The Story of the Clockmaster
There was once a girl who said to herself, I want to quit the world. I give up. It’s hopeless you see to make heads or tails of anything. Right or left, wrong or right, everything is arbitrary, inconclusive. Everyone, it seems, is just milling about, filling in the mold. And so, would it not be easier to simply drop from that role? Out of this hole? Out from this game? Give up on this obtuse world? And with a laugh and a smile, she went off to sleep, head filled with thoughts swimming about and a heart in confusion.
Such a sad and lonely girl. The unwanted child. The silent injuries, the invisible tears overflowed into a pool of liquid silver light. Silvery strands bestrew its surface, wavering to a non-existant breeze as if to say come. It is safe. All will be well. So come. So she fell into the silence. The pool of sadness, of her sadness, embracing her chilled skin in frozen waters that burned like fire. And so she fell, for so long she fell. Blind to the world, unnoticing of times passing of the distance spreading, she fell.
Like it mattered, she thought, like anything mattered. After all, it was all a game. A game of make-believe. Mommy and Daddy, make-believing that they loved each other. Adults and friends make-believing that they cared. Wishful thinking creating a mirage of the world of people covered in masks, that with a single crack would all come crashing apart. So fragile, this fragrant wishful world of desires.
Waking from a dream-like thing, there is a tolling of a bell. Soft and deep, as if rolling gently through many valleys over hills to enter the body in deep resonate tones. Dom Dom Dom. Three times it rung. Dom Or was it four?
All around her was a blanket of white, a fog or a mist encircled her limbs, whitening her body that when she looked down her feet seemed to have disappeared. A chill ran up her spine, a nervious tingling settling in her fingers she could not quite shake off. Am I disappearing?
She wondered. The landscape around her was bare, not that she could tell. Everything past her fingertips was shrouded in dense layers of foggy air like misty curtains. So many of them that one cannot tell where one begins and another ends or intersects in endless arrays.
Hesitantly, like a blind man in the dark, she wanders forward, edging her way in this world of white. Though how would one know if one was moving forward if there is no reference, no frame of reference with which to gauge one’s direction, so that for all one knows, one could be moving in circles or not have moved at all. So why should I move at all? If the result is the same or seemingly indifferent, should one take a step? Grief clenched like a fist in her chest. What is the point in moving?
The resonance of the tolling bell breaks her indecision. With the vibration of the toll still echoing within her bones, she ventures off towards the source of the tolling, following the faint vibrations still coursing along the ground and in the pressure of the air. Thankfully, as she moved away from her point of origin, she could see some of the misty clouds above her shifting away, revealing hazy muted shapes in the distance, towering shapes. Closer and closer, the towering shapes loom over her more so, taking up more of her horizon. Curiosity drove her onwards.
As the mist clears, more and more of this city is revealed and there is a certain warmth here. Something below the ground warms the town, such that the earth beneath one’s feet warm aching pads comfortingly and the dirt or stones of the building walls convey glowing warmth to those who would press their hands upon their surfaces. As if messages or thoughts, at the very least feelings, were passed in those glimmers of contact. Curious, as if this world were inherently alive.
Fleeting, half images running off into a distance, like trying to convey a story or a history but being halted by an inability to understand the language of the other. And moving on, she walks, wanting to scamper off exploring the side streets and search out hidden passageways, but at the same time, afraid of being swallowed back up into the white canvass, so she presses forward, following the vibrations of the bells’ calling.
The building took shape slowly, rising above the fog with its singular turret, more rectangular than circular: the source of the bells. Its hefty bulk rose high above its neighbors, easily the highest of them all in all its majesty, for it was a majestic building. Certainly a monument to its builder. And from its walls, or perhaps its innards, shone a radiance, a deep resounding glow, more felt than seen, which hummed with the same deep tones of the tolling vibrations.
Resounding, the clock towers toll, echoing in her chest pulled her forward. Unlike the other buildings the tower is clear, a golden light permeating its walls. A warm feeling drawing her in, up to the top. There is someone there. The knowledge imparted, like one of the fleeting movements passing through her like mist swirling through fog. Briefly there, then departed, untraceable. And in the moment she resolved to climb to the top of the tower, she was there as if the climb up the solid oak-hewn stairs were a blurred out memory, too quick to form anything more than an impression.
A figure, robed in rich dark cloak stood at the edge of the platform. Looking up she could see no bell-fry, no bell. However a giant clock face, golden arrows pointing to golden numbers, a complex intricate mechanism driving the entire apparatus. The man looked old, tired, face grizzled with lines, long hair a mixture of grey and white. Unlike the tower radiating it’s golden warmth, the man looked more like the specters she had seen on her way to the clock tower. Cast in black, white, and grey, as if color had been leeched out from them. But while the others were so ephemeral, wisp-like that she had doubted whether or not they were simply a mere darkening in the swirling mists, this man was solid. As solid as her.
Who are you? Where am I? The questions tumbled out from her, from a hidden place clenched up inside. Who am I? The figure started to turn towards her and in that instant. Dom
The tower itself pulsed, vibrations lingering, leaving a tingling as if something inside her was coming loose. Shaking, she asked again, What is this place?
I am the clock master. Come take a look.
Beckoned she followed him to stand on the edge of the tower and noticed for the first time that he was watching not the side from where she had arrived, but the side opposite. Rising from the mist less dense on this side she could see a gargantuan city-castle, towers rising straight, others in graceful arcs, shapes linear and twisting as if they were ever-changing. And when she blinked or out of the edge her vision it seemed as if it did, that if she were to look away and come back again parts would be gone, replaced, transformed.
From this height she could see now, the fleeting forms were converging here, absorbed, arriving at the location they were supposed to be. At least until the organization of the structure to which they were tethered altered again.
Clock master what is that?
But what is it? What do you do here?
Knowing. I am the guardian and the guide. I have been waiting.
She paused. That was not what she wanted here. She was looking for a place of escape, not one of responsibility.
Do you know who I am?
Will you at least keep me company?
The being looked at her, his face unchanging, but she felt what might have been sadness echoed in the space between them. The voice spoke, a voiceless that sounded more in her mind, echoing in some other space. The words measured, a bit sad.
I can only be what I was made to be. You are clock master now.
And she knew, she had wanted so much not to be alone. To have someone give her the answers, protect her, guide her. Some time passed, perhaps no more than a second, perhaps an eternity, the dark robed figure and girl staring out at the leviathan expanse. Well I suppose this could be interesting, worth exploring, she thought out loud.
Goodbye, she spoke. To her past, her desperate desires. Without glancing back, she steps off the edge of the tower, daring gravity and floating, flying above the city towards the shape-shifting castle. And left with her acceptance, the old man dispersed. Black and white wisps, like smoke blown apart by some gentle breeze.
Old short that never got done, until now! Wow, the original is from 2007. I have to thank Jordy for making me think of this story with his Mental Castles posts.