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The Pendulum Time and time again. Swoosh. The great pendulum swung, searing a trail in the glare of the orange sky. Swoosh. The children were gathered beneath it, watching it and holding hands. This was their first time seeing the pendulum. Swoosh. The teacher stood behind them at a distance. Working in schools was a dangerous profession, thanks to repeated exposure to the pendulum. But it paid well. Swoosh. Very well. Time and time again. Swoosh. The sun slowly dropped beneath the horizon. Swooosh. Now the pendulum glowed with a faint golden light that trailed up and down its shell like a network of veins. Swoooosh. The light pulsed faintly. Swooooosh. Some of the children began to close their eyes and lay down. Those who remained awake groped beside them for a neighbour’s hand. Small grunts and yawns bubbled throughout the mass of bodies. Swoooooosh. The teacher stifled her own yawn. Swooooooosh. The pendulum stopped.

Time and time again. Silence. The pendulum was dormant but commanding. Silence. The children that were still awake held their breath. They could not tear their eyes from the pendulum. Silence. Even the children that had fallen asleep seemed to feel the weight of the noiselessness pressing down on them, and their whimpers and crying subsided. Silence. The teacher smiled. She had made it through another night. Silence. The children who had fallen asleep slowly disappeared. Time and time again. Swooooooosh. With a groan, the sun reared its head. Swoooooosh. The heartbeat of the pendulum began again, the golden light pulsing anew. Swooooosh. The teacher clapped her hands quickly and stood up. The children turned to her and formed a silent line behind her. Swoooosh. Over half of the children were missing. The teacher smiled. She wouldn’t have to return to the pendulum for another week at least. Swooosh. As the great pendulum seared a trail in the glare of the orange sky, just behind the noise, you could hear the screams. Swoosh.