.The Clock

BY : Keith
Category: Titles in the Public Domain > Gulliver's Travels
Dragon prints: 1198
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, based on Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift. Any resemblance to person(s) living or dead is purely coincidental.

More disclaimer: Do not repost this story beyond the limits of the Fair Use standards of Copyright Law (quotes, examples, ‘you gotta read this’ excerpts, the usual). the author is not making any kind of profit from this fanfic.

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I made sure the parachute straps were secure and started to lower myself.  While the walls were easy enough to climb, the glass surface was beyond my skills.

A laugh tried to climb out of my throat, but I stopped it. I was remembering Master Chief Naree.  He claimed SERE school taught you the skills to survive in any environment.

Nowhere had we discussed trying to pop the latch on a window the size of a drive-in.  Not the movie screen, the whole drive-in.

So there I was, my parachute converted into climbing gear, trying to keep a hold on a nail the size of my arm.  I hoped to use it as a prybar. 

I'd die to see the Master Chief evaluate resisting or escaping someone the size of a carrier's conning tower.

I had the end of the nail into the clasp when I heard footsteps behind me.

"What is WRONG with you!" the giant shouted.  I was busted.  The Brobdingrag falconer stamped over and grabbed me.  "You are STILL trying to escape?"

His fist closed around me.  At the last second, I dropped the nail so it wouldn't be crushed against me in his grip.  He pulled me away from the window and I felt a few tugs as the straps snapped.

"I want to go home, Eevie," I said.

"Eievestellega!" he snarled.  The giant language has no acronyms or abbreviations.  He gets upset at human shortcuts.   "If you get out there, one of the birds will EAT you!"

'There's a chance.  And....?"

"And?  AND?"  He sputtered for a bit.  "And you'll be DEAD!"

"Yeah," I muttered.  "I became a Navy pilot because I want to stay safe."

"I...  You...  You are absolutely incorrigible, Kiarrawayde!" he sputtered.  Drops of spit the size of softballs hit me here and there.

"Thanks for noticing," I said, "and once more, it's simply Wade.  Lieutenant Kara WADE!'" I had to force the last bit out, his grip tightened as I spoke.  He growled and stormed through the house.  His feet stomped on the floor, the vibrations making his hand dip a bit.  I hung on and rode it out.

He pretty much tossed me into my cage.  Lectured me about the dangers of the birds he kept, the distances I'd have to cross to get anywhere and the magic shield that protected Brobdingrag from human discovery.

Like I hadn't noticed.

That shield was what had damaged my jet.  I'd dumped all my weapons as I nursed Sandy down to the island I couldn't identify. 

That left me defenseless when one of the damned birds defended its territory from my invasion.  That thing covered the sky as I came up to it.

Sandy gave her all to take out that damned eagle while I punched out.  A few more harassed me as I drifted down into the trees.

So, yeah, I knew all about those birds.  I figured I could sneak through the grasses during the night, hole up during the day in a ditch or an empty shoe.

When he stopped ranting he stormed out.  He had to take some birds out to where his liege was hunting today.  Maybe they'd catch a Chinook full of Force Recon and they'd blow the nose off the lord's face.

I settled down in my bedding with that happy thought.  I dozed, waiting for my owner to come back and lecture me some more.

Then I felt the breathing.

Eevie's little sister was standing outside my cage, looking at me.  I rolled to my knees and stood.  There was no way the brat would be leaving me alone, might as well be ready.

"Someone is back in her cage," Ekke said.

"Really, Ekke?  Who?"

"Someone is in trouble and cannot be trusted.  Again."

"What do you want?" I asked.

"You are going to get Eievestellega in trouble if you do not learn to obey," she said.  She didn't seem very angry or concerned.  More...happy.  I worried.

"Well, if he let's me go," I said, "I won't be a problem any more."

"I am going to teach you to behave," Ekke told me.  She smiled a bit.  I never liked her smile.  She opened the cage and reached in.

"I'll behave," I promised.  She grabbed me and lifted me out.  She gave me a little shake and carried me out to the hallway.  She stopped in front of the hall clock.  A big old grandfather thing, it was nearly as big as Eevie.

"I think you will spend some time here."  She giggled.  "The splacknucks always run when the clock strikes.  It will be a fun punishment for you."

