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Without thinking, she flung up the duvet. And nothing. Nothing jumped out anyway. The green light remained, quietly flowing over her stomach in waves as she knelt there. She got down on her belly and crawled under the bed commando style. Whatever was producing the light was right behind a large pile of clothes. With a swift breaststroke motion she parted the blockage. The light dazzled her for a moment and she rubbed her eyes.

It was the Emerald Dial bracelet. The light was coming from the emerald on the clasp. Not an alien. She let out her breath and crawled closer. Something in the gemstone was creating the rippling wave effect. Wriggling shapes in the heart of the jewel swaying back and forth, swishing side to side like long reeds. It was strangely hypnotic to look at and time seemed to slip away as she watched. She snapped out of her trance and shuffled back a little way to get a better look. The dial’s hands were pointing straight out to the left and right, still set at a quarter to three, which was wrong. The time was closer to midnight now. For the briefest of moments, Sammy imagined the ancient text around the setting shimmering.

Raise your hands to the skies,

On the tone of midnight.

On the bedside table, the time flicked to 11:59. If Sammy raised both clock hands to the top, the dial would display the correct time. Esther had told her not to work the mechanism herself, but it’s not like she was going to break it. She’d be careful.

Sammy clutched the bracelet between her palms and used her thumbs to push the hands upward. They each shifted a little, but the mechanism was stiff and they got stuck.

The reeds in the emerald swayed faster. Sammy pushed the hands again, but nothing happened. She shifted closer to the bracelet, until only her legs protruded from under the bed. Her face was now right up against the emerald and she had an elbow on the floor on either side of it. She took a deep breath and pushed. Both clock hands flew up with a snap. They locked together at the top and the emerald began humming, starting low but getting louder and higher.

Sammy scrabbled backwards, but too late. The emerald exploded in white-green light. Dazzling and brilliant, consuming everything, as the world around her melted to black.


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