Tick Tock

Tick Tock
10…
The normally crowded streets of London were now almost deserted, with the only remnants being those who appreciated the silence and simply enjoyed bathing in the moon’s beauty. Countless droplets of water poured down from the cloudy sky above, creating an ethereal rhythm as they collided with the cold concrete below. Such divine melody, fit to be played in the wake of God.
Tick Tock
9…
But to me, these droplets represented the tears of God, neither from pity nor from seeing his faithful subject in such a state, but from ridicule; laughing at this helpless me who cannot save even himself.
Tick Tock
8…
The ever slow ticking of the grand clock known as ‘Big Ben’ and its antique handles that signalled the time. Just how many times have I seen them in that same position, 10 ticks until the XII.
Who knows, I lost count long ago.
Tick Tock
7…
My powerless legs began moving in a mechanical motion, as though it had been programmed to do so. As time passed, even my human soul slowly started corroding away. My actions slowly stopped resembling that of a human’s, and more of that of a robot’s, performing the same commands endlessly.
Tick Tock
6…
Without paying attention to my drenched hair, I broke into a sprint. The few people that were still up this late into the night stared at me with bewildered eyes as I surpassed them. It’s frightening how they have the same expressions every time I pass by.
Tick Tock
5…
It doesn’t bother me anymore, never has. I’ve been receiving those same stares ever since I was sent to the Grotch.
Those workers at the Grotch always said that the place was the best compared to the mediocre facilities, uncaring staff and ‘problem’ children that the other orphanages had, they claimed that we wouldn’t find such a wonderful place anywhere else.
To me, the place was anything but what they described.
Tick Tock
4…
That old me, always smiling even in the darkest of times, it was exactly why I was so hated in the orphanage. While all the others were desperately trying to appeal to customers to achieve a bright future, I was smiling as if it was the best day of my life, neither from happiness nor from joy, just a cold, meaningless smile.
Tick Tock
3…
The children of the orphanage despised me due to this, they hated my very existence. While they were desperately trying to overcome their past traumas, I was smiling as if I was the happiest man alive. It later became an unspoken rule that no child in the orphanage was to interact with me.
Tick tock
2…
In those dark times, my smile was my best friend yet my worst enemy. It prevented me from ever acquiring the happiness that I wished for, but it always reminded me at the end of the day that there was always light at the end of the tunnel.
It doesn’t matter anymore, all that is in the past, and I’ve arrived at my destination – a small intersection by the Westminster Bridge, perfectly on time like always.
A young girl not even eight years of age was slowly walking backwards towards the centre of the road unconsciously. Her guardians across the road were posing for a photo, unaware of the dangerous situation their daughter was in.
Also at this moment, the girl looked towards the road to notice the incoming black advertisement minivan from ‘Quantum Cleaners’. Seeing this, she froze in fear as though petrified.
I payed no attention to the girl’s expression, I’ve seen it far too many times to count.
Tick Tock
1…
The fear of death, the single common trait between all humans, one that should be feared no matter what, left me long ago.
I powerlessly leapt onto the road and pushed her aside as minivan closed in. Her chestnut hair danced across the sky, reassuring me of her safety-
Ding Dong-
0…
-Just as the bell rang.

