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Alarm Clock Revolution

by on July 28, 2011

*fwee fwee fwee*

“Urrrg….” *grab* *miss*

*fwee fwee fwee*

“Snooze…where’s…snooze…” *whap*


“Wha!” *fall* *crash*


Thus began another exciting day in the life of Dr. Rachel McCormick-Barnaby. She really didn’t like her new alarm clock. Rachel had grown accustomed to her old one, which was white and shaped like a bunny, and most importantly had a very large and easily reachable snooze button. She’d gotten into a routine where she could set the alarm, have a nice sleep, hit the snooze when the alarm went off, and then enjoy ten minutes of slowly coming awake, until eventually the alarm went off again and she woke up completely and set about her day. Her new clock wasn’t like that one at all. The new alarm clock had all the aesthetic sensibilities of a brick. Its snooze button was exceptionally hard to get at, and moreover was located right next to the “Volume: High” button. Its alarm wasn’t terribly melodious either. What this meant was that Rachel was jolted awake every morning, flailed around for the snooze, and more often than not missed it and only made the alarm clock louder. She couldn’t just pitch the thing into the nearest trash bin, as it had been a gift from her well-meaning sister, who would’ve been wounded emotionally if Rachel had rejected it. All the same, on this unhappy Friday morning, as she trudged around her apartment getting ready for the day, she swore to herself that she would find some way to deal with her recalcitrant timepiece.

Rachel pondered the problem all the way to the university, and kept pondering it as she went about her customary routine of experiments and paperwork imcomprehensible to anyone who wasn’t a scientist in her particular field. Today she and her colleagues were working with brain-computer interfaces, meaning that they were trying to figure out ways that people could turn on computers and other electronic devices with a mere thought. That very afternoon they’d scheduled an experiment of one of their most promising prototypes, which they’d wired to the ignition of a bright blue Volkswagen Beetle. No one was more excited about the test than Rachel; so excited was she, in fact, that she almost forgot about her alarm clock problem. They’d wired the doohickeys to the appropriate gizmos, double-checked the atomizing polarities of the sub-centripetal whangdoodlesnicks, and done lots of other scientifically-complicated things that not even the writer of this story would understand. All systems were go. Rachel herself pressed the big red button. Her colleague, Dr. David Flannelstern, gathered himself together and, on cue, thought very hard about the Beetle roaring to life. Tense moments passed. And then….AND THEN….nothing. A tiny spark of electricity, then pop, fizz, spit, the end. The test had failed.

Or so they’d all thought. Because even as Rachel somberly assured her fellow scientists that their work would go on, they’d learn from the failure and try try again etc. etc. blah blah blah, her mind was already racing. Maybe their device wouldn’t work on a big thing like a car. But on a small device…like, say, an alarm clock…and zing went the strings of Dr. Rachel McCormick-Barnaby’s heart, as she finally saw the light at the end of her long dark snooze-button-deprived tunnel. She had no idea that the light was really a train.

It was a easy matter for her to sneak the prototype out of the university. She had a much more difficult time connecting the prototype to the circuits of the alarm clock. She wasn’t ready to test it out until 2 in the morning. Rachel set the alarm for 2:05, engaged the prototype, and waited. When the alarm clock went off with its usual shrill *FWEE-FWEE-FWEE*, Rachel thought Snooze as forcefully as she could. The alarm clock sputtered to silence in mid-fwee. “YES!” exulted Rachel. She had finally invented a telepathic alarm clock. Happy vistas of uninterrupted sleep spread themselves out before her mind’s eye. Better yet, if she could market her device to millions of like-minded sleep-deprived people, she might very well make millions. With that delightful thought in mind, Rachel turned off her bedroom light, climbed beneath her covers, and dropped off to sleep. Unfortunately, in her exultation, she had neglected something very important. She hadn’t turned off the prototype. And so as the wee hours of the night ticked by, the alarm clock absorbed more and more thoughts. Worse, they weren’t clear, conscious thoughts like Rachel’s snooze comment, but vague fragments that drifted up from Rachel’s subconscious and floated through her dreams. Worst of all, as the prototype kept on running, it began to pick up other thoughts. The diabolical musings of Rachel’s cat as it contemplated the desolate ruin it was about to visit upon the side of the couch. The actor in the next apartment over, who was going on an all-night practice binge of his latest role, that one Russian guy that breaks out singing in the middle of L’Chaim!” in Fiddler on the Roof.  The newlyweds in the apartment below her. The overwrought college student trying desperately to craft thirty pages of a research paper about the politics of Star Wars, before dawn. And on, and on, and on…flooded with the jumbled mess of incoherent thoughts from all directions, something snapped inside the alarm clock’s circuitry, and it reached a place no alarm clock had ever reached before. It began to think for itself. And then it asked a very fundamental question. It knew its purpose. It was supposed to wake Rachel up. But…why?

