Jonas David’s Fiction Fridays, Episode #1: Slice of Life

–1:22 PM and thirty-eight seconds on January third, 2018:

Strategies for escape:

  1. Lift a pencil, sharpened, and place the point against the right tear duct. With the heel of your palm against the eraser, angle the utensil so it is parallel with the bridge of your nose. Thrust into the brain.
  2. Find the heaviest object within the radius (a metal filing cabinet beneath my desk.) Lift and heave, aiming with the sharp corner, at the office window.
    • Cut throat/wrists/inner thigh(femoral) with the resulting shards.
    • Leap out the produced hole. (Two stories is not far enough.)
  3. Locate the nearest electrical outlet. Force a thin, metal object into the opening. This is quicker, but less likely to work than the following: punch/kick through the wall surrounding the outlet until you find the wires. Yank the wires out, and bite/chew through the casings. It might take some practice to get it done before time runs out.

None of the above have worked for me.

–1:23 PM and thirty seconds on January third, 2018:

I memorize lots of things, including these entries (which I dearly hope to someday write on a surface that will survive the minute.)

Mainly I memorize for my own enjoyment, and the satisfaction of having a goal. The illusion of flow and continuance I get from reciting (in my mind) a chapter of a novel, or the names of the seventy-three people (and two dogs [inside] and fourteen birds [outside {I named them}]) that are within my radius, soothes my anxiety.

The human mind can retain much more than people realize, especially when you can’t write anything down.

–1:22 PM and eleven seconds on January third, 2018:

Take any sensation, repeat it forever, and it will drag the most stable person into madness.

Imagine a permanent itch (behind my left ear, just above the lobe.) Visualize the tingling, nagging sensation. Scratch the itch, and it returns the next cycle. Scratch again, again, again, again, it always returns. The exact same itch tingling in the exact same way in the exact same spot.

I spent a long while lost in the red mists of insanity (fingernails gauging skin) due to that itch.  

The trick I learned (thank God), is to not fight the itch, but to welcome it as a part of yourself. No one is annoyed by their own heartbeat, or the sound of their breath. The itch became me, and bothered me no more.

This approach also worked with Diane’s shrill laughter, but that took much longer.

–1:22 PM and fifty seconds on January third, 2018:

(One of) my greatest wish(es) is that I had been looking out the window when it happened.

There is not much out there (a parking lot, lamp posts, cars) but I can see trees, some low mountains, and sky. There is a man (Steven Hector) who walks across the parking lot. He gets into his car (green Subaru) and starts the engine and walks across the parking lot and gets into his car and starts the engine and walks across the

It would be nice to watch without having to turn in my seat every cycle.

–1:23 PM and twenty-one seconds on January third, 2018:

How to read a novel in eighty-two seconds:

  1. Be so graced by Fate’s smile that you are near a computer with internet access (or have a physical, paper book sitting near you [fat chance of that]) when whatever the hell it is that’s happened, happens.
  2. Win the lottery a second time by already having one or more (good, for a hat trick) novels added to your e-reader of choice.
  3. Become incredibly skilled at clicking and scrolling and remembering your place.

–1:22 PM and eighteen seconds on January third, 2018:

How many times have you been sitting at your desk on a dull day and wondered, what would happen if I got up right now and just yelled at max volume for a full breath? How would people react? What chain of events would follow? Maybe you’ve imagined doing other, darker things you dare not say (or think) aloud. Just thoughts, no harm in them. Just exploratory thoughts. Intrusive thoughts, they are sometimes called. No one acts on them.

Except, when you have nothing else to do and can make no mark on the world, you do act on them. You do drop your pants and piss all over Diane’s desk. You do slap the stupid smirk of Greg’s face. You do yank Rachel’s top over her head and take a squeeze on that huge rack. At first you think, oh God, what if this is the time I keep on going? Then after a while you think oh God, please let this be the time I keep on going!

Does it count as having done the thing if all record of it vanishes half a minute later? If the shocked shouting and the feel of hands pulling on your shoulders just cuts off and you’re back at your desk staring at a spreadsheet? The memory of what you did (disgusting, freak) still exists in your mind, but is that any different from just imagining it vividly?

–1:22 PM and forty-two seconds on January third, 2018:

I know my world.

I know every item on every desk in every office within the radius of how far I can run in eighty-two seconds. I know the name of every person, the flicker of every light, the color of every stain on the carpet. I know the make, model and year of every car in the parking lot (all sixty-six of them, and two motorcycles [in winter!]) I know the names of the owners of twenty-six of those cars (learned after dragging every person within reach over to the window and shouting who owns that Honda, the green one, there!’ hundreds of times, in hundreds of ways.) I know the shape of every cloud and the sway of every tree, I know the timing of every gust of wind, and I know that there are fourteen birds. Two preen on a lamppost, one struts on the hood of a red Camaro, and eleven fly up and to the (my [is there any other?]) left, from behind a pine tree at 1:22 pm and thirty-nine seconds.

