As the bell on the door of the antiques shop rang, the shopkeeper looked up from the newspaper he was reading. He was surprised to see that the customer was a young girl with long, brown hair who appeared to be 14 or 15 years old. "Why, hello, little lady! What brings you here today?" he asked with a friendly tone.
The girl replied, "Oh, just browsing. This little shop just looked so charming! There's bound to be some great stuff here."
As she began to browse the shelves and tables along the walls, the shopkeeper returned to his reading. "Well, if anything catches your interest, don't hesitate to ask me about it."
The girl's eyes darted from each aged treasure to the next. She spent some time analyzing various vases and a small wooden lockbox, then was about to pass through a doorway to the back half of the store before finding something hidden behind a few candlesticks and an oil lamp: a large, circular clock.
"This clock is huge!" she said, picking it up. It had a long, leather strap connected to it, perfect for hanging it over one's shoulder. Under the hour, minute, and second hands, there were smaller faces to show the day and month, and a four-digit dial to display the year. She began spinning the hands on its weathered faces, setting it to the time her digital watch (which she had received for Christmas) read- precisely 43 seconds after 9:12 PM - and the date she knew it to be- December 31, 1999. As she did this, she commented, "I've never seen a clock like this before…"
The shopkeeper looked up again and said, "Ah, that. A customer brought that in a few years back to see if she could get it fixed." As he spoke, the girl opened the clock's back and began to examine its cogs and gears. "I never managed to get it working, but I bought it from the woman because it was so odd-looking. I had never seen anything quite like it before. I think it was meant to be a large, portable watch, probably for use in a factory."
"That's interesting," she said. "Wait, what do you mean you can't get it working? I just wound it and it seems to work fine."
"What?!" the shopkeeper said in surprise. "How did you get it to start?"
"All I did was nudge a gear that looked out of place. It popped right into its spot and the knob to wind it popped out a little. I turned it and the clock started ticking."
The shopkeeper stood up from his stool and leaned over the counter to observe the clock as the girl held it out. He gazed at it for a moment and, puzzled, he said, "It's ticking, but… the hands aren't moving. Most peculiar…"
The girl stared at the clock for another moment before saying, "Maybe if I push the knob back in…"She did so, and there was a bright flash of light as the bulb in the ceiling appeared to blow out.
In almost the same moment, the girl found herself in the back half of the store, still holding the clock, and obscured from the vision of the shopkeeper by a wall. Startled for a moment, the girl collected herself quickly (as she usually did) and was about to reenter the front of the shop as she heard the shopkeeper say…
"Ah, that. A customer brought that in a few years back to see if she could get it fixed. I never managed to get it working, but I bought it from the woman because it was so odd-looking."
The girl was completely confused. Why was he repeating himself? She cautiously made her way to the doorway, holding the clock at her side, as the shopkeeper continued, "I had never seen anything quite like it before. I think it was meant to be a large, portable watch, probably for use in a factory."
The girl peeked around the corner and saw what she never expected to see: herself. The girl, totally shocked (which was odd for her), was unable to react as her other self said, "That's interesting. Wait, what do you mean you can't get it working? I just wound it and it seems to work fine."
The conversation went on exactly as the girl had just experienced. She pulled herself back from the doorway and flattened up against the wall, unsure of what to do.
Remembering what happened the first time, she couldn't help but peek around the corner as her other self said, "Maybe if I push the knob back in…"
The girl, suddenly realizing what was happening, reached around the wall as fast as she could as the flash of light burst from her other self's clock. She pulled the chain hanging from the ceiling connected to the light bulb above her, turning it off before the shopkeeper uncovered his eyes from the flash. The girl jumped back into the position she was in before the flash and said, as calmly as she could, "I th-think that bulb blew out!"
The shopkeeper, still startled, looked up at the bulb and said, "It… seems it has." He stared at the bulb for another moment. The girl feared he hadn't bought her little bluff, but he then looked back down at the clock in her arms and said, "Anyway, In the years I've owned it, that clock's never started for me, but you managed to get it working… to an extent, at least. I must sincerely thank you."
The girl looked down to the clock in her arms and sheepishly asked, "Actually, I was wondering… could I buy this clock? I really like it!"
"Buy it? That old thing?" The shopkeeper considered her request. "Hm… Sure, why not? It seems to suit you well," he said, smiling.
The girl's face lit up. "Really? Oh, thank you so much! I'll treasure this forever!" she exclaimed as she paid him. Then with another thank-you and an almost faked spring in her step, the girl left the store, running home with her newfound treasure slung over her shoulder by its strap.
"Strange girl…" The shopkeeper muttered as he returned to his paper.
As the girl ran home, the clock started to tick loudly and vibrate against her hip. She stopped running and looked down at the clock, whose hands began spinning wildly until they were almost a blur. "Oh, what now?" she asked.
Another flash of light enveloped her, and she was gone.