On the clock tower

On the clock tower

On the clock tower
‘Isn’t that dangerous?’

‘It’s where the kids sit.’

Jim was showing me around, the first newcomer for over a year. The kids were high on the skeleton of a clock tower.

‘I wouldn’t worry,’ he said. ‘It’s stood like that for years. Since the bomb. Pretty stable.’

There were two up there. Girls or boys, I couldn’t tell. Just squatting.

‘Get a good view?’

He laughed. ‘Sure! Great view.’

Later, I climbed the tower myself.

The gravel desert reaching out to the edge of the world. The track snaking away. The sun setting, huge, forlorn and dull through the dust.


© TheSupercargo

The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum curated by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The prompt: a photo of two people climbing a ladder set against a metal framework on which two other people sit. (See the photo prompt, David Stewart’s photo ‘The Rescuers’, here.) The other influence on the above is JG Ballard – hence Jim. The illustration is partly based on the skeleton of the ‘A-bomb Dome’, Hiroshima.

To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

17 thoughts on “On the clock tower”

    1. Thank you, Rochelle. I saw a clockface in the prompt, and thought the two people sitting on the structure looked remarkably calm, and I took it from there. As a twenty-something I read Ballard avidly. His apocalyptic vision of a shattered and displaced but some how surviving English suburban world appealed to me. I now know it was based on his real experiences as a child in China during WW2, but I still think they stand out in the annals of science fiction. As the man sometimes credited with inventing the ‘compressed novel’, I think Ballard would approve of flash fiction.
      That was a little bit more – though perhaps not quite what you meant 🙂

  1. Neat set-up for the clock tower — and very nice description of the view in the last paragraph. I like that you added an original illustration!

    1. Thank you Perry. Sorry about the spelling, I do pretty well most of the time but have been known to go all to pieces over long words like ‘measles’ and ‘buttered toast’.

  2. Rather bleak at the end, not much scenery from their perch, but it doesn’t sound like they have much to do. Thanks for the backstory and as always, the art is beautiful.

    1. Thanks Russell. Bleak, yes, but given that teens seem to congregate in the oddest of places (car parks, underpasses) it didn’t seem too unlikely.

  3. John, besides a well-written story that draws me in (nothing unusual there), you’ve given me something to investigate when I have a bit more time. This week I’m getting caught up on the stories, just posted for the Weekly Photo Challenge, am watching the day’s Tour de France stage every day, and oh, yes, spending time with my husband. 🙂 Not much going on here.


    1. Lot’s to do, Janet? I really understand! I’m getting myself ready for a 3 week writing holiday plus our 11-y-o nephew is coming for the weekend. I’m getting around to the other stories bit by bit but can’t be sure I’ll read everyone this week. Thanks for taking the time to comment. As for Ballard, he’s definitely an acquired taste. If you’ve not come across him before I’d recommend starting with Empire of the Sun (the book on which the film was based), which is his most straightly autobiographical. Then I think you’re best off dipping into The Complete Short Stories which gives you an idea of his range. Please don’t start by reading Crash or The Atrocity Exhibition!

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