To have your challenge entry recorded, please write your piece as a reply to this thread.
As a central theme of Consistency is the existence of time — ensuring that you are writing on a timely and daily basis — the theme of this month’s prompts will also be about time.
Today's prompt: [Alarm Clock]
Definition: a clock with a device that can be made to sound at the time set in advance.
╰┈➤ Write a piece inspired by this object.
Word Count: Minimum 200 words, no maximum.
CW: has son slight horror
WC: 300 smt I forgor
The sound of the alarm clock blares into his mind as he let's out a groan, turning it off. He huffed a breath, and blinked his eyes before sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
Merllivan got off his bed, immediately noticing Phoduen was there. "How long have you been-"
"Just now, don't worry." Phoduen cheekily smiled at him. "Today's the day right? Go get yourself ready." He gestured him to 'shoo' in a lighthearted way and walked towards the door, seeing himself out.
"Oh. Right." A sullen expression was formed on his face as he took a bath and got himself dressed, once ready going outside.
He wore just a plain t-shirt and jeans, compared to his flashy uniform he always wore most of the days.
"Special attire for a special day, it seems?" Phoduen chuckled lightly as Merllivan stifled a laugh, shaking his head. "Yeah, of course."
They began to walk, seeing a small hill with flowers visible on every part, heading towards it.
Once they had arrived, he only saw one gravestone. Rather confused he rushed to it and saw...'Merllivan Eathus.'
"You have to accept it, Merllivan." Phoduen's face began to distort into a monstrosity, unhinging it's huge, fleshy jaw with blood dripping from it, and consumed him.
Nothing but black surrounded him, and soon enough, the sound of an alarm clock fills his mind as Merllivan opened his eyes in a state of shock, breathing frantically.
Phoduen was on the same spot he was just like in the dream, in that very same corner, with that very same, position and posture.
"What the he-" Merllivan was cut off.
"Just now, don't worry." Phoduen cheekily smiled at him. "Today's the day right? Go get yourself ready." He gestured him to 'shoo' in a lighthearted way and walked towards the door, seeing himself out.
Merllivan stood there, frozen in shock and confusion.
Sarah stood frowning at the rows and rows of alarm clocks. There were so many to chose from. Who would have known that a shop like this existed, a shop dedicated to selling just alarm clocks. They were standing on the second floor, SECOND FLOOR! *How the heck am I supposed to choose just one!*
Her friend Aiden nudged her at her side. “Are you going to just stand here and stare or are you actually going to buy one. We have been standing here for fifteen minutes now.” Her eyes started sparkling and she pointed. “Look, that one says it starts making toast when it goes off!”
Sarah let out a sigh. *Yea, at some point I will make a choice, I hope.*
Suddenly she jumped and spoke as if talking to an animal: “Ohhhh, look that one is shaped like a baby penguin.” Sarah reached out her hand to grab it and look at it from all sides. The whole room started spinning when she touched it. She thought she could hear several alarms going off. Feeling dizzy, she shut her eyes. When she opened them, she was no longer in the store. She couldn’t see Aiden either. The penguin clock lat at her feet. She was standing on what appeared to be snow.
She kneeled down to touch the snow, but the spinning happened again. Before she knew it, she found herself back in the store with her friend waving a hand in front of her face.
“Sarah?? Jeesh, now you are reacting. Are you okay? You were staring at the ground for a full five minutes.“ She pointed. “And you dropped the clock. You wanna buy that one?”
Sarah shook her head firmly. “No let’s uhh head out and never return here, okay?”
With that te both of them walked out of the store.
CW: Getting stuck in a dream
And I'm falling and falling.
My dream takes me to the edge of a cliff, and the world blurs until I realize I'm weightless, effortless in this state of no control. No matter how many times I flail my arms, my real eyes don't open.
I know that I'm stuck in this abyss I can't wake up from; the dream is becoming too close to reality.
I count the seconds and my head tells me that sirens bounce through the invisible walls every ten minutes. It's always on time, the only thing I can predict.
I don't make an effort to scream, residing to the knowledge that no one would be able to hear me both here and where I am. I live alone.
The sirens are ringing again.
It's about an hour before the sirens seem to draw closer to my eardrums. I cannot touch anything, but I still feel its vibrations shake.
There is no more time, I find that much to be true. And now I'm pinch myself, shaking my head around, screaming for someone to come find me. The words that leave my mouth feel foreign as the world begins to blur again.
I see my bedframe.
