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Short Story: When the Clock Reaches 5

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Short Story: When the Clock Reaches 5

At 5am we hid. Be that under beds, concealed within cupboards, beneath windowsills. We stayed there for twelve torturous hours, then we went about our day. Like clockwork, the Looters hunted for those not hiding, dragging the ones they found somewhere unknown, hell, maybe. Only those taken knew, but they never came back. Only they knew what the Looters looked like, whether they had horns, red eyes, blue eyes, black eyes, eyes at all.

But the looters said we had to hide.

For decades this was the principle we lived by, though no one knew how it was initiated. But I was desperate to know what had happened to the rebels or those who couldn’t hide well enough.

I planned for nights, drafting my transgression against our venators, ready to reveal the truth of the hunters. Bags were packed, weapons gathered, and only one other soul was told: my friend Anwir. He was the only one who I told of my mission, but he spared with me about with my plan.

“Why do you need to do this?” Anwir questioned.

 “I want to know who or what imprisons us to shadows when the clock strikes five. I need to know how to stop it,” I retorted as I packed the final weapon.

“No one knows, and no one needs to know. Please Tansy, don’t do this.” The air broke up his voice like the static on long dead radios as he pleaded.

“I’m not saying that you have to join me. It’s just an option.” I sighed. “Don’t you want to be free?” I asked.

“Yes … but what you plan to do will change nothing,” he stated as he checked his gold-plated watch. “It’s almost five. Please reconsider.”

“I’m sorry.”

He chuckled cynically to himself.

We waited in a pregnant silence, both knowing that I would not change my mind. Anwir leaned, wrapping his arms around me, squeezing my shoulders as though it would be the last time he would see me. It wasn’t an entirely irrational thought. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“For what?”

“I just am,” he muttered, walking out of the door.


At around eight, I sought to complete my mission. Creeping out of the back door, I became laminated to the city walls, moulding to every contour, every shadow.

Hiding. Though never in the same place.

I couldn’t see any looters; in all honesty, I didn’t know what I was looking for. They could be beasts that rose to fifteen feet high or rabid wolves that tore their victims to shreds. As I walked further into the centre, the air became weighed down by the mammoth silence of the deserted roads. What if there weren’t any looters at all?

No. People were taken. They had to be there; who else would they have been taken by?

Still hidden at the base of buildings I continued. Hours passed until I saw another being. It was the silhouette of a man, doubled over in what appeared to be agony. He was clutching at his throat, begging his lady to free him, but no woman stood near him. He collapsed to his knees, wailing to the skies, screaming for repentance from his ‘Lady’. After his cries ceased, others began. Blistering screams from near and far shattered the calm air.

A ring of light encapsulated the man’s wrist, reflecting the city’s lights. Slowly, I approached him keeping quiet as to not startle him further. The closer I got, the more the man appeared not to be a man at all. His skin appeared blistered, singed, and he crawled along the floor as if he were a starved wolf. Still, he begged for his ‘Lady’ to help. When I was a metre or so away from him, I could see the metal on his wrist seemed familiar.

Anwir’s watch. How could this creature have his most prized possession? Unless…

“Anwir?” At my words, the creature shifted, glaring at me with black eyes, and the face of my dear friend.

Again, the creature bellowed. “Why? Why?! I begged you not to!”

“What are you Anwir?”

“I am one of them: a Looter, cursed by my Lady to feel this pain, to walk the twelve hours. Cursed by our Goddess to be this villainous beast.” During his proclamation he had risen to his feet. “Why did you have to come and meddle?” He wept into my shoulder. “I’m sorry, so sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” I whispered, rubbing his back.

“I’m just so very hungry,” he growled, his eyes flashing as he moved towards me.

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