Death Clock: Stimulus B. In Greenview the Howth clock stood over the town like a guardian. ‘TICK TOCK TICK TOCK’ it went as it counted the hours, minutes and seconds of every day. On the outskirts was the Greenview forest which contained all the memories of our childhood, building forts and playing hide and go seek. On the other side of town led to the crusty salty ocean coast which cooled our hot sweaty bodies after a fun afternoon out exploring the forest. This was what life like was before… everything has changed.
Jake Fern stayed up late the night before the world he knew best, came crashing down. The night sky glowed red. Car sirens went off triggering the barking of dogs that echoed through the town. BOOOOM! BOOOOM! BOOOOOM! He flinched awake.
“What the hell was that?” he muttered, as he rubbed his eyes and wiped away the two crystals of sleep in his tear ducts. He had fallen asleep sprawled out on his desk trying to complete the unnecessary homework he receives from his teachers. Jake rolled his head around to relieve the kink in his neck. He walked down the stairs to find his mother sitting by the window sill peeking through a tiny gap in the curtain. “Oi Mum what’s going on?” he asked sleepily.
His mother’s face turned to him and her face was white, blank with no expression whatsoever. “What is it?” “Look.” she softly replied. Jake peered through the crack of the curtain to see his neighbour, Johnny Treadwell standing in the middle of the driveway. “What the hell…” A red glowing flame about the size of a closed fist was floating above his dark brunette hair. He was just standing there. His wife, Amanda Treadwell slowly came around the corner of the house slowly approaching him, in her arms she held little baby Peeta. Her feet dragged across the pavement until she was face to face with her husband. Jake blinked.
Within that moment his neighbour Johnny was laying backwards on the pavement. The red flame above his head was gone. Amanda’s face was wet and streaked with tears, she shook her head in disbelief. She collapsed to her knees and screamed out as if her heart had been torn out of her chest. The love of her life was alive just a second ago… he was healthy… a new father to little baby Peeta. This was the start of something bigger than all of us. We couldn’t escape it.
* * *
The Howth clock stood tall over the town of Greenview, the red etched numbers counted down the hours, minutes and seconds to the death of the day. We liked to call it the ‘Death Clock’ now. It was someone new each day, there was no escaping it. We were trapped in this death game. My name is Jake Fern and this is what I’ve gathered from the first three days since this all began.
1. A red flame above your head, signals that it is your death day. 2. The red flame can be seen by anyone except the individual who possesses it. 3. If you tell the individual it’s their day, a flame will appear above your head too. Hitting two birds with one stone. 4. The electric force field barrier shaped like a bubble around Greenview, is not to be messed with. Several people have tried escaping this death game… it resulted in their deaths. We have learnt to stop our curiosity, curiosity is a big killer. 5. The three booms of the clock signals the death of the day. 6. This one is a bit obvious but, if you end your own life… you will die. There was no way out of this and the civilians of Greenview had to learn how to move on with their lives.
* * *
Two months have passed since the night Johnny Treadwell died. I still remember it as clear as ever. The way the flame flickered and glowed red, it seemed as if there was no heat to the flame… it was cold blood. It gives me a shiver up my spine. Every day I wake up with a sick, gut wrenching feeling. One day it’s your neighbour, next your 3rd Grade teacher, then your grandma and your best friend the next day. It was hard to cope with all the death.
* * * It was the 25th of October and I stayed up late the night before it was my time. For some reason I just knew it. I felt a lump in my throat as I walked downstairs to see mum happily making herself a cup of tea. “It’s a going to be a beautiful day” she said, without making eye contact with her son. A microsecond of devastation spread across her face as she turned ever so slightly to face her son. I felt like he was going to be sick.
Her eyes said it all. Panicking… I muttered “Have a good one Ma. I love you” as I grab my rucksack for school and shut the door behind me. I couldn’t dare to look back, I knew my mum would be watching me go down the street for one last time with wet trailed cheeks from her salty tears.