There's the cabinet, last night's shirt still draped over the door. Everything is fine, and shoot out my arm from the blanket. The alarm clock stops shaking, and so does my fingers
All my life I’ve been forgetful. From mundane things like answering a text or putting my things away to a lot more important things such as missing appointments or sometimes even forgetting to eat.
It’s not something I can control, no matter how much people tell me to fix it. It’s not some bad habit or laziness that I can simply break with enough willpower and effort. My mind simply doesn’t retain short term memories.
But it’s bothersome. It’s frustrating. For me, but mostly for everyone around me. It upsets them; angers them even every time I forget something, no matter how big or small that thing is.
So they told me to set alarm clocks for everything, and for a while, it worked. I ate on time, did my chores, worked, texted back immediately and barely ever missed an appointment. It’s a good alternative, for them, for me. Mostly for them. But it’s not the solution, is it? Every time I need to do something, I have to scroll through an ever growing list of alarms set up on my phone, each single one followed up with at least two backups in case I forget the first one. The list is never ending.
And it’s disheartening, really, every time I look through the list I’m overwhelmed by a wave of guilt that doesn’t leave. But it works, so who am I to end a good thing?
Now, every time an alarm goes off I flinch as if someone just yelled in my ear. Because really, that’s all it is. A reminder of their insults and annoyance; a reminder that I’m not like them, that I’m unwell, ungrateful and even stupid.
Once a good thing has now turned into a nightmare.
Nowadays, I don’t even allow myself a moment to finish what I’m doing anymore. The alarm goes off and I go do the thing it tells me to like a conditioned slave. And not doing it immediately? That makes it so much worse. Even my own mind belittles me now.
Sometimes I wonder if it was worth it… All the tightness and tension that clutches my chest every time one of those insufferable beeps goes off and how long afterwards it persists. The sound has been carved into my brain; my mind repeats it even when it’s quiet. Now my days are plagued by an endless cycle of waiting to be told what to do so I’m not a hindrance on anyone ever again.
The alarm clock will beep and I will do what I’m told, regardless of what it does to me.
(( CW for kidnapping and a crime scene investigation!! ))
“Hm ...” Taka narrows his eyes as he examines it. Everything else in the room had been shattered, thrown around in what had to have been a decent struggle, or otherwise strewn asunder. Yet this ... antique. Not necessarily an antique, no, that can't be the right word, but in any case, it looked quite worn. Yet it was intact. Not spotless, but intact nonetheless. This one ... alarm clock. It was the only thing in the room worth taking back for investigation. It was an interesting find, to say the least. The clock in question was a physical one, but one that displayed the numbers digitally. Parts of the screen were cracked, and it wouldn't power on, but it wasn't broken beyond repair. In fact, if he could just get it powered up again, the time would theoretically indicate the very time this kidnapping occurred. A priceless shard of evidence, the exact time that a crime takes place. From there, it just takes asking around and narrowing down who the victim was with and when, and it doesn't take much more beyond that to find the culprit. Assuming, of course, that the culprit is someone the victim knew. Taka hopes for their sake that it is, but only in the context of it being easier to find them faster, before they run out of time completely. Everything else about that idea, however, is absolutely tragic. The whole ordeal is sickening. ... time. Running out of time, like this device did. Taka is sure to take note of this; an object from the scene this telling cannot be handled with anything but the *utmost* care and professionalism, somehow more so than anything else. If he can get this back to the station, and they can somehow get it powered on, it'd be a miracle. And they're gonna need a few more of those if they want to find this person before it's too late.
In a time where the wild was more dangerous now, campers set up traps before the night, only to remove them in the next morning. Very much like this, I now set out to destroy my alarm clocks from disrupting my sleep.
I'm sure I had great ambitions yesterday. Oh yes, I will wake up at 8 AM, and it is going to be glorious. I am now up, but deeply wish to return back to sleep. That meant either trying to ignore the alarm clocks, or turning them off.
A few pointless minutes later I realized ignoring didn't help, as I realized every morning. So I set out to turn off the alarm clocks. There were three in total, one on my phone, one on the table across the room, and one in the bathroom, all while still staying tired enough to return to sleep.
The phone was annoying. I needed to open it to make it not go on slumber, and it did not recognize my sleepy face. Instead, I powered it off completely. That's one clock done.
The next clock told me the time throughout the day. It had an alarm clock function, which my parents enabled and I didn't bother to disable. I quickly removed the batteries (much easier than these from my phone for some reason) and also shut it off.
Now, the last alarm clock was the real deal. It went off once every five minutes, to lure me into a false sense of security before shrilling about once again. The shrill shriek cut through closed doors and walls, startled me awake, and then I could pretend that I was going to get up in these five minutes, only to not get up and try to go back to sleep, for the shriek to once again startle me awake.
