I sat in bed, my back on the wall, my hands clamped between my thighs. I was thinking. Not about 2075, but about 2015. About now. The former was fantasy, the later was more tangible. If I had no ability to get back to the future, I had to think of a way to make a living here. And it had to be now.
Finally, I had been able to a large extent put aside the hatred and pain that brewed in my heart against Kobo Olanta. I had to live, and that meant I had to think of what I could do.
I couldn’t say what time it was, but it was already dark outside, and the noise along the corridor meant that my neighbours had returned from work. Soon the sounds from power generators would increase, and one’s sanity would be wrapped around the concept of living in the engine room of a train. This was time I usually got home from work, but here I was on my bed for the past two hours, pondering, only hanging to sanity by a thin thread.
My phone rang at that moment. It was out of my arm’s reach, and that made me more uninterested to pick it. I waited till it stopped ringing, then resumed my thoughts. If it was Nene, then I probably would call her later. Other than her, I wasn’t sure I wanted to speak with anyone.
The phone rang again, but I only waited it out. The caller was definitely incessant because my phone rang for the fifth and sixth time. By the seventh time, I was furious, and decided to switch the phone to its ‘decorum’ mode. Just then, I heaved a sigh, and picked the call instead.
“Hello,” my voice was dry, like harmattan came early. I waited for the caller to respond. The caller ID bore no registered bearer.
“Bro.” The voice sounded faintly familiar.
“Hello?” I said again, eager to get back to my thoughts.
“Bro, this is Friday. Friday, from the plaza.” The caller said his name twice for emphasis.
“Friday, good evening.” I said briskly, and waited for him to speak. He called me, I wasn’t the one to begin a conversation.
“Bro, how are you?” Friday said. I was quickly beginning to get irritated. What sort of question was that?
“I’m fine. What’s up?” I asked, breathing deeper to calm down.
“My elder brother works at the Freedom Park on Broad Street,” Friday continued. “I know that their attendant at one of their galleries had left for school and they were looking to employ someone new.”
“Why didn’t you take up the offer?” I asked.
“Because it pays less than what they pay at the plaza.” He said in a drawl, not sure if he had made the right decision to tell me.
I held my breath to think of the proposition. Grounding my teeth while I thought, I felt my heart pumped faster. I sighed again and finally spoke.
“Can I get your brother’s number, please.” What was the point having an ego with no job.
“Sure bro.” the way Friday sounded, he reminded me of someone. My mind scanned through my memory bank with the speed of light, and it came up with a result- Dan. He called Sam buggie. And the thought didn’t sound like a dream.
By 7:30 the next morning, I met Sunday, Friday’s brother at the security post. Except for the names their father borrowed from the days of the week, there wasn’t any sort of resemblance between the brothers. He was huge, dark, and had a thin voice, while Friday was thin, lighter, but with a husky voice.
He walked casually like he had been here for a long time, and I wasn’t sure if I should be glad Friday had briefed him of my situation.
“So, it’s not like we made the vacancy open, but I was thinking Friday would prefer this place. Although the job he got at the plaza pays better, I felt this is more secure. At least, I’m here to make that possible.”
Save that for the gods, I said to myself.
We walked past bronze sculptures along the terrace and into a building designed with a lot of arcades- a pointer to its nineteen century style. Sunday just spoke casually, and walked casually, but seemed to have forgotten why I was here- I wasn’t a guest, I was a guy in need of a job.
We came through a gallery, and suddenly we stood before a towering exhibition of clocks. This was the largest number of clocks I had seen in one place: wooden, steel, rusty iron, raw gold, silver, bronze, thread, plastic, digital, classic, futuristic, art and abstract, oriental and symbolic. Clocks of all shapes and designs ticked away, creating a drawling and yet amusing effect. It was enthralling. Here, it looked like an international conference of clocks.
Sunday suddenly switched into a business tone, with index finger pointing in a commanding gesture. “This exhibition will be here for the next two to three weeks.” Sunday said. “Your job is to make sure that no one touches the clocks. They can take pictures of the clock with their phones, take selfies with the clocks- clockfies,” He chuckled a little.
“They could smell the clock, take videos, do whatever, but they must not touch them. In fact, no one goes beyond the red square line on the floor. If that happens, the sensor goes off.”
I nodded my head with rapt attention, staring at the red tape line around the square floor.
“That there is an Aspiral Kinetic clock, and that is a TurnTable clock.” Sunday had already begun the touring with me with almost no introduction. “There is the Time Turner; there is the Binary, and that one over there is another original from the ancient Egyptian palace.”
I nodded my head, and kept nodding, not exactly remembering any name.
“We have the Good Afternoon clock there which uses light beams instead of the usual clock fingers.” Sunday looked at me, expecting the confused reaction from my face.
“Don’t worry, after a while, you will be better acquainted with the rest, but your job is just to do your job, the tour guard would do his job, okay?”
He smiled. “And what’s your job?”
“To make sure nothing, and no one touches the clock. Not by accidence, not by coincidence. Not by antecedence.
He smiled. “I like your humour. Any question?” Sunday asked me.
I nodded and shook my head almost at the same time before I could spin my thoughts into words. “How was all these clocks gathered?”
Sunday smiled his customary smile, and pressed his lips together. “Hmm, a trade secret, but I will let you into it. We stole them.”
“Ahh!” my Adam’s apple almost dropped from my mouth.
“Gotcha! Just kidding.”
Yup, I was caught napping.
“It’s an exhibition by a clock collector, and it is sponsored.
“Hmm, I see.” Truly, this was going to be an interesting job. At least for the next two weeks. I wanted to ask Sunday what would be my role after the exhibition ends, but he had already started walking back out, like I had only the chance to ask one question.
“It’s a tough job, and we’ll see how you’ll fare today. Please come with me to get your kits, and meet the other people you will be working with.”