It had to have been a few hours by now, right?

She would have to bring herself to check outside, an unthinkable feat at this point in her life. Ever since the fabric of her life had started to wear thin, she had closed the blinds. She put up blackout curtains. She was happier living in the dark than facing whatever was out there.

The clock continued to read 9:99. She was reaching a bleak acceptance – maybe that was just how clocks had always worked?

Would it ever say anything else?

At one point, she picked up the clock, rolling it around in her hands and examining it for buttons. She found none. It was perfectly smooth and featureless, except for the display, which still read 9:99.

It felt like it had been another few hours before she even reached the front door, with all of the walking back and forth she was doing between the minuscule set pieces in her life. But finally, she was here.

What am I even hoping for right now? she was thinking to herself.

Her hand reached out and turned the knob, ready to see the horrible truth of the outside world.