Steampunk Gears Pipes Brass Door  - Prettysleepy / Pixabay

Todays quick WA article comes from a prompt on the site about “What tales are told to children to keep them in line?”. The Ticking phantom. A train conductor like entity that takes away children who stay up past their bedtime and replaces them with copies…


The Ticking Phantom

“…tick…..tick……tick…..tick……tick…..”The noise heard by the victims of the Ticking Phantom

Around the multiverse, there are numerous morality tales told to children to help them learn the rules of soceity and to keep them in line. Some rewards those who do as their parents request. Some exist to scare the children into submission.  The Ticking Phantom (TP) is one of the later types.The stories told about the TP are varied, depending on region, culture and the family. But all follow the same basic pattern.

  • The TP is invisible, right up until the moment it decides to take the child.
  • The TP only goes after children who stay up late when they are meant to be sleeping.
  • The ticking part of the TP’s name comes from not only the ticking sound it makes, but from the large , thertheral pocket-like watch it carries.
  • The appeaarance of the TP is always someone humanoid with masculine appearance, well dressed with a top hat, almost like a train conductor. The curious fact is that this appearance doesnt change even on worlds without a train system. The look is always close to this in some fashion
  • They can be bargined with and appeased if the child goes right to bed as quiet as possible
  • The defiant children are taken away to “somewhere”.
  • Any taken children are replaced with exact looking copies who then send back details on other misbehaving children
  • The louder the ticking, the closer it is to you
  • The ticking never speeds up or slows down and curiously always sounds the same as any clocks that might be present in the home

Many scholoars belive that the legend/story of the TP orginated on a world where trains or other similiar technology had been devloped. One popular idea is that it was started by an exaserbated mother trying to get her child to sleep one night. The legend says that the unnamed mother, after multiple nights of her sleep being disrupted by a unruly youngster, told the child the tale of the ghostly phantom. When , as might a curious child do, asked if the ticking from the family clock was the phantom , the mother then seized on the chance and agreed, saying if it got louder, it means the phantom had found the child and was close to taking them away. That night, with the child still being awake well past their bedtime, the mother then moved the family clock slowely closer to the childs bedroom, making it seem like it was getting louder.If the child slept well that is unknown or was faking being asleep is unknown. But the mother finally got a decent nights sleep. The first in several weeks. The next day, telling the tale to other parents in similair situations, the “tale” soon spread.But what no-one accounted for was the night when the first adult saw the Ticking Phantom for themselves…



World Anvil Page for the item listed above can be found HERE.

My World Anvil page/game world, Easthalen, can be found HERE. It is updated often , as and when I can.

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