On the Dot...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Is time really the only thing you have to worry about?

Submitted: October 27, 2011

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Submitted: October 27, 2011

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Martin Gibbs closed his suitcase slowly and placed it on the ground at his side. He reached toward his coat for his watch once more, with a single well rehearsed motion. The train was twenty five minutes late and no one was around to give him an explanation for the delay. He knew the train schedule well and that his train was always exactly on time, much like himself. Martin didn’t live his life day by day as most did. He lived it minute by minute, if not, second by second. He was a “business” man who had a strict belief in the phrase that ‘Time was Money’, which was second only to his promises to God.

His wife Vicky was a beautiful woman whom he had met nearly twenty five years earlier. It was this beauty that had caught his first notice at the local bowling alley. Not long after he began to give her smiling tips on strikes and scores, they were headed down the aisle. The couple attended church every single Sunday at nine fifty precisely, never a minute late. Over the years Vicky had become accustomed to Martin’s strictly time managed life the best she could, and if she made sure to attend bible study every Wednesday morning, he would give her anything she desired. It hadbecome a comfortable life for the both of them.

Martin reached for his watch yet again, this time with much more urgency. He tapped his foot quickly as he turned his head from left from right, trying to get a glimpse of the front car closing the gap in the tracks between them. He listened for the deep chugging of the iron engine and hiss of the steam, yet did not see nor hear. He stood abruptly from his place on the station bench and began to approach the ticket window to see if the woman had still been there. She, like everyone else at the train station was gone, as if no one had been there at all. He tapped is knuckles against the glass of the window a few times, in hopes that she was merely out of sight. His eyes traced over the tracks and walkways of the station and settled on a small squirrel, the only living thing he had seen in the last thirty minutes. It was rusty brown and of average size. It scurried towards him, and began to sniff the briefcase at Martin’s feet with anxious excitement.

“Get outta here!” Martin hissed, and stomped his foot against the cement beneath them. The squirrel let out a tiny shrill of surprise as it hurried away, knocking the precious briefcase over in the commotion of it all.

“God damn it!” Martin yelled as he reached toward the ground for it.

He carefully lifted the suitcase and set it in his lap as he took his seat again. His back was stiff with tension against the wooden bench. He unlocked the straps and began to open it slowly, cautiously. He peered quickly over each shoulder behind him to make sure he had still been alone at the station, but knew for a fact that he was, without even lifting his head. His attention returned quickly to the case and its contents awaiting inspection on his lap. Inside there were five small glass pipes strapped to the floor of the container. On its sides two compartments that held small bags filled with milky white crystal fragments and black tar. Just to the right, a single needle and syringe had been strapped inside just as securely as the fragile glass pieces. He was going to make a lot of money that day; if he could resist the urges nagging at him to use the drugs himself.

Using his own supply had always been his only problem, though he was known as the best dealer in town. He arrived at each location promptly to deliver exactly on time. Adhering to a strict and meticulous time schedule was Martin’s way of distraction from the deep desire to use the drugs himself. He closed the suitcase and checked his watch yet again. He began to tap his feet faster, impatiently. The longer he waited, the more he began to sweat, eventually dampening the creases in his tidy black suit, giving proof only in the wetness seeping through. He was scheduled to meet a man in Fender Park at exactly three thirty, which was going to now be impossible given the fact that no train had arrived to take him there. This was the sort of thing that had never happened to him, and would not allow. He was never late. He will now be forced to let down the only thing he stood for.

Martin reached into the opposite pocket of his coat to retrieve a dull white handkerchief to pat away the sweat beginning to form on his face. It was only in a small area on his for head now, but would soon be worse, not only because of his size, but also from his heroin use. He remembered that his phone sat in his breast pocket and retrieved it to call the man’s number. Roger Mills was his name, an addict that did just about anything he could get his hands on. It was to Martin, that he was to pay two thousand dollars in exchange for his briefcase and the contents therein. This was a very substantial amount of money for Martin.

