Time Traps in Time Travel

The Clock That Went Backward   by Edward Page Mitchell (1881)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 18, 2016



If I were to ask you what is the earliest time travel story you know, most would say H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (1895). Or if you were a time travel fiction buff you might say Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). Are you a fan of Charles Yu’s Science Fiction Universe or authors like Robert Heinlein of the 1940s? Of course, you’ve heard of Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity and Stephen King’s 11/22/63.

I’m betting that this time travel short story will be a new one for you: The Clock That Went Backward.


We are in Sheepscot, Maine, with Aunt Gertrude when time turns. In Aunt Gertrude’s house is an old Dutch clock with a death-head transfixed by a two-edged sword at the top. No pendulum. The time is stuck at 3:15—always. Harry and his cousin are visiting Aunt Gertrude and this night sleeping upstairs—until noises are heard downstairs. They creep down the steps to find Aunt Gertrude with her withered cheek against the old clock, and kissing it. The hands of the clock begin to move backwards. And Auntie falls dead.






This had to have been a ground-breaking story at its time in 1881. Author Edward Page Mitchell’s name doesn’t come swiftly to mind when we think of time travel; he is one of the forgotten American science fiction authors. His stories were popular in the 1870s to 1890. Nearly all his stories were published anonymously in The Sun, a New York newspaper. And nearly all were occult, bizarre, ghostly, devilish, and about inanimate objects coming to life. The Crystal Man in 1881 hit readers long before Well’s The Invisible Man in 1897. Tachypomp was about a thinking computer.  Mitchell was influenced by Poe and wrote over 25 short stories in his lifetime. He was known to have no desire for public recognition. Today Mitchell is considered one of our ‘lost giants’ in the science fiction genre of literature. Discovering Edward Page Mitchell is a treat and a privilege!



Read it online: The Clock That Went Backwards cute_vintage_dutch_windmill_sailboat_delft_blue_large_clock-r582230ac3a42442c861af41947475ae0_fup13_8byvr_324

at  Forgottenfutures.com


Listen to the Audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nb-ei6-DeMw





Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed



Filed under fiction, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, pulp fiction, Reading Fiction, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

16 responses to “Time Traps in Time Travel

  1. Pingback: My 2016 horror moldy oldie: Edward Page Mitchell, The Crystal Man | Sillyverse

  2. Never heard of him before. Went to look up the Wikipedia article on him after reading this. Interesting. Reminds me a bit of how M.R. James helped rediscover J. Sheridan LeFanu. I’ve been looking for a “moldy oldie” to read for Halloween, and I think you just gave it to me, Paula! If, as I customarily do, I write up a review on my blog, I’ll be sure to give you credit for the lead.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have never heard of this storyteller – thanks for the introduction!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Edgar Rice Burroughs has John Carter travel in time to Mars.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Paula has a blog FULL of great information like this and is well worth exploring 👍😃


  6. Jay

    I was wholly ignorant of Mitchell before today. Thank you for the introduction!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is engraved in my brain from when I read the book as a teen, but 3:15 AM is the time everyone was awakened almost nightly in The Amityville Horror.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that 3:15 is thought of as the ‘witching hour’ or the ‘devil’s hour.’ Three o’clock is also the time when Christ was said to die on the cross. Some believe 315 is the number for angels’ powers. And then there’s the sum of the numbers = 9, which is represents Divine spirituality and fruit of the holy hour. Definitely significant no matter how one looks as it.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Another great storyteller reintroduced to us readers, thank you Paula.
    PS my grandmother’s name was Gertrude, not heard very often these days

    Liked by 1 person

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