which opens the ticking is the bomb, by nick flynn, excerpt below.
(aside: i sat in my program director’s office, explaining my thesis proposal, and when i finished he smiled and asked me, “how well do you know the myth of proteus?”)
“proteus lives at the bottom of a steep cliff, down a treacherous path, at the edge of the sea. from the top of the cliff you can see him, lolling on a flat rock, staring into the endless nothing of the sea, but to reach him is difficult. you’ve been told that he has the answer to your question, and you are a little desperate to have this question answered. as you make your way down you must be careful not to dislodge any loose gravel, careful not to cry out when the thorns pierce your feet. you must approach him as quietly as you can, get right up on him, get your hands on him, around his neck. you’ve been told that you have to hold on while you ask your question, you’ve been told that you can’t let go. you’ve been told that as you hold on Proteus will transform into the shape of that which most terrifies you, in order to get you to release your grip. but the promise is that if you can hold on, through your fear, he will return to his real form and answer your question.”