Martin continued to stare at the tracks and empty benches at the train station in desperation, as he grew more and more uneasy about the situation. The phone continued to ring without any answer from Roger. The restless tapping of his feet grew faster now, and his for head was beginning to blister with beads of sweat. He begins to dart his eyes back and forth nervously as the phone continued to ring. Roger is filled with flashes of despair over the matter and fear that the train may not be arriving soon enough.  The phone rang for another four minutes with no answer. Through the repetitive ringing, Martin checked his watch and was astonished to find that he had already been waiting for an hour. He eventually hung up and grasped the handle of the briefcase tightly. He tapped his fingers restlessly on the top making a soft wrapping sound, and decided to wait five more minutes for the train before calling a cab.

All the lost minutes spent waiting for the train began to add up in Martin’s head. All the minutes spent on the bench, on the phone, in utter despair that he cannot keep his schedule. The sweating had become furious now and his handkerchief was soaked completely through, making his face wetter with each swipe. He checks his watch over and over again counting the minutes, then seconds down to call the cab. The minutes began to stretch longer and longer as he desperately considered dosing up. He was sure he could get away with taking just a little, just enough, a little bump that Roger would never notice. Telling himself that just a small taste would get his mind right and would then be able to get back to his schedule. The little left coursing through his veins was not enough to hold back the ensuing meltdown.

Martin began to look around at the vacant wooden benches, the long empty track, and the stale air that hovered over him, then gave several glances at the briefcase that turned into a longing stare. It had become heavy in his lap, heavy on his mind, heavy in his veins. He made every attempt to mentally trick himself out of losing control without realizing that he was making a mad orchestra of foot tapping and cheek smacking, there on his bench. It had become a wooden stage under a hot spotlight with no audience. The thought of opening the straps of the briefcase that hold his cure tickled his mind making his fingers twitch. He froze them as he tried to contemplate his decision. He stared down so intently at the case he had forgotten to blink in several minutes. As he placed his finger on the lock, he was suddenly interrupted by the sound of footsteps approaching him. The briefcase made a loud thud on the platform when he quickly dropped it to the ground and sat up straight in his seat. He was breathing heavily and hoped that the figure approaching would not notice the sad state of sweat, shakes, and tics he had succumb to.

The footsteps had come from a tall man dressed in black. He held an umbrella in one hand that he had been using as a walking stick, and wore a fitted black bowler hat. The man’s eyes were hidden well behind the mirror finish on his half moon glasses. His skin was warm and flawless, and although he wore no expression on his face, his very presence seemed to bring a calming to the battle ensuing in Martin’s body. As the twitching and tapping came to a peaceful stop, Martin began to feel the thick coat of perspiration covering his body dry. Suddenly even the swirling thoughts and overpowering desire had left him. The man walked past several unoccupied benches and took a seat on the bench next to Martin. He crossed his legs, set his umbrella gently on the ground. Although he had not looked at Martin, the words “Good morning Martin.” slid from his lips.

“Well, afternoon, actually.” the man corrected.

“Good afternoon” Martin replied hesitantly to the well dressed stranger. “Looks like you and me are the only two waiting for the train today. I haven’t seen a soul for over an hour now.”

“Over an hour, you say?” The man rudely questioned. Martin glanced up from his watch and affirmed “An hour and seven minutes to be exact.”

“An hour and seven minutes?” the man repeated. This time he did not sound so rude. “Always right on the dot, aren’t you? You must be truly worried about something  serious as you sit there checking your watch, thinking about pulling a needle out and shooting that poison into your veins…”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Martin affirmed to the man, “I am waiting for the train to Fender Park for a business meeting.” Martin slowly began to sweat again. How did the man know all of this? Had he perhaps been spying on him the whole time?

“I suppose it’s up to you what you do on your own time, Martin.” The man replied calmly. “How long did you say you have been waiting for your train?” This was the first time Martin noticed that the man had known his name. He felt a rush of heat come over him. “Over an hour…” Martin answered, “How did you know my n…”

Martin was interrupted by a glare of flashing light shining in his eyes. The man had pulled a shiny silver pocket watch out of his pocket. It was beautiful. Intricate, gleaming, expensive looking, but not like one he had ever seen before. The man flipped it open and took a peak inside.

“You are much too late for that train…” said the man. This aggravated Martin. He was never late. “You are wrong!” he shouted. “I arrived at two o’clock exactly, two on the dot! Its three fifteen now… perhaps the conductor needs to keep a better schedule.”

