Title: The Thirteenth Hour.
Ivan had always wondered why people thought thirteen was unlucky, You know Friday the 13th, no thirteenth floor in some office buildings, but what about time, what if something really weird happened one day right on the thirteenth hour. Like today, when he was being dragged along on Saturday morning shoping with his mum.
They had to get dads watch repaired. Mum loved new stuff, even if she knows she can't afford it, she'll spend ages trying stuff on, only to have to sadly walk out with noth'in or maybe some th'in cheap she doesn't like at all; and so it was she found she couldn't help herself in the clock repair shop what with all those new shiny watches surrounding her. I just had to sit and wait and watch, 'No pun intended,' while mum was served by some young bird, pretending she knew just what mum wanted.
The old grizzly man stood at the repair counter, a stifled look of contempt on his face as he listened to his young sales attendant. Then he looked back down at his repair job, up close with his eye glass. I wandered up, and after a moment with out looking up, he spoke to me. "She likes to chatter." "Who, my mum?" "No my niece," he nodded towards the sales lady. I nodded back, he knew my mum, she wasn't gonna buy noth'in, we'd been com'in in here for years.
It was then I looked up behind him and noticed the large clock face on the wall. It had, big black roman numerals upon it's white face surrounded by a thick old dark wooden frame, only…some of the numerals didn't look quite right. "What numbers are those? I said, pointing at it. He turned slightly, "Oh that. It's the bad luck clock." "The what?" Well you may have noticed that very few if any normal every day clocks, ever go past twelve, even though we've had twenty four hours in a day for some time now." He chuckled at his own joke. I gave him back a wane smile. "You see that there is the roman numeral thirteen. Most people aren't superstitious, but clocks don't sell well that has the number thirteen on them." "Unless your in the army, or some'thin." I said. "Quite," he replied. "Or in the south or North pole perhaps." I nodded back, "Yeah I never thought of that. Don't they call it the land of the midnight sun." "Quite right." He said, "But this clock has thirteen for another special reason. None of which we have yet mentioned. I felt my eye brows twitch like they do when I know I've stumbled on someth'in real interest'in.
The old man was silent for a moment, he knew I was caught and was taking his time to reel me in. After a few more moments, he said very casually…"It belonged to Elizabeth Brumhilda." "Umm… So?" I said, sounding a bit more bored than I actually was. He didn't keep me hang'in this time and said in a mysterious tone. "Well everybody says she was a witch." "Umm... You mean a wave a wand type of witch?" "Yes." I stared at his serious face for a second and took a step back. "Don't worry sonny, she's been long gone…by now. Although some say they can feel her lingering about her old belongings still to this day." I gulped involuntary, somewhat to my embarrassment as I could see he noticed. "Don't worry it's just stories you know how people like to talk especially when it involves Brumhilda."
Just then my mum came up to me and grabbed my arm. "Come on Ivan, we've got lots do yet." She smiled at the old man, he nodded back and I trailed my mum out the clock shop. As my mum bundled me out the door he shouted. "A week! Mr's Baxter." "Yes, thank you Mr Wilder."
A week I thought…hmm that should give me plenty of time to find out some stuff about this Elizabeth Brumhilda; the supposed witch and maybe find out what else Mr Wilder knows about her when we come back next week.
Some time later after having visited several dress shops, and then a bed linen shop, we finally, much to my relief, landed in a coffee shop, were I was allowed an orange juice. I looked up and noticed it was five minutes to one, I mused to myself... 'it was almost the thirteenth hour.'
My mum was spouting on about something to do with my dad, but I wasn't really listening, I was just making the usual, 'oh yeah, 'really, and occasional nod. I had my eye on the clock as it ticked the last seconds to thirteen o'clock.
Just then I saw the girl, she was a little older than me, although it was hard to tell and I swore she was looking at me, or at least I thought she was, or maybe not at me, maybe at someone behind me. I turned. No, there was no one there. I turned back ready to make brave little wave, and add a little smile as well, but she was gone. When I looked about the café I couldn't see her.
"Yeah that's great mum…umm did you see that girl sitting over there a minute ago?" "What girl sweety?" I could tell my mum was amused, she had that lilt of laughter in her voice. "Over there on that bench seat." "I didn't see anyone dear, friend of your's?" "No I guess not, it must have been some one else." "Never mind dear. Now let's go to the bakers and then get to the barbers before they close." "Oh mum! My hairs already shorter than everyone else's at school." "Nonsense dear you should always look neat. You never know when that special some one might be looking." The lilt was back and she smiled broadly at me. I rolled my eyes and followed her out of the café.
It wasn't until later on Sunday night I was able to sit behind the glow of my old tube monitor with my even older pc and type into Google the name Elizabeth Brumhelda. I got back nothing to do with witches. In fact quite the opposite, quite good looking opposites in fact, or least that's what my sister said as she passed by. After she had gone, I sat back for a moment and with a slight tremble added the word 'witch' to the text box. Nuth'in just nuth'in. Feeling a little desperate and with a yawn and feeling a bit bored I went to the next page of results, then the next, and even the next, getting increasingly weirder links, until finally at the bottom of search result page 13, I saw this link, it said, 'Message for Ivan.'
'What! It couldn't be!' I thought the search engine must have crapped itself and gone nuts. Must have picked up some junk from my old computer, and somehow got it meshed with the link. How else could it have found a message link with my name in it.
It was gett'in late, way late, my mum would come in any second and shut me down. I stifled another yawn, I clicked the link, and BAM! My screen went black. 'Crap!' I thought, 'Friggin virus, my mum's gonna kill me.' I reached for the power cord and yanked it out and dropped the cord to the floor. I fell back on my bed, it could wait till the morning, I needed to sleep.
Somewhere in that half asleep state, I just hoped my pc would start again, then slowly I drifted off.
The owl came in the dream and fluttered down beside him. It had sharp claws and he watched as they clenched and stressed the wood making crackling noises, he inched a little further away from the white owl watching it ruffle its feathers. Very slowly it turned its head in owl like fashion, and its eyes looked right into him. In a moment it was no longer an owl, but a girl in a witch's hat. He recognized her, it was the same girl from the café, and he also suspected that she was Brumhilda. 'The witch of the 13th hour.'
Was he really dreaming? He wasn't sure.
Even in the dream he felt he needed to clear his throat before he asked, "What so special about 13 o'clock?" Her placid face smiled back at him and said "You are." She stayed quite for a moment, her eyes gleaming. "You see I can only talk to people who believe." "Believe what?" She smiled again this time a little broader, "The clock told me about you. It knows when someone believes in the 13th hour."
He looked away for a moment and when he turned back a cat was sitting there. A black cat complete with slinky tail swishing idly. "Is that you," he said, but he knew it was before she answered. The cat had the same eyes still looking into him…then the girl returned. This time not just with a pointy hat but a dark charcoal coat, or was it a cape? He wasn't too familiar with witches apparel. "Why do you keep doing that," he said. "No reason," she said. She sounded just like his sister, he thought for a moment, just before he drifted off too somewhere else.
Some hours later, although to him it seemed only a moment ago, he blinked his eyes to bright sunshine coming through the curtains of his bedroom. He looked wildly about the room, but she was gone. Brumhilda was nothing, but a dream. Feeling both relieved and a touch disappointed, he yawned a little and jumped out of bed.
On the way to school he remembered what she had said, or what he thought he had dreamed she had said. He believed in the 13th hour. What on earth did that mean? Maybe he had been staring at too many clocks, and it meant absolutely nothing, just a dream from a tangle of half asleep memories. He sighed and got on the school bus.