I stumbled through the door, not really caring what my legs stumbled against. My eyes were still closed, keeping that sand inside. A few steps later, I felt the clock in my hand, felt the smooth pattern on the exterior, felt the ticks and remembered my grandfather's hand—
It shrieked in my hands, and I almost let it drop.
I looked at the clock in my hand. It was safe. Unfortunately, I was awake. Quietly, I shut the alarm off and went to my wardrobe. Today was going to be a long day.
Brian reached out a hand and slammed it on his alarm clock, fumbling for the snooze button. After much failure he finally sat up and and turned the whole thing off, resisting the urge to throw it across the room.
Even though he had slept for over twelve hours, he still didn’t feel well rested. What time was it anyways? The digital numbers on the black screen were all messed up, blinking and fizzing in a way that would have probably caused several epilepsy seizures, as well as displaying disturbing messages that his mind was too half-asleep to read.
It was time to get up. Brian’s feet hit the carpeted floor, patterns of ugly orange and purple spiraling out of control. Opening the door, he found an endless red hallway with matching doors awaiting him, the numbers making no sense whatsoever. Strange… What hotel was this? Or was this even a hotel? He didn’t remember coming here at all. Had he been dreaming? Was this a dream?
He ventured outside, pushing open some of the other doors, just to check, only to find rooms identical to his, all empty inside. Ugh… Maybe he should go back to sleep. But he couldn’t find which room was his.
Everything was folding in around him, and he wondered if this was what panic was. Panic in the most colorful sense…
The alarm rang, jerking me awake. Groggy and half asleep still, my arm reached over to the night table, feeling for my phone to shut off the sound. Feeling the cool screen of my phone, I dragged it into my hand, blearily looking at it to shut off the alarm.
Putting the phone beside, I returned to blissful sleep, snuggling into my blanket. Only for my peace to be short lived. Because more beeping woke me after what felt like mere seconds but was actually an hour. Annoyed I shut it off, throwing the phone under my pillow and going back to sleep.
And yet again, I was awoken by the alarm, this time the sound louder and more incessant as if it was yelling at me. Turns out it was both my phone and my digital bedside alarm clock that were loudly beeping at the same time, the combination of both sounds loud and ceaseless.
Giving up, I got up, looking at the time, only to end up bolting out of bed in panic. I had an exam today. A very important one and I had set the alarms so I would make it to the exam on time. And I had woken up at my last alarm, resulting in me running around as a headless chicken, trying to get ready and get everything I needed, and making it to the exam on time.
May or may not include a lot of swearing. I am not sorry <3 The shrill ring of the alarm clock echoed through Lauren’s room accompanied by a frustrated groan. Reaching blindly, her hand hits the table and misses the clock entirely. She swings again but it merely falls off the table this time. Lauren rolls over and sits up, rubbing at her eyes with one hand. The alarm clock is laying on the floor, just out of reach, ringing just as loudly as it was before. Because of course it is. Honestly, Lauren wasn’t sure she had the time for this shit today. She hadn’t slept for more than two or three hours in several days, and now this god damn alarm wouldn’t shut up. Pushing herself up and off her bed, Lauren picked up the alarm and pressed the off button. The alarm clock, however, didn’t fucking stop. Because of course it didn’t! “Why did I buy this useless piece of garbage? All it does is ruin everything and by this point I should’ve just moved to using my phone, but no I wanted to be stupid and have a real alarm clock. And now it won’t fucking turn off when I hit the off button!” Lauren grumbles to herself, pressing the button repeatedly. The alarm clock continued to ring; though, it seemed to get louder and louder with each passing second. “Man, come on. Fuck.” Obviously, the anger did not help, and no, the alarm didn’t turn off. Because of course it wouldn’t. “God fucking dammit!” Lauren flings the clock across the room and watches as it crashes against the wall. Broken glass scatters over the floor and the bell atop the clock rolls towards the wall. It’s finally quiet. But now, there’s a mess she has to clean up. Because of course there is.
I may just have the strangest roommate ever. She’s smiley, always dresses in suits, eats cereal for every meal, and doesn’t really cause any problems.
Pretty strange even if that was it. But I haven’t told you the strangest thing about her yet, that one little thing she’s somehow capable of doing.
That is, she knows the time I will stop doing something exactly, and the time I will start doing something. She’s set up alarm clocks all around our apartment. On the fridge, in the cupboard, under my bed, in the laundry room, on the tray of shoes. Every time I finish or start doing something, an alarm clock sounds.
