these days, the grinding brakes and sudden stopping and starting irritated him. They had torn down all the bus timetables years ago and now the few people that caught them waited, generally patiently, for one to come by. He normally liked the waiting, it was a good time to think and reflect on everything, but today he needed to get to the Reinhardt before the parade started. Seth started pacing along the grass. He stopped in front of a mango tree on the side of the street and picked off one of the ripe fruits. He bit into it, the mango releasing a luscious, sweet taste. A cough of an engine made Seth look up in time to see a bus turning the corner. Seth threw the remaining mango in the bin as the bus came to a shuddering stop in front of him. The doors opened to reveal the driver. It was an old man. He had a white beard and his eyes were hidden under his bushy eyebrows.

"You off to the parade, son?" the driver asked, his eyebrows merrily bouncing as he talked.

"That I am," Seth said.

"Great parade that. I've been nearly every year since the revolution," he said, staring out the windscreen, his thoughts obviously somewhere else. Then he laughed; a booming sound that bounced around the enclosed area.

"That makes me feel old, son," he said.

As the bus neared the city, the Reinhardt started rising high above them, casting a shadow over the neighbouring streets. Seth hadn't been this close to the clock for a long time and he had forgotten how large it was. Before the revolution it was a beacon for the city and it used to be their guiding light. Apparently they were so desperate to please it that they obeyed every movement the hands made and by the end of it the city and the people were exhausted and wanted to rest. They wanted to slow life down. It was then they turned all the clocks off.

The bus slowed down and came to a stop a few streets away from the town hall. Road blocks had been placed up and the buildings and trees were strewn with green streamers. He could hear the excited murmuring of the gathering crowd, a tumultuous river of voices. Seth walked to the front of the bus and the driver gave him a toothy smile.

"Now, have fun at the parade won't you?" the driver said.

"I'll try," Seth said and gave the driver a fake smile before stepping onto the street and walking towards the city centre. The boisterous crowd was lining the street in anticipation and their murmuring was still getting louder, a crescendo as the sun got closer to her highest point. Small children held balloons and several of the balloons had escaped high above the city, bouncing along above the sky-rises. But Seth wasn't concentrating on the crowd; he was frozen in the shadow of the Reinhardt. It was a magnificent sight and despite everything, Seth shivered in anticipation at working with the clock. Its carved hands and the stone-face were incredible in their intricacy, like a perfect sculpture of the human body; complex, yet beautiful.

Go around the back

Seth sighed. In the shadow of the Reinhardt he had nearly forgotten why he was there.

Go, before the crowd gets bigger

Fine, Seth muttered and wove around the waiting people, brushing past arms and legs. The sun had spread her warmth over the city and the musky scent of the hot crowd invaded his nostrils. Pale arms and legs glistened in the sun and clothing stuck to skin, sweat seeping into the material. Seth could feel a thin sheen of sweat gather above his eyebrows but he wasn't sure if it was the heat or his anxiety. When he reached the alley behind the town hall he hesitated, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. The cluttered alley was hidden in shadow as the sun's rays failed to penetrate the dark area. The temperature had dropped several degrees and Seth shivered. Anxiety, he thought, definitely anxiety.

This takes you there

Seth couldn't see an entrance, only moist bricks and mouldy boxes. Was the clock lying? Stumbling over a pile of broken wood, he swore as a sharp pain shot up his leg. He hopped over to a rusty bin and leant against it. The metal was cool to touch. As Seth rubbed his leg, he saw something behind the bin. He winced as he pushed the bin, the wheels squeaking painfully, but after it was out of the way, he found himself in front of a window. It obviously hadn't been touched for years, the dirt making it impossible to see through. And Seth thought the museum was unclean. He tried to push the resisting window frame up, and with a moan the window inched open, releasing a cloud of dust. Forcing himself through the gap, Seth listened for voices or footsteps, anything indicating other visitors, but he only heard silence. The inside was dark and musty and Seth could feel his nose begin to itch. He was sick of dust. In front of him rose a set of stairs that were covered in a thin layer of grime. He was about to sneeze when he reached the top of the stairs and froze in the open doorway, oblivious to anything but what stood in front of him.

It was the Reinhardt clock. It was really quite amazing, Seth thought, staring at the back of the clock. He wished Cornelius were there as he would have loved it. Seth was captivated by all the cogs and wheels that covered the wall, all linked together to create the masterpiece. The etchings in the wheels were worn down from the countless times they had revolved in the Old Time. As Seth reached out with a trembling hand to touch the magnificent clock, a surge of power and menace entered his arm and Seth jerked away from the clock, his arm tingling. The corrugated wheel that used to move the hands towered high above him. And then Seth saw what he was looking for. It was an empty space between two of the wheels; a cog was missing. It must have been taken out and discarded 25 years ago. It astonished Seth that a small thing like that could stop such a large object. A small sparkle of light in the corner caught his attention and sitting on the light layer of dust was the cog. It was covered in grime and Seth wondered how he had seen it through the darkness. He clenched it in his fist and stood in front of the clock. Outside the crowd applauded loudly, a dull murmur through the thick walls. He wasn't sure if he could do it.

