The Heirloom

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

An old treasure, handed down through generations, turns out to hold more than just family secrets...

The old man sat in his darkened living room, his dimmed, gray eyes watching the swing of the pendulum as he felt his life draining from him. A small quirk of his dry lips, a miniscule smile that rose as he watched the old clock. His great-great grandfather had it commissioned back during the American Revolution, and it had become a family heirloom that had came to him after the passing of his brother. His brother’s wife, the poor woman, said she hated hearing its constant ticking, hated the way it chimed the hour, and that each time it did, it reminded her of her deceased husband, as he would spend hours telling anyone who would listen about the thing.

It had held a place of pride in his family for many years and generations, each new recipient glowing with delight as they explained its origins to visitors, each one of them spending hours sometimes just watching the pendulum swing.

Until him.

When the movers had delivered the clock to his home that morning, he had felt something. It almost felt like a pinprick against his heart as they moved past him, carrying the large clock through his kitchen and into his living room. He flinched slightly, watching as the gold pendulum glowed softly as the movers unwrapped it and placed it inside the cabinet, though there was no light for reflecting.

After thanking the movers, he had stood in front of the old clock for what seemed like moments, staring at the softly glowing pendulum, until his gaze lifted to the face.

He had stood there for an hour, just looking at it.

He jerked his eyes away from the thing, walking into his kitchen to get away from it and to calm his nerves.

He thought back as he poured himself a cup of coffee with a shaking hand.

Every single relative that had once had this clock had acted like that, standing for hours and just watching the thing. They would gaze at it, lost to everything around them. Their spouses would laugh it off, their children rolling their eyes and shrugging with a smile, both saying that it was their pride and joy.

He peered through the doorway, eyes finding it again and he definitely saw the pendulum gleam this time, though no light shown on it.

He jerked back, shaking his head, the need to gaze at it hitting him stronger this time.

He spent most of his day avoiding the room, and the clock by extension. If he passed the doorway, he would look away, even shielding his eyes from it at times. But the more he avoided it, the more he thought about the past, and its past owners.

About how they had all seemed to drain away once they got the clock.

How it seemed that the clock had sucked away the pieces of them, their life, and their energy.

One nephew had gotten the clock and had become just as obsessed. Until he began to get sick, but even then, he would have his wife help him into their sitting room so he could watch it, watch the golden pendulum swing sedately back and forth.

The doctors had said it was an exceedingly rare and uncommon disease, and at the time he hadn’t questioned it.

But now… now he did.

How did a healthy man of 35 go from being at the peak of health to wasting away in a two-year time span?

Feeling determined, the old man made his way into the living room, hand up to cover the sight of the glowing metal. Once it was out of sight, he felt the need wash away from him and grabbed the side of the clock, pulling it out away from the wall, and looking at the back of it.

There was a small maintenance door for the cogs that he pried open, watching the gears tick second by second. But the back of the door held a small plaque, golden embossed lettering telling a small story:

 

“In the Year of Our Lord, 1777, I bequeath this timepiece to my beloved daughter, Annabeth, so that my love for her might live on in my descendants, and one day the life of our family will embrace them and bestow upon them the greatest gift of all…”

 

He looked lower, but found no other words, wondering what the supposed “gift” was.

He leaned in some, looking down into the clock, and seeing a rather small looking something, as he wasn’t sure what it was he was actually looking at. He reached in, his hand going between two rather large cogs, and pulling the item out.

It turned out to be a small, slim book, bound in aged, darkened leather and held closed with a decorative strip of hide. His hand, gnarled with years of hard labor and arthritis, gently turned the book over, his fingers undoing the tie and letting it fall open in his palm.

The script was delicate, a feminine feel to it.

 

“This gift that my father has brought to me has been a burden unto me and my family. My children have succumbed to its lure, their spirits fading the longer they looked upon it. And when they were gone, their children did the same, wasting away in front of this damnation. I write this in hopes that someone finds it and reads my warning, as I find that when I try to tell others, my tongue becomes tied to the point that I feel I may never speak again. So if you have found this, please do not look at the pendulum that swings inside this clock; it is filled with ill intent and I believe that it is pulling the life from our family and holding onto it inside, waiting to use our essences….”

 

There was nothing else written, making the man wonder what had happened to his ancestor to cause her writing to stop. He flipped through the rest of the book, finding nothing but blank pages, aged and brittle to the touch.

He turned, running a gnarled finger over the plaque, not sure what to do next, until he felt a small pop, the plaque moving slightly. He pushed against it, watching in fascination as it swung outward, revealing a small indentation, just big enough to hold the aged piece of parchment inside of it.

His hand shook as he pulled it out, unfolding it and squinting to read the words written on it.

 

“To my associate,

I write to you to tell you how my newest gift for you works, my friend. Inside of this clock you will find something that no other possession in this world has… except for my own. I have made it so that as this is passed down through out your family, it will collect their life’s essence, if you will. This, my friend, will bestow upon you the greatest gift of all – a fountain of youth, so to speak. Before your passing, reach into the back of this clock, down below the bottom cogs, and you will find a vial, one that glows with life. Drink this, my friend, and time will seem to reverse. Once this happens, you must disappear; if others were to find out what I have done, I fear they will take this away from both of us. Then, as it is passed down to more relatives, it will gather more sustenance. You must ingrain yourself back into the family so that you may be near the clock to gather it once more when the need arises….”

