Where his heart should be there’s a clock. It wasn’t always like that, but he doesn’t know when it changed. As long as he remembers to wind it, each day, he’ll stay alive. There’s a nightmare he has, a couple actually. It’s the same idea, but the way it happens differs. What happens is the clock doesn’t get wound. The nightmare part is that he’s aware of his final seconds ticking away.
In one version of the dream he can’t move. It’s not clear why. He just can’t. His arms won’t do what he wants—needs—them to. He’s stuck in bed listening to the final moments of his life tick-tock. In another he can’t move again, but this time he knows why. He’s been held captive. His hands tied behind his back. Sometimes his captors know what this means for him and they laugh. Other times they don’t know, or don’t care, and ignore him. And sometimes he’s alone, the how and why of his captivity a mystery. Locked away as his heart ticks its last.
Another version of the dream, maybe the worst, is that he forgets to wind his heart until it’s too late. When he realizes he hasn’t wound it there’s only seconds left. Enough time to grab the key he wears around his neck, but not enough time to insert and wind his heart.
The nightmares aren’t common, but they’re not rare either. He’ll have them at least once a week. Maybe that is common. Is it? He’s not sure, it isn’t a thing he talks about. He doesn’t talk about his heart with anyone. He wants to, thinks it might be good. He worries that if he meets someone, falls in love, that it’ll be what causes him to forget. Meeting someone could be what undoes him. That scares him. So he stays wound up, and alone, and afraid.