Do you want to save Cornelius? Do it...

The sound of the voice hung heavily in the air.

Seth

Seth unclenched his fist and held the clog in front of the gap. He had to do it. With a trembling hand he reached out and forced the clog in the space. First there was nothing but then, ever so slightly, he could feel a small tremble as the tiny wheel began shuddering, slowly moving round and round. Then a slightly larger wheel began rotating. He had done it, he had started the clock. He had brought back the Old Time and, hopefully, Cornelius's health. With a last glance he turned around and ran out of the room as he knew the room wouldn't be a good place to stay once the clock started working.

Running out of the alley, Seth slipped unnoticed into the crowd. As he held his hand above his eyes, he could see the Mayor walk out onto a platform high above the crowd in a shower of green confetti. The Mayor saluted the cheering and spoke into a microphone, his voice crackling throughout the nearby streets.

"It has been twenty-five years of prosperity since we, as a united people, decided to stop the clocks. And now we live governed by our environment, relying on the sun and moon," he said, the large group responding with a cheer.

"And that's why we're here today, to celebrate our choice, our freedom and our…" the Mayor and crowd suddenly stopped in silence at the sound of metal grinding against metal high above them. People started whispering in confusion, several people pointing up at the Reinhardt clock. Dust starting falling from the hands and floated onto the people below. People were leaning out of windows near the town hall and others were joining the motionless crowd. The minute hand started shaking slightly, struggling to click over from one minute before twelve. And then it moved. As the minute hand came to rest at the top of the clock, it chimed; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve times. Each chime reverberated down the street as the crowd remained motionless, staring up at the clock. They stood in stunned silence as the hand moved to one past twelve and then to two past the hour. The second hand frenziedly danced around the face, jerking from second to second.

But it was the ticking that disturbed him, the ticking that invaded the silent crowd and the relentless staccato strokes that pulsated through Seth's body. He had heard nothing like it before. It wasn't ticking so much, but rather the cracking of dry wood in a fire or the splintering of bone.

Well done Seth the voice whispered in his ear.

Slowly a pale yellow light began to emanate from the clock, covering the streets below in a golden haze. As the veil lowered onto the crowd, pale tendrils started weaving through the people and swirling around them. The air had become muggy and Seth struggled to breathe under its weight. But as Seth looked around it seemed that no one else could see the spreading yellow light as they froze, staring at the Reinhardt like a collection of mannequins in a shop front.

What have you done? Seth gasped.

The question is what have you done? The voice answered, a whisper in the wind.

Seth turned to leave the motionless crowd. Slowly, one by one, the people started reacting and soon the city heart was a mass of terrified movement. Except for those who had been touched by the yellow light, they remained captivated by the clock. Perspiring arms pushed past him and the hot air from their gasping mouths assaulted Seth. Through the panicking crowd Seth could see a gap and as he twisted past several bodies, he found himself free of the crowd. Gasping for breath, Seth glanced around for one more look at the clock. He could see streams of police storm into the building but somehow he knew they couldn't stop it. As the golden tendrils swirled around them, they stopped, frozen, and stared up at the moving clock. High above them the Reinhardt's smile seemed to grow.

The sun had disappeared, sleeping beyond the horizon and now the stars sparkled in the darkness. It was strange, Seth was sure time hadn't passed that quickly, but now the full moon hung low in the sky, reaching out to the high-rises that grew from the streets below. The streets were dark, only highlighted by the yellow light that was growing over the city. But they weren't empty; many people were still walking them in a daze. As Seth had walked through the city he had seen the golden tendrils caress unsuspecting people. He had seen them change, gazing longingly at the Reinhardt as they walked through the streets. Seth was striding down one such street with his head down and his face hidden under a cap. A cool breeze, so different than before, was blowing through the streets and alleyways and Seth shivered in his coat. Hearing a police siren in the distance, Seth pulled his cap down lower and glanced nervously into the darkness. He had to get back to the museum. His footsteps matched the rhythmic ostinato from the metronymic ticking and Seth walked faster, trying to mismatch the pulsations.

He soon found himself in front of the museum. The Jacaranda trees had lost all their flowers and the grass was browning. He was about to open the door when a movement in the shadows caught his eyes.

"Seth," a voice said.