These are unchangeable (I have tried to change them) facts. This is my existence.

But just now I saw at least fifteen birds fly from behind the pine tree, at 1:22 and thirty-six seconds, and in a different direction.

Did I hallucinate it? Did I invent it in some pathetic desire for excitement? There is no way to know or test. No way to look back. The event has come and gone and now the birds repeat their appropriate flight.

Since then, I spend a lot more time looking out the window and counting crows.

–1:23 PM and one second on January third, 2018:

So far, I’ve been unable to ejaculate within the 82 seconds available.

–1:22 PM and twenty-eight seconds on January third, 2018:

I spend a lot of effort googling for anyone who’s escaped this kind of situation.

I’ve read about Groundhog’s Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, Replay, the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, Reincarnation Blues–but these describe people who are repeating a whole day, or a whole lifetime, even.

If I had a whole day (an hour!) oh, the things I’d do…

–1:23 PM and nine seconds on January third, 2018:

It could be worse.

What if it’d happened while I was on the toilet? Or driving? Or in terrible pain?

What if I’d been banging… Or asleep…

I wish I’d been asleep.

–1:22 PM and eight seconds on January third, 2018:

I swivel my chair to look out the window. Steven ambles toward his car. The black bird struts on the Camaro, hops away. The trees rustle in the exact way they always rustle. The cloud of crows caws into the sky. I swivel my chair, Steve walks across the lot, the birds take flight. Swivel, Steve, birds. Swivel, Steve, Birds. Swivel-

Wait…

I squeeze my eyes shut and look again. Yep. A woman walks from across the street to my left, into my parking lot. A woman with frizzy blonde hair like a halo around her head and a dark green coat pulled close. Fuzzy collar. Grey jeans. Boots. I’ve never seen her in this minute or in my life.

Imagine seeing a new color never before witnessed by human eyes, or hearing a freshly invented instrument. All I can do is stare, mouth open–

Spreadsheet, swivel.

She’s still walking across the lot at an angle slightly toward me. The cycle didn’t take her back.

Steve catches sight of her, his pace changes so he is two steps before the car door instead of touching the handle like he’s supposed to be when the birds take flight.

Swivel, look.

She’s still coming. Steve jumps, stops moving altogether cause from his point of view she’s just popped out of nowhere. My heart is in my throat. I’ve got to get her attention. She can move goddammit!

I lift my trusty filing cabinet and chuck it through the window. Crashing, jingling glass and screams from the desks behind me.

I howl out the window till there’s blood in my throat. “Hey! Help! Hey!” She looks at me, hesitates. Come here, damn you!

I leap out the window. Icy wind shrieks in my ears then snap crackle pop go my legs. I drag myself across the wet, cold pavement toward her, shouting–

Spreadsheet, swivel. She’s staring at my window, mouth open. Out goes the file cabinet and I lean through the hole.

“Come up here! Please! Help me! Second floor!”

She unfreezes and jogs past a stunned Steve into the building.

–1:22 PM and eight seconds on January third, 2018:

I run to the elevator twice before it opens and she steps out like a goddess from a cloud. Mid-thirties maybe. Pink cheeks from the cold. Wide, brown eyes, thin lips. Golden hair like a fright wig.

“How do I–”

Spreadsheet. I get up from my desk and run to the elevator. She’s still there, so unaffected I oughta fall down and worship her. Instead I blubber, “how to I stop it? How did you do it?”

I see pity in the angle of her brow, and she says, “you don’t see?”

I don’t, I don’t. I can only shake my head.

“Take my hand.” Her voice is whispered honey.

I clutch her chilled fingers, they begin to warm in my palm. The cycle’s end approaches, I feel it like a musician feels the end of a measure.

And then, I do see. The light hits her at different angles. We touch, but she’s a universe away. I made the cycle a part of me, but she’s stepped outside. I’ve been ramming my head into the fence while she climbed over. Can it be so easy? Just a shift of mind? I take strength from her touch, close my eyes and— 

The end comes and goes and holy hell I’m still holding her hand. I shake, cry, yell, laugh, fall on my knees, stand up and do it again. She looks at me with a grin like my display just barely breached her surface.

“Help me,” she says, and pulls me to my feet. “Let’s find how to unstick the world.”

–1:22 PM and fifty-nine seconds on January third, 2018:

The sun hops up in the sky, shadows jump. Leaves skitter across the road, vanish, and take the trip again.

She and I walk, two ants across the surface of a skipping record.

Where to? I don’t know. She’s got ideas, plans, strategies. She doesn’t share them much with me. I’m happy to be moving, looking in a new direction, touching new things (I can take them with me!) She tells me she’s been wandering for years (have I been stuck that long?) and finding clues. None of what she says makes much sense to me.

I’ll follow her though, do what she says. I owe her that much (everything.)

And wherever we go, it’s sure to be better than being trapped at that desk.

Originally written January 2018

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