3:17 Part One

This is the first part of a fiction serial, in 705 words.

3:17. That was the time shown by the red numerals on the digital alarm clock next to the bed when I woke up for no apparent reason. The little dot next to the number three was at the top, indicating it was morning, not afternoon. I had never got around to changing the setting to a twenty-four hour display.

The feeling I had was more uneasy, than scared. I hadn’t been dreaming, at least not that I could remember, but I definitely recalled sensing a presence of some kind next to the bed. Once awake, I felt thirsty, though I was reluctant to get up to go and get a drink. Whenever I did that, I rarely got back off to sleep, and I had a long day ahead of me. So I settled back onto the pillows, but as predicted, sleep didn’t come.

Once I was on the crowded train, having to stand was a blessing, as it kept me awake. It was my second day working at the smart new development, and yesterday I had met Janice, who was in charge of the sales there. Dockside View was one of the company’s prestige blocks, and Janice was determined to get all the flashy apartments sold by the deadline. They were throwing a lot of staff at the project, which was why I was now commuting into the centre, instead of walking to the corner to sell semi-detached identical houses, and commercial lots nobody was interested in.

Janice was a woman who didn’t tolerate fools, and she had made it clear she hadn’t asked for me, so expected me to impress her. To be honest, the demand for the property was high, and I had spent the previous day juggling viewing appointments. Getting the deposit was everything. Our performance targets were based on deposits taken. If the sale fell through later, nobody on the sales team cared. We had done our bit.

From the station to Dockside View was a twenty-five minute walk. So I bought a coffee from the vendor outside to perk me up enough to face it. In our brochure, it was described as a ‘Pleasant fifteen-minute stroll’. That made me smile, after walking fast for twenty-five minutes yesterday, and only just getting there by my start time. And the scenery on the way was hardly pleasant. Lots of building work going on, cement mixer lorries crammed into small cobbled streets, and builders shouting up at crane operators.

Neil smirked at me as I walked in. He was standing close to Janice, and he had worked with her on the Britanna House development previously. I marvelled at how he could look so crisp and fresh after travelling in all the way from Kent. Not a crease in his suit, and his white shirt was so clean, it seemed to reflect the light.

He jumped in before I could dump my empty paper cup in the bin. “No drinks in the sales area, Darren. You were told that yesterday. Don’t forget you have a nine-fifteen, you should ring them to let them know you are ready and waiting for them”.

I would dearly loved to have leaned across and head butted him. But I needed the job.

Walking outside to ring the client on my company-supplied mobile, I suddenly realised I had only four percent battery, and had left the charger at home. I couldn’t even creep around the corner for a cigarette, as Janice had banned smoking for the duration of the sales. “They will smell it on you, Darren. That’s a sales-killer, believe me”. My Russian customer had a name I couldn’t pronounce, so I just called him ‘Sir’. After assuring him I was at his service for the nine-fifteen appointment, he just hung up with no goodbye.

Now I had to face going back inside and asking Neil or Janice if they had a phone charger. I hung around for a few minutes, hoping Desmond would show up. He carried a big rucksack that they made him store under one of the sales desks. He probably had everything in there, incuding a charger, I bet.

Then I remembered he had the day off, because he had worked last Saturday.

49 thoughts on “3:17 Part One

  1. I am expecting some spookiness here based on your experience a while back, Pete of to read the next few episodes as I am on catchup ..so many laptop problems lately…Hope you are enjoying some better weather 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Darren sounds alright, not too sure abut his work colleagues.
    I thought you had gone back in time a little with the red LED display, but they are probably trendy again now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remembered your experience with your dream and assumed that that might have inspired this story. (3:17) Not changing the a.m. p.m. setting makes me think of the huge clock in our house. It’s rather lightweight, and yet it’s bulky. The bottom line is it is a pain in the butt to take down and put back up. We have gone years where it was just easier not to bother when Daylight Savings occur.

    I like the start of this one, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have stopped resetting the time on the microwave and cooker after power cuts or daylight saving. We now have no clock showing the correct time in the house, except those on our phones, or my PC. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am glad that you are beginning with the traces of that very unsettling experience of your own a while back. I am looking forward to this one for sure. We are already beginning to get a sense of our narrator and his need for this job.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. (1a) Thanks to the little red dot, you realize it’s 3:17 in the morning. Go back to sleep. The train to Yuma doesn’t leave until 3:10 in the afternoon.
    (1b) “I definitely recalled sensing a presence of some kind next to the bed.” The spirit of Charlie Styxman, the Railroad Man, came to inform you that you’d missed the train. But he didn’t realize that your ticket was for the day train, not the night train.
    (2) The docs I’d view on TV were nothing but flashy blockheads. As a result, my attention to the hospital drama was semi-detached.
    (3) Janice expected you to impress her. And you did just that with the juggling. It’s not easy to do a circus act like that, although only a fool would juggle jugs of nitroglycerin.
    (4) Overheard at sea:
    Captain: “It’s a pleasant fifteen-minute stroll, mate!”
    Mutineer: “Really? I’m gonna need a longer plank!”
    (5) Bad citation: “I marveled at how Clark Kent could look so crisp and fresh after travelling in all the way from across the globe. Not a crease in his suit, and his white shirt was so clean, it seemed to reflect the light. Who did he think he was, Superman?”
    (6) I once had a bird’s-eye view of a crane operator. I got a whooping for that.
    (7) Overheard on police radio:
    Dispatcher: “Car 54, where are you? Proceed to Dockside View immediately. Apprehend suspect. Name: Darren, aka ‘The Smoking Man.’ Caution is advised. He’s a sales killer!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here we go! So glad you decided to start a new one, I was just mourning the ending of Angela’s saga, and you used that spooky clock incident! Janice and Neil sound exceptionally difficult! Nice, C

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Real state agencies make great settings. I’ve missed the spooky goings on, though. I don’t seem to be able to keep up these days. I hope everything is well. Take care, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Olga. Yes, this serial was inspired by something that happened to me, but you cannot keep up with everything. Life’s too short. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.


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