The clock tolled the hour within the empty room. Tattered paintings, torn curtains and worn walls adorned the room, which was devoid of furniture. Except the clock, the tolling clock, the ever ringing clock, the peal of the clock. Where it sat amongst the dusty floorboards and scurrying mice. The ceilings were bare but for the weather damaged cavity, that although caved in the corner of the room seemed to be growing instead of dissipating as the liquid continued to fall. The hour resounded throughout the empty room again, the passing of time apparent to the only listener excepting the mice, the shadow. It had appeared after the one thousandth toll of the hour. When one of the tattered curtains was shorn off, by a thief mistaking the polyester for satin. Leaving half the window closest to the clock, to stream moonlight in, past the ever present clock casting the shadow before it’s shining glass framework. The shadow had witnessed the thief’s actions from shearing the curtains to his wide staring look at the magnificent grandfather clock revealed by the filtering sunlight. He had attempted to wrest it free but could find to perchance but the thief unyielding in the room remained for the night. Using all manner of tools to pry it from the wall, his attempts failed one after the other. His futile efforts enraged him enough to storm at the clock, kicking, slashing, hitting until finally the glass frame broke with a resounding crack; that filled the empty apartment building, echoing off the walls until it finally sounded into the buckled, broken street below. The bell gonged awakening the thief’s mind, causing him to realize his grave error and he fled from the room, leaving the frayed polyester curtain upon the ground. Some time passed and muffled yells were discovered as the thief who was dragged forcibly upstairs to the penthouse where his screams for mercy were stifled as they broke his will. The mice had come later, drawn by the smell of decay. Feasting on the “carrion” above, leaving the blood to flow towards the low point of the penthouse. The shadow had not seen humans for some time since, except for the women. She had been screaming for something, tears coursing down her haggard face, her crying shaking her slight frame so much it appeared she would break. She was looking for something; she had searched the apartment several times, but always revisited the room with the sounding clock, sometimes just to look sometimes to feel the smooth intricate carvings on the face of it. Then the glassy eyed look would leave and she would sometimes begin crying, other times force a resolute look onto her face and set her jaw and search the apartment floor by floor yet again. Her crying had drawn others to the building; they usually strode in groups past the rusted cars in the broken streets searchingly. Looking inside the cars as if afraid they might see a loved one within the rusted cars ruined confines. They carried strange things on their backs, bags perhaps that were almost as large as them but with their easy loping steps appeared very light, they had visited with the women within the clock room urging her to come with them but always she would refuse and send them on their way. She had ignored her needs almost as often as she had searched the apartment, her slight frame was skinnier now and her face was more worn than ever as she passed by or rested in the room. One day the shadow had heard the shuffles and cries for release above, as the thief exposed by the moving of furniture was discovered. His minor breathing the only sign of life, his caved in skull and gore spattered body appearing as if dead his broken limbs hanging uselessly at his sides twisted in awkward angles. His blood still streaming from the wounds; as if he had just been beaten and stabbed but an hour before, His wounds never to heal and his body never simply let to die his staring eyes continuously moving fixating on nothing and everything as he continued to look about the room body left sunken and shriveled. She had yelled out her despair and revulsion, fleeing from the thief who’s pleading eyes chased after her. She took the steps two at a time before abruptly stopping at the door of the grandfather clock room, listening intently to the heavy shod boots ascending below. Gazing back upwards briefly she considered her options then setting her jaw, determination winning through she continued down the steps, knife in hand. Shouts and screams rent the air below and the shadow stirred as the fair breeze blew in from the window whipping the curtains about the screen she had opened previously. Armored form continuing it’s accent girl in hand who was struck upon the side blood gushing from the wound passed by, then the armored figure giving out a electric cry that was horrible to hear it fell and the human face behind the helm was forever staring up the stairs as it’s body slumped against the wall overcome with pain, her shining dagger in its chest. The women staggered to her feet evaluating the wound before giving into her mirthless despair and took the dagger that was impaled into the armored figure below her and climbed the stairs arduously before casting her eyes about in the room searching for escape. She stood by the clock one last time, taking in every aspect of it before casting aside the curtains and let the fullness of the sun to emanate from the window taking in the warmth and the glow before opening the window. Positioning dagger properly for the plunge she held it aloft by her chest and sheathed it within her fair body as she threw herself from the window plunging the dagger inch by inch hilt deep, over and over as she fell flailing through the air. Many sights assailed her on the way down, the broken cities bare ruins dark, foreboding and empty, the armored sentinels patrolling the streets and the pavements swift approach, she struck the final time and the meters struck in the building above, tolling the hour, ringing before the buckled street as both broken frames were felled and stilled, her bleary eyed forever staring the clock’s innards to rust eternally before it’s shadow, but both to remain alive…..