The Clocks Inside

Hello Everyone! Last week I sent my story off to S. M. Roffey and the lovely Carly Hayward of Book Light Editorial. Both found several places to tweak the final story strengthen the prose, but I have to send a huge shout-out to Carly. She saw something a little bit different in Emmaline’s tale and offered some suggestions to shift the focus on a deeper level. So once the holidays were over, I reached out to chat with her about some of her suggestions. And let me tell you – when Carly says reach out and we can discuss changes, DO IT.

I already agreed with her ideas but last time I didn’t take her up on the offer. This time I started with a few questions, and soon she was hitting me with the hard questions. But Carly helped me to see the deeper story and unravel elements that I hadn’t even considered. But the time we were done, I was ready to ignore everything else in life and get editing.

So without further ado, Emmaline’s slightly modified story.


Gears clicked overhead as Emmaline entered the vaulted room below the dragon tower and swallowed back the pain in her heart. She knew Henry hadn’t cheated on her, but that didn’t erase the memory of Constance pressing her lips against his. Blinking back the moisture in her eyes, she breathed in the dusty age of her favorite room.

Bookshelves lined every wall, filled with hand-crafted snow globes and their companion books, thick leather tomes written in unknown languages. She couldn’t read any of the texts, but she loved the bizarre symbols—histories for each globe’s interior world.

The small tower atop the house chimed. Its mechanical steel dragon curled its tail around a central glass globe in an almost possessive manner as if it mirrored her grandfather’s devotion to his own globes.

Grandfather stepped into the room as the gears and springs on the tower clock stopped whirring. “That was your friend’s mother on the phone. Constance is missing again.”

We are not friends, Emmaline wanted to growl at her grandfather, but she tightened her grip on her suitcase. Her grandfather’s letter had her running toward the first train before she’d finished packing, but barely five minutes in the door and she was tempted to grab the next ticket out of town.

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Emmaline muttered.

Grandfather pulled out his pocket watch and checked the time, adjusting his gold wire frame glasses to see the dials better. “Another snow globe broke and must be fixed. Come, this way.”

She followed grandfather toward a pile of shattered glass and set her case on the floor. “What happened?”

“Henry came to visit.”

Her heart lurched. Emmaline picked up a shard of glass to inspect the edges, but a glint of gold caught her eye. “Was he angry?”

She picked up a gold chain, a small clock pendant dangling on the end. The dragon etched into the front opened its mouth to swallow an orb, but Emmaline cursed when she turned it over, recognizing the same symbol she’d seen worn around Constance’s neck.

The Time Archer’s emblem.

A bow and arrow spearing a clock—twin to the pin on her grandfather’s lapel. “Henry wasn’t alone, was he?”

She tried to hold back the bite in her words, but grandfather gave her a hard look as he set down a bucket of water. “Henry’s still grieving for you.”

Her grandfather peered at her over his spectacles, a silent cue her demands toward Henry were ridiculous. It still didn’t answer her question.

“I went to fetch all of us a scotch. When I returned, the orb lay shattered and both Henry and the young woman were gone.”

It wasn’t like Henry at all. He’d never leave a mess for grandfather to clean up, nor would he run off without a farewell. Emmaline furrowed her brow.

Fatigue crossed her grandfather’s features as he closed his pocket watch and shoved it back in his waist pocket. “You must hurry, Emmaline. The orb needs to be fixed before the next hour strikes.”

An engineer by trade, Emmaline could repair almost anything with a little solder or glue. Her grandfather’s prized globes had always been a challenge as glue would ruin glass, so she’d created a handheld glass blower to weld the pieces.

Tempted to melt apart the necklace to satisfy her irritation, she decided to take the high road and shoved the pendant in her pocket. She’d return it to Constance, maybe with a slap across the face.

Emmaline opened the lid on her case, pulling on a pair of thick gloves designed by the great D. Ragon and a set of welding goggles. She arranged each piece of glass in a circle around the central base and tucked her legs beneath her, biting down hard on her cheek to hold back her anger.

“Did Henry say anything before he left?” She wanted to keep her grandfather busy while she worked—otherwise he’d hover over her shoulder. But really her question was more to ease her own curiosity.

Setting the base upright, she clicked on the blower and held the first shard to the edge, squeezing the flame’s trigger. White-hot fire melted the glass seams together.

“Only that he’d bought a train ticket to come after you.”

Her jaw tightened.

The conversation seemed to relax grandfather as he settled into a chair with the globe’s companion book.

With the two pieces fused, she dunked the orange-hot glass in the water. Emmaline fired questions as she worked to unearth exactly why that woman would be in her grandfather’s house. She didn’t want to believe Henry issued the invitation.

As the last piece cooled, steam rose off the surface. Emmaline pulled off her gloves and held the base, switching topics. “Do you know the history of this one?”

The tower clock chimed and the necklace in her pocket warmed.

A faint smile touched her grandfather’s lips. He opened the book and adjusted his spectacles. “My dear, Emmaline, why don’t you ask Henry?”

She whipped around, expecting to see Henry leaned against the door frame. The shelves dissolved to a barren wasteland of rock and sand, a stone platform stretching to a giant clock with more than thirty unknown symbols etched on its face.

“Grandfather?” A stiff wind blew across her empty hands, the globe gone from her fingers. Black flags with bright emblems whipped along a rocky cliff face as she turned about, her heart racing in panic. Every remnant of the house was gone. “Grandfather!”

Hundreds of people kneeled on the sand below the platform as drum beats filled the air. Two women—Emmaline guessed them to be guards by the spears in their hands—poked at a man with mud splattered on his bare chest.

The man lifted is head, deep-set brown eyes filled with tears. Shoulder-length hair framed a familiar, bearded face as he uttered a single word. “Emma.”

“Henry?” It couldn’t be. She’d seen him less than three weeks ago, his hair cropped short. It would have taken him a year to grow it long, and her Henry never let it past his ears.

The women turned their spears toward her, their features hard. “Tashoovee.”

She stepped back, noting Henry’s thin body and the bloody gash across his cheek. “Henry, where are we—”

“Emmaline!” Someone shrieked, grabbing the guards’ attention.

The drums halted to silence as a dark-haired woman dashed through the figures toward the platform. “My necklace! Where’s my necklace?”

The panic in Constance’s voice ripped straight to her heart. Emmaline slipped a hand in her pocket and pulled out the clock pendant.

Other guards stood in the crowd and grabbed their spears.

Henry shouldered the guard on the platform and grabbed her spear. Before Emmaline could blink, he threw it at the second guard as Constance scrambled up next to him.

Emmaline opened her mouth to speak, but she was stunned to silence as the second guard fell, the spear buried in her heart.

“Thank the stars of Arun.” Constance grabbed her necklace and flipped it open, tears streaked down her muddy cheeks. She twisted several of the dials as the clock face glowed. “Let’s go, Henry.”

The glow on the small clock face grew brighter as several guards threw spears toward them.

Henry slammed into them, all three hitting the carpet as the shelves resolved around them. A spear flew past her head, ruffling the hairs along her forehead, and thudded into the wood paneling.

Strong arms pulled Emmaline close as Henry’s husky voice whispered in her ear. “I’m home.”

His tears soaked her cheek as Constance sobbed next to her, clutching the pendant to her chest.

Emmaline clutched Henry tight, her anger dissolved with the wasteland breeze.

The tower dragon chimed, and her grandfather stepped beside them, a pipe in his hand. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. “So, are you ready for an adventure?”

The Reindragon Collection is here.

K. J. Harrowick has designed holiday gift ideas from cards to ornaments to book totes for authors. Visit the holiday shop

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