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= The Christmas Clock =

(Time's River of Dust)

A Dark but Cheery Holiday Fantasy by John T. Cullen


Ray Bradbury (Jan. 2008) sent John T. Cullen
a personal fanmail rave for Christmas Clock



Meet Mr. Latchloose

1.

Ray Bradbury sent his own personal fan rave for The Christmas ClockThe hero of our story, during this Christmas Season, was an older gentleman named Mr. Arthur Latchloose. He was quite wealthy—a banker, to be precise—and he had one remarkable hobby: collecting the very rarest of antiquarian treasures.

Mr. Arthur Latchloose had lived a full and interesting life, earning his college degree in Finance, serving in the Army as an officer, and then making a very successful career in banking. As a young man, he married his high school sweetheart right out of college, before he went off to war. When he returned, luckily in one piece and with a whole bunch of medals, he and Gretchen Latchloose got busy. They had two wonderful children, Eddie and Katie, who brought their parents all the usual happiness and heart-aches. Then, however, things got complicated and didnít go so well. There was a whole lot of heart ache and estrangement, and finally Gretchen passed away.

Arthur Latchloose was never the same after she died. He was a handsome older man, with a full head of white hair and a craggy face, and blue eyes that sparkled when he felt chatty—but that was not very often anymore. The kids moved away and didnít call or write, and Arthur couldnít figure out why.

Thus, Arthur was left alone, owning a drafty old bank building and a bunch of wonderful memories that faded a bit like the old photographs he kept all around his office. Try as he might, he couldnít help becoming a little bitter, and then a bit more bitter, and finally an old grouch. In the end, he kept to himself and puttered about his money and his antiquities. That was where his newest adventure in life began—when he acquired a remarkable grandfather clock originally made at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, for an Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul. By the time the Ottoman Empire became history after World War I, the clock had long since become the property of an Arab prince living near Baghdad, and finally, through some shenanigans, wound up in the possession of one Major Jarlid, late of the U.S. Army, now retired and alas not long for this world.

Jarlid needed money, and he found just the buyer for his priceless antiquity. You guessed it—Arthur Latchloose. Mr. Latchloose, however, had no idea about the danger and the potency of the mechanical wonder he was about to acquire.

Meanwhile, Christmas Season is a special time for writers and readers alike. Stories told during this period require a bit of extra sparkle and shine, a real warm-up that sets the proper mood. The opening chapter, therefore, dear reader, is devoted primarily to getting us in just the right mood. Christmas stories are different in that they hang upon not only the usual story elements—mystery, danger, and a bit of sheer fright, all of which exist within the caverns of this tale—but also hang upon a bit of the old, well, the old blarney if this author may say so. But this isnít just ordinary blarney, as you will soon find out. This story is about the strangest things that ever happened to Arthur Latchloose, and it may turn out to be the same for you.

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Amazon doomspore e-book pageThank you for reading. If you love it, tell your friends. Please post a favorable review at Amazon, Good Reads, and other online resources. If you want to thank the author, you may also buy a copy for the low price of a cup of coffee. It's called Read-a-Latte: similar (or lower) price as a latte at your favorite coffeeshop, but the book lasts forever while the beverage is quickly gone. Thank you (JTC).

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Copyright © 2014 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.