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Midnight Knell

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It was only recently that I moved out. Well, moved out on my own, that is. I've moved out and lived with roommates before, but never like this. Always was too expensive. Still this place was nice. Though you do get what you pay for; it was cozy, maybe even a bit confined (the bathroom was purely functional, and the kitchen had hardly any room to cook), but it was cheap, and it'd do for a first place on my own.

I looked around the house and noticed quite a few things of the old owners were still here. Funny, I don't remember this being a turn-key sale. Scanning the walls, it was obvious they were in need of some minor repair, and a new coat of paint. Possibly two. I trotted up the stairs to explore the second story. At the top of the flight, a short hallway stood, with one small room on either side. I walked down the narrow corridor pausing between the doors. After glancing left, my view through the doorjamb yielded nothing but a bare room, save for pane one window. Hmm, maybe the owners just stored their useless junk in there, and took it when they left. The other room proved more interesting to examine. It had a bed in it... And no door. Welp, at least I can see if someone's going to try and attack me at night. I stepped inside and looked around. It was about the size of the other room. The walls were equally dilapidated, but the bed seemed in good condition and was even neatly made. How very nice of the owners to leave it like-


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


"What the hell was that?!" I yelled audibly, after jumping what seemed like eight feet from fright. It sounded like some bastard child of thunder and a bell tower had just erupted from the other room. I ran into the other bedroom and looked around. Nothing. Turning, I noticed the bedroom door wasn't open all the way. There was something hidden behind the door. With my cautious efforts, the door slowly closed. Ugh, a lousy grandfather clock? Wonder why I didn't hear it ticking earlier. Hmm... Well, I can hear it, ^now^. An unusually loud 'TOCK, TOCK, TOCK'. I looked up at the clock face. 12:02. Makes sense. What doesn't, though is why have it hidden in a corner? Brushing a light layer of dust off of it, I eyed it once more. The wood was in much better shape than the walls, and appeared as if it had been finished or lacquered recently. Honestly, it was probably the best looking thing in this house. Even if it was loud.

I decided to put the grandfather clock in the living room, downstairs. Hell, it was nicer than most of the stuff I brought to move in with. I began to slide the massive timepiece around the door, and noticed that it glided across the floor with ease. Actually, as I moved it through the doorjamb, it felt completely light. I waddled down the stairs, carrying it with ease that a grandfather clock should not give, and placed it proudly against the living room wall, then slid it slightly less proudly over a small hole that I intended to patch later.

One by one, boxes began to make their way from my truck to inside the house, their contents slowly filling various spots. At least this place started to look like I lived here now. As I moved the last of my stuff indoors, I checked my watch; 8:42PM. I decided to head to bed, surveying all my moving efforts with approval as I went. Exhausted, I just removed my shoes before flopping face-first onto the bed.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


I started awake as the cacophony of bells continued to sound from downstairs, the mad carilloneur of the Grandfather Clock pealing out it's anthem with reckless abandon. I looked at my watch. The blue Indiglo illuminated 12:00AM as I keyed one of the watch's buttons. I thrust my head back onto the pillow, disgusted, and silently drifted off to sleep.

The next morning was torturous. Despite my productive day previous, much unpacking was left to be done. Not enough sleep. I grimaced with disgust at the amount of boxes that lay before me. Just the light stuff today, I reminded myself, you just take it easy. Pictures, a few books, a laptop, and a game library were unloaded in no time flat. Clothes and toiletries followed, taking their respective places in the bed- and bathrooms. I was clearing out various minutiae when I felt a buzz in my pocket. Retrieving my phone, it buzzed again as it escaped my jeans and nested firmly in my hand. "Jacob : 2 new messages". Buzz... "Jacob: 3 new messages"

Jacob



11:45AM Hey dave... Hows the move going?

11:46AM The rest of the guys and i are going out for lunch

11:46AM Wanna come with? :)















|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type something here... |||| SEND


I thought for a moment, and looked back at all I accomplished.


Jacob


11:47AM Moving in is tiring, but I think I can manage. Where at?

11:48AM Some chinese place in downtown. They say its pretty good.

