A timely opportunity Pt. 3

There was nobody else with her in the room, just void and clocks and Evelyn standing around feeling foolish. Her owl pajamas seemed so unprofessional, but that was what she had fallen asleep in. She wandered away from the main room into a labyrinth of hallways, each wall lined as far as she could see with a variety of clocks. A couple of small digital ones caught her eye. They were nearly identical, with fake plastic flowers that waved back and forth with each passing second. She was so focused on the clocks that the hand on her shoulder made her nearly jump into the void-wall in front of her.

“Sorry! I forget sometimes how quietly I walk here.” The woman Evelyn turned to face looked apologetic, and her bunny pajamas made owls seem a little less silly.

“I’m… uh…” Evelyn found herself looking back up at the twin clocks, “I’m still pretty sure this is the weirdest set of dreams I’ve ever had…”

“It took me till my second paycheck to believe it. I understand where you’re coming from.”

“See that would be reassuring if I wasn’t so convinced you’re part of the dream.”

The woman laughed and held out a hand, “I’m Delilah, I’ll be your trainer for the first week. Did you bring your banking info for direct deposit?”

Evelyn lifted her hand to shake Delilah’s and found herself handing the woman a packet of papers. The woman took the papers, tucked them away into an inexplicably large pocket and shook her still outstretched hand.

“What am I doing here?” Evelyn asked finally, “The contract was very non-specific about what I’m being paid to do.”

“We’re just here to make sure the clocks keep running correctly. It’s pretty easy most nights. Sometimes things go wrong though and that’s what I’m here to train you for.”

“What could go wrong? And why are there so many clocks? What does it matter if a few are off? And what is that stuff they’re hanging off of?”

“My aren’t we full of questions?”Delilah gestured up at the twin clocks, “I don’t know most of the answers, I’m sure whoever covers the second half of your training will know more. I’m just here to deal with what could go wrong. You noticed there’s something off about those two?”

“I guess, not sure what it is. They’re in sync with everything else, but something feels wrong about the movement.”

“Try stopping the flowers for a second. Just on the left one.”

Evelyn looked up at the clocks, which were a couple yards above her head on the wall, “Do you have a ladder?”

“Lesson one, you don’t need a ladder. You just have to realize you can reach them from here.”

“Uh-huh.” Evelyn gave her an incredulous look, but reached up obediently and stopped the left clock’s flowers for a second. She let go of the flowers, trying to comprehend how long her arm was at that moment, and Delilah gave a quick clap of excitement.

“Look, much better!” She pointed at the flowers, which were now moving in opposite directions but at the same time.

“What did I just do?”

“You fixed the flowers, you do have good instincts for this.” Delilah clapped her on the back.

“For what? What did I do? How?”

“Don’t think about it too hard, dear, just roll with it.”

“But-” Evelyn held her arm out but it was as long as it normally was.

“That’s what can go wrong. It can be anything from a slow clock to one that’s de-synched.”

“This is just more proof this is all a dream. I can’t possibly have reached that high.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, alright?” Delilah laughed a little at her own joke, “But seriously, we should go over some safety basics… Don’t remove clocks from the wall, don’t run, no open flames… No projectile weapons, fairly standard stuff.”

“None of this is standard. What about the void stuff?” Evelyn gestured to the wall and shuddered a little as her hand approached it.

“What about it?”

“No safety warnings about that?”

“It’s mostly harmless. Just don’t jump in there because the floor gets a bit… existential.”

“It feels so sinister though.”

“You get used to it. Anyways there’s usually only a few things off on any given night, so let’s do a quick patrol and see if we can spot any other problems.” Delilah had a clipboard in her hands suddenly and checked a few things off.

Evelyn followed behind her, still mulling over her answers, and nearly bowled her over when she stopped suddenly.

“Okay here’s a trickier one, let’s see if you can figure it out.” Delilah gestured to a strange wood cabinet at the turn in the hallway. Evelyn walked up to it and opened it.

“This… is a clock?” She stared at the strange contraption inside. It had something that looked like a water wheel at the bottom and a small statue of a man near the top, holding a spear that pointed at a pole with markings on it.

“This is a water clock. You may want to learn about different types of clocks before too long, I had a sundial as my first tricky one.”

“So… um… what do I do with this?”

“Figure out what’s wrong, and fix it.”

Evelyn took several minutes figuring out how to tell the time on the pole before realizing it was almost an hour off.

“It’s an hour behind.”

“Good, now since you don’t know how this clock works I’ll explain it uses the constant flow of water to tell the time. The water is under the little statue, and when it drains down it hits the water wheel, which winds the pole up. So the statue goes down and the pole goes up at roughly the correct pace.”

Evelyn gently picked up the man statue and peered into the well underneath, “It’s dry down here.”

“There’s supposed to be inflow through a little pipe every day to reset it.”

“Am I gonna break this thing?”

“Not as long as it stays on the wall.” Delilah checked something else off on her list as Evelyn reached down into the well with two fingers.

“There’s a jam in a hole in the side, but I can’t reach it.”

“Yes you can.”

“No I… right.” She tried again and felt her fingers grip a small wad rock that had wedged in the opening. She tugged at it for a few seconds before finally wiggling it free and removing it. Water started flowing quickly and she set the statue down again, inspecting the rock, “Where’d this rock come from?”

“Probably the stream that feeds the clock.”

“Stream?”

“Did you pack a lunch by the way?”

“What stream?”

“I brought extra in case you forgot, but lunch break isn’t for a couple more hours. Come along, I think I hear something out of whack down the hall.”

Evelyn tucked the rock in a pocket her pajamas didn’t have and followed after.

 

 

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