"Ha!" I said.  "You don't know how loud I have to set my alarm clock.  Ring away!"  She put me down on a table next to the thing and started to open the face.

"Take off your clothes," she ordered.

"What?"

"I do not want you to have anything to stuff in your ears," she explained.  "Strip."

"Now, now, now, look here, Ekke.  I don't need any-"

She poked a finger into my gut.  It always amazes me how fast she can do that.  Her movements seem to be in slow motion, but they cover ground, or approach the belly, twelve times as fast as they appear.

Of course, that's an observation I make in hindsight.  Right then, I was bent over and puking.

Ekke just pinched my ankle and lifted me up.  I tried hard to wipe my face before anything dripped in my nose.

She ignored my discomfort and shucked me out of my boots, socks and flight suit.  In moments I back on the table, flat on my back.

"Everything," she said.  I knew that if she even slightly tugged on my bra, it'd be useless, so I shrugged it off.  Same with my panties.  They were the only pair I had.  Some day they'd wear out enough that I would prefer the canvas and sandpaper clothes they made for me here, but I was putting that off.

So I took everything off.  God it was cold.  The giants put out a lot of waste heat. They design their homes to shed that as quickly as possible. 

For them, cool and drafty, humid and dark are selling points.  For human guests, though, it's like an early fall on the best days.  I actually welcomed being gripped by the brat.  Her body heat soaked in where she touched me.

Then she threw me into a metal cage.  "Okay, Kiarrawayde," she giggled.  "You stay in there until my brother comes home!  Be good!"

There were a few holes in the box.  A little light came in.  I wasn't sure what this was for.  Maybe a place to hide valuables?  Who knew.

I tried to kneel carefully on the floor, limiting my body contact with the metal.  Okay, I was in a dark box and within a giant's hour, the bell was going to chime.After hazing at flight school and each of my squadrons, this would be a cake walk.

I relaxed and tried to sort out the sounds.  The gears and the windings of the clock all made distinct noises.  I tried to estimate which one went at what rate.

There wasn't the big tick-tock rate I remembered from my grandmother's mantel clock.  But I also knew they didn't have those Westminster chimes every quarter hour, either.  Just the big ones every giant hour.  A little shy of an hour and a half.

I hadn't noticed where the hands were when the giant teen was peeling me.  I wasn't sure how long it'd be until the bell rang.

That wouldn't be the problem, though.  The more I paid attention to the clicks and ratcheting snaps and dings, the more I could feel the vibrations in my knees. 

In that space, trying to keep still, the sensations were overwhelming.  They crawled over my skeleton like ants over my flesh. Each clockwork device contributed in a discrete way to the effect.  Some tickled, some aggravated, all were annoying.

But I thought of some of the physical training I'd survived.  At least I wasn't knee deep in cold water or trying to breathe through only one nostril.

Punishment?  I could get to like the chance to meditate.

Then there was a very discrete TINK.  I remembered Chief Dennon right then.  One of my drill instructors at the Academy.  He'd been involved in explosive disposal.  He'd coached someone through defusing a bomb over the phone.  The very last sound he heard on the line was a relay snapping.  It sounded exactly like a bored student snapping the clip on a Navy issue ballpoint pen.

If you did that, you certainly weren't bored for the next five minutes as Chief Dennon crawled up your ass and detonated.

Anyway, I saw the Chief's face when that detent TINKED.  And a second after that the bell tolled.

Holy.

Motherfucking.

Christ.

Inside that box, it wasn't a bell.  It was a physical force. The box shook.    The box moved like...like....  It was like the first time I was catapulted off of a carrier.  Like being inside God's golfball, and he was going for a hole in one. 

My bones flexed from the sound.  I felt each and every air sac in my lungs inflate from the pressure.  One eardrum popped. 

I think I screamed.  I probably screamed.  My whole mind was nothing but a big red noise.  I could see that sound.  I tasted it.  It filled my brain, my body, my soul.

When I could think again, I was laying flat on the box.  That wasn't good. I couldn't feel my back. 

I rolled slowly over and back up to the kneeling position.

The sounds that I had become used to were back, but they were all new now.  I was sensitized to them, not inured. 

They started to move in, like tenants.  That shushing/slide noise started to vibrate in my spleen.

The kidneys shared a sort of spit-spat like a tiny tennis game going from side to side.  The stomach held what I thought was the chain holding the counterweight.  An unwinding spring told its tale through my intestines.