11:48AM If they got decent Mongolian beef, I'm up for it.

11:48AM If you guys want, you can come over after.

11:49AM We can unpack the television and the systems and game
on for a bit.

11:49AM Got any beer?

11:49AM There's a couple twelve-packs in the fridge. ;)

11:50AM Sounds like a plan. :)


|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Awesome. See you there... |||| SEND


I keyed the "SEND" button, stepped out on to the porch, and cast my gaze at the sign on my lawn that read "Sold". It felt nice... finally, a place of my own.

Jacob, Damien, and Russel were jovial as ever. It was good to spend some time with them. Lunch was good, though their beef was a bit dry. Oh well, somewhere else next time it is.

Having the guys over was nice, yeah they got a little rambunctious with the beer (thank God there were only two cans in one of the twelve-packs), but it's still fun. We pulled out the numerous consoles I had and set up the television and the sofa. Profanity and accusations ran wild in jovial ways from the smack talk of Call of Duty to the true rage of a blue shell and a lightning bolt for a victory steal.

We played for hours and hours and hours, pausing only to enjoy the ordered pizza and four liters of soda that came with. I remember a particularly good shot with a Spartan Laser immediately being cut short with the most hideous sound imaginable.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


It seemed as if all of us had leapt from the couch to behind it in a single simultaneous bound. "Dude, what the hell is that thing? It's fuckin' LOUD!" I glanced at the towering amalgam of wood, glass, and brass. Midnight stared back at me from its featureless face. "I found it here. I thought it looked nice." "Yeah, well, something about it don't seem right... gives me the goddamn creeps." I looked looked back at the guys. Jacob turned to Russ. "What are you, a pussy? It's a fucking clock! What's it going to do, ^clock you^? Oooooh!" After a few inebriated shoves, and some simmering down, the rest of the guys went merrily on their way. I turned back to that towering timepiece. How the hell did it chime on the hour and we not even hear it till now? It was right there... I could hear it even now. My head was beginning to pound with each swing of the pendulum. 'TOCK, TOCK, TOCK.' Not bearing to stand the noise any longer, I ran up stairs and went to bed, muffling the pounding noise with my pillow. It felt like forever before I finally fell asleep.

Day three: shopping. I headed out not long after waking, and looked over my checklist. Ramen, soda, beer, fruit yogurt, eggs, bacon, cheese, and frozen television dinners. I think that covers all of the food groups. Definitely all the important ones anyway. I stocked the refrigerator with my culinary cache and inspected the kitchen seeing what I would need. It was odd, like the furniture in the house, most everything was here. Pots, pans, plates, dishes, silverware... everything. Cracking two eggs and one of the BudLight cans, I made myself a hearty afternoon breakfast and began arranging the bits of minutiae that I had yet to unbox and give proper places. By that evening everything was out of their cardboard transports. Not everything was where I'd wanted it yet, but everything in it's time.

Heavy eyed and fatigued, I resigned myself to sleep.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


Ugh... god... what time is it? I turned to my charging phone. 12:00AM. Shit, again? I meandered my way downstairs, careful not to lose my footing. The strikes of the pendulum echoed as my head throbbed in sync. How did this not wake the neighbors? As I made my way to the kitchen, the sound didn't seem to diminish at all. I poured myself a glass of water and swallowed it down. And I have work in the morning... ffffffffuuuuuuuuuuu- So tired was I that I couldn't even complete the profanity that encapsulated my simple thought process.

I climbed back up the stairs, water in hand and me in undershirt, hearing that now ever-audible 'TOCK, TOCK, TOCK'. After a torturous eternity, I fell asleep.

I awoke (thankfully) to my alarm and lethargically prepared for my day. It felt like I haven't slept in weeks. Work was boring as ever, and it was an even worse slog with the recent events. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to start calling in sick. An eternity to sleep, an eternity of work. It was four by the time I got home. I hadn't eaten anything and I didn't care; I just wanted sleep. Again, straight to bed, without supper as it were.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


I groaned loudly as it continued to peal.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


I pulled the pillow over my head.



CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


The pillow clamped around my ears tighter as I tried to block out the noise.


