The ticking of the clock merges with the throbbing of my head. I hate clocks. Especially the ones with faces. They're always staring at me, ticking, clicking away the moments of my life. With glee. Their little hands move, stabbing, cutting hours into little pieces. I've never noticed how many clocks there were in the world, how many clocks surround me. No matter where I go, I can never get away from that face.

My eyes pass over objects for the thousandth time. Books, pens. Paperweights, memos. A glint of metal. And in front of me, the sheet of paper. Blank. Mocking me. Me, who used to unleash torrents of writing on the world, me who papered the streets with pamphlets. My words clashed with swords, moved the people, overthrew a king. They called me the voice of the revolution.

But my muse is silent now.

Outside it's winter. And I hear your voice again, your voice that haunted me all these years, see you standing in the doorway of my mind's eye. Hear your ultimatum.

We're like flowers, roses that unfold in spring, and shatter to pieces in the first gust of December.

A glint of metal, kept carefully in the corner of my eye. I stare at white expanse of paper in front of me and think of red petals on snow.

I had a dream. An ideal. I wanted my words to change the world, to create something beautiful. Now there's only an empty place, and empty space in my heart, where it used to be. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The clock hand moves, stabs into my head.

A glint of metal. It's hard to believe they're all gone. The ones who believed in me, the ones who fought alongside me. In my mind the words resound. My words, foremost and strongest, calling for their deaths. One by one they fell. Flowers swept away by wind. My friends.

But no. They're not dead. Not really. Because, at this moment I feel them, looking over my shoulder. Hear them whispering. My ghosts.

A glint of metal. I told myself that I did what I had to do, that the ends justified the means. But I see now that all I did was lie to myself. I see now that you were right.

There is always a choice.

And suddenly, the words come. Erupt, flood my head. Frantically, I write, fill up pages and pages. Write furiously, to fill in every little space. Break my pen, but continue, continue to force out the words.

Finally, I fall back exhausted. There's no more paper left. My eyes sweep over the room. Come to rest on a glint of metal. I pick it up.

There's somebody there, reflected in the window, somebody staring back at me. Somebody I don't recognize, somebody I don't know, somebody I don't want to know.

I hold it to my head.

Outside, it's snowing.

I pull the trigger.