Clockwork

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Character K wakes up one morning and finds that the whole world moves like clockwork.

Clockwork

 

 

 I am K. I wake up in the morning with the sun just beginning to peek over the horizon. Everything seems grey in this light, like so many concrete blocks sitting upon the earth in no kind of structure at all. As if someday somebody might build something with them.

My alarm clock is buzzing beside me like an angry fly, so I swat it into silence and pull the covers down to me knees and wriggle my way out of the bed. The air is cold. I heard on the news last night that today would be twenty-two degrees, but it feels to me like eleven. Perhaps I should put socks on, I think.

I don’t put socks on but instead move over to the kitchen where I begin to make myself some coffee. Black with one sugar, stirred three times clockwise and three times anti-clockwise in order to prevent any of the granules from settling on the bottom of the cup.

There is a ticking noise somewhere in the room, but I can’t quite figure out from whence it comes, and so I continue to sip my coffee, savouring the warmth it brings to my chilled body. I stretch and hear the ticking with renewed vigour. I stand up and walk towards the window, where the sunn has now risen fully and allowed me to see more than just the concrete expanse of darkness. I know see a vast concrete expanse lit by a giant skylight.

I now see the source of the mysterious ticking noise. Looking out of the window I see all the gears and wheels of the world whirring and ticking away. The cogs and the springs acting in perfect harmony and pushing everything along like the hands on a watch-face. I see a pigeon being wound up on the rooftop of the building opposite mine (No. 73 Roche Boulevard). Its springs become taught and then it takes off into the air, flapping its wings with every full revolution of the large central cog, and cooing lightly with every third revolution of the slightly smaller cog situated in its throat region. Looking again at my watch I realize that it is time for me to leave my apartment, and so I dress myself in a dark grey suit with white shirt and matching tie and lace my shoes. I do this tightly so that they do not rub against my heels when I walk, but not too tightly so as to cut off the circulation. I then open the door to my apartment, situated on the fifth floor of the complex, and step out into the dimly lit hall. There are no windows here and the sunlight has no opportunity for entry and illumination. I hear a faint whirring coming from behind the locked and bolted doors of the other apartments on my floor, and I can surmise the morning rituals and ablutions which in which these people are currently partaking. I know that by now C (who lives two doors left from me if one considers the hallway directly after stepping out from the stairwell) would be stepping out of the shower and trying to conceal the bald patch on his head with the thinning strands from other parts of his scalp, and B (one door to the right from my own) would be carefully applying her lipstick (the colour of slightly overripe cherries) and not failing to smudge some onto her yellowed teeth.

I begin my descent down the stairwell, placing one foot evenly in front of the other and lowering myself to street level at a steady pace. The twenty-sixth footfall brings me to the first landing, and I turn myself around ninety degrees and repeat the process until I come to the complex foyer, which leads out onto Roche Boulevard. I walk out onto the footpath, and note that the rising of the sun has increased the temperature somewhat and that it is now perhaps closer to the predicted twenty-two degrees. The bakeries, breakfast eateries, and newspaper stands have been wound into action and are slowly whirring and ticking away through their designated function. I walk over to the closest newspaper stand (sixty-four metres from the entrance of my apartment complex) and deposit seventy-five cents into the hand of the purveyor in exchange for a seventy-five cent copy of the day’s morning newspaper, which boasts the usual headline about political scandal or celebrity intrigue, or brutal murder. I continue on walking until I come to the train station, the central hub of travelling denizens of the city. From here people spiral outwards and inwards from various destinations to arrive at different destination where they will perform some action or other and most likely depart from the destination they arrived at earlier that day and arrive at the destination from which they originally departed.

I board the seven twenty-three, from Cannes Street to Benue Station, which arrives at seven twenty-five, a total of two minutes and thirty-four seconds late, and partake in a rather uneventful journey which terminates at seven fifty-six at Benue Station. I exit the train and walk out of the station which was beginning to be filled with the ticking of people on their way to work. Eye wheels click once in a revolution, indicating the finishing of the reading of one line in a column on a newspaper, whereas students travelling to the university and who are working on some kind of homework or assignment have a gear at the base of their neck which clicks only on every second revolution (for that is when they have had a new thought or idea) and releases a spring which, through a series of complex reactions, causes the pen holding hand to write something on the piece of paper which they are carrying in their other hand. Depending on the student the neck-base gear revolves at a different speed, and this directly affects the speed at which their work is completed.

I walk out of Benue Station and continue on down the street, heading in the direction of my usual cafe which is owned and run by a tall, fat man called F. On my way down the footpath I notice the people rushing backwards and forwards about me like so many miniscule train carriages. I see a couple who walk side by side and whose hands are interlocked like tangled rope, and are just as inseparable and confusing. He is going to kiss her, I can tell by the whirr that comes from behind his lips, and she knows that the kiss is coming, but on reception of the kiss she jolts her eyebrows up in a mock display of pleasant surprise. He does not see the falsity, but rather smiles to himself with the release of a tightly coiled spring deep in his gut, and she responds in a secret sense of accomplishment at being the architect of his happiness displayed by the slowing purring whir of a wheel in the back of her skull. They walk past me and disappear from my thinking.