Tick Tock
10…
Back to block outside Grinch’s shoe store, a hundred metres from the intersection.
The nauseating headache that hits after a cycle, I’ve experienced it far too many times to even complain.
Tick Tock
9…
My now fully recovered legs dragged my exhausted body down the street without purpose again. The smile I’ve always kept disappeared long ago along with my ability to think rationally.
Tick Tock
8…
I’ve been here long enough to know just about everything that happens in the street during these ten seconds. Be it the expression of the bystanders or the type of burger a nearby person is currently ordering in the store to my right, I know it all.
Tick Tock
7…
Every second of my accursed life, I ask myself, “When will this meaningless cycle of life and death end? When will I be free?”
Tick Tock
6…
No… The way to escape was right in front of me this entire time, quite a simple one too.
Don’t Die.
Tick Tock
5…
In other words, let the girl die.
Tick Tock
4…
But can I really do that? Will my suffering really stop if I let a small, innocent young girl die?
I’ve tried everything you can possibly think of to escape, be it calling for help or aiming for the van itself, but nothing worked as if God had tampered with it himself. Every method I tried was countered in the most bizarre, supernatural ways that no man could ever think of. It’s always the same – I die, she lives.
Then, as if an hourglass had been turned, it all restarts.
Tick Tock
3…
Just at that moment, I arrived at the intersection. The small girl clumsily walked back towards the road, unaware of the impending danger. Her two guardians turned around just in time to witness the events that were about to occur.
Tick Tock
2…
I came to a halt at the lights; the conflicting thoughts in my mind prevented me from performing the usual cycle.
Can I really escape if I let her die, here and now? I’ve been blindly following a schedule for thousands of iterations, never once have I been this conflicted.
Tick Tock
1…
While I hesitated for an instant, something unexpected occurred.
She tilted her head towards me, locking eyes with me for the first time since the day I’ve been here. Her quivering lips moved, but nothing came out. Her small, ruby eyes stared straight into my soul as her gaze sent shivers down my spine. Those eyes of hers were calling for help, fearing the phenomenon known as death.
…The answer was in front of me all this time.
I’ve lived my life in hiding, helping no one and receiving no help, what was my purpose in life? I don’t know, all humans live and die, yet I have lived for far too long. Even if I am to leave this prison, nothing will change. I will return to the streets and spend my days living a cowardly life.
But what if I can use what little time I have to make someone else smile? Then, maybe, my life will have a purpose. The young girl before me has yet to taste life’s thrills, but I can change that with what little power I have.
If I am to spend the rest of eternity saving her, then so be it, as long as she can smile in the future in my stead, then my life is fulfilled.
This resolve of mine, I will take it the grave, if I will ever have one.
For the first time in thousands of iterations, a smile flashed across my face as I leapt onto the street more energetically than ever before. I silently whispered a sentence into her ears as I pushed her aside. Fortunately, I still hadn’t lost the ability to communicate even after all this time.
“Live on.”
Ding Dong…

Tick Tock

Tick Tock
10…
The normally crowded streets of London were now almost deserted, with the only remnants being those who appreciated the silence and simply enjoyed bathing in the moon’s beauty. Countless droplets of water poured down from the cloudy sky above, creating an ethereal rhythm as they collided with the cold concrete below. Such divine melody, fit to be played in the wake of God.
Tick Tock
9…
But to me, these droplets represented the tears of God, neither from pity nor from seeing his faithful subject in such a state, but from ridicule; laughing at this helpless me who cannot save even himself.
Tick Tock
8…
The ever slow ticking of the grand clock known as ‘Big Ben’ and its antique handles that signalled the time. Just how many times have I seen them in that same position, 10 ticks until the XII.
Who knows, I lost count long ago.
Tick Tock
7…
My powerless legs began moving in a mechanical motion, as though it had been programmed to do so. As time passed, even my human soul slowly started corroding away. My actions slowly stopped resembling that of a human’s, and more of that of a robot’s, performing the same commands endlessly.
Tick Tock
6…
Without paying attention to my drenched hair, I broke into a sprint. The few people that were still up this late into the night stared at me with bewildered eyes as I surpassed them. It’s frightening how they have the same expressions every time I pass by.
Tick Tock
5…
It doesn’t bother me anymore, never has. I’ve been receiving those same stares ever since I was sent to the Grotch.
Those workers at the Grotch always said that the place was the best compared to the mediocre facilities, uncaring staff and ‘problem’ children that the other orphanages had, they claimed that we wouldn’t find such a wonderful place anywhere else.
To me, the place was anything but what they described.
Tick Tock
4…
That old me, always smiling even in the darkest of times, it was exactly why I was so hated in the orphanage. While all the others were desperately trying to appeal to customers to achieve a bright future, I was smiling as if it was the best day of my life, neither from happiness nor from joy, just a cold, meaningless smile.
Tick Tock
3…
The children of the orphanage despised me due to this, they hated my very existence. While they were desperately trying to overcome their past traumas, I was smiling as if I was the happiest man alive. It later became an unspoken rule that no child in the orphanage was to interact with me.
Tick tock
2…
In those dark times, my smile was my best friend yet my worst enemy. It prevented me from ever acquiring the happiness that I wished for, but it always reminded me at the end of the day that there was always light at the end of the tunnel.
It doesn’t matter anymore, all that is in the past, and I’ve arrived at my destination – a small intersection by the Westminster Bridge, perfectly on time like always.
A young girl not even eight years of age was slowly walking backwards towards the centre of the road unconsciously. Her guardians across the road were posing for a photo, unaware of the dangerous situation their daughter was in.
Also at this moment, the girl looked towards the road to notice the incoming black advertisement minivan from ‘Quantum Cleaners’. Seeing this, she froze in fear as though petrified.
I payed no attention to the girl’s expression, I’ve seen it far too many times to count.
Tick Tock
1…
The fear of death, the single common trait between all humans, one that should be feared no matter what, left me long ago.
I powerlessly leapt onto the road and pushed her aside as minivan closed in. Her chestnut hair danced across the sky, reassuring me of her safety-
Ding Dong-
0…
-Just as the bell rang.

