My Ticking Clock

by Salma A. Razak

It ticks, then talks. Reaps then sow.
Breathes when borrowed. And lives at the batteries he offers.
Counts the twelve hours as twenty four.
Allows him to see it glow. Wonders when it will grow.
But then again, it’s just a clock.
Always doing its tricks and then talks.
Living in batteries and hopes.
Waiting for the touch from his soul. And I fix it when it stops.
Watch it leak when it develops a hole.
It may be old but it’s strong.
It must be worn out but it’s proud to survive this long.
He gave me suggestions though. When he saw it in its cracked form.
Ideas that makes it whole.
Encouraging me to create for it a voice.
“Trick then talk,” whispers this old worn clock.
“Give me a voice, to speak to this boy. Make this hope grow and allow me to glow. For I want to roar even when my voice is small. Allow me to talk. Allow him to know.”

Tick and tock. That is the sound it spoke once the boy saw it in its new form.
It clicked and then spoke, when he focused on its voice. My eyes fixed on his, waiting for his respond. Knowing that my clock has chosen him to be its eternal hope.

Salma A. Razak is a day job customer service agent and an owl writer during her free time. A book reviewer and a writer of romance genre that enjoys combing other genres along her stories. She enjoys reading books, Manga and listening to musics that has meaning to it. Although she’s the shy type, she loves to communicate.

Master of Time

by J. Lee Strickland

Steven mastered time travel. He mastered the brutal simplicity of it. There is only one reason to travel into the past, and that is to change it. There is only one reason to travel into the future, and that is to determine it. He started with the past, with his first wife.
He eliminated her.

He didn’t kill her. He simply erased their marriage. To be certain of the effect, he went so far as to remove certain preconditions to that matrimony, like their attendance at the same high school, the senior prom and those embarrassing photos. Sure, there might still be some someone in the world with a past like hers, even a name like hers, but the tangle of their lives together was gone as surely as if it never occurred. It was a much more satisfying separation than divorce had ever been. The residue that had infected his relationships, his life after that divorce, the recursive torment of what might have been, all that was gone.

His second wife was a more delicate operation. He found that there are limits to what one can change when one travels into the past. One cannot recover what fate has erased. Fate had erased his second wife.

He cured her of the horrible blood disease that had debilitated her, that had robbed her of her beautiful smile, that had wasted her voluptuous body, that had finally killed her. He arranged instead for her to die in a shocking, freak accident at the exact day and hour that fate had ordained. At least she didn’t suffer. He could remember her healthy, robust and happy, loving and being loved, until the last instant.

He was tempted to branch out, to correct the difficulties of a few others, but the past is a delicate fabric, and he had already changed much.

He moved his focus to the future, at first a much more simplistic, almost cartoonish landscape populated with vague stick figures who only gained flesh once one gave them close attention. He found a small cottage in a country setting where he would spend his advanced old age. He contrived that he would be fit and engaged. His mind would be sharp and his fingers still nimble. He lined up some neighbors, not too close, who would be helpful, but respectful. He negotiated with Fate to be kind.

He surveyed his work from the wooden chair in the kitchen of his third-floor apartment and felt pleased.

The phone rang.

“Steven, it’s Betty.”
“Betty who?”
“Don’t be an asshole, Steven. Why do you always have to be an asshole? We’re not married anymore, so just cut the shit.”
“You must have the wrong number,” he said.

He replaced the phone in its cradle. As an afterthought, he pulled the wire from the back of the phone. He gazed out the kitchen window, past the rusted fire escape, across the brick-strewn, vacant lot, at a line of stunted vegetation on the far edge. He thought about his cottage, his diffident neighbors.

J. Lee Strickland is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. He is a member of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild and served as a judge for the 2015 and 2016 storySouth Million Writers Awards. He recently learned that he is short-listed for the Anne LaBastille Memorial Writers Residency, and now spends his time waiting for the other shoe to drop. His sorely neglected website, including a blog and links to some online works, can be found at:

There Was Time

by Mwangi Ichung’wa

The clock is loud in the small room. It sounds like a stopwatch – tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik – an infernal countdown to who knows what. The people who were to come here are late. The people waiting to meet them are getting anxious. They are a man and a woman, both tall and thin. The woman is lighting her third cigarette in ten minutes as she tells the man, her hands waving about, that this may not have been the best idea. Tendrils of grey cigarette smoke, wispy things, float about.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

There is a knock on the door. The man and woman who are not a couple exchange a glance. The cigarette hangs loose from the left corner of her mouth. The smoke curls straight up into the ceiling. The people they were to meet are here. The man heads for the door. The woman can hear her heartbeat over the clock. The sounds are not in time with each other. One beats too fast, she cannot tell which. She crushes the cigarette in a wooden ashtray.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

The silence is heavy as the parties mull over a slight change in plan. There are now six people in the room. Three of them are smoking and no one has thought of opening a window. There has been a problem. One of the things the four new people in the room were to bring wasn’t available. The man and the woman cannot leave this place without it. The four people cannot leave without what the man and the woman have brought themselves. They also have guns.

Tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik

The clock is loud in the small room; counting down the time it takes for breath to escape the crumpled bodies on the dusty carpet. Butts smoulder in the wooden ashtray, the upward spiraling tendrils growing less dense as fire slowly dies. There is a low sound, like a cough, as the last soul exits its host. Outside the light changes as the sun sets, lighting the room a fiery orange. Stark shadows of what was are drawn across the surfaces and in the stillness, disrespectful and insolent, the clock goes tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik tik.

Mwangi Ichung’wa is a Kenyan writer of “transgressive” fiction. Currently writing for an ad agency to pay the bills.