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Edition 18: Like Clockwork by Tim Major

flag UKWorking for an eccentric and fastidious employer can have its drawbacks, especially when the job entails maintaining an immaculate replica of earth for the governor who never leaves his train route on Mars. The detail of Tim Major’s world and the strange characters who inhabit it recommended this story to the judges and brought it in for second place. SY

At a sound at the door, Mick Votel turned from examining the beautifully constructed, but not ticking, clock on the mantelpiece.

Danielle Abresch placed her bulky white helmet on the floor. “Damned claustrophobic thing.”

She shuffled her feet to kick away clods of dust and squinted to look around the room. The wood-panelled walls and the leafy branches that overhung the single window made the interior of the cottage perpetually dim. Gaslight from the desk lamp reflected from the clocks, barometers, brass-effect trinkets and framed pictures that hung from the panelled walls.

“Hi,” Mick said. “How are the kids getting on?”

Danielle scratched at the base of her shaven scalp. “I love how you pick up a conversation as if no time’s passed in between. It’s been another year, Mick. They’re not really kids any more. Anyway. What’s new? Like I say, it’s been a while.”

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