The Importance Of Timing
by Faye Sizemore
forum: The Importance Of Timing
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Importance Of Timing


       It was on a Tuesday that Irene first noticed it. It was a rainy day, and being so, she had spent most of it inside. She had watched the six o'clock news and noticed that when she turned the television on that the news was already well into the comments on the happenings of the day.

       Glancing at the corner of her screen, she saw the time was five minutes ahead of her living room clock. The battery in it must need replacing.

       Picking up her sandwich plate and heading for the kitchen, she stopped short as she noticed the dining room clock was also wrong. It had the same time as the living room clock. Strange, this one was a wind-up. They had both lost time.. and the same exact amount of time.

       Rinsing off her plate and quickly drying it, she reached for the cupboard door above the microwave, stopping short, to stare at the digital clock at its upper corner. What the heck? This clock was wrong, too! This one was electric. Someone had been here, playing a joke on her, setting all these clocks back.. That must be it..

       She had gone out to the garden with her little dog for a while, and that would have been time enough for someone to do it. She had thought she had the doors locked, but maybe not..

       The clocks in the bedroom were also behind time. What was the purpose of someone doing this and.. who?

       The woman could not shake it from her mind the rest of that evening. Bedtime came and she was still wondering. Her little dog curled at her feet and fell promptly asleep, having not a care in the world. Irene was soon asleep, although she didn't realize it until she suddenly found it was morning.

       She awoke with a start, almost as if something had startled her. It must be going to be a dark cloudy day because the light had not started to filter through the blinds yet.

       Irene was halfway to the back door before she realized Gertie wasn't dancing ahead of her. Strange, Gertie was always begging to be let out the door at exactly seven, and today she wasn't.

       Returning to the bedroom, Irene saw that the little dog was sleeping soundly. 'Well',she said to herself, 'let her sleep. I am headed for coffee'.

       That was when she realized there was no coffee smell wafting to the bedroom from the kitchen. Another strange thing.. She knew she had set the coffee maker to brew at six forty-five. Maybe she was catching a cold.. and she also did not remember turning off the alarm clock earlier.

       In the kitchen she sighed, looking at the empty coffee maker. Darn.. maybe it was time for a new one. 'What the heck..' she started, leaning over to make sure she was seeing what she thought she was seeing. The clock read five after six.

       'Well, that explains that',she mused. 'I woke up too early, that's why Gertie is still sleeping and there's no coffee made. That would also explain why there was no sunlight yet. It hadn't even come up.

       Back in the bedroom, she picked up the alarm clock and turned it over to find the shut off already pushed in. As she stared at it in disbelief, she vaguely remembered what it was that had shaken her awake..

       She had thought that there was a hooded figure next to her bed, holding her alarm clock in his bony (..bony?) hand. Irene shivered. He had leered at her from beneath a dark hood that he was wearing as he held up her clock and pushed in the stem of the shut-off.

       All she could see was his eyes.. That was when she had awakened. Wow,what a dream! She had forgotten all about it on awakening, until now, when she had picked up the alarm clock.

       Irene was jostled from her reverie by the shrilling of the alarm clock. Realizing it was still in her hand, she pushed in the shut-off stem quickly. What is going on here? Where had almost an hour gone? Was she waking up for the first time, or was she already awake? Irene actually, at that moment, had no idea.

       She could smell fresh coffee brewing and see the first pale rays of sunshine through her blinds. Gertie bounded from the foot of the bed to the floor and began her morning dance to be let out.

       Not sure of anything, except the urgency of her little dog's request, Irene followed her to the patio door to let her out.

       That was when Irene first saw the hooded figure peering in at her through the glass door. Why, Gertie hadn't even barked at the figure.. In fact, she appeared not to notice..

       Not believing her eyes, Irene blinked, and the figure was no longer there. What the devil was going on?

       Gertie still danced and begged her mistress to open the door. Irene turned and sat down in the chair near the door, still shaken at what she had seen. Gertie stopped dancing and promptly relieved herself on Irene's red throw rug in front of the glass patio door.

       Not caring at the moment, Irene stared as the wetness enlarged itself into an ink blot type shape upon the red background. Forcing herself to look out the glass door, she saw there was nothing.. nothing, even near it.

       She remembered having the flu a few weeks ago and she had taken lots of medicine for relief.. Perhaps that was it.. some side effect. She must be having hallucinations because of recently being sick, and who knows what the side effects could be?

       Calming down a little, she called Gertie to the door and let the sheepish little dog out to finish her morning business, all the while looking from side to side on the patio.. Gertie ran to her usual spot and looked back at Irene as if to say 'well, it's about time'.

       Now, washing the throw rug was not a job Irene relished first thing in the morning. She left it for later and poured herself a cup of coffee and all the while mulling over what she thought she had seen.. It looked just like the figure in her dream. There had been the same intense hooded eyes, as in her dream, staring back at her through the glass.

       The figure could be just a dream and a figment of her weakened body and imagination, but what was going on about all the clocks?

       Finishing her coffee, she opted for another cup, and as she was pouring it, she thought she heard a faint tapping on the patio door. Irene felt a chill come into her chest as she turned slowly to face the door...

       Mr Wilkins, Irene's next door neighbor, leaned on the glass door with his hands cupped around his face, trying to see into the kitchen. He could barely make out a crumpled shape on the kitchen floor.

       Hurrying home, he told his wife to call 911.. All was not well next door at Irene's house.

       He had repeatedly rang the front door bell, with no answer. Irene's little dog, Gertie, had appeared on his steps earlier that morning, looking as though she had been out all night.

       He knew something had to be wrong because Irene loved Gertie like she was her own child. She would never allow her to be outside alone for very long.

       The police came and sent for an ambulance and then the coroner's car was seen to pull up into the driveway. The neighbors slowly began to gather and watch for some sign of what was happening. The front door opened and the coroner's crew brought out a black body bag on a stretcher and loaded it into the ambulance.

       Irene's neighbors stood about the lawn and walkway, watching and still wondering. Old Mrs. Henly approached the coroner and asked him what did he think had happened to Irene.

       "Heart attack," he said, "probably brought on by her bout with the flu recently. I would place her time of death at about six oh five last evening."

       As the ambulance pulled away, the policeman locked up the house, awaiting the arrival of Irene's next of kin, who lived out of state. He arranged for Gertie to stay with Mr. Wilkins until someone arrived to take care of her. Hopefully she would be taken home with one of Irene's relatives.

       All done and everything secured, Officer George Stall headed for his patrol car and called in on his radio to report leaving the premises..

       Looking back at the house one last time before he left, Officer Stall confided into his mic, "Strange thing.. Every single clock in that house is stopped at six-o-five..."


The End


copyright 2006 Faye Sizemore.

Faye Sizemore:

I am an imaginative grandmother, loose with pen in hand, who just loves a mystery from the unknown.