Time ticks for everybody and has become the instrument with which humans torture themselves, marking as it does the countdown to each person’s eventual end. Not a precious minute can be wasted in each of our allotted lifespans … whether it be used for good or evil.
The Infernal Clock is an anthology tracking one day in time, each of its 24 hours filled with horrors and torments. Between the covers, lie a collection of diverse styles ranging from dark fantasy to the literary to the classical—here is horror in its many forms. The anthology is available on Amazon but to celebrate its recent launch we are offering the chance to win a print copy of the book. Check out our 500 word flash horror competition over at The Infernal Clock blog. And if that’s not enough, here’s a taster from the book:
The Graveyard Shift
by Stephanie Ellis
“Are any awake?” asked Nurse Maddison. Joseph cast his eye over the bank of monitors in front of him. Each showed a sleeping patient, unmoving. “Dead to the world,” he said. “If only,” said the nurse as she walked away. They both laughed at the joke, tired though it was. The graveyard shift was almost over. She just had to wait until the clock struck three. And the big hand was almost there, moving slowly towards the end of its hourly journey, second … by second … by second.
He watched her grab her freedom, striding out of the facility’s gates, waving up at his camera as she disappeared into the night.
He sighed. It was alright for her, he still had another hour to go; another hour of mind-numbing boredom. He could pass the time like others by watching TV or flicking through trashy magazines but he had more of a conscience than that, ever since … well, what was past was past but from then on he had always done everything by the book—almost always anyway. Needless to say it did not help his popularity and he frequently found himself walking the corridors or watching the monitors at this unearthly hour, his colleagues having bagged the more attractive shifts as payback.
A slight movement in Patient One’s cell caught his eye; Nurse Maddison’s replacement—Nurse Ole Lukøje, a male medic this time. The Dane had been there a week and Joseph still hadn’t met him. It was almost as if he lost time when Ole was on duty. Joseph had a worrying suspicion he sometimes dozed off on the job despite all his good intentions. But nothing had happened and nobody had caught him. Hell, it wasn’t a sleep clinic for nothing; he could afford to cut himself a little slack, all those years of tedious conscientiousness had built him a balance of credit he felt could do with spending. And his time here was nearly up after all. Tonight though, his curiosity was piqued. It was definitely about time he met the guy. He rubbed his eyes and returned his gaze to the monitor. Ole Lukøje, he pondered the name, a Danish synonym for the Sandman, very apt.
He continued to watch Patient One. What dreams are you giving your patients, Nurse Lukøje, he wondered. The nurse had left but the man was no longer sleeping peacefully. His body had begun to twitch uncontrollably, his legs jerking as if running from something, his hands swinging out wildly against an unseen attacker. Joseph cast his eye over the patient’s notes left with him in case of ‘emergencies’. Patient One was prone to night terrors—well that was something new—and apparently only a recent development as it had been added by Nurse Lukøje. There had been no such observations from any of the other nurses who worked that shift. An extra note had been squashed into the space at the bottom of the page. It merely stated that normal sleep patterns resumed at 4 a.m. Joseph frowned. Usually the nurse would stay longer, wait until the patient had settled down, adjust the meds if any were being administered. But he wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere. And Patient One was becoming more agitated by the minute.
To read more and find out what other horrors can happen in 24 hours, check out The Infernal Clock