For a moment today, time stands still — but you can tweak one thing while it’s stopped. What do you do?
Everyone around me is anchored to something, but not me. I am unencumbered by ties and untethered in time.
This state is more boring that you might think. Every living thing around me appears as a statue, frozen and unmoving. There’s a woman paused in mid-step, high-heeled foot poised just above the sidewalk. A car sits on the street, halfway through a turn, the driver’s hands glued to the steering wheel. A squirrel is suspended in mid-air between two branches.
I have no idea what caused this or how long it will last, and more to the point, I have no idea why I am immune to whatever happened. Perhaps the answer is the opposite; that instead of an event affecting everything other than me, it affected only me, and I have speeded up so much that everything around me appears to have stopped.
I need some way of measuring how time moves forward in this strange new world. I walk into the nearby drugstore and help myself to some chalk, and use it to draw outlines of several people. After doing this I take a walk. Being familiar with this area of town makes it easy to mark out a 2-mile distance, and I average 15 minutes per mile. When I return the outline is slightly off, by about an inch. Now I know the rate of movement; 2 inches per hour. At this rate, a mile walk for the statues will take 5 years, compared with my time of 15 minutes.
What can I do with this interstice of time? Do I spend my time playing silly jokes on people, swapping items of clothing and hiding keys? Should I go to the library and surround myself with knowledge and use this time outside time to learn? Do I give up and obliterate myself in a haze of drugs and alcohol? I could walk the few miles to the University and attempt to get help from the physics department by writing a note. I contemplate doing this. If it takes 2 hours to get someone to see and react to my response, 40 years of my life will have gone by. Without any human contact, with no support system, I doubt that I can last 40 years; sickness or madness will kill me first.
No one of the frozen can help me. I am alone. There will be no rescue.