Tag Archives: cursed object

Haunted Clock Scary Folktale

Nationality: American
Primary language: English
Age: 18
Occupation: Canvasser
Residence: Echo Park, CA


A little boy with a sister, two parents, and a dog just won a sports game. His parents take him out to get a gift to celebrate. They’re trying to pick out a toy for him to get at a toy store. The boy sees a doll with a clock in its stomach. It seems to wave, all five of its fingers up. The boy is strangely drawn to it, loving it, and wants it immediately. His parents ask him if he’s sure–it’s kind of creepy–but let the boy get it. The cashier warns them not to buy it because they’ll regret it, and the boy insists and asks why he can’t get it. The cashier says he can’t tell the boy why, but warns him again. The boy gets it anyway. He hangs the clock over his bed.
He goes to sleep each night for five nights, and each morning when he wakes, one member of his family is gone.
The first morning, his dog is missing. When the boy complains of this, his parents are confused: “What do you mean? We never had a dog.” When he looks at the clock, it only has four fingers up.
The second morning, his sister disappears. When the boy complains of this, his parents are confused: “What do you mean? You don’t have a sister.” When he looks at the clock, it only has three fingers up.
The third morning, his dad disappears. When the boy complains of this, his mom is confused: “What do you mean? I’m a single mom.” When he looks at the clock, it only has two fingers up.
The fourth morning, his mom disappears. When he looks at the clock, it only has one finger left.
The next morning, the boy is gone forever, and the clock has no fingers up.


MM first heard this story at a summer camp when he was between 8 and 9 years old. He was a little scared of the story, but mostly enjoyed it, immediately thinking that it was “a really good, fun, spooky story.” He really enjoyed telling this story and did so numerous times at camp. He notes that he heard and shared different versions over the years: the little boy was sometimes a little girl; the order of the disappearance of family members changed sometimes; the boy’s actions each day after finding a member of his family missing were different, including days where he missed school or days where he tried to get rid of the clock and it mysteriously returned; and there was a version where the shopkeeper wanted to get rid of the clock and recommended that the boy take it. MM analyzes this as being a representation of a kid’s worst fear: being alone without their family. “It’s a little uniquely terrifying to be wiped from existence instead of dying.” He notes that “there’s also a perversion of the familiar–a toy (kids love toys) that kills your family.


I classify this as a folktale because, while it’s somewhat grounded in the real world, its truth value doesn’t appear to be up to date. There’s no piece of this in which “the clock is still out there,” or anything to imply that this might be a true story. Instead, it appears to be a scary folktale for children. Beyond its basic entertainment value, this story could mean several things. I’m inclined to agree with MM’s analysis that this folktale represents a child’s fear of being left alone without their family and of death. This view is supported through a psychoanalytical lens, which often views the subtext of a folk belief or narrative as a subconscious desire or fear. This story could be viewed in both lights. The fact that the boy in MM’s version of the tale ignored the warning of the shopkeeper (an adult) and got the toy he wanted anyway, then faced the consequences (his family disappearing), marks this as a potentially cautionary tale. Its moral might be, “children should listen to adults.” Of course, children fear being alone, but they also sometimes desire it. This story, scary as it may be, could also be a representation of the child’s subconscious desire to be rid of their parents. After all, the little boy is subconsciously drawn to the clock immediately. Perhaps he really does want his family gone so that he can have more independence, but the consequence of this is that he disappears, too. Either way, this story’s deeper meanings are fascinating through a psychoanalytical lens.