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"A place or state of punishment wherein according to Roman Catholic doctrine the souls of those who die in God's grace may expiate venial sins or satisfy divine justice for the temporal punishment still due to remitted mortal sin."

-Webster's Dictionary

Time. It pressed down upon him, and yet stretched on ahead and behind him. He felt it passing with every breath. Each second ticked within his head—perfectly-measured seconds, minutes and hours. Time was Sylar's only companion, the only other entity that moved and acted, changing day to night and back again. He could almost hear his internal clock speaking into the silence. It resounded more loudly than anything—even his heartbeat.

And yet nothing changed.

Every day, the towering sky remained a distant blue, dotted with passive clouds. The wind blew limply, just enough to carry a discontented nip. The buildings stood like monoliths, but never crumbled. No birds lighted upon their upper beams. No squirrels chattered in the boughs of the motionless trees. Nothing at all drew breath in this vast, empty, inescapable place.

Except him.

At first, he had wandered the streets like a madman, bursting through doors—they were always open—to find empty rooms, empty walkways and empty parking lots. He had screamed every name he knew, the cries tearing his throat and echoing against the unforgiving surfaces. He had clawed at his hair, howled up at the deaf heavens, and finally collapsed; sobbing so hard he was certain the pain in his chest would kill him.

His footsteps had carried him here and there, sometimes determined, sometimes listless, in an effort to discover some doorway, some gate, some tunnel out of here and back into the world he remembered. But as the days passed, and the silence weighed him down, his steps slowed, and he began rambling through a certain block. Eventually, he went inside one of the buildings on that block, and the quiet became even more complete as the wind was shut out.

His invisible clock, which rested deep inside the base of his throat, began to tick then, more loudly than during his meanderings. And the passage of time hit him like the vengeful nails that had been driven into his hands of late. A month. He had been here a month.

He had curled up in a corner, then, shaking. His mind whirled with equal portions of poisonous hatred and terror. He had no power here. He was like a mortal man. Except he had not eaten in a month, nor slept, and nothing had happened to his body. He had not even grown a beard.

He had pressed his hands to his face, trying to breathe, and at the same time wondering if he even needed to.

That had been when he heard a sound.

Tick, tick, tick.

He had pressed a hand to his chest, wondering if he was losing his mind to an even greater degree. But no, that sound was outside himself. He had gotten up, trailed up the stairs and into another room.

He had stopped. It was an empty room with windows, and a desk in the far corner. And on that desk sat an old-fashioned pocket watch.

He had lunged at it. Swiping the little, cool metal piece up in trembling hands, he tilted his head down and listened.

Tick, tick, tick.

He nearly wept again. It was just half a second too slow. Choking and then clearing his throat, his eyes had darted around to find something with which to unscrew the back—not just any tool would do if he meant to keep it undamaged. He rooted through the room but found nothing. Attaching the watch chain to one of his black buttons, he put the time piece in his pea coat pocket and headed out in search of a little screwdriver.

This wide and obsessive search kept him occupied for days. He collected multiple tools—magnifying glasses, screwdrivers, little hammers, delicate jewelry equipment and engraving tools. And he also found more watches and clocks. He took them all back to that first room with the desk, and sat, tinkering with all of them, even those that looked half-smashed. He filled the room with gadgets as one by one he synchronized every watch. The tick, tick, tick grew louder with each accomplishment—they all joined their voices in perfect chorus, as one voice, as he put them to rights, fixed what was broken, and restored their purpose. His hands worked deftly, his attention focused completely.

And thus, he never lost track of time.

A year passed. He learned every corner of this bleak, never-changing city as he searched for more watches and yes, perhaps a doorway that may lead out. He memorized the clouds that drifted past in the same order, in the same direction. He knew each tree, each stone, each crack in the cement.

A second year.

The whole of his room thudded with a steady tick, tick, tick. He loved that sound. His own heart beat in syncopated rhythm to it. It was almost as if someone else sat with him while he worked.


A third year.

He did not mark the days. He did not have to. He knew the passage of time, felt its every movement. But the reason he had been sent here faded away. The place and his existence in it lost its confusion and panic, and settled down into soft, tragic monotony. By the third month of his third year, he had forgotten the sound of his own voice.

By the fifth, he forgot his name.

In the sixth hour of his fifth day of his fourth year, he sat perched behind that desk, working on a wristwatch. It was the third one he had built out of the parts of other useless watches.

Tick, tick, tick.

His pulse beat against the ticking. He felt it in his throat, chest and wrists. He finished the watch. He glanced over it, then set it in a pile atop the others.

Tick, tick, tick.

He heard a sound. He froze.

Tick, tick, tick.


It had had shuddered through the floor, against his chest. In perfect time with his heart.


And then a light. A light he did not see, but it broke through his mind, just behind the corner of his left eye, out of sight. A white, piercing, narrow light.

He stood up, his heart beating fast.

Something had changed.