 

The old man dropped the letter in surprise, letting it flutter to the floor.

He looked back up at the nook, sure that he was the first to read this. It was undisturbed, other than what he had caused opening it. It seemed his grandfather had never bothered to look closer into the cabinet, nor closer at the plaque.

He crouched down, picking up the aged paper once more and glancing back down at it, his mind working.

The Fountain of Youth?

His mind lit up with ideas, wondering what he should do with this information.

Should he end it with himself? Destroy the clock before anyone else got it and it destroyed their lives too? To end its reign of horror on his family, and the generations to come?

Or should he take for himself what his grandfather had never known about?

He folded the paper up, closing the plaque back and closing the door as well. He shuffled the clock back into place against the wall, before changing his mind and moving it back out again, giving himself access to the door. He meandered over to the couch that sat in front of the stately piece, his eyes landing on the pendulum once more.

It amazed him how fast the day had passed, as the clocks hands were nearing the mark of midnight already.

As he sat and watched the pendulum, he could already feel his life leaving him. At an age such as his, he didn’t have very much to give, and the clock seemed to be taking it all from him, so he knew he had to make his decision soon.

He blocked out every other thought, every other sound in the room with him, focusing on the tick tock tick of the clock, and the slight swish of the pendulum, letting them take over in his mind.

He had never really had a life.

Unmarried with no children, he had spent the vast majority of his life dedicated to his job and himself. By the time the want of a partner had come along, he was well into his 50s, with a dislike of company. So, he had meandered through the rest of his life alone, telling himself that seeing his family a few times a month was enough.

But he felt the spark of life hit him too many years in, leaving him full of regrets and sadness. He had felt the need for adventure, the need to find someone to spend his days with, and to have a family of his own.

The clock seemed to anticipate his decision, gleaming brighter in the darkened room.

It seemed to call to him, reaching out to him as he stared at it.

He stood without any conscious thought, seeming to glide over to the clock, opening the door in the back, his hand reaching in. He guided it to the spot the letter had spoken of, feeling his fingers touch a small glass vial, its warmth radiating up his arm.

He pulled it loose with shaking fingers, grasping it tighter as he pulled it out of the clock, his eyes finally landing on it.

It looked like a bottle of light, a pale gold in color. He chuckled softly, thinking back to favorite book of his as a child, thoughts of Alice’s adventures entering his mind. Was he about to find his own Wonderland?

He moved back to the front of the clock, noticing that it had lost its glow once the vial was removed.

Taking a fortifying breath, he pushed the stopper out with his thumb, gasping as a smell akin to pomegranate wine tickled his senses.

Closing his watery eyes, each breath he took causing him to shake, he thought about his family, the ones taken by whatever had been put inside this clock, and what they would think of him for doing what he was about to do. He felt hesitation begin to gnaw at him, opening his eyes and finding the pictures of his brother that graced his mantle. The happiness that flowed from his brother on his wedding day, as he stood at his side as his best man, the look of pride on his bother’s face as he held his children…. Things that he had never experienced… and never would if he gave up now.

Surely, he thought, a tinge of hysteria to his musings, surely his brother wouldn’t begrudge him a second chance?

Knowing that if he hesitated any longer, he would back out, he suddenly threw his head back, taking the vial to his lips and downing the entire concoction, feeling as if liquid heat was moving down his throat. He dropped the vial, eyes wide with realization and fear at what would happen to him.

The clock struck the midnight hour as the glass vial hit the floor, the sound of it cushioned by the carpet at his feet.

His eyes moved to the clock face, watching in utter fascination and terror as the hands began to move backwards, seeming to speed up as each second moved in reverse.

He felt his skin prickle, his body contracting so suddenly it felt as if he was being crushed down to the floor and then…

 

Oblivion.

 

 

A young woman watched as the movers tilted the clock onto the dolly, wheeling it out of her poor great uncle’s house. It was shame, really. The same day the man got it he had disappeared, no trace of him to be found in the house. No note was left, no clothes taken with him. From what she and her siblings could tell, the only thing missing had been a few photos, some mementos that they knew he had kept, and his all of his savings. The family had waited a few months before deciding to shut down his home, locking it up incase they ever found him.

But the young woman doubted that would happen. Nearing a century in age, she didn’t think he would be returning. It brought a sad smile to her face, wondering if he had wanted to spend his last few years traveling the world.

The clock though…. They had decided to take it, as her bother reasoned it was too important to the family to just sit in their uncle’s house, collecting dust like it surely would. An argument had ensued, with he and their oldest sister each wanting the heirloom, finally resorting to flipping a coin. Her sister had walked away the victor, her smirk earning the ire of her siblings that day.

Across the street from them, a pair of bright gray eyes watched in amusement as they argued over the old clock, his smooth, youthful hands holding up a newspaper to hide his face. While the years had literally melted off of him that night, he wanted to be sure they didn’t look twice at him, wanting to his presence to be unknown when the time to collect his “gift” rolled around again.

Until then, he would watch, and wait, as they added to their family legacy, a small smile rising to his lips with anticipation. Watching as they loaded it onto a moving van, he tossed his paper aside, leaving it for another to find as he stood, finally ready to begin finding his Wonderland.


Submitted: May 03, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Jaymi K. All rights reserved.

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