It was Cornelius. He was leaning against the wall with a cigarette, and was hidden in the darkness of the shadows and only visible from the glow of the cigarette butt.

"Cornelius."

Exhaling a large cloud of smoke, Cornelius gazed at Seth in silence. Cornelius hobbled out of the darkness, a toothy grin on his face. The wrinkles under his eyes were creased in excitement.

"The Reinhardt, it has woken," Cornelius said.

Seth turned and gazed at the clock. The Reinhardt glimmered in the dark sky as the yellow haze still hung over them. The ticking, metronome like, was still pulsating through the city, probing every street and building.

"Yes," Seth said, "it has".

"It's magnificent, the Old Time has returned," Cornelius marvelled. His skin had lost some of its paleness and his breathing wasn't as harsh. Seth looked around and wrinkled his forehead.

"Where's your walking stick?" Seth asked, searching for the gnarled object.

Maybe the clock was right and his health was already returning.

"I, I must have left it inside," Cornelius said in confusion and Seth hid a smile.

"I'll get it for you just in case," Seth said and entered the darkened museum.

The moon was shining through the window, giving off a pale glow that faintly highlighted the room. The clocks stared at him through the gloom, their bent hands and cracked faces watching him, and his eyes darted around, searching for the walking stick.

In the small room the ticking seemed louder, an unyielding throbbing in the walls and floor, beating in time with his heart. Where was the walking stick? The ticking pulsed louder. He put a trembling hand against the wall to steady himself, but the staccato strokes vibrated up his fingers. The ticking, it hurt too much. Seth ran out of the building and away from the confused old man. As he disappeared around the corner he heard Cornelius worriedly call out his name.

Several streets later, Seth stopped running and leant against a mango tree, gasping for breath. Sweat ran down his forehead but he was sure the temperature had dropped again, and a bitter wind now swept down the street, and the old newspapers and litter waltzed with the breeze. As his gasped breathing started receding, he reached out and pulled a mango from its tree and bit into it, anticipating the cool liquid but it was rotten, immediately releasing a foul taste. Spitting out the festering flesh, tears appeared in Seth's eyes as his stomach threatened to rebel against the repulsive taste.

It has been four hours, thirty minutes and five seconds and it is already healing him. This is what you wanted? The voice spoke, making Seth jump for the second time that day.

Yes, it is.

Then you have succeeded, the voice whispered in the breeze as it wafted into nothingness. The hour hand of the Reinhardt ticked over to eleven and the exquisite chime resonated over the city, the notes hanging in the air so long that Seth thought he could reach out and touch them.

He breathed in deeply and started walking back to the museum. The ticking had abated and he wanted to see Cornelius, to see if his eyes hadn't been deceiving him. As he turned the corner, he bumped into a young man, around Seth's age, with short auburn hair. The sound of ticking penetrated the air.

"Sorry," the young man said as he steadied Seth.

He gazed hesitantly at Seth, before holding out his wrist in excitement. Wrapped around it was an antique leather watch.

"Look, isn't it incredible?" he said, obviously entranced by the moving hands.

"Yes, it is," Seth replied, studying the intricately made watch. He had fixed one similar to it recently and had cherished every moment as he laboured over the work of art.

"It's beautiful, the ticking is like music to my ears," the man said in a trance, still watching the revolving hands. Seth was confused. How could someone like the relentless ticking? It hurt his head and wasn't like music but rather the metronome that controlled the melody. The man broke out of his reverie and looked up.

"I have to go, I'm meeting someone in 15 minutes," he said, quickly looking behind him before striding away from Seth with a wave. The sound of his rushed footsteps echoed off the road and Seth watched him disappear into an adjacent street. The change had started.

As he headed back to Cornelius, Seth thought of the museum. What would the Old Time do to the museum? Would people come and visit now? Seth smiled; he hadn't seen a visitor in the museum since he was little. He would miss the quietness though.

He turned onto his street and as soon as he could see the building, Seth froze. Glass littered the ground around the museum, its window smashed in. Seth peered into the darkness inside the museum and he could see it was empty, the clocks and watches gone. Then he saw Cornelius. The old man was in front of the broken window, his head against the desk. As Seth got closer he saw that Cornelius's eyes were closed and his chest unmoving.

What have you done? Seth asked the clock, reaching out to the old man.

You said you wanted to bring back the Old Time, didn't you?

Didn't you?

The ticking, the sharp pulsations, made his head ache. Seth picked up a smashed clock and hurled it out the window. It shattered on the road, pieces of glass flying into the air.

Didn't you?

Yes, Seth cried holding his head in his hands, that's what I said. But I didn't want this.

Seth knelt down next to the old man and stared through the shattered window into the night. In the distance, the Reinhardt clock towered high above the city smiling as the sun began to rise.