Due Time (5-25-18)

[WP] You have a small keyring with a button on it. When you press it, everyone except you freezes in time until you press it again. You’ve frozen everyone in time, but you drop it and break it. [Link to post.]

Denny Blake chuckled to himself as he pulled into an empty parking spot in front of his boss’ car about to claim the spot. He got out of the car and headed towards the office before he started time again, just to see his boss’ face. His hand snaked into his pocket to press the button to get time moving again. Denny waved at the angry man cursing inside his car and hitting his steering wheel as he walked by.

Denny opened and closed the small device in his pocket as he walked to his cubicle. He did not know when or how it landed in his possession, but he knew he’d been using it for at least a year. The smooth, cool metal case resembled a Zippo lighter; but, instead of a flint wheel and eyelet for the flame the gadget sported a single red button. He reached his desk, then felt a familiar pressure on his bladder. He glanced at his watch and noticed he needed to be logged into the system within the next five minutes. 

“Eh, I’m not gonna risk it,” he decided. He reached into his pocket, flipped the lid open on the time-stopper, and pressed the button. After that he took a leisurely stroll towards the restroom. He vaguely remembered a time when he needed to find a clock to tell whether the gizmo worked or not, but now he could tell just by feel. Pressing the button caused all air around him to stop moving, it disconcerted him at first, but now he enjoyed the feeling of stillness. Anytime he stopped moving, it felt like he was in a void.

Denny unzipped at the urinal, then relaxed. As a habit he began to fidget with the lighter-like device. He liked to use it to practice lighter tricks, not that he owned a lighter. During one miscalculated toss he lost control; the only thing he could do was watch it fall. It slid between his fingers, through the still air, and landed bottom first directly on the edge of the shiny white urinal. Denny saw red button pop out of the top, followed by a small spray of blue sparks. The red button landed in Denny’s puddle in the urinal, the rest of the gadget hit the floor and slid under the stall to his left. 

“SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT!” Denny cursed to himself, gritted his teeth, then tried to rush the rest of his stream out. After he emptied enough of his bladder he zipped up, then reached into the yellow liquid to pull out the red button, then he went to the stall to find the rest. He went to the sink, rinsed the red button and dried it with a paper towel. Then he spent the next ten minutes trying to get the button back into its slot, but no matter what it would not stay in. He knew time was still stopped, the air felt still in the room. 

Denny collected the pieces, then moped back to his desk. He held a small hope that time continued to move, but as he passed everyone’s silent and still bodies in the hall that hope died. He tossed the bigger piece of the time-stopper on his desk once he reached it, then slumped in his seat. He spun around, unsure of his next move.  During one spin he caught sight of numbers engraved on the bottom of the gadget. He grabbed it up and saw the phone number for a helpline etched into the metal. He reached for the phone, told himself it was a stupid idea, then grabbed the phone.

“Time’s stopped, you idiot,” he berated himself as he dialed. To his surprise the other end began to ring. To even greater surprise, someone answered it before it completed the first ring.

“Temporal help desk, this is Sarah. How can we help you?” Sarah asked with a bright voice. 

“Uh hello? Where am I calling?” Denny asked while still trying to process that someone answerd the phone.

“Temporal help desk. Are you currently having any problems with your time stream?” Sarah asked. Though she could not see him, Denny nodded sullenly as he held the phone to his ear.

“Uh yeah. It’s not moving.”

“I see, and for how long has time not been moving for you?” She asked.

“Uhh. I don’t know,” Denny checked his watch, but realized it would only mark the time that it stopped at. Sarah laughed. 

“Sorry, just a bit of job humor. Do you have the time-stopper?” 

“Yeah, uh. You see, it kind of broke when I kind of dropped it,” Denny explained. 

“Can you read me the last four numbers on the bottom?” 

“You mean the last four of your phone number?” 

“Yes. That’s not actually a phone number,” Sarah chuckled. “I mean, who would you call if time’s stopped?” she asked.

“I’m talking to you?”

“It’s the serial number, formatted like a phone number to encourage people to pick up a phone. When time is stopped all phones switch over to the help desk,” Sarah said.

“Oh, okay. Last four: 9380,” Denny said.

“Okay, close your eyes.” Sarah said into the phone.

“What?” Denny asked, but he did not close his eyes. A bright light appeared in front of him to force his eyes closed. After a second he felt he could open his eyes and found a beautiful, short haired woman standing in front of him. The white name tag on her blue polo shirt said, “Sarah”.

“I said to close your eyes!” she smiled. “Can I see the device?” Denny handed her both pieces, and decided not to mention where the red button had been. She pulled out a small black leather case from her back pocket, unzipped it, then tossed in both parts of the time-stopper. After she zipped it up again she pulled a futuristic cell phone from her pocket and began swiping at it.

“Denny Blake, right?” She asked. Denny nodded his head.

“Yeah, that’s me. That thing has my info?” Sarah nodded.

“Oh yeah these things are closely monitored,” she said. Her phone beeped. “Oh, wow. As a matter of fact, I’m sorry.” Denny felt nerves in his chest as soon as he heard the beep. He thought she might tell him his debit card was declined.

“That was your last one,” she said.

“What? Last one, that’s my only one!”Denny yelled, louder than he meant to. Sarah stepped back slightly, but Denny put his hands up to apologize when he noticed. “Sorry,” he stepped back to show her he meant no harm. “Sorry for yelling, but that’s still my only one.” Sarah shook her head.

According to our records this is the seventh one you’ve broken, not to mention the two you lost that we still haven’t found. You’re cut off from any more. I’ll let you make a choice though. You can spend the rest of your days like this, with time completely stopped for you. Or I can start it up again and you can live the rest of your life at the same time as everyone else.

“But stopping time is so handy! Isn’t there anything I can to do get another one?” Denny looked Sarah up and down, trying to figure her out. She shook her head as an answer. Denny grumbled to himself.

“I guess I’ll just have figure out how to make a deal with the devil,” he said under his breath. Sarah giggled.

“How do you think you got the nine time-stoppers? The deal was only good for seven, but he took pity on you.”

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