Life of Pettiness

[WP] Universal Groundhog Day. Everyone in the world is living the same day over again. from WritingPrompts

“Wait who won yesterday?