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As far as I can remember, dogs don't usually come with a large, fully functioning clock face imbedded into their abdomens. They do drool a lot though, and this one was living up to that part of his species' reputation.

"I am TickTock, Defender of Time. I have come a long way from the land of Phantom Tollbooth to give you a message."

Beads of spittle fall from droopy jowls to the rhythm of ticks and tocks.

"Phantom Tollbooth? Like that book we had to read in middle school?"

"Yes. I needed to take a form which you would recognize and respond to, so I pulled this image from your memory."

"OK. Why the weird name? The dog in the book was called... huh, I can't remember. Something to do with clocks though."

"I only know what you do. Tick and Tock were both choices that appeared to me when I scanned your memories, so I decided to merge them."

"I don't think I like the idea of some strange dog I've never seen reading my mind, or appearing out of nowhere in my bedroom for that matter. If you hadn't noticed, I was trying to get some homework done."

"That is precisely why I have come to visit you. Tell me, what do you remember about Phantom Tollbooth?"

Surreal images spring to mind, but I don't feel comfortable with talking about them. How do you explain that you have read one of the classics of literature, but can't recall hardly anything? It's almost as if I never heard of the book. Still, I should probably try to humor him. He looks kind of hungry, and who knows what clock-dogs like to eat.

"Well, there was something about eating words. That was weird. Uh, there was a tower. A bug guy. A dog whose parents went crazy. Oh, and math jokes. The longest number in the world was, like, 10 miles long. Sorry, that's all you're going to get. I'm not exactly known for having the sharpest of memories, but then again you probably already know that if you were snooping around in my head."

He places a paw on my leg. I try to be polite and meet his eyes, but I can't help but stare at the ever-widening puddle of drool now forming on my pants.

"Good, you do remember. I am Defender of Time, but I also hold Math in the highest of respects. Your actions not only insult Time, but Math as well."

"You're losing me."

"Wasted Time that could be spent engaging in the learning of Math. Your nap jeopardizes your chances of completing your homework on time. I cannot help you in your waking hours, but now that you have fallen asleep on the night before it is due I have come to offer my services."

Oh, I'm dreaming. I guess that would explain why my bedroom has no walls and it looks like I'm sitting in some kind of jungle.

"Cool, I guess that makes this a lucid dream now. Time to have some fun bending the laws of reality!"

"No, that is not a proper use of Time. It is late. You need to wake up now."

"Uh uh. This is my dream and I'll do whatever I want with it. You can't make me do anything."

"That statement is incorrect."

As I raise my arms to assume the classical wizard pose I wonder what I should turn him into. A bug? A cat? No, a clock! That'll teach Mr. Drooly Face to mess with me in my dreams. He eyes me curiously, as if trying to work out what I'm doing. Guess his mind reading powers don't work now that I know I'm in control. I hold my dramatic pose, think about the pathetic little ticking clock he will soon become, and...

Nothing happens. At least, nothing I wanted to happen. He does bite me on the arm, but that was hardly something I willed him to do. I didn't think you could feel pain in dreams, but it feels like a vice with teeth just wrapped around my arm. I pull back against his grip, and suddenly I'm tumbling backward out of my chair and into some black hole that just appeared to swallow up my bedroom. The circle of light races away, faster and faster, already made dimmer by the massive head of Drooly Face obstructing it as he peers down to watch me fall to my doom.

Landing hurts. I take a moment to pull myself together and figure out where I am, then I get up off the floor and set the chair back at my desk. No sign of drool on my pants or a bite on my arm. Time to go back to what I was doing before slipping into that crazy dream. The sheet of paper sits on my open math book, taunting me with its blankness. This is going to be a long night.
For the August edition of :iconsimplyprose: Scenario prompt: Someone comes face to face with a ticking clock.

This was a surprisingly easy one to write. As soon as I saw the prompt, the memory flashed into my head of that watchdog thing from The Phantom Tollbooth. I canít even remember what grade we read that book in, but it seems like ages ago. I wonder if teachers would be sad to know that all the classics they have the younger kids read arenít likely to stay with them for long. I can hardly remember anything before high school. :XD:

Uhg, choosing categories for literature sometimes drives me crazy. Itís a weird dream sequence, so does that make it fantasy? It wasn't real, so does that make it general? The protagonist is somewhere in the high school-college age range, so does that make it childrenís/teenís? It mentions another personís work, so does that make it fan fiction? :frustrated:

The Phantom Tollbooth is © Norton Juster
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:iconshabboth:
Critique by Shabboth Shabboth/critique/460142932">Aug 26, 2011, 3:48:57 AM
Firs of all, thank you for submitting to the :iconfantasyauthorsguild: critique folder. I'll see what I can do.

I've noticed that a large number of the pieces I've critiqued in the past week or two have been written in the present tense. I'm starting to wonder if I missed a memo, actually.