I arrive at F’s cafe and sit in my usual chair (not too close to the doorway, but far enough away from the counter to not be disturbed by the coffee machines incessant hiss), and wait for F to come over and take my order. He is unhappy this morning, but as he approaches me he smiles widely as if he had been my friend since youth. He has not. I order coffee and a croissant, and I watch the ticking over of prices in his head before he takes my money with a whir of need and greed sounding in his fingertips. He rings up my purchase at the cash register, and I see the slowing down of the revolutions made by the large central cog situated his chest. He comes back over to me bearing my coffee ad croissant and reluctantly hands me my change. I consider letting him keep the change, but instead place the money back into my pocket.

 

A man in a dark grey suit with shiny black shoes walks down Alfonse Street. He takes of his glasses and carefully wipes each lens four times with a faded blue handkerchief which he has removed from his left trouser pocket. He inspects the lenses and gives each another four wipes with the handkerchief before replacing the glasses upon his face, and depositing the handkerchief into his left trouser pocket. He takes regular steps, with two footsteps being roughly equal to the size of each paver in the footpath. However, due to the slight discrepancy between the ratios of footstep size to paver size, he ends up walking over five pavers for every eight footsteps. He stops at intervals to inspect the posters stuck upon the windows of the various stores that are on his left as he walks down the street, scrutinizing them for any sign of significant value or product that he might perhaps have use for. He does not at any point enter any store, but continues to inspect windows and posters wherever they are bright enough to catch his attention.

He scratches the back of his head, which has become itchy, and then carefully smoothes down his hair which is neatly parted and lies flat to his scalp. He walks further down the street and puts his hands into his pockets to counteract the effect of the cold air on his bare skin. It helps a little, but he still feels cold. He is nearing F’s cafe, where K is sitting (he is noticeable from the window that looks into F’s cafe, but only if one were searching for him explicitly, otherwise he would probably remain undetected). The cafe does not catch his eye at all, for it holds no posters in the window and the cafe could not possibly contain anything that he would want or need, as he had already breakfasted at eight minutes past seven that morning on one boiled egg and two slices of heavily browned toast (which was not to his liking, however he had to make do for his toaster was slightly broken) smeared in reduced fat margarine (made with canola oil).

As the man is about to walk past F’s cafe and continue on his way to wherever he may be going to, K stood up from is table in F’s cafe and began to walk out of the door. The man and K moved unwittingly within a very close proximity of one another and a small collision ensued.

 

I am A. A man who was leaving a cafe has just bumped into me, and I am stumbling, but I manage to correct my balance and avoid falling to the ground. The other man is similarly balancing himself, and is back upon his feet in the usual position almost a half second before I am. We apologize to each other with all the formalities that are the custom of our time and people, but the whirring and ticking of the gears and springs shows that neither of us is entirely sorry for the happening, for we could both hear the whirring and clicking of sprung springs and turning cogs, and we both knew that the course had to taken.

“I am A.” I say, extending my hand in the recognized formal greeting.

“How do you do? I am K” he replies taking my hand and making the required movements with it.

“Quite cold today isn’t it?” I ask in a conversational tone.

“Yes, but the weatherman said that it would be twenty-two degrees today,” he answers.

“Where are you headed?” I ask for no particular reason other than to continue the forward momentum of our conversation.

“The train station,” K replies.

“I too am headed to the station,” I say, “shall we walk together?”

“I don’t see any reason why not.”

And so we walked together down the street in the direction of Benue Station.

The ticking and whirring continues as we walk together and we both keep our eyes on the operational cogs of the landscape before, more out of interest than anything else. After a few minutes of walking we reach the station and enter into the crowded hub of platforms. People are rushing in every direction and moving hurriedly in order not to miss their trains, and if one looks closely they can see the uncoiled spring that is result of when a person realizes that their train has already departed, that they are not on it, and that they must now wait for the next train to take them to their desired destination.

Here in the central hub is where K and I part ways, as we must both catch different trains to reach our destinations, and so once again we go through the formalities of language and handshaking that indicate the ending of a period of time in which two people where together, and we take our leave of each other.

 

A man in a dark grey suit with shiny black shoes boards a train from platform five, which arrives six minutes early and waits for the appropriate time before departing from the station, and as a result of the incorrect time being displayed on the train driver’s watch, the train leaves forty seconds late.

When the train arrives at its destination the man exits the train and makes his way through the city streets until he comes to a complex of apartments, which he enters and goes up the stairs until he comes to floor on which his apartment is situated. He pulls his key from his right trouser pocket and unlocks to door. He enters the room and goes into the kitchen where he makes himself something to eat. He eats the food and then realizes that it is time for him to go to sleep. So he moves over to the bed and puts himself into it, and falls asleep after a few moments of yawning and stretching.

 

He wakes up in the morning and everything is just as it always has been. 


Submitted: July 21, 2009

© Copyright 2021 Cheshire Kat. All rights reserved.

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