The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XIV

by Steppen Sawicki

Novel: Occult Adventure

Flipping her hair over her shoulder with the back of her hand, Gin unslung her bag – a garish orange thing with an blue elephant stitched onto the front – from her shoulder.  She pulled a wrapped bundle from it and spread it out on the floor.  Inside were gears, cogs, pins, screws, casings, all the components of a watch.  Of several watches in fact.  She brought out a smaller bundle of rolled leather, which she unraveled to reveal a number of tiny screwdrivers and tweezers and all sorts of other tools I didn’t recognize.  She sat cross-legged on the floor before all this and began to pick certain parts of the pile from the opened bundle.

“Sit here across from me,” she told Sam.  Her voice was firm, all business now.

For a moment I thought he would change his mind, maybe throw her out.  He certainly paused long enough, standing like a statue before the gears and cogs laid out to change his fate.  But then he sat down in front of the pieces.

“What exactly does this entail?” he said.

“I’m going to hand you a part and tell you to think of something in your life – some memory or emotion that connects you with a concept, say your first memory or the moment you fell in love or had a particularly good meal.  Then I’ll ask you to breathe on the part.  When I put those parts together, they’ll form a picture of you, of your perceptions.  But no cheating.  I’m not telling you what part is for which watch, so you’ll have to cooperate for every piece.”

“I would anyway,” he sniffed, as if offended.

“Of course,” she said, taking a little set of magnifying glasses out of a case and strapping them on.  “You would, wouldn’t you?”

“How long will this take?” I asked, wondering if the spell Sam had cast on the room had an expire date.

“A day and a night I expect.  It typically takes weeks to put a watch together, but when you’re dealing with my sort of watches you learn a few tricks.”

Then they sat there on the floor, passing little pieces back and forth, both deadly serious.

“Remember your first memory.  Think of your mother.  Think of a treasured object from your childhood.  Remember the first time something was taken from you.  Remember a time you were happiest.  Remember a time you were saddest.  Frightened.  Angry.  Remember a time you thought you would die.”

Sam’s shoulders stiffened at that one.

“Remember the first time you fell in love.  Had sex.  First killed something or someone.  How do you feel right now, a time when time passed you by, a time when time slowed to a crawl, a time when time seemed immaterial and malleable at the same time, think of sleeping, eating, being bored, being entertained, staring at a clock, forgetting time…”

And as they went along and Sam breathed onto each part, Gin set them into one of the growing watches before her.  She slowly filled in the spaces and placed the gears and twisted the screws.

It was four AM the next morning before they finished.  Sam was beyond exhausted; his eyelids were drooped and bloodshot and he breathed hard as if he had run a marathon.  He looked at Gin as if he were looking through her.

“That’s some stamina,” she said, tightening screws.  “I wasn’t sure you would make it.  This is typically a process of several days, and even then men collapse.”

“I’m fine,” Sam croaked.

“If you say so.  Though you might want to sleep it off while I finish up.”

“I’m fine,” he repeated.  I don’t think he knew he had said it already.  He tried to rise but staggered, and as I helped him up – he didn’t even have the energy to push me away – he looked decidedly ill.

“Faye,” he said, his voice low.

“Yes?” I said

“I’m going to vomit.”

I dragged him to the bathroom and held his hair back out of his way as if we were at some drunken party.  He had no energy to complain.  When he was finished I led him to the bed and he fell onto it and squeezed my hand lightly as if to thank me before falling fast asleep.  I smoothed a strand of hair out of his face, noting the shadows around his eyes, as if the process of the watch had aged him.  He was already snoring softly.