A/N: This started as a drabble for the dw100 prompt 'watch' - but it grew.


Like Clockwork

The Earth ticked.

He usually managed to forget it during the busy days, when other sounds drowned it out, the small puzzles and worries of this world keeping it from his awareness.

But at night, when the building quietly sighed and settled around him and all but the night watch were sleeping, it ticked.

He'd removed the wall-clock from the lab within his first week. No one noticed. Didn't they hear the sound? The sound of time rushing around them, past them, over them? Leaving them behind?

The incessant sound of the ticking could have driven him half-mad if he hadn't made an effort to tune it out - it seemed every room in every building in every city on Earth had a clock, and they were all ticking. If that weren't enough, nearly every Earth man and woman wore a wristwatch, and an old, clunky, inefficient analog watch at that. He wondered if he might slip just a few quiet digital watches in, at least here. Just a few. They were nearly in their era.

The inhabitants of Earth were so calloused to time, so unaware of the ebb and flow of it, the river running throughout creation. If they could only feel it, know it, breathe it, like he once had…

He turned away from his own dim reflection in the night-shrouded lab window; he couldn't see the stars.

Perhaps then they wouldn't need these constant companions, these mechanical heartbeats to call out their fleeting lives in neat segments, ticking away all around them day after day.

Night after night.

Church-bells rang, Big Ben boomed out the hours.

Measuring time, his unknown time of exile, hour by minute by second.