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Tick-Tok Antiques

By Andrew Quick

“Jack Clock, you’re dead meat!” Screamed Julian as he and his entourage rushed through the crowded streets, shoving past the public in hot pursuit of their prey.

Jack was smaller than them and more than a little nimble dogging past people as they yelped with fright. They had chased him from The Pavilion Gardens all the way up North Street and he was getting tired. If he couldn’t lose them then hiding was the next best option. 

Once Jack was on Dyke Road he turned right onto Church Street and saw an antique shop with its door open. He quickly glanced behind to make sure the goons couldn’t see him and ducked inside.

The shop had a strangely familiar musty smell that wasn’t unpleasant and Jack hid as he struggled to get his breath back quietly.

At the back of the shop there was a doorway with a discoloured curtain that almost certainly was white once upon a time. An old man peeked round to see Jack hiding behind an old wardrobe that was displayed in the window.

“Ah ha!” he whispered to himself then glancing at the window to see the gang run past the shop. He put the kettle on, scooped a spoonful of hot chocolate into a mug and threw in three little pink marshmallows.

Jack could hear Julian’s yells get fainter and fainter.

“Phew” He thought “school will be fun tomorrow”

“Friends of yours?”

Jack spun round to see the old man standing at the back of the shop. He was wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches and bright blue jeans. His piercing blue eyes spoke out from behind the half moon glasses as echos of youth amongst the lines of his weathered face.

“Just boys from school” Jack said softly as he stood up. “Sorry I just needed to...”

“Not at all” interrupted the old man “Some people will always attack that which they see different, it threatens their sense of normality”

“Erm... right”

“I’m Tick-Tok” Boomed the old man clapping his hands together as if about to do a presentation “Welcome to Tick-Tok Antiques”

Jack laughed looking around the shop .

“Would you care for a drink? Some..... hot chocolate?”

Jack’s eyes lit up at the thought of his favorite drink.

“Yes please...”

Tick-Tok handed him mug of hot chocolate.

“Thanks” said Jack as he noticed the three little pink marshmallows bobbing on the top. It was just like his mum used to make.

“Catch your breath, young man. I’m in no hurry” reassured Tick-Tok. “I have all the time in the world” and he ducked back behind the curtain. 

Jack looked around the shop that was littered with second hand furniture, old amateur paintings and various ‘nick-nacs’. The only painting that was actually hung on the wall caught Jacks eye. The scene was of an old village blaze with vivid strokes of orange consuming the canvas much like the evening sunset. 

The tag said ‘Fire of Brighton 1514’. 

Jack was so engrossed he almost though he could smell the fire. No, there was a faint whiff of smoke on the evening breeze. As it grew stronger Jack turned and looked outside. By the time he had walked to the shop door the smell was almost over bearing. Jack stepped outside to see where it was coming from and was knocked to the ground.

“Hey!” cried Jack as he picked himself up

“The French are invading, The French are invading!” screamed a boy in medieval fancy dress.

By the time Jack was back on his feet the boy was already running up the road and still screaming, stopping briefly to glance back at Jack and give him a rather peculiar look.

Suddenly Jack felt an intense heat on his face and turned to see a raging inferno engulfing all he could see. He stepped back in panic and then noticed that every way he looked there was a sea of fire with people dressed just like the little boy fleeing in fear.

“Oh my god!” Jack thought to himself. 

Through the intense flames he could see everything was very different. The buildings were made of wood with thatched roofs as if from a movie set and even the road was nothing more than a dirt trail. Where all the other buildings, the towers, the shops? 

It was as though he was in an old village, like from his history books.

The buildings in front of him started to collapse hurling burning debris in every direction spreading the fire like a ferocious dragon.

Jack turned and started to run. He didn’t know what to do and couldn’t see a way out. As he looked around he saw a little girl all alone and crying. The fire was getting closer and closer to her. Jack changed direction and as ran as fast as he could towards the little girl. He grabbed her in his arms and ran for the biggest thing he could see, St Nicholas Church.

He pushed the door open and ran inside.

“Hello? is there anyone here?” he cried, the girl was tightly holding onto him.

“Hello? We need help”

Jack had a sinking feeling as he realised they were completely alone. He walked to the middle of the church and lay the girl down on a bench wrapping his coat around her. 

“Shhhh it’s ok” he whispered “we’re safe here, we’re safe” stroking the girls head as he looked at the stain glass windows that were glowing orange as the fire ebbed closer.

The little girl faintly called out for her mother again before passing out, exhausted. In her hand she held a rag with the name Molly stitched into it. Jack stuffed it into his pocket so she wouldn’t drop it.

He pinched himself to see if it was a dream but there he remained trapped in the church as the fire raged around him. This was no dream.

Suddenly Jack noticed the faint sound of what he thought was a clock. It grew louder and louder. He gently laid the girl on the bench and walked towards the sound of ticking. There in the centre of the alter was a clock. It looked out of place and yet there was something strangely familiar about it. As Jack listened to the sound of the tick tock the heat from outside seemed to fade.

“Another hot chocolate?”

Jack looked up to see Tick Tok looking at him with a smile.

“My word, young man you looked like you were positively years away”

“what??.... I...., where am... the fire?” Jack stumbled and stammered very confused.

He looked around to see he was back in the Antique shop.

“I was... I mean I have to go, sorry, thank you” and with that Jack ran out of the shop

Tick Tok sighed. 

“I refuse to believe that my younger self was ever that fearful” he said out loud.

“We were only in 1514 for an hour, wait till we meet the Prince Regent; now he is scary!”

He ducked behind the yellowish curtain and into the back room, switching on the kettle as he walked up to a big blackboard covered in mad equations, dates and names, some of which were crossed out. He knees creaked as he bent down. In the bottom right hand corner were the words 

“First time travel / meet younger self”. 

Tick Tok crossed it out and wrote “Leave clock in St Nicolas Church 1514”

He walked back to the kettle making another hot chocolate with three pink little marshmallows. Ducking back into the shop front he was not at all surprised to see Jack stood in the door way holding out the rag in his hand.

“I need to find out what happened to the little girl” 

His piercing blue eyes had given his youthful face a sense of maturity.

Tick Tok sipped the hot chocolate. 

“I think we should talk” he said with a smile.

This page was amended on 09/04/2014
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