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It's a dark afternoon in late April of 2007. I'm on my way to work in Manhattan, for an office building on statistics and mechanics. I'm a healthy man in his early 20's, with a skinny build and neat cut hair. Dark brown eyes and a trimmed goatee. I wear a suit and dress pants and carried a briefcase.
I walk down the street as it starts to drizzle, and then I notice the bus has left without me. "Fuck!" I whisper to myself, and as I am about to hail a taxi, I hear a voice say to me, "Wait... Sit and talk for a while."
I turn around and see a vagabond lying against a dumpster. In attire of tattered patches and a filthy ski cap, with a long gray beard wrought with knots and grime.
"I'm sorry sir, I'm really in a rush," I politely say to him. He then laughs to himself softly and pulls himself up.
"I don't think you understand the predicament I'm in. You see I, my temporal friend, I am from the past!"
I stare in silence for a brief moment thinking that this man must have some mental instabilities. I then reply, "Aren't we all?"
He gives me an annoyed look and rolls up his sleeve. Underneath is a silver watch with the hands not moving, and it appears to be a pocketknife jammed into the watch mechanisms. I grin and say, "I think I know why your watch is broken, sir." He then growls.
"Good then, it's better that way. I will not die by this thing!"
He then takes a seat again on the wet ground as a newspaper rolls by. He looks at me with gray eyes.
"Do you mind if I tell you a story, son?"
Seeing how feeble he is, I comply and sit down next to him. He covers his eyes with his hands and says, "No matter what, never remove the knife from the watch."
See, when I was a young child, my father was a watchmaker. He'd make the grandest watches and repair them to pristine condition. He was a stout, small man with a bulky build and a beard spanning down his neck. He always wore overalls and plaid shirts with unwashed jeans. When he wasn't in his workshop, he was enthusing about the different watches with the customers. We owned a small shop over in Brooklyn.
One day, a man in a gray overcoat and fedora, with gray eyes and wrinkled skin, walks in and puts a silver-lined watch on the counter, asking for repairs. He says that the watch is of great value to him and he'd appreciate it if it is done with haste. My father appeared perplexed by this watch.
"Why, this is craftsmanship I have never even heard of!"
The stranger smiles and says, "It is of my own design, very unique."
I was immediately entranced by the way it glimmered in the flickering light, how the silver was adorned so flawlessly upon the watch. The stranger must have noticed me staring, because he frowned and said, "Please refrain from letting the boy touch this." My father assures him that it would remain untouched, and then he begins to walk off. "Wait!" My father calls. "What is your name? So I can refer back to you when the repair is completed."
He gives a grim smile and simply says, "Kronos," before walking off.
I begin to chuckle and say, "As in the titan? From Greek myth?" He removes his hands from his eyes and looks at me.
"I still believe it was simply an alias to this day. Some persona made up to humanize a darker design."
I notice the morbid tone in his voice and quietly encouraged him to continue. He covers up his eyes once again as the rain pours on both of us and begins.
It was late at night. My father was asleep in a rocking chair, and he was snoring and rocking back and forth. The only light was from the moon, yet on the workbench, the watch seemed to emit its own light. I went over to it and began to rub it, as the cold material pressed against my palm. It was freezing everywhere, except for the dial, where it had a warm touch to it.
The hands were still. I tapped the crystal, and still the hands remained motionless. I wrapped the band around my wrist, and the most peculiar thing happened. At the time I believed I must have been seeing things, as the watch tailored itself to my wrist. Then I felt something jab my wrist coming from the back of the watch. I removed the watch and saw a twig jammed between the gears.
I thought to myself "I don't need father for this." I smile and remove the twig, and then look down. It appeared as if the ground began to evaporate. The world turned into a spiral, and for a slit second, I saw nothing but blackness. Then I looked around and noticed I was in a broken-down shop, with boarded off windows, cobwebs and dust adoring the room.
I look down and the watch is still on. Then I notice a piece of yellowed paper, water-stained and torn on the counter. It was a list of orders for a watchmaker. There was one crossed off in black ink, and it described my watch: "Silver adorned wristwatch, product missing." I look down at my wrist and say, "Damn."
I jump back, in shock at my own voice. It was deep, but shrill. Like a boy just entering puberty. Then I look in a cracked mirror and brush away the dust. I see myself in the body of an at least 13-year-old boy. That isn't right... I was only 7 when I first put on the watch.
Then I notice that dust seemed to have clogged up the gears, so they couldn't move. I climb out through a window, and in horror, I realize that the shop I was in... was mine. It was foreclosed... two years ago. I then begin to run off and start asking locals about the man who worked there. An elderly gentleman directed me towards the homeless shelter where he was last spotted.
Then a strong gust came in and begun to dust off the watch's gears, and in horror, I see the world begin to transmogrify again into the spiral motion. Night passed to day and day to night, faster than I could possibly imagine. Then it eventually stopped.
I was in a dark street and saw a light coming. It was the headlight of a car! I dodged it by seconds, and they swerved and hurled profanity at me. I remembered the directions, and careful to avoid any open streets, I made my way to the homeless shelter where I asked for my father's name. They directed me to a man with a long, gray beard and shallow, empty eyes. He looked at me and said, "Dear God... It couldn't be."
I hugged my father, and he patted me on the back. He then noticed the watch. He sighed and said, "It all makes sense now." He weakly pulled a wrinkled piece of paper out his coat pocket and put it in my hand, and then he told me words I would never forget:
"Your time is so precious and so few, I'm afraid to repent for this sin, you must sin again."
I never understood what that meant. Until now.
"Until now?" I say to the man. "You mean, by meeting me, you had some brilliant revelation?"
"No," he replies, "but I don't want to harm you. I want to make things very easy."
"Are you threatening me?" I say as I get up. He then pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket and hands me his watch.
"Put it on, son."
I assume he is insane, so I comply out of curiosity. I then take a look at the paper.
It is a list of what seems to be rules and laws.
"You will travel forward if the watch is allowed to run."
"You will die if the watch passes 24 hours."
"You may only rid the watch if someone willingly accepts it and puts it on."
"You will go back if the new holder dies before you."
I look at him in horror. He looks back at me sadly and says, "I'm sorry...but I don't deserve this." He pulls out the knife, jams his finger into the gear, and stabs me through the chest. Then he says the last words I'll ever hear:
"Don't ever trifle in things you could never comprehend."
He releases his finger.