Sharp Acquisition

[WP] You’ve been in a time loop for decades now. You’d be insane if it wasn’t for all the things you’ve done differently each time. But now you’ve run out of things to do. You’ve gone everywhere, met everyone, read every book, learned every language… You’ve done literally everything. from WritingPrompts

Paul rolled over in bed and stared at the ceiling. The morning sun cast a golden light on the cursed popcorn ceiling of his bedroom. The sunlight created thousands of tiny shadows against the texture. Over the years he scraped it off several times until he decided to start hiring a crew. He felt grateful the loop reset every month instead of daily like he’d seen in the movies. He did not know what caused it, but there were worse months to repeat, June wasn’t so bad.

Paul sighed and rolled over again instead of calling his regular workers. He knew he was missing his chance for the day, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. He’d tried everything and visited everywhere. He had murdered, robbed, saved lives, and fed starving homeless people. He knew how to live absolutely any life he wanted for the next month, but he already tried them all. And no matter what he did June 1st always came after June 30th.

He stared at the tattoo on his hand, a skull decorated with the number 14 on top of its bone-white dome. The skull smiled at him as if it knew what he was going through. The tattoo was the cause of the loop. He did not know how, but in his gut, he knew it was the tattoo. He got the tattoo on June 30th and woke up a month in the past. He went through the loop four times before he realized what was happening, a month is a lot of time to keep track of. Each of those first four times he got the same tattoo in the same spot from the same artist on the last day of the month.

Once Paul realized the tattoo might be to blame he chose not to get it that month. But he woke up on June 1st again, this time with the tattoo already on his hand. He tried everything to remove the tattoo. From laser removal to a cheese grater to chopping his hand off entirely. Any time the tattoo was damaged the loop reset immediately. Any time he was killed the loop reset immediately. He could not escape it. After silently cursing the tattoo for a moment Paul’s stomach growled and he began to get himself out of bed.

After a stop in the bathroom for his routine, Paul walked out the door and hopped in his car. He checked his watch and realized he still had time to pick up some money before breakfast. By now he knew one of his most hated co-workers was making the daily deposit, so he enjoyed stealing from him and the company at the same time. Paul made his way to the bank but stopped his car on the side of the road before arriving. He popped the hood and got out to pretend to be concerned about his engine. Right on time a red Porsche pulled up next to him and rolled down the window.

“Hey, Paul. Something wrong?” Fred asked with a mocking smile. Fred was a petty man and often reveled in Paul’s misfortunes. “Shitty car finally gave up the ghost, huh?” Paul walked to Fred’s side of the car, leaned in, and slit the man’s throat. As Fred’s hands flew to his neck Paul opened the door, yanked Fred out, climbed in, and drove off with Fred’s car and the deposit. Two blocks later he ditched the car and walked out with the money.

He enjoyed killing Fred hundreds of times and often tossed in snappy one-liners before he did, but even that got old after a while. He’d never been caught, at least not within the month. Sometimes he even continued going to work after killing Fred out of morbid curiosity. Paul pocketed the cash and tossed the deposit bag, then he went for breakfast at his favorite restaurant. The moment he walked through the doors Paul panicked. Someone was sitting at his booth. He glanced at his watch, but the time was what he expected. No one but him sat at that booth at this moment, for decades. Now he saw a fair-skinned woman with short dark hair wearing a white suit. He turned to leave, but he heard someone call his name.

“Paul!” a female voice said. He turned and saw the woman in white waving at him. “I’ve been waiting for you, come sit down,” she said with a sharp smile. Paul turned around again and started to leave the restaurant until he heard her voice again.

“Okay, that’s fine. I’ll try again next month,” she said. She knew. Paul considered that maybe she knew how to fix it, so he decided to join the woman at the table. The woman eyed Paul while he sat down, but she did not say another word until Paul was seated comfortably. The waitress was quick and Paul ordered his food. After the waitress left the woman in white leaned over the table and smiled at Paul.

“How do you know?” Paul asked.

“Straight to the point. Good man,” she chuckled to herself. Paul shrugged.

“I haven’t needed patience in years. How do you know?” he asked again. The woman’s eyes rolled up as if she were thinking.

“Time loops are kind of hard not to notice,” she replied.

“But how do you know I’m not in it like everyone else? Who are you?”

“My name is Dana Sharp. And I know you’re not in it because you’re a Unique. La Muerte to be specific. Controlling time is one of your powers,” she said. Paul stared at her.

“I’m not sure what that means, but here’s another question. Why aren’t you affected, Dana Sharp?” Paul asked.

“Ms. Sharp, please. I’m not affected because I’m from a different Earth. I got here after your loop started so it didn’t affect me.”

“So you’re saying I made this loop. Why can’t I stop it?” Dana shrugged.

“I don’t know, but I’m curious to find out. In the meantime I’m offering you a job on another Earth that isn’t looped.”

“You’re inviting me to an alternate Earth, what about this one?” Dana shrugged again.

“June forever. But don’t worry, it makes no difference to them,” she gestured at the crowd of people in the restaurant.

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