He shook his head, stepping back. It couldn’t be. A chill ran down his spine. His eyes widened as color leached away from his face. It couldn’t be. Turning, he stumbled out of the store. It couldn’t be. No, it couldn’t be.
The antique watch within the glass flashed in his mind. No. No. No. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be. He shook his head, letting his legs carry him away.
A flash. Another flash. No. No. No. A memory of the watch that lay on that body. No. It couldn’t be. The muscles in his legs burned, straining to carry him further. But the images kept coming.
No. It couldn’t be. Pushing forward, despite his leaded legs, he clutched his head. It couldn’t be! It couldn’t be! It couldn’t be!
He felt a tear in the corner of his eye as his legs gave up beneath him. Crashing to the ground, he drew himself into a ball, oblivious to the surrounding world. It couldn’t be. He felt his body quake, trembling uncontrollably. It couldn’t be.
He closed his eyes. But the images kept coming. The watch. The knife. The blood. No. No. No. No. That was the past. It was over. No one would know.
A flash of light. Suddenly, solid pavement appeared before him. He was crouching in the middle of the street. Chatter. He looked up. So many people were staring. Whispering about him. Pointing at him.
“Guilty!” One seemed to whisper.
“Guilty!” Another seemed to agree.
He shook his head violently. No. No. No. It wasn’t me! It wasn’t me!
Picking himself back up, he ran through the crowd. His speed forcing them to step aside. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.
Realization dawned upon him. It was all because of that watch. Why did it have to appear? Why did it have to come back? He clenched his teeth. No one needs to see. No one needs to know.
It was almost dark. He crouched down next to a nearly closing shop, as the images returned. A clock face above. A resonant chime. An eerie echoing. Click. Click. Click. That was the past. That was the past. It won’t happen again.
A watch on the body in front of him. A knife clang to the ground, coated in blood. That isn’t real. That isn’t real. None of it is real. He clutched his head.
“Are you okay, son?” A voice said above him.
“Stay away from me!” He shouted, using his hands to swipe at the figure. “Leave me alone!”
None of this is real. None of it is real. Footsteps. Step. Step. Step. Step. Stay away. None of it is real. None of it is real.
It’s all that watch’s fault. It’s all that watch’s fault that this was happening. He stood, turning to face the windows behind him. With a hard kick, the windows shattered. Without hesitation, he threw himself inside.
Disappear! He lowered his fist at the glass panel before the door, smashing it. Disappear! Disappear! Disappear! His hands fished through broken shards. The watch. Where is it? Where is it?
Hands covered in cuts, he continued patting at the shelf. Nothing but necklaces and bracelets hung from the racks on display. The watch. His eyes searched the darkness frantically. Where? Where? But, there was nothing.
A force pressed against him, knocking him onto his knees and yanking his arms behind him. A click at his wrists. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. He quavered. It’s gone. It’s back. It’s here for me.
A loud ringing. A blaring wail. An alarm. Sirens. He suddenly became aware of the men surrounding him. A gun pointed at his head. He tried to lift his arms, but something kept them behind him. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. He almost sobbed. Why did everyone have to push him so?
A force against his body. A strap wrapped around him, restraining his already limited movements. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. A loud buzz came from somewhere in front of him. He became aware that he was in a car. His head shook. No. No. No. It couldn’t be.
Images flashed through his mind. The bloody knife hitting the floor, clinking against the watch and staining it as it fell. A scream rang out, behind him. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.
A bright light flashed at his face, forcing him to squint. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. None of this is real. None of it is real.
“Who are you?” A voice asked.
“It wasn’t me.” He answered, his voice shaking. “It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me.”
“Why did you break into the shop?” The voice asked again.
Right. The shop. The watch. He looked up, seeing men dressed in blue uniforms standing before him. Unfamiliar faces. He looked up to see the police force crest on the wall. He shook. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t me. It was all the watch’s fault.
“Disappear!” He shouted, standing and struggling against his constraints. Weights quickly pressed down around him, forcing him back into his seat. It was all the watch’s fault.
A buzz. A click. A muffled voice. A beep. Indistinct words.
“We’re dealing with a mad man here.” A voice said, somewhere. Somewhere near him.
I’m not mad. I’m not mad. It’s all because of that watch. His body trembled. His head shook. It was all because of that watch.
Images flashed through his head. One after another. A knife in his hand. Flash. A knife buried in another man’s chest. Flash. A bloodied knife in his hand. Flash. A knife clattering to the floor, splattering blood onto a clean white watch face. A friend’s blood.
“It was me.” He whispered, still shaking as he fell to the ground. Slumping against the wall, his head against the hard surface, he stared at nothing in particular. “It was me. I did it. I did it.”
This story was inspired by the writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
“_Not the plot, just the object essential to the plot”
_THE PLOT: A jewel thief breaks into the wrong shop
THE MCGUFFIN: An antique watch