The Clock.

The Clock is a prelude to a short story from 2004. The full story was published in 2007. This can be read as a stand alone piece. If there had been a Faction category it would have been posted there – it is a mixture of fact and fiction.

Does anyone understand what is going on here? Some of you old-timers may have seen it before. No spoilers please.


It isn’t a very big room; the only thing in it apart from a small table and a chair is a clock on the wall. The clock says one minute past three. I have until four o’clock.

My instructions are to write everything down that comes into my mind during this hour. I take that to mean that after four I won’t be able to write. I have to tell you (should anyone get to read this) that I have no idea what will happen at four.

There is no way of looking out of the room, but I wouldn’t want to look out anyway.
I’ve seen enough of out there. I’ve just had a quick look round to see if there is anything alive in here, couldn’t see anything. It would have been nice to find a spider or fly or something, anything for company.

I wonder how the clock works – funny thing time, I wonder how time keeping started? One of those things I always intended to look up but never did. I suppose it started with daybreak, then sun down, that’s two divisions – then sun overhead, ‘mid-day’ that’s three. Well I suppose after that it was easy to fill in. What was I saying? Oh yes the clock. It looks fairly normal, interestingly though it’s analogue, not many of that type still about. Minute hand, hour hand, second hand, temperature gauge. I don’t think it is mechanical, no winding point or pendulum thingies. I am tempted to have a closer look.

I used to have a proper mechanical watch, stainless steel it was, Omega Constellation automatic, dead accurate, never had to wind it. That was a proper watch, I had to give that it long since though, they needed all the metal. What did we get in return? These bloody awful plastic things, well okay–they were accurate, but no personality or character. Tell time anywhere in the world, temperature of wearer, blood pressure, pulse rate, and even weight. All info back into the main frame for continuous monitoring. Did it work? Probably. Did it do any good? No not one bit. What was I saying again? Oh yes have a closer look at the clock, can’t though, been warned not to touch it. Bet it’s not battery driven, where would they get the batteries?

Three fifteen now, it’s difficult to write like this without any preparation, but I have to keep going. Anybody who reads this will know what has gone on – maybe no one will read it, doesn’t matter any way. I think I have just been told to write to take my mind of the clock. You are probably wondering if I am frightened. No I’m not. I’ve got over that feeling now. I just don’t care anymore. Why did they pick me though? Okay I am a scientist of sorts, and I was one of the many who tried to tell them, but would they listen? Of course not, did they ever? We all know now what they were doing – what all the rest had done before – looking after themselves. The fools, well they are in the same mess now, I suppose that is one consolation, for all the good that will do us.

World war one was the war to end all wars, that was until world war two came along. Did they learn anything? No, not a thing. ‘United states of Europe’ – what a joke that turned out to be. Still it’s too late now. Three thirty, only half an hour, expect I can keep writing something. We told them that underground nuclear power stations were needed and plenty of them. We told them fossil fuels were running out. What did they do? Left it too late. Well that’s true to form. We told them about unchecked immigration, about lack of water supplies, failing health services, about education and pollution problems. The consequences were so predictable to all, except to those who could have stopped it. Well it’s too late now.

I had everything back then. In fact I always said I achieved far more than I deserved. Life was kind to me. It’s all gone now – the lot. The only way I stopped going mad was to train myself not to think about it. Three forty –  not long to go. I wonder what’s going to happen at four? Why didn’t they tell me? It’s quite exciting really; things can only get better. I hate to think about those poor souls still out there. I wonder if this was meant to happen? What I mean is, was it pre-ordained. Strange that it’s happening all over the world at the same time. We really have been so stupid, the trouble has always been that those in power always thought that they were right, and mostly as we now know, they were nearly always wrong.

It seems without doubt now, that we were the only world in all the universe that had life. What did we do? We killed the bloody lot, well very nearly. Not much left now. I expected it though, the writing was on the wall many years ago and nobody took note. The governments tried to give the people what they [the governments] wanted, not what the people needed – and look where it got us.

Don’t know what to write now – running out of words; still don’t think any body will read this anyway, Tra la la la la. Three fifty, I wish I could have one last look out, still probably not. Better just try to remember the good things. My goodness, I had more than my share of them. Yes I have been pretty fortunate really, had lots of things, plenty of money, nice house, nice car, nice family – all gone now. Tra la la la la. Am I getting a bit nervous now? No, not possible – well to be truthful – maybe just a little bit…

Quite looking forward to four, nothing else to look forward to. Hope you can get to read this rubbish, been a long time since I wrote with a pen. I am going to keep writing right up till four, it will keep my mind of things, tra la la la la. Just trying to remember the good times now. If only those idiots had listened, things could have been so different. Well it’s nearly time, just a couple of minutes; longest hour I have ever experienced.

Three fifty nine, I wonder what is powering the clock? Not a bad looking clock really I have seen worse—tra la la la la, It’s three fifty nine –  fifty five now, last cou…..

It isn’t a very big room; the only thing in it apart from a small table and a chair is a clock on the wall. The clock says one minute passed three. I have until four o’clock.

My instructions are to write everything down that came into my mind during this hour. I take that to mean that after four I won’t be able to write. I have to tell you (should anyone get to read this) that I have no idea what will happen at four…

© Gerald Finlay, 2004, All Rights Reserved


© gerry 2023
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Gerry, A very interesting story. You really get a sense of the character. We know the character is told not to interfere with the clock. The clock is also highly accurate. Either the room or the clock itself is a time machine that resets every hour. But what is the reason this particular character has been chosen (I assume there must be a sample of humans chosen who are in other rooms with a very similar looking clock to keep them company for an hour)? This is my take on the situation. There are two remarks that stand out as… Read more »


Hello, I read this as a time capsule, left for others to find some time in the future ( if there was one) maybe on a space station. I loved it, please accept my nomination.


Good one gerry. One tiny point ‘passed three’ should be ‘past three’


Good one gerry. One tiny point, ‘passed three’ should be ‘past three’


I took this to be some sort of apocalypse story, but maybe I am missing the point? Anyway it was intriguing and well written. Is the clock actually some kind of time machine; has he been sent into the future?


yes I know what you mean; it is hard to maintain the momentum for a longer work. I started to serialise a novel here, but I don’t know how far it will get. Maybe most people just lack the commitment to follow a novel-length work.

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