“I believe you are mistaken.” the man said to Martin. He held out the beautiful pocket watch for Martin to look. He took it in his hand cautiously and examined its face. It read five fifteen. The man continued…

“The train you are awaiting has already come and gone. There will be another along shortly.”

“That’s impossible!” Martin said, almost yelling. “Your fancy watch must be wrong my watch is always right, never wrong. It can’t be.”

Just then the man lifted his gloved hand and pointed past Martin towards the sky. Martin slowly followed the man’s fingers to a large clock that had been hanging on the station wall the entire time. It also read five fifteen. Martin stood there confused for a moment. He looked at his own watch again that now read five nineteen, how had that been possible?

“This can’t be right!” Martin exclaimed.

“Indeed, Mr. Gibbs it is,” the man said in a somber tone. “You are late, and there isn’t one poison in your case that can take that feeling away…”

Martin did not reply. His foot started tapping the pavement wildly again as directed his stare down to the briefcase. He looked at the case like it was his only hope left in the world, the only way he could get through this.

“For the first time in thirty years Martin, you have miscalculated your time. The one thing you hold most important in your life. Now you are here all alone to truly feel the misery of that mistake.”

Now all of Martin’s tics had returned much more intensely. He could not sit still on the bench anymore. He desperately reached for his briefcase and flung it open. His fingers fumbled over the strap holding the syringe and needle in place. It already had a dose ready inside for desperate times. This was undoubtedly that time.

“There’s no use for that now, Martin.” The man said in a threatening tone.

Martin ignored him and lined the tip of the needle up to his vein as he had done so many times before. He gave a sigh of relief as he tried to force the needle in but not feel that relief. In fact, he didn’t feel anything at all. He looked down to see that the needle would not puncture his skin. He tried again. Growing more and more angry, he tries another spot on his arm, yet gets the same result.

“You spent your life checking your watch and worrying so much about time, never about what you were doing with your time and what it was doing to you.” The man continued.

Martin shook fiercely and threw the needle to the ground. He reached for the side compartment of the case and opened one of the bags of crystals. He poured them into one of the glass pipes franticly spilling crystals everywhere. He pulled a lighter from the pocket of his trousers and began to flick it angrily until a flame appeared. He held the flame to the glass just under where the crystals had rested and began trying to inhale their fumes. He stopped and looked for the rich smoke inside the glass that he had seen so many times before, but it was not there. He tried again and again to heat the glass holding the drugs, but his flame refused to get hot.

He began to feel dizzy and ill. His cravings were the worst he had ever known. He was sweating worse than he had ever felt. The shaking had turned into violent tremors that ripped through his entire body. He began sifting through the case trying to ingest the drugs any way he could, but failed. Martin let out a loud cry and sat sobbing on the cement near the wooden bench. He grabbed at his hair and rocked back and forth on the ground trying not to lose his mind. A million thoughts were swirling around in his head. It suddenly occurred to him that he had no recollection of how he got to the train station that day.

The man dressed so nicely in black rose from the bench and picked up his umbrella. He had been sitting there the entire time watching Martin Gibbs turn from a business man into a monster. “Time is something not to be wasted…” he began. “Even wasting it in church while your ignorance is spent trying to convince yourself you are not a drug addict.  That planning everything to a T will make an excuse for your reality. That going to your church will save your soul.” The man began to walk slowly away from Martin back in the direction from which he came. He turned around once more to look at the creature that had been left behind.

“Everyone’s hell is their own…” he continued. “This is yours Mr. Gibbs. You will no longer live your life counting down minutes and seconds. You will never be on time again. You will never be able to take your poisons again. You will be forced to actually feel this outcome. Your cravings will get worse the more you desire it.”

 Martin had been foaming and spitting experiencing every symptom of withdraw at their worst. He longed for the feeling to go away, for the feeling of not feeling. The man paused for a moment to see if what he had said maid any effect on the beast in front of him, but it had not. The only sounds that filled the train station were the jerks and screams of a man whose torments had become his very own nightmare. As he continued to walk slowly away, in a voice that only Martin could hear he said…

 “The only way to ease your pain is to decide. Decide to live your life much different than you have just lived this hell.” He continued walking into what was becoming darkness and finished, “So keep checking your watch Mr. Gibbs, your train is scheduled to be here at two on the dot…”


© Copyright 2019 Jimi Diamond. All rights reserved.

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