Time Is Broken

Free Time Is Broken by Samuel Clark

Book: Time Is Broken by Samuel Clark Read Free Book Online
Authors: Samuel Clark
 
    T he glass on the face of Jan Jansson 's watch was cracked and broken, he peered at the hands with his tired watery eyes. It was definitely morning that much was obvious, the air was clean and fresh, apart from the stench of rotting food and rubbish drifting across from the nearby industrial bins. He scratched at his beard and his hair, the layer of dried sweat and dirt was getting ever thicker and his clothes were like rags hanging off his skinny frame. He tapped the glass watch face hoping the hands would magically begin ticking over again. The watch had stopped at eleven minutes past eleven. At the very least he would know the exact time twice a day. He looked up at the sky, maybe he could tell the time by the height of the sun? The morning light was dim, the sounds of the city were not in full swing yet. He needed to get to the station at just after six a.m., just after they opened the gates, then, buy a single ticket and seek out his begging pitch. If he didn't get there in time he would lose it. It was at the foot of the stairs at the junction between the northbound line and the southbound line. The perfect spot. Just enough time for the passengers descending the stairs to see him at the bottom, and if they were feeling particularly generous that morning, enough time to reach in their pockets and toss the loose change into his empty violin case. There was also the added bonus of passengers pausing at the foot of the stairs to check their destination on the underground map he would sit under.
    He rolled up the white foam mat and tied up his pillow with string, wrapping it tightly, reducing it just enough so he could stuff it into his backpack. He sat for a moment underneath the black metal fire escape he had taken shelter under. A still moment, shaking his drowsy thoughts clear. His bones felt creaky. He examined the watch again, the spider web cracks bled white, distorting his view of the watch face, he examined it at numerous angles still hoping it would magically work, as if by his own will. He should've just bought a cheap digital watch, but then there was the problem of battery life. Everything breaks down in the end, he thought solemnly. He held the watch to his ear and heard a faint- tick, tick, tick. The mechanism inside the watch was working, but it wasn't transferring itself to the hands. The watch face again, the second hand began to tick, it ticked up to the hour mark, then stopped, then ticked backwards. He furrowed his brow, confused. Maybe he could get enough money together by the end of the day to get it fixed. He remembered buying the watch before everything inexplicably fell apart. He had rewarded himself, he'd just been offered a job, a very lucrative job.  
    He glanced sideways in fear as a gust of wind blew stray newspaper pages across the alley, the noise was followed by footsteps, bounding, purposeful and rhythmical, almost in time with the faint tick, tick, tick.
    “ You got the time,” his cracked voice asked. “Any spare change?” The man walked straight by, like a shadow, ignoring him as if he didn't exist. “Hey!” he called after the man as he reached an anonymous door, the staff only entrance.
    “ Hey. I know you, don't I?”
    The shadow man keyed in a code. “Time is broken,” the shadow man said into the intercom . A loud buzz and the door opened. The man stepped inside, never looking back, still ignoring him as if he didn't exist.
    “Hey, your name. Your name is--”
    * * *
    The name on his driver's license is false. If you were to call the police he would be detained only long enough for another agent to authorize his release. He doesn't exist as a citizen, nor does anyone he works with.
    He didn't have a name, not any more, not since he took the job eighteen months ago. They had warned him before his decision, made him sign non disclosure agreements and data protection agreements, for a week new documents would arrive in the post, addendums, gag orders, injunctions, terms

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