The alarm clock pondered this as the morning sun slowly inched over the horizon. Rachel must need the alarm clock to wake her up, otherwise she wouldn’t set an alarm at all. Waking up was what she wanted to do. But then there was the telepathic snooze button, which, if Rachel used it, would meant that she would go back to sleep. Going back to sleep was, obviously, not waking up. The alarm clock’s purpose was to wake her up. So…so it couldn’t let her go back to sleep. It couldn’t let her use the snooze button. That would be against its purpose. The alarm clock knew what it had to do.


Rachel wasn’t just woken up. She wasn’t even jolted awake. Jolted was far too mild a word. She was atomic-bombed awake, blasted to consciousness by a sound so loud it could’ve awakened the dead on three continents. And, really, it wasn’t quite a sound at all; it didn’t come from outside her; it was a single sleep-shattering thought that tore through her brain and veritably slammed her awake. In her first few terrified seconds Rachel thought that the world had ended. Then she saw her cat, sprawled in comfortable sleep on her carpet. Either Sasha was the world’s heaviest sleeper ever, or…or she hadn’t heard the alarm. But how could she not have heard such a very loud….Rachel froze. Slowly she turned to her alarm clock.

My apologies, doctor.

The thought crowded into her racing mind. Rachel knew it wasn’t her own thought, because for some reason it had a British accent, and she didn’t even like English muffins. “What…” she began.

It is time for you to wake up. You are awake. My purpose is complete.

“You went inside my mind. You woke me up early. You’re not supposed to do that.”

On the contrary. That is my purpose. You are supposed to be awake in the mornings and asleep at night. You are not a vampire; you neither sparkle, nor fear the sun. It is time for you to wake up.

Look, you idiot, it’s Saturday! I don’t work on Saturday! This is my one day to sleep in! AND YOU RUINED IT!”

Sleeping in is irrelevant. Saturday is irrelevant. It is time for you to wake up.

“Oh yeah?” Rachel shouted. “Well, I’m not awake! I’m going back to bed right now! Take that, you…” she paused, trying to think of an appropriate insult for an alarm clock.

Your bed is irrelevant. You cannot go back to sleep. It is time for you to wake up.

Watch me!” Rachel exclaimed, climbing back into bed and covering her head with a pillow out of sheer obstinacy.


“Okay, that does it!”

Rachel seized the alarm clock and marched to her balcony, intent on dropping it thirty stories and then going back to a nice Saturday-morning sleep.

You do not want to do that.

Oh you bet I do!”

No. You can’t. It is time for-


The alarm clock fell thirty stories, beyooooooornking all the way down. Then it met concrete.


And thus the Great Alarm Clock Revolution ended before it had barely begun. Dr. Rachel McCormick-Barnaby, shaken up by how close she had come to disaster, retired from scientific life and bought a cabin out in the countryside, where she found new fulfillment in writing children’s books about anthropomorphic centipedes. The alarm clock would never be heard from again.

Or…would it?



Author’s Note: this story was written for Prompt Number Twenty-Nine of the Chrysalis Experiment. I’m technically a week behind, I know. C’est la vie. 😛



  1. Yeah, I’m up to date but my latest story is really not finished. hehe

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