All this while I was waiting for the next bell.  For the next TINK.

It was really odd, then, how time became loose.  I had no anchor except pain behind me and pain in the future.  Somewhere.  Ironic that being inside a clock made time a chaotic fog.

I tried to think of something.  Anything.  But no matter where I imagined myself, no matter what I was doing, including fantasy sex, I kept trying to check an imaginary watch.  I couldn't relax if that damned bell was coming up.

I started to giggle.  I don't know what was funny, I'm not sure anything was.  But waiting was driving me absolutely insane.

Then TINK.

Then another trip to Hell.

I had a clear image of that smile on Ekke's face.  Stuff something in my ears?  I could have a jet engine in here with me, I'd still be turned inside out by the sound. 

The bell lifted me up and threw me.  I rolled limp across the surface, welcoming the cold.  Hey, it was a sensation that wasn't sound.

I fetched up against one wall.  There was a hole about the size of my fist above me.  I stared at that, willing it to widen and let me out.

Then the bell struck again.  How could I have forgotten the bells counted up? 

My new position was a good thing/bad thing.  The good news was that spralwed as I was, the sound didn’t pick me up and throw me.  I stayed where I was.

But I felt the vibrations over the whole of my body.

You know those cartoons when the cat or the idiot touches a live circuit?  And there's the outline of their skeleton and each bone is about a finger's width from the next one?  The hip bone's not really connected to the leg bone and so on?

That's what it felt like.  I think there was an air gap at every joint, every vertebra.  I could feel, really feel, my marrow liquefying and flowing out into the spaces.

I was turning to water in there.

I screamed.  I couldn't actually breathe while the bell tolled.  But once the pressure lifted from my lungs, I screamed.  I poured my soul out my voicebox. 

On and on and on, I went.  I couldn't help it.  I used every single swear word I'd learned in three years afloat. It still wasn't enough so I just screamed some more.  And bawled.

I didn't cry when my mom died, dammit.  I was a pall bearer and the only dry eye in the whole church.  I blackened my dad's eye when he said I couldn't carry the casket.  Not one tear.

Hell, I held her hand as her last breath slipped out.  All I did was turn off the heart monitor.

Now?  Rivers of tears.  It was just too much.  Humans weren't made to be volleyballs for a metal tube.  That bell hated me and loved every moment of my torture, every ounce of my discomfort.

I could hear it, watching me, the afterglow of the chime rattling out little partials that bounced around.  Like echoes, except echoes never hated me.

They taunted, oh, yeah.  An empty hangar after hours?  Looking for the flight log you dropped or the helmet you misplaced?  The authorized sounds, the ones you made, getting mugged by the shadows, turned like an evil mage turning your skeletons back on you.  They came and they taunted.

But these echoes, they hated.  I knew it and I cried.

And then I farted. 

It was the most incongruous noise... A simple bit of pressure forcing itself out.  Blatting back the tonal remnants of the bell.  And my brain turned back on.

I wasn't at the mercy of malevolent musical timekeeping.  I was just being pounded by loud, loud, gigantically loud noise.

Get a crowd of college students and some rebellious name for the bell sound, it could be a concert experience.

I got Piped Up in the Hall, dude.  The Grandfather Tubed my Skull. Twice!

I started laughing at the image.  Ekke setting up a clock on the stage, a stadium full of hammered teens and tweens cheering as she wound the clock.  Stamping their feet in glee as she moved the hour hand.  Then chiming bliss as the clock rattled them so hard their velcro shoe laces would untie.

Oh, I needed a t-shirt for this.

I rolled over, intending to rest a bit before trying to get up.  I forgot my tits were nude.  They touched the metal and I found it easier to climb to my feet.

So I walked a bit.  Each time I put my foot down, I felt the clock ticking and swishing in my ears.

I started to circle this big hole in the top of the box.  Not big enough for me to get through, but I could jump up and grab the lip.  Maybe the bells wouldn't be as rough if I wasn't  resting my big pelvis on the plate?

Couldn't hurt to try, I thought.

Now, now that I was ready for the bell, time wasn't flowing free.  It sank into molasses.  I circled and circled, afraid to even look away from that hole that might, just might be my salvation.