CLANG!


CLANG!


CLANG!


"ALRIGHT! I GET IT!" I screamed back.


CRASH!

I bolted upright, wide eyed. "Well, that's new," I said to myself, very-nearly nonplussed. I hurried downstairs to see what the crash was, armed with my phone, ready to bean any intruder I saw with it. Not the best plan, I know. Front door locked and shut. Windows unbroken. Back door locked. Kitchen... what the hell? Every single kitchen drawer had been pulled out. Silverware and broken china littered around the tiny center island. The refrigerator door hung ajar, it's 'open' alert now beginning to ping. Food was spilled everywhere. I sighed and I grabbed my phone. The SMS screen popped open as my thumb slid across the touchscreen.



Jacob


12:03AM Jake... Head over here when you get this...

12:04AM Something's happened...











|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type something here... |||| SEND



I leaped onto the sofa, landing on my back. I contemplated a bit more...




Jacob


12:03AM Jake... Head over here when you get this...

12:04AM Something's happened...

12:06AM I want rid of this fucking clock.








|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Type something here... |||| SEND


Depleted of all will to further exert myself physically, the phone dropped from my hand and sleep took me.

It was about eleven-ten when Jake got here. I was asleep until he started battering the doorbell. Snapping up from the couch, I was beginning to think that the doorbell would soon rival that infernal timepiece. He rushed through the door soon as it was unlocked. "Dude, I've been here for, like, fifteen minutes ringing the damn doorbell. Where the hell were you?" he demanded. "Good morning to you, too." I replied, monotone. "Well, are we going to do this or what?" He was still a blur from me waking up and he wants to move this thing already? And goddammit, what stinks!? "Hey! I just got up... like JUST got up to get ^that^ door..." I said, pointing to the now visible porch, "from this couch. Calm down... and shut the damn door, I don't want anyone else seeing me looking like hell." Jacob begrudgingly obliged as I headed to the kitchen. "And THIS, goddammit, is what stinks." I called back. Everything was everywhere. Eggs that had been cracked and out over eleven hours, the refrigerator let out a solid tone, saying that the temperature inside was the same outside, possibly warmer. All that food, now was just lying out on my floor covered in shattered kitchenware and metal. "Jesus Christ. What happened?" I grabbed a broom, dust-pan, and trash bag and began sweeping everything together. "That fucking clock happened. Midnight last night it seemed like it went 'ding, ding, ding, THUNK!', and all this just fell out onto the floor." "Dude, that sucks." I scooped the first bit of the foul, jagged muck into the bag. "No shit, Sherlock. Now help me clean this up." I thrust the bag into his hands. "It smells like shit, Dave!" "I know that, and I want to live somewhere that doesn't, so hold this and try not to spill anything."

We slowly went around the small kitchen, scooping up most of the mess, and putting the empty drawers back. Though we cleared it in what felt like forever; nearly everything was disposed of- silverware, plates, dishes pans, and all the food, as well as the bag, broom, and dustpan. Walking back into the house from the bins I said called out to Jacob. "Alright, let's take the clock outside this with the rest of that mess... They'll pick it up on trash day." I walked over to the grandfather clock and began to lift. Jesus, this thing doesn't want to move, I thought as I strained with all my might. The stubborn fixture wouldn't budge. "Hey, Jake, are you going to help me here or what? This thing's heavy." Jacob tottled over and began lifting. We probably got it about two inches off the ground before we couldn't hold. A successful launch at least. "One more go?" "Sure." We both got a solid grip and lifted as hard as we could... the clock creaked and groaned as it lifted from the carpet beneath it. As we began to move, a flash of light glinted off of its face. I looked up and my eyes widened. "Jake, drop the clock!" "What?" "DROP THE FUCKING CLOCK!" I shouted as I let the towering contraption slide from my fingertips. Unfortunately he didn't... or rather, he didn't soon enough. The clock impacted the floor with a significant 'thunk' and tilted towards me. Jake dropped his side immediately upon seeing what had happened, and watched in horror. The seven-foot behemoth tilted back, reversing direction towards him. We both stood there paralyzed, watching... Watching as it leaned, balancing on the edge of its stand, the clock struck twelve...


