Tick

Here's a story I wrote for English. "Mysteriously well-written", so it's nice to see my teacher has a lot of confidence in me. Apparently part of it sounds like The Prisoner. I've never heard of, let alone read it, so any resemblance is accidental.

Every night he would watch. Tick. Watch the hands chase each other. Tick. Sometimes for hours. And think. Ponder. Tick. What went wrong? He drew his gaze away from it. Tick. Paint lay broken off the walls and ceiling. The floor did not have a carpet as it once had. Tick. The floorboards exposed, some broken. Holes. Tick. That is what went wrong. But he mustn't think of that. He kept looking. Tick. Shelves were half-hanging off the walls. Much like him. Tick. He turned back, repositioning himself on the spot. He had been aware of the ticking. He felt his pulse. Every so often, the tick and his heart beat would tick together. The timing of the world, together with his own. Tick. The door was locked, the windows barred. No escape.

 

            The door burst open. The two officers crept in, pointing their guns around each corner before they moved themselves into sight. This criminal was highly dangerous, and he could be anywhere.

            "Area clear," one said. More came in, quicker this time. They stayed huddled in a group, never leaving a possible exit point unwatched. Silent, listening. They made it the back of the house, and then they heard it. Someone's breathing. The sound of someone trying to remain silent.

            "Go in." Carter whispered. "Earn his trust; get him out. Remember, we want him alive."

            The one everyone called Jo moved in, slowly placing his hand on the handle. The door swung open, it obviously hadn't been oiled in a long time. A creak echoed out through the entire house, throwing up dust everywhere. If he didn't know we were here, he would now. He crept into the room. Slowly. Damn. He still had the gun. No sudden movements. Jo went into a crouch and placed the gun on the floor. A small click, again too loud. Finally, he took his first step into the darkened room. The light from the door faintly revealed a very simple room. A wardrobe on the opposite wall, a bed just about where the others were. He listened for the heaving breathing, which wasn't there.

 

            What had this guy even done? He has such a high warning level on the file, and he's now cowering in a darkened room in the middle of nowhere. He has no press either. The file had no mention of a name, address, anything. I don't think anyone knows anything about him. And I'm supposed to go and catch him...

 

            No. Concentrate. The bed was too obvious, a child's hiding place. He had two choices, if he chose wrong then it was fine. The others would get him. He silently crouch-walked over to the wardrobe, and pulled the door open. At exactly the same time a dark figure rolled out from under the bed and attempted to make a break for it. A thump could be heard, and the sound of a man trying to break free of an iron grip. As Jo came out the room, he could see Carter holding the man's arm upright behind his back. He wasn't going to break it, but it was clear he was meant to cause serious pain.

            "Oh you've caused us trouble. More than you can imagine. But I'm sure you don't want to hear my story, as you'll be too busy telling yours." Carter said, right into the man's ear. He picked him up by the arm and shoved him into the corner of the room. He looked like a small defenceless, huddled in the corner, shying away from a predator. "So now tell us: where is it?"

            "I have no idea what you're talking about." The man replied, quite calmly considering he was face-to-face with Carter.

            "Don't play dumb with me, or it might be more than your arm that breaks. All the evidence points to you. Now where is it?" That last sentence was a scream in the man's face.

            "The evidence, then, is clearly mistaken. I don't know what you are talking about."

            "Right. We're out of here." Carter said, in his pretending to be calm voice. "If you want to talk, it's fine, we can end it right here. Otherwise, we're just going to leave you here." As he walked out of the house, he tipped over a small desk.

 

            Carter had gained position of leader in the team. Not everyone agreed, but he was a good leader most of the time. The only problem being he often abused his title. He also often got angry, but this was the worst Jo had seen him. It wasn't like him to order a lock-down. Something had really gotten on his nerves.

            They put bars on the windows, locked the doors. Set up a small one-way cat-flap on the door. After all, they wanted to question him later. They wanted him alive. Most orders would have to go by paperwork to the Head Office. Everyone knew Carter was the Head's special operative. He had managed to twist him round his finger since day one, and managed to score an immunity from having to ask for a lock-down. He could do it whenever he liked. It was scary for the team, let alone the criminals that he had that kind of power.

 

            "And, well sir, you know the rest." The Head sat perfectly still all the way through the report, not even his usual nodding of the head. Finally, he seemed to wake up, widened his eyes and jumped a little. He looked around, staring in amazement at the assortment of things on his desk, on the wall. It must be terrible, to prove yourself by doing missions, working your way up the ranks, to be stuck in a small office doing paperwork all day for those who were doing the same thing you did five years ago. Cooped up. Like a cage. A cell.

            And after the five days?" He said at last.

            "Nothing, sir."

            "At all?"

            They burst in the door again. The door nearly came off its hinges. The lock-down had been terminated after five days. If he wasn't willing to talk by now, then he would be sent to the interrogation office. The Head liked as much as possible work to be done by the operatives. A lingering layer of dust hung around, smothering the house in an almost warm atmosphere. And yet it was chilling. The house lay silent, except for the occasional creaking of a floorboard underfoot. More of the team poured in, filling the gaps in the sound. Then silence again. Jo realised the entire team was staring at him, waiting for him to move. He reached for the handle, déjà vu reached his mind. Funny how it did that. After a five day lock-down, a person could be unstable. If caution was important last time, it was essential now. Finally, he worked up the courage to pull the door open. There was a metallic click and the other's guns pointed through the doorway. Lying on the floor, a clock, a measurement of the world's beat. Broken. The face shattered an arm broken and sticking up, a spring coming out of the plastic. It was almost comical in a way. And a faint noise, barely audible above the settling of the dust-

            Tick.

 

The End

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