It’s not like she has a button she presses to set them off. She’s set them in advance. And I can’t understand for the life of me how she does it. How she knows I’m going to finish reading The Dead Zone by Stephen King at exactly 12:21 a.m., or how she knows I’ll finish getting ready at 8:30 a.m.
I join her in eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast. She doesn’t speak much, really, but she has this shy little smile on her face most of the time. She’s told me she’s the youngest child, as if that would explain her personality, or maybe even her gift.
I eat fast so I’m not late for work, and as I shovel the last spoonful in my mouth, an alarm goes off.
“How,” I ask, “did you do that?”
“Do what?” Her smug smile tells me she knows exactly what.
I shake my head at her and leave for work.
An alarm goes off as I exit the apartment.
When I get back from work, greeted by the beeping alarm clock over the head of the door, I make a resolution. I am going to talk to her about it.
I catch her in the process of resetting the alarm clock under my bed to go off at 11:30 p.m. Once she’s done with the one in my bathroom (well, there are three in my bathroom, so I should say the one near the sink), I say, “Can we talk?”
“Hm?” This is the one thing she hasn’t anticipated of me. “Yeah, I guess, what about?”
“Right…okay.” She leads me to the green couch, and we sit down.
“How are you able to know things that’ll happen, when they’ll happen?”
She gives me a smile, sadness in her eyes, though I don’t know why. “It’s always been a gift of mine. Once I know people, you know, what they get distracted by, how often their attention strays, how fast they read, their routine…they get predictable.”
Damn. I was really predictable. I should start doing more spontaneous things.
“Okay, but why do you set these clocks?” Surely there’s a reason. Maybe it was just fun for her, predicting me.
She wouldn’t speak. But why she doesn’t is because whatever reason she has is sad, I know that much; no shy little smile at the moment.
I almost don’t want to pry it out of her. I just want her to forget I asked, yes, and carry on. What did it matter, anyway?
I wrap my arms around her. “It’s okay, I don’t mind the alarm clocks. It’s actually pretty cool.” Then I added, “...You don’t have to tell me why.”
Tears stream down her cheeks, but she instantly rubs them away. “I like your predictableness, you know that? I love you for it, ‘cause no one else is predictable. I know everything that you’re going to do, everyday, you never change. So, I know that you’re going to finish reading The Book Thief at 11:30 p.m., sobbing at the end, and I know that the next day you’ll be out the door at 8:45 a.m. to go to work. I know you’ll keep living in this apartment with me until you get higher pay and leave for some better place, and that’ll be in about six months. If I know all this, if I can predict your future this much, then there’s no way something unpredictable will happen to you!”
“Like, I know you certainly won’t go skydiving and fail to activate the parachute somehow. If I know the exact time you’ll finish a novel, I’ll know if you’re going to die…and that won’t be any time soon. It won’t be like…”
“It won’t be like what?”
“Like how my mom died, so unexpectedly. I could never predict what happened with her life, never predict what was going to happen to her.”
A surge of emotion attacks me. I hug her tight, her face buried in my chest. I never thought my roommate cared so much about my well being….
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper. “I’m so sorry.” I don’t know what else to say.
An alarm clock goes off. I suppose I should’ve been doing something else, something predictable that would justify the sound. But all the sound need be is a reminder I’m alive and doing something.
“Don’t be sorry. Be predictable.” She laughs, disentangling herself from my arms. “This was not predictable, you know.”
“Maybe not,” I agree. “But as long as I’m with you, you know I’m well, right?”
She grins. “Right. So maybe just never leave my side then.”
As the alarm clock wakes me anew, I remember my duty. My self-imposed duty that I shall continue consistency on despite missing the last one out of forgetfulness.
That's how my alarm was born, out of stubbornness and determination. Because even if we fail once, we must look at the big picture - one battle lost doesn't mean the war is as well.
So we must march on, no matter how many days we missed, 1, 3, 11... Because we can make better streaks yet, because it's not over, because as long as we stand back up, we can walk away proud.
So raise your pencils, flip out your keyboard, open your documents, writers! This is your call to arms!
And as the sun rises, the early riser takes up her pen. In the company of her plants and the quiet morning, disturbed only by the chirps of the birds, she writes her piece first thing in the morning.
And as the sun reaches high above, someone takes their tablet out to finish their entry in their lunch break, content and channeling a quiet inspiration.
And as the sun disappears below the horizon, someone takes out his paper drafts to type it up on his keyboard, unhurriedly and petting his cat which has taken up residence on his lap.
