Synaesthesia Magazine Science & Numbers - Page 60

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Wells can’t breathe. He’s staring at the circular clock above his head, clutching his left hand to his chest; the squeezing sensation won’t stop. His other hand gropes upwards but it can’t reach the clock from his kneeling position. He lowers both arms. The pain subsides for a moment. He struggles to take in some air. All the time his eyes are fixed on the white clock face.

He focuses on the plain black hands of the clock. Two twenty-two. What concerns Wells is that it didn’t get to two twenty-three and he gasps as he realises that the minute hand is nudging ever so slowly and deliberately towards the number four. Anticlockwise.

He spies a reflection in the glass cover of the clock. He swings around; there are seven bookcases, each the full height of the room and divided vertically into ten square compartments. The compartments are labelled with mathematical symbols and each is stuffed with manuscripts bound with black plastic ring binders. His eyes linger on a space on the bottom shelf of the last bookcase.

Wells raises himself until he is almost upright and shuffles a few baby steps towards a wooden desk. On the desk sits a neat stack of white paper two centimetres deep. The top page bears a title, Two Twenty-Two. There is a mobile phone on the desk next to a keyboard but Wells’ hand is not reaching for that. He feels himself falling and snatches at the air above the paper.

Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Wells tries to force himself to his feet, but his legs won’t obey him. He realises that the strength has all gone from his right arm. The fingers of his left hand cling to the edge of the desk like a climber on a vertical cliff. He spots a retractable pencil, mustard colour, 2H. His hand crawls towards it until the first two fingers trap it like chopsticks. He tugs it towards himself but it drops from his grasp and rolls under a pedestal filing cabinet.

He lets out a noise, not quite a word, more a moan, and glances again at the clock. His eyes are swimming. Still two twenty-two. He leans on the wall beneath the clock and slowly walks the fingers of his left hand up the wall until his legs begin to take some of the >

Two Twenty-Two

by John D Rutter