So I started designing posters for Ekke and the Grandfather Clock Nuclear Chime tour.  She came out looking older and older and older...and more and more demonic as I waited.

Then I got rid of Ekke and used Eevie.  He got bigger and bigger instead of older or evil-er.

When he was so big that the hall clock was about the size of a wristwatch to him, there was that TINK.

I leapt.  Both hand grabbed the rim.  The bell tolled and the vibrations yanked the rim out of my grip.  I fell.  I fell flat.  And the three rings just about killed me.

I screamed and screamed and screamed.  Then I got up and walked around some more.  I'd try to grip harder next time.  Because there would be a next time, and I couldn't think of anything else to try.

Eight bells.  That's all the higher they counted.  After that they had a reset I never understood and an alibi period then they did the eight bells again, one through eight.  Another reset around noon then one through eight.

If I survived the eight bells, I told myself, I'd never fear anything else on the planet again.  I didn't think that was too likely.  I'd soiled myself on the third chime already. 

My innards were being affected.  My heart was beating in my throat and I don’t think it was just from stress.  I was crying profusely.  Probably enough to dehydrate myself.

Oh, God what was I going to do?  Besides obey the giants forever, of course.  What that it?  Was that what Ekke wanted?

I started screaming again, but this time it was promises.  I'd obey, I'd behave, I'd keep to the rules.  I'd make new rules just so I could obey them, too.  I'd think back to Sunday School and keep the Commandments.  All of them.  The top ten and the 300 other ones.  I'd keep Kosher, for Christ's sake, just let me OUT OF HERE!

I wondered for a moment if this was how religions started?  Save me and I'll dedicate my life to you?  My soul?  My remaining eardrum?

I was thinking what I could sacrifice when the light changed.  I looked at the wall because it looked so strange.  There was a stain on it.  No, a shape.  A shadow!  I was looking at my shadow! 

How cool was THAT?  Then the shadow got really, really big.  And then giant fingers wrapped around me.

Giant Eevie fingers.  Warm and firm, leathery digits held me.  I relaxed into his grip and let the darkness carry me away.

He was washing me when I came to.  He keeps a big kettle of water simmering by the fire.  For me he usually mixes it half and half with something from the rainbarrel.  It didn't feel like that this time.

I sank back in the water, hot enough to scald, but I didn't care.  I stretched, not raising anything above the surface that I didn't have to.

"Are you alright?" he asked.  He had a funny look on his face.

"Yeah, fine, why?"  In the background I heard the clock chiming.  It quit after four.

"You screamed."

"Oh.  The clock.  The chimes must have scared me." 

The giant shook his head.  "You started to scream before the clock started to chime."

"Oh.  Huh."  I closed my eyes rather than bother with that.  From here the chimes were just loud.  But I'd worked on the hangar deck.  Noise was nostalgia for me.

"I am sorry for what Ekkleketsinga did to you.  She was only trying to help.""Yeah.  Scared stupid works.  It worked.  I don't...  I do not want to break any rules, Eevie...Eievestellega.  I am going to try hard to behave in the future."

"You are very harsh on my full name, Kierrawayde," he said with an odd smile.  "I will not consider it breaking a rule to use that... What did you call it?  A nick of name for me?  It is what I have come to expect."

"Thank you," I said.  "I'm always....  Sorry, I am always afraid I will swallow my tongue when I say the entire thing."

"And you can use contradictions, if that is more comfortable for you."

"Contractions," I said.  "And thanks again."

He held up a towel and I stood.  The wind was cool on my wet skin.  But I'd been cold today.  This wasn’t cold.

Eevie gently dabbed me dry.  I found myself hugging him, my arms tight around one finger.  He tried to shake me loose, then gave up and lifted me.

"If you can agree to behave," he said, "I can promise that you will never-"  He paused.  I whimpered.  "No.  You will never go through that again.  I can almost imagine what it was like."

"Is she okay?" Ekke asked.  He turned, swinging his hand and me around to the doorway.   His little sister looked miserable.  "I did not mean to break her, Eievestellega.  I just wanted her not to get you in trouble!"

"I know," he said.  "But you must never, ever punish..." He paused and his throat worked.  "Kara.  Waaaaed.  You must never punish our little friend ever again."

"I will not!" she promised.  And on that note I relaxed.  I lowered my head to his hand and went to sleep.

And woke up, screaming, just before the bells rang five.



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