And as the deadline draws close, the procrastinators take out their nearest electronics to type out rushed letters, adrenaline rushing through their veins to help them make it just in time.
And as the last bus passes and the night quietens, so they sleep…
WC: 346 As beautiful as the blossoms around me were, being surrounded by all these bright colors and flashy decorations was beyond overstimulating, and the bewitching potpourri of aromas was almost too much for my sensitive nose. My personal livelihood was at stake, so I had no time to wonder about petty questions regarding the colors of the sky and who brought me to this field of flowers in the middle of nowhere. That's never been my problem, after all. "Oh, Ben!" The high-pitched, girly voice made my ears perk up on instinct. Even after having spent years without hearing it, everything about it felt like I'd only heard it yesterday. Without even giving my brain a chance to think of a follow-up beforehand, I called for the voice's owner. "Elizabeth!?" As if calling her by her name made her manifest into existence, the girl in question, a petite young school girl with raven hair and pearly skin, stepped into my field of view. She looked up at me and locked eyes for a second before tackling me and wrapping her arms around my waist. "I thought I'd lost you for good…" Her voice came out as nothing more than a whimper, choked out almost entirely by her swollen throat and the wails of the wind. I placed a hand on the back of her head and started rubbing. "As long as you're here, Liz… there's a reason to keep living," I told her. "I love you so much." I noticed Elizabeth's face go from milky white to beet red within seconds. "Ben… I…" I tipped her chin up to face me and pressed my forehead against hers. "Can I?" I asked her. Elizabeth closed her eyes, which I took as a sign of consent, so I leaned in, lips licked and puckered. I don't remember our lips ever making contact. What I do remember, though, and far too well at that, is that accursed screeching. Like all my dreams these days, I was cut short by the shrill ringing of the digital alarm clock at my bedside.
I stand in a shadowy place. It doesn’t matter that all I see is muddled tricks of light, because I know it’s a garden. Seeing isn’t always believing, right? Anyway, as I walk through the shadowy place (which is definitely a garden) I notice other figures, like wisps of smoke, but I know what they look like. I talk to a woman who wears a shadow dress that appears to be white with red polka dots, or maybe it was the other way around. I also had a friendly conversation with another wisp of smoke whom I’m sure was a tall and skinny man, like my neighbor Mr. Skinner. But who also had the face of my younger brother with my mother’s hair and my cat’s eyes.
Of course, these were all completely ordinary people, who I found quite interesting, so interesting in fact that the garden became a little boring for us. So we moved indoors, well we didn’t actually move, but we did. It’s just like that, you know.
Indoors; socializing with each other, and all round having a blast, I decide to go say hello to my dear departed aunt, but on the way out, I am met with a sound. It’s something like a small bark and I look down and there’s my dog, well, any old dog, but I like to think it’s mine. Though in all reality it appeared to be a cross between my neighbor Mr. Skinner’s dog, my cousin Maisey’s dog, and maybe some sort of llama. I couldn’t be sure... But it might be mine.
I play with the dog for a while (I call it Daisy) before realizing that I’m late for my train. I arrive at the train station (though I don’t need to travel, I just travel, you know?) and it’s shrouded in mist, or maybe it’s just a trick of the shadows, but as I am about to board my train, an alarm goes off. This frightens me because it’s not something I predicted. I take a step back and the train doors open. Agents dressed in black suits walk out, flashing their identification cards.
“There’s been a bomb threat on the train,”
One of them says. I can’t hear them over the alarms, but I know what they say of course. Is it time to wake up already? That’s a pity. I’m quite enjoying this dream even though there’s a rumor going around that there’s a tsunami queued which is scary, but not surprising, there usually is one. Besides, I haven’t even said goodbye to daisy.
As if also sharing my thoughts, an agent reassures me,
“Don’t worry, we think it’s a hoax. The bomb won’t go off for another five hours, but it’s up to you to deactivate it,” they say. “And you need to switch it off so there are no more false alarms.”
I nod. It shouldn’t be too hard of a task; I shut my eyes and remember myself lying in my bed and I put myself into that body. I inch my arm over the edge of the bed, then reach down to pick up the alarm. It might be tricky to deactivate while my body is unconscious, so instead of figuring it out and waking up, I flick my arm, tossing the alarm clock on the floor. it stopped beeping.
I almost heard it sigh. The clock failed its mission, but that can’t be helped. I have trains to catch, daisy to play with and many more people to meet in the shadowy realm of dreams, much more important things than simply waking up.