CLANG!


It seemed like it would hang there forever...


CLANG!


But it didn't.


CLANG!


Crunch.

The towering case fell squarely onto Jacob, and appeared to have crushed much of his midsection. Blood began to seep into the carpet. The next hour was a blur of paramedics, emergency responders, and accusatory questions. Words and phrases passed through my head. "Accident", "Paralysis", "Spinal Damage", "Negligence", "Rupture", "Organ Damage", "Pushed", "Life Support", and that goddamned noise as the pendulum continued to count seconds. 'TOCK, TOCK, TOCK'. It feels like every day in this house has been a fucking disaster. I don't remember much after that, except driving out and grabbing a six-pack. By the time I got home, it was a three-pack, and even that didn't last much longer. I passed out on the couch that has since been my new bed. When I awoke, it was still dark, and I still felt like shit. I did the customary thing that anyone hungover and/or still drunk would do and payed my obligatory homage at the porcelain shrine. I checked my phone. 3 missed calls. I hit "SEND" twice, not caring who it was that I dialed. A curt, and slightly anxious 'Hello?' greeted me. "Can I help you?" I gurgled. "Dude, we heard about Jacob. He's not doing good. We're going to get you out of that house and away from that thing." A second familiar voice piped up, "It's fucking evil." I closed my eyes with relief. At least those guys understood. "Cool, call me when you guys get here." "We are, we're parking now." "'Kay, see you soon." I thumbed the "END CALL" button as I stumbled to the door. As the deadbolt was undone, the handle twisted, and I was nearly stampeded by my two friends.

"Take it easy guys; I'm right here." "Thank god. C'mon, let's get you outta here," he said, steadying me. My phone vibrated in my hand. "Battery LOW" Hmph... "Hang on, let me get my phone charger." "Naw man, I'll get it, you get going. Where is it?" "Nightstand, next to the bed." As Damien darted up the stairs, Russ helped me walk. And then stopped. An odd noise emanated from that crazed chronometer, familiar and loud as ever. 'TOCK, TOCK, TOCK'. I felt Russel's hands leave my shoulders as he made his determined march towards the clock. I pursued trying to snap him out of it. "C'mon Russ" I said, tugging at his jacket. "This isn't a good idea". "Shut up, Dave... I'mma let it know not to fuck with us," he replied, arriving before the massive clock. In one swift motion he raised his boot and sent it through the body of the clock, shattering the pendulum window. "Fuck you!" He continued thrusting his leg, clearing out the shards of glass that clung to the cabinet and cursing all the way. "Fuckyoufuckyoufuckyou, FUUUUUUUCK..." His boot tore through the other side of the pendulum's cabinet. "...you?"


CLANG!


Noise startled us, both jumping out of fright. Russ jumped, lodging a shard of knife-edge glass in his thigh. His foot broke through the wood, wedging his ankle in the belly of the towering beast. He howled in pain and struggled, the clock moving with him. Footsteps pound from the bedroom to the stairs. "Guys, what the fuck is-? Oh SHIT!" I hear behind me. I turn, I watch him bound down the steps, almost as if in slow motion. Our only help at this point. He took two, then three, then three and a half. Waves of horror washed over me as the worst case scenario became the inevitable. Damien's momentum carried him down the stairs as his footing faltered beneath him. With a sickening 'snap' I heard the impact, as his head hit the floor then the wall, almost freeze framing for instants in unnatural angles.


CLANG!


I looked back, the tolling of that demon timepiece catching my attention once more. I spied Russel's leg. The thigh was ripped open, blood was gushing everywhere. Probably the femoral artery. A goner. I watched as he fell backwards, still struggling in pain and panic. I looked up at the bronzed face. It began to grow in size. "No..." The clock continued unimpeded. "Please, God, no..." I pleaded with the monstrosity. Its burnished face grew larger and closer. So close I could see my face appeared staring back from it's in horror. I closed my eyes. Time seemed to freeze. A single tear rolled down my cheek as I felt the kiss of cold metal on my nose.



Clang.

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