I’m not even sure what this is, readers. I saw the prompt time thief on Inspiration Monday, and I started writing a story… And as seems to be a frequent thing with me, it turned into something else entirely.
So, I hope you like this twisted, uh… Fairy-tale? Nah. Whatever you wanna call it, please enjoy it!
The Time Thief
Grandma used to tell me tales of the Time Thief.
“He’s a wily demon, that Time Thief,” she’d whisper with a wink. “He arrives at the exact moment that you wish he’d stay away.”
“What does he look like, Grandma?” I’d ask every time, just to hear her speak the familiar rasped words.
“Oh, he’s wicked, my dear,” she’d grin, tucking the blankets around my shoulders. “Most horrid, indeed. He has twelve bulging eyes as dark as the night, and just as many fingers, clawed and ugly. But the very worst thing about the Time Thief is that you’ll never know he’s there; he hides himself. His heart beats as loudly as a ticking clock—and that’s all you’ll ever think he is.” Before I shut my eyes, I’d look at the swinging pendulum of the wall clock. To and fro. Seconds pounding past. “By the time you realise the Thief has visited you”—she’d kiss my forehead, and hum the final words—“your time will have already been stolen.”
Time passes, whether thieved or not.
I grew older, and Grandma stopped telling me the Time Thief tales. And then she passed away. I was with her at the end, as she lay pale and sickly in the hospital’s whiteness. She smiled at me, in that mischievously knowing way, and murmured, “He’s gotten greedy. He’s taking it all now.”
The monitor screamed a final, heartless tune.
I knew full-well that she was speaking of the Time Thief, my long-forgotten bedtime story character. I surrendered to a degree of nostalgia and began to tell others his tale. He would crop into conversations in off-handed, subconscious ways: I’d complain to co-workers that he’d stolen my weekend; I’d explain to other passengers that he’d made me miss the earlier bus. “He’s wicked,” I’d nod sagely to complete strangers. “Most horrid, indeed.”
…With hindsight, I can understand why the Time Thief would take an interest in me. I never shut up about him.
It was little things, at first. Things that happen to everybody on occasion. I’d wake up much later than usual; I’d realise I was still working long after my colleagues had gone home. But soon, time was slipping through my fingers all too quickly, too unnaturally. Entire hours would pass in mere minutes. I struggled to eat, to sleep, to work, to live, and I realised, with horrifying clarity, that the Time Thief had sunk his claws into me—all twelve of them—and he had no intention of letting go.
I stopped talking about him after that, hoping he’d divert his attention elsewhere. No such luck. Instead, time flowed ever faster until I was dizzy with the rush of it. Hours became days; days bled into weeks. I’d awaken from a nap and realise entire months had passed me by.
At the age of twenty-eight, I looked into the mirror and was met with the face of a ninety-year-old woman. So much like Grandma… But lacking in mirth. Despair, instead, shadowed my eyes, furrowed my brow, permeated my skin.
Rage hit me, and time was lost once more. I wailed a long and haunting cry and smashed the mirror with my bare hands. It wasn’t enough. I hobbled through the house, seizing each clock, watch and timepiece with withered hands, and dashed them to the floor until they lay in pieces.
All was quiet.
The wall took my weight as I fell back, sliding to the floor. An unfamiliar ache gripped my heart, burned through my chest and along my arm. Blackness crept into the edges of my vision and the impenetrable silence bellowed in my ears.
But then the silence ended.
Distantly, there came a ticking, a steady, mocking drumbeat of time as it marched cruelly onward. But not a clock. Instead, a wily demon, who blinked its twelve eyes and stroked its twelve fingers along my hair as it stole what little time I had left.
The darkness consumed.
The Time Thief had gotten greedy…
- Love The Bad Guy