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Tick.


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Tick. Tick.

Joseph’s eyes shot open in the semi-darkness of the small room. The orange light of the neighbor’s solitary streetlamp flickered dully on the surface of the far wall, dimmed by the curtains and darkness of the night. Realizing that he was not encompassed by the undulating surface of his bed, Joseph pushed himself into a sitting position and realized that he was sitting at his desk. The unforgiving way in which pain shot through his neck when he moved it to the left, suggested that he had fallen asleep on the hard wooden surface.

Groaning, he belatedly realized that he had left the lamp burning while he slept, so that it was completely out of oil. He thought he had a few candlesticks in the desk drawer…

Flame took to wick, bathing the desk in warm, soft light. The small gears and springs that littered the surface threw long shadows across the polished wood so that they looked like the pitted mountains and valleys that could be seen on the moon.

Joseph stared down at the half-finished clock on the desk before him in dismay. It was an antique that had been purchased by a wealthy man from south London, but it could not keep pace with time, which was why it had been sent to Joseph. Several days ago, he had carefully removed the back and had sent messages out to the people who could replace the parts that were broken. Half of the parts were now scattered about the desk and the other half had never arrived. His own working clock matched the time at a quarter past two. Mr. Danby was arriving tomorrow to pick up his fully-functioning antique and as of this moment, Joseph had nothing to give him. He could not complete the clock without all of the missing parts.

Joseph knew that he must look quite the sight – a rumpled man with his hair on end as he struggled to meet Mr. Danby’s deadline.

Tick. Tick.



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