Preston’s eyes remained closed, though he could feel the lightening of morning outside his window. These moments were precious: self-reflection, brilliant ideas, anything that required a still mind and a complete focus on nothing else, these were the commodities he crafted in the wee hours.
Then the first electric shock hit his toe and travelled all the way up through his veins.
Preston used to scream when the alarm clock went off, but after five years he was enough used to the sensation to emit a muffled wheeze of pain instead. The electricity was like fire in his blood, enlivening him in a way that no mere siren sound could manage.
He rolled over onto his stomach, dropping his chin onto his pillow and clenching his eyes shut. It was Saturday; he should have been allowed to linger in his bed, at least until the sun was fully over the horizon and he was expected to come to the farm and supervise the weekend laborers. He wondered if the clock had ever been reset from the day before, when he’d needed to get up early to go in and see William.
Another shock travelled up his leg, this time originating in his calf. He couldn’t help it this time: he arched his back and moaned his agony. There was a very satisfied chick-chock sound from the alarm clock–the sound of the shocking arm retreating into the clock body. It knew he was awake now; the pulse sensors in his sheets would tell it that much.
“I’m up, I’m up,” Preston muttered unnecessarily, kicking the sheets off so they would fall over the alarm clock’s beady, greedy eye. He hated that it was allowed to live in his apartment; when he’d been a kid, robots were banished to the outdoors, like big dogs in their shoddy little houses.