Writing narrative in the present tense is difficult to do well, it is an unnatural way to tell a story and is often disruptive to the reader. There is also a tendency (because of the unnatural feeling) for the writer to accidentally drop back into the past tense. You've managed to avoid this, and for that I commend you. :)

You have also made good use of the present tense's immediacy to allow for a number of sudden "reveals" >blockquote>"I guess that would explain why my bedroom has no walls and it looks like I'm sitting in some kind of jungle."</blockquote> for example. These are done effectively, and with a light touch, which I appreciated.

There were a couple of things that struck me as incongruous. One was a possible plot hole/logical flaw in the story line, the other is a visualization issue. The logical flaw is that if the "dog" was able to read the protagonist's mind, he wouldn't need to ask what she remembers about "The Phantom Tollbooth". The visualization issue is that I'm not sure how one would see the clock on the dog's abdomen unless it is standing upright. In the cover illustration for the Tollbooth book it is on his side, not his abdomen.

We also have a difference of opinion is that I might acknowledge "The Phantom Tollbooth" as a children's classic, but I have a hard time swallowing the "a classic of literature" description.

All in all this is a very well written piece of prose. It is just the right length for the amount of story, you employ technical writing skills to good effect, and it is charming and amusing. Well done!
What do you think?
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:iconcatdefender:
CatDefender Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2015
Hater of my favorite teens' adventure novel.
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:iconsingleginger96:
SingleGinger96 Featured By Owner May 31, 2015
OMG! YES! HYPE HYPE HYPE HYPE SO MUCH HYPE!
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:iconnamenameone:
namenameone Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Student Digital Artist
First things first; WIN. XD

Anyway, back to business. Excellent use of present tense. Very interesting hook, first thing that ran through my mind was "Phantom Tollbooth reference?" I see I was correct. :) Though I can't help but wonder, if you're seeing dogs with clocks for stomachs, shouldn't one's mind almost immediately jump to "I'm dreaming." or "I'm hallucinating/insane."? Guy's pretty easy going if he just accepts it like that. Also the jungle bit probably should've been a big tip off. XD
Nevertheless, the way you ordered that was perfect for the reader's point of view, leaving us all under the impression that all this is actually happening. Also, that was mean of the dog to just bite him like that. :I
I feel bad for him, so much math....

Great work, couldn't spot a single flaw. ^-^
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. I rarely have lucid dreams, so I figure accepting weirdness would be a pretty standard reaction until something changed your awareness of the dream state. =p
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:iconinternet-cancer:
Internet-Cancer Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay, I have to admit this made me laugh. Props to you, this was interesting.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. =)
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:iconinternet-cancer:
Internet-Cancer Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome!!
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
:giggle: As soon as I saw the first line, I immediately thought of that book...all I remember of it is there being a lot of bad puns. Also the main character was a school-hating wussy at the beginning....

I vote...magic realism :O

Anyway, I like the interaction between TickTock and the narrator; the dialogue reads well. It seems to peter out a little too abruptly at the end, but I can't think of any other way for this to work once it's named a dream sequence.
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. =)
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:iconkiwi2191:
kiwi2191 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2010
loved it even though I have not read the book
it reminds me of me
and the little naps I would take to pass away time and not study :iconblushplz:
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Yep, procrastination stinks, but sometimes it is too tempting. :XD:
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:iconcassidycoyote:
CassidyCoyote Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
This made me smile quite a bit, I remember watching the movie Phantom Tollbooth (and a freind of mine did a fanfic parody of it using characters from a tv show we like XD It was halarious). I loved the watchdog. X3 I believe his name was Tock, but I can't remember, it's been a while XD

Anyways, on to the story at hand. Very well written. It could use a little more description, but it's great the way it is. I almost pointed out 'imbedded' as a spelling mistake, but I looked it up and apparently it can be either "imbedded" or 'embedded,' so I guess that's all good. XD

Very interesting story, and a great message behind it! I'll have to remember this come September! XD

:iconthe-writers-review:
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. I hoped it would be able to generate some nostalgic memories for people who knew the story. =)
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:iconazbilcreak:
azbilcreak Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010  Student General Artist
this is awesome! :D
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. =)
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:iconazbilcreak:
azbilcreak Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2010  Student General Artist
Ur welcome! :)
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:iconspamdragon:
SpamDragon Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Haha this is a great representation of a weird dream-state :D
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you. Writing about dreams is just so much fun. =)
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:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010
Lmao! I loved it!
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. =)
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:iconpandacat-productions:
PandaCat-Productions Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Student Writer
This was weird and strange and wonderful! It made me smile. :love:

(I loved the Phantom Tollbooth! :eager:)

:clap:
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Glad you enjoyed it. =D
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:iconpandacat-productions:
PandaCat-Productions Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2010  Student Writer
:hug:
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