It only took until the next morning for him to figure out that something was wrong.
Lying awake, staring at the ceiling, Will’s heart suddenly sank. He had forgotten his sister’s birthday, and only had three days to find something decent. He wasn't exactly the best at picking out gifts, that was for sure, but he just knew this year he could find something wonderful.
I mean, she sort of earned it. Mia recently popped out a healthy baby boy, Benjamin, and was moving into a new house with her fiancé. She had come a long way from the girl who was broken and living in their parents' basement.
I'm going to get her the perfect housewarming gift, Will thought to himself as he drifted off to sleep.
The moment his eyes shot open the next morning, Will was on the hunt. While waiting in line at Frank's coffee he heard talk of a flea market, one day only, in the boathouse near the pier. An odd place to host such an event, sure, but beggars can't be choosers. He had been saving up his tips from delivering pizza to buy a new gaming system, but he thought congratulating his sister on such a big milestone was way more important.
He wasn't overly surprised when he showed up and the boathouse was filled with mostly elderly women and middle-aged moms who had decided to drag along their children that loved to scream. Will felt a headache coming on the moment he walked in the place, but he knew he had to stick it out for Mia.
The problem was, the tables were full of junk. Old Christmas decorations, sets of cheap ceramic dishes, and tons of hand-me-down clothes that looked like they were from a whole different era. Perfect, Will thought, the only thing I'm going to find here is a pile of garbage...
But then he saw it.
An ancient, beautifully-crafted, hand-carved grandfather clock. It was covered in dust like everything else, but there was something about it that still managed to shine through. "I'll take the clock," he said as he handed a wad of cash to the woman behind the table. She just stared at him for a moment and then cleared her throat.
"Sure thing, sir." Her voice was uneasy, but Will didn't notice. He was too focused on the goats that had been carefully chiseled into the caramel-coloured mahogany.
Loading it into his truck was a struggle, and it was no surprise when he decided to just store the clock in the living room of his basement apartment, covered in a white sheet until it was time to deliver it to Mia and her family.
It only took until the next morning for him to figure out that something was wrong. The hands seemed to be moving backward, and the pendulum was swinging eerily slow. Even after he got off the phone with a clocksmith, all he had really learned is the thing must be defective.
Money well-spent, he thought. What a perfect gift it will be.
At 3:33 AM the clock chimed so loudly Will almost shot right out of his bed. The ringing was so loud he could feel his eardrums shaking, and when he removed his hands there was blood smeared on his palms. It chimed six, seven, eight times, until finally, Will couldn't stand it anymore.
He ripped open the glass door and grabbed the pendulum, hoping it would stop the booming noise, but instead the chiming got louder. The pain was becoming unbearable, and Will didn't know how much more he could take.
And then one of his eyes tore clean out of its socket.
Will shrieked and began viciously pulling out pieces of the clock, trying to rip out the heart and stop the screeching. He pulled out the weights, tearing his fingernails off in the process and shredding his skin down to the bone. He dug so far into the clock his hands and arms were bloody, with cartilage showing under the deep lacerations.
But the chiming wouldn't stop.
When his parents found him, Will's arms were shredded right down to the bone, as if someone had flayed him like a dead animal. In a fit of panic, he even tore out his other eye and smashed it into the face of the clock.
Of course, when the saleswoman saw his story on the news, she did feel a sense of remorse. "But I had to sell it to someone else," she said as she traced the scars on her bare arms, "that was the only way to free my soul."
An eye for an eye, and the Devil needed another.