December 31, 2015

When the old year goes and the new year shows, on the stroke of midnight you’ll be free, but until then you belong to me.

You read the soiled scrap of paper again. Your heart beats wildly. You’ve been on the run evading capture for six months, desperate to make it to the new year and promised freedom. The great clock strikes ten, and you crouch low, hidden in a battered garbage bin in the alley behind an abandoned warehouse. Two more hours and you will be able to reclaim your existence, your home, your library, your peace and contentment. Until then, you barely risk breathing. Another hour passes. Eleven times the clock bell chimes. Silence. Then a sound. Shuffling feet. Terror rises, abates as you realize it’s only a drunk staggering by. The last hour is agony, attended by hope. Ring out, clock! At last. bong bong bong bong bong bong bong bong bong bong bong bong. Joy infused, you scramble from the bin. There she is.

‘But I made it!’ you cry. ‘It’s the New Year! It’s the New Year!’

‘I go by my watch,’ she says. ‘My watch says 11:53.’

robot helm

You die.

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