She felt ill as she watched the second hand ticked forward twice then back once, then forward twice then back once, forward twice then back once, and then continue its loop of the clock face. She knew it was just the battery going flat, but it felt so unnatural and wrong.
She looked around the room for the real time. The alarm clock was too far away, and she couldn’t remember where her mobile phone was. She opened her door and shouted out.
“What time is it?”
‘Time for you to get a watch!”
Stace grit her teeth. Her stupid housemate couldn’t be helpful – just this once? She shut the door and threw on some mostly clean clothes. She grabbed her resume from a pile of papers and looked for a manila folder to put it in. Nothing. She could get one at the newsagent.
She went out to the kitchen where Rick sat at the table eating Nutri Grain.
“Ooooh! Fancy! You look almost respectable. What’s up?”
“I’ve got that job interview. At the uni library.”
“I thought that was at ten?”
Stace’s stomach dropped. “It is. What time is it?”
“Ah, it’s almost three.”
“In the afternoon. Although you probably figured that out – sun and all…”
“Three! Shit.” She sat. She stared into space and spotted a clock on the wall. “Three?”
“To be fair, I did call you at nine.”
“I know. I woke up. Then I looked at my clock. Then I got dressed. Just then. It was never…” she counted on her fingers. “…six hours. How is that even possible?”
Rick shrugged his shoulders, grabbed the empty bowl and threw it in the sink and flicked on the electrical jug. “Tea? Coffee?”
“Tea. Hang on. You’re lying to me. It’s not really three. You’re playing me. You’re only just having breakfast at three?”
He shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Don’t be stupid. When I woke you at nine, I was coming home, not getting up. And much as I hate to prove the Beastie Boys wrong, sometimes you need sleep before Brooklyn.”
Stace walked to the phone, picked it up and dialed 1223.
“The talking clock.” She said into the phone. She listened for a moment, hung up and dialed another number. Her defiant look faded as she realised that it really was mid-afternoon.
She went back to the table and slumped. Rick filled the two mugs with boiling water. He placed one in front of Stace. She watched the tea slowly ooze its way out of the bag.
“I think I’m hypnotised. Or I was.”
Rick turned his face to her interested.
“The clock in my bedroom needs a new battery I think. The hand is all kooky. I think it hypnotised me for six hours.”
Stace took a deep breath in. “Maybe I’m insane.”
The phone rang. Both stared at it with a sense of intense importance. Rick answered it. “Hello?”
Stace stared at him, trying to figure out who it was. Hoping it wasn’t the library.
“Stace? No, I’m afraid she’s not here. She was taken ill this morning with a nasty bout of gastro.”
Her eyes widened.
“Yeah, she’s there now, although she didn’t have an appointment, so she may be sometime. Can I leave her a message?” Rick looked at her and winked. “She can call back tomorrow to reschedule her interview? Oh, she’ll be so happy, thanks. I will. Bye.”
He hung up the phone. Stace just sat there, stunned.
“You’re welcome.” Rick patted her on the head, flung the tea bag in the sink and sauntered to the lounge room. She still sat there, stunned. His voice came down the hall. “Oooh, get here, Ricky Lake’s on. Old eps. It’s an awesome one – ‘Hey, Mom, keep yo dirty mitts off my toy boy.’ Come on, Stace!”
Stace snapped out of it and went to her room. She grabbed the clock off the wall and threw it out the window.