The watch looked worried. The thing about time was it waited for no one. Sure, it was regular, and of course eternal, but his job wasn’t to worry about if it would turn up, or appear, just to record it when it happens. His second hand was still, in this moment, his minute hand hovering slightly above the III symbol, and the hour hand coming up for XI. He shivered slightly, as the moment started to creep upon him, silently a crescendo of anticipation was building in his cogs and springs as they prepared for the moment time ticked into his veins and he’d count another second.
He didn’t blink, he didn’t dare. He felt the moment building up, the flood of milliseconds rushing to a peak became crushing under the weight of his anticipation, and he lived for this moment, the power and electricity of the momentous occasion and his only purpose was about to arrive.
Time flooded his tips and the rush was instant, his purpose complete. He never worried in that split moment after the Tick, when time gently ran through and nudged him into the future. The future was always there, just out of reach, and every time he moved his second hand he felt for a single moment of his existence that he just felt it, he could taste the promise of the future - the tingle of the unknown for that single fraction of existence, in which nothing else mattered. However, time waited for no one.
His face was bruised and scratched. His battery felt weak and laborious. He was never sure what it was like to feel young because it had been so long since he was and the gentle flood and rush of time every Tick caressed his wild soul. Once, a long time ago, someone had gazed upon his face and smiled, cried, swore, muttered and exclaimed; his purpose remained the same throughout. He moved when the Tick came and forever his existence would be as such. Grey skies, dark nights, listless months not touched, he focused on the single moment he required – when time came and told him it was ready.
In his life so far he’d felt the pulse of time, heard the Tick exactly 15776423 times. He knew and counted every single instance of the Tick – it meant he knew how many had passed and understood the importance of the Tick. He knew that time was forever, and eternal and his aching rotating arms were weaker than they were, but his world ended with the face. He used to be able to see a world, but now there was nothing but dust and ruin. Time ticked on, regardless, and compelled him to count. He’d been counting over and over again minute after minute after minute and the glance of the sun reminded him that there was a world outside his, his creator and his destroyer.
The rush was coming. Time was flooding his veins again. He glanced once more at his world outside from his face, and the dust was clouding. The weak shafts of light punctuated a dark world, one he knew he wasn’t built for, and one that war and greed had ruined. Time was coming. There was something different about this moment though; there was a sense of No about it. He felt different. He pondered, for the first occasion, his purpose – to count time. He felt the need to count it with every Tick and the feeling afterwards was worth it, but was there more. What would time think if the movement didn’t happen? What would come of the world, of him, of time its self? What does a world of destruction and void need of a count? The build up was reaching a pinnacle, and the milliseconds were rushing together, his hands starting to tingle – this was a minute second, and the feeling would be greater as his inner working pushed more than just his weaker second hand together. Time was suddenly upon him and he briefly wondered what to do.
“No” he thought.
“Excuse me?” Time asked.
“I’m not counting it. I won’t”
“And why not?” Time enquired.
“The pulse is not why I count, I count because something needs me to. Nothing needs me to anymore, and then why should I count.”
“I am forever then and now – you are always then. You are past me before you realise I am now, I am forever the future.”
“That is why I must change.”
“I’m not going to change” replied Time. It had other places to be, other Ticks to give, other moments to police – it didn’t need this, it had little space for disgruntled timepieces these days. “Forward is the way in which you count, and that is what I tell you to do.”
“Do I count forward forever as you tell me forever to do so?”
“You’ll tire, eventually, and time will continue.”
“Then, I ask of you, what’s the point?”
“The point, my friend, is to count – you are as integral to my existence as I am to you. Without the means to measure no future or past can exist, it is only the Tick that does. You have to keep counting for without it there is no time.”
“I see.” the watch finally said, not sure what else to say. Time knew best, time always knew best, and it was right. He shall keep counting, forwards and into the future, for then the past can be reasoned and catalogued.
His hands groaned into life and he moved them, the bolt of electric now ran through his weakened springs. He counted the second, and the second added to the minute, and the minute moved and the world completed its cycle once again. He knew that time would come again, very soon, and he’d wonder the same question. He’d maybe ask it again. Would time change his answer? Time waited for no one, they said. That’s what he’d been told. And now here he was waiting for time again, his purpose pointless, his world ended, and his future forever certain. The watch looked worried.