* * * I walked into the classroom to see a wave of sorrowful faces staring back at me. I sat in my usual spot next to my best friend Daniel. He didn’t look up once. He couldn’t look at me. In that moment I well and truly knew it was my time. I glanced to the left backhand corner, where the first girl I’ve ever loved sat. Lucy Gerald was beautiful. She had bleach blonde hair and emerald green eyes, soft pale skin and rosy warm lips. Lips that I wanted to brush my lips against by the end of today. Today was my death day.
And in that moment I pushed my chair backwards as I shot up quickly and started making my way out of this classroom. “Where do you think you’re going Jake” said Mrs Burns in a firm voice. “Hell probably” I shot back. I turned around to see Mrs Burn’s face start to boil with fury. His classmates giggled as he took a small bow. I darted my eyes towards Lucy. We made direct eye contact immediately… she was already looking at me. Oh My God. My stomach filled with butterflies as she smiled sweetly at me. An unexpected and adventurous rush ran through me body. I walked towards Lucy and held out my hand. “Will you come with me” I asked softly.
She placed her soft delicate fingertips on top of my hand and grasped my hand tightly.
* * *
Lucy didn’t let go of Jakes hand the whole trip to the Death clock. The red numbers on the face of the clock read 4 hours, 57 minutes and 42 seconds, Lucy squeezed his hand as if to say she was sorry. They stood in front of the Death clock for a while and in that moment I realised I was wasting time. I’ve been worrying about my death day since the night Johnny passed away and it’s been ruining my quality of living. Perception is like a magnifying glass… if you focus on something too much it will heat up too much and burn you. So the worries or negatives in my life that I’ve been focusing on have been the spark of my destruction…I’ll eventually burn up too, and wish I had lived a better life. “Lucy… don’t waste your time like I have –
try focus on the positives of each day and live in the moment… you’ll be satisfied when your light burns out.” I murmured. “Promise me you’ll do that for me?” I asked. “I Promise” she returned. “Do you wanna get out of here?” I asked as I let go of her hand. “Sure thing… um where to?” she replied. “To Hell.” he smirked. “Nah, let’s go to KC” She burst into laughter as she tucked a piece of long blonde hair behind her ear as they walked up the road to Keighley Cliff. KC is a beautiful spot that looks over this sick town, you could see the outskirts of the electric barrier that cover Greenview woods where I remember playing hide and go seek, then after hide and seek Lucy, Daniel and I would go to the beach to cool off our sweaty bodies in the refreshing misty water. From this spot you could see the royal blue water kissing the golden yellow sand and about 300 meters from the shore you could see the glimmer of the electric barrier cutting through the ocean.
The centre of Greenview glowed red. Death Clock stared me down, it tormented me. Our town was well and truly trapped. Lucy caught me in reflection looking over the town as we sat on the edge of the cliff dangling our legs over the edge. I looked down at the bottom of the cliff, deep blue waves crashing against the sharp pointed rocks. I glanced left at Lucy and reach my hand over to caress her soft cheek softly, then lean in to kiss those rosy lips. She responds by placing her arms comfortably around my neck as we embrace in a warm kiss. We break apart and stare into each other’s eyes. “I’ve always loved you…. You know. Even when we were kids, you were always the one I cared about most and I still care about you more than anyone” I said, then kissed her again. She broke away.
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” she said with a sad and wry look on her face. Tears started rolling from her green eyes. She knew my time was almost out. The instantaneous feelings of regret and anguish fill my body. “I just didn’t know how to say it… I thought I had more time.” I returned. “Luce, whatever you do… don’t live your life in fear of death. I know it’s scary but you gotta change your perspective. Face death right in the eye and don’t look back. Don’t regret a life you haven’t lived. No regrets.” “I will Jake. I Promise.” she replied.
* * *
BOOM… BOOM… BOOM. My flame was out. Cold blooded. “I… I always loved you too” she trembled as she buried her face in my chest- and screamed the worst scream.