I pressed the sleeve of my loose shirt against my forehead in an attempt to wipe off the sweat. My legs which were moving as if automatically, hurt more than it was humanly possible to bear. The pain was unbearable but stopping was not an option. With each step I took, the next one seemed impossible but somehow I willed myself to keep going on. I had been moving for so long without even a single stop, but I could not tell for exactly how long, which seemed to be a mocking joke considering where I was. It could have been hours, or minutes, I had no way of knowing. The sound of the gears turning was all I could hear, and keep on moving, the sound of the gears, and the uniform motion of the whole system seemed to be the only things that I had ever known. My legs were giving away and I knew that I had to do something about this situation because soon my legs would give away and then I won't be able to move at all, possibly crushing my feet between the gears. I felt like the hamster that was made to run on the wheel, the only difference was--I was a human, presumably smarter than the hamster, though with the beads of sweat, I was feeling like I was losing my will power and brains too, and unlike the hamster stuck in the cage, I was stuck inside the clock, which, however, seemed like a cage to me. I was stuck here and I had no choice but to keep going on, not to move forward, but because the future of the world depended on this. As soon as I would stop running, the clock would stop, meaning the time would stop which in turn would seize the existence of the life on our planet, of the motion of the planets in our galaxy and pretty much everything as we know it.
I wish this was all a bad dream and soon I could wake up from this nightmare, but I knew this was sadly my reality. My feet were sore from the pain and my shoulders sagged because of the burden of virtually the whole world and its existence. I did not have any idea if I had shrunk to be stuck in the clock or if I was stuck in a giant clock. What made it worse was the fact that my mom had stuck me here. I had always known that she was planning something against me, the way she would stop talking when I entered the room, or how she would smile that sickly sweet smile at me- I had always known that she had never liked me ,but to do something like this to your fourteen-year-old daughter? That was just evil. I wasn’t Cinderella, she wasn’t my step-mom, and then why would she ever do that to me? That question would have to wait just like the rest of the questions because the fact was that no Prince Charming was coming to my rescue. I was on my own and only I could help myself, how though, I had no idea. In that moment I felt utterly hopeless and helpless, just like I had felt everyday in class where as soon as I turned my back, all my classmates would start whispering about me. I knew what they were saying”. Did you see what Jeena was thinking about? She is so stupid...” and what not. I had known it, that they could read my thoughts. They would hear my thoughts and whenever I knew the answer to a problem in the class, they would just read my thoughts and answer the question. But even there, trapped between those fifty three people, I had not felt as hopeless and helpless as I felt right now. As the pain in my legs started to increase, which I couldn’t quite believe was even possible, I barely managed to take the next step in time. I was getting tired.
Slowly, the sound of the machine working, its gears turning, started increasing to the point where I could not handle it anymore. I pressed the palms of my hands to both my ears in an attempt to stop the sound, my head had started aching too and it felt like it would explode because of this continuous noise. My feet hurt and I could not bear it anymore. I screamed for help, for someone to stop the noise but my attempts were futile. It hurt too much, the sound was too much and the pain was killing me. I knew my legs couldn’t continue anymore and if I didn’t move away right now, my inability to move anymore would drag me down along the gear and end up in me getting crushed, but at the same time I couldn’t do this to everyone. The world would end if I gave up but in the end, the flight reaction kicked in and closing my eyes, I took a leap of faith and jumped off. As I landed on the metal surface, I scratched my knee and my arm .The scratch on my arm seemed more like a tattoo. It seemed as if someone had engraved an hourglass on my right arm and the blood running down my arm seemed like the time that was running out. The upper side of the hourglass seemed almost empty and as I looked up towards the gears, they were slowly coming to a stop. Somewhere in the shadows I could see the time- tower people .They were staring at me. I wanted to tell them to do something but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do anything, no sound came out of my mouth. And so I sat in silence, looking at the gears as they slowed down, I could feel the air around me change, everything seemed slower, my breaths became long and to wipe off my forehead took too long and much more effort than it should have required. And there I sat, as the synchronization of the clock fell apart. I couldn’t believe that I was sitting here, timing the time to come to a stand-still, timing the end of the world. I was there, helpless, I couldn’t do anything but to stare as everything I had ever know stop existing.
“What is wrong?” Ms. G asked frantically, trying to comfort her daughter. The psychiatrist reassured her that it wasn’t a fit, her daughter was just hallucinating. Ms G thought of today evening, about an hour and a half ago when her daughter had screamed at her for planning to kill her because Ms G had stopped talking to her husband about the increasing irrational activities of their daughter when their daughter had entered the room.
“STOP! It hurts. Stop the gears. It will all stop, keep them going…stop the sound…it’s loud…be louder...predestination paradox...casual loop…time. They can see me…why can’t you see me,” and some other incoherent things. Ms G had learnt about her daughter saying random things and made up words like this. Neologism was another one of the symptoms of her daughter’s schizophrenia.
“It’s alright Jeena…baby, everything will be alright. Calm down…baby, it’s alright. Mama is here.” Ms G tried to tell her daughter who was thrashing around wildly.
She soon noticed blood soaking Jeena’s jeans in the knee area. And then she noticed blood pouring from Jeena’s right arm. She must have hurt herself while thrashing around, Ms G thought. As she went out of the wardroom to get some cotton, antiseptic, bandage, and maybe a nurse, in the hallway she read ‘BREAKING NEWS’ on CNN News TV. It read that the NASA scientists were claiming that the earth’s motion was slowing down, they were speculating what effects would this have on the duration of one day but as she moved, it took a lot more effort than it would have required and on the television screen too, everything seemed to be slowing down—the news flash, the anchor’s words—everything. Surprisingly, she found her thoughts slowing down too. To think was taking too much effort. What did not slow its pace however was the panic that was creeping inside her. She wanted to turn around and go back to her but as she willed her head to turn with a lot of effort, she could not move anymore. It was as if an invisible force was holding her still in her place. Looking at the clock on the far end of the wall took a lot of effort itself. To move her gaze to the clock seemed like a very difficult workout routine and she felt like she had put in a lot of hard work. The clock was stuck at 9:15, and there, gazing at the clock, she stood frozen too, frozen in time.