Tick Tock
10…
Back to block outside Grinch’s shoe store, a hundred metres from the intersection.
The nauseating headache that hits after a cycle, I’ve experienced it far too many times to even complain.
Tick Tock
9…
My now fully recovered legs dragged my exhausted body down the street without purpose again. The smile I’ve always kept disappeared long ago along with my ability to think rationally.
Tick Tock
8…
I’ve been here long enough to know just about everything that happens in the street during these ten seconds. Be it the expression of the bystanders or the type of burger a nearby person is currently ordering in the store to my right, I know it all.
Tick Tock
7…
Every second of my accursed life, I ask myself, “When will this meaningless cycle of life and death end? When will I be free?”
Tick Tock
6…
No… The way to escape was right in front of me this entire time, quite a simple one too.
Don’t Die.
Tick Tock
5…
In other words, let the girl die.
Tick Tock
4…
But can I really do that? Will my suffering really stop if I let a small, innocent young girl die?
I’ve tried everything you can possibly think of to escape, be it calling for help or aiming for the van itself, but nothing worked as if God had tampered with it himself. Every method I tried was countered in the most bizarre, supernatural ways that no man could ever think of. It’s always the same – I die, she lives.
Then, as if an hourglass had been turned, it all restarts.
Tick Tock
3…
Just at that moment, I arrived at the intersection. The small girl clumsily walked back towards the road, unaware of the impending danger. Her two guardians turned around just in time to witness the events that were about to occur.
Tick Tock
2…
I came to a halt at the lights; the conflicting thoughts in my mind prevented me from performing the usual cycle.
Can I really escape if I let her die, here and now? I’ve been blindly following a schedule for thousands of iterations, never once have I been this conflicted.
Tick Tock
1…
While I hesitated for an instant, something unexpected occurred.
She tilted her head towards me, locking eyes with me for the first time since the day I’ve been here. Her quivering lips moved, but nothing came out. Her small, ruby eyes stared straight into my soul as her gaze sent shivers down my spine. Those eyes of hers were calling for help, fearing the phenomenon known as death.
…The answer was in front of me all this time.
I’ve lived my life in hiding, helping no one and receiving no help, what was my purpose in life? I don’t know, all humans live and die, yet I have lived for far too long. Even if I am to leave this prison, nothing will change. I will return to the streets and spend my days living a cowardly life.
But what if I can use what little time I have to make someone else smile? Then, maybe, my life will have a purpose. The young girl before me has yet to taste life’s thrills, but I can change that with what little power I have.
If I am to spend the rest of eternity saving her, then so be it, as long as she can smile in the future in my stead, then my life is fulfilled.
This resolve of mine, I will take it the grave, if I will ever have one.
For the first time in thousands of iterations, a smile flashed across my face as I leapt onto the street more energetically than ever before. I silently whispered a sentence into her ears as I pushed her aside. Fortunately, I still hadn’t lost the ability to communicate even after all this time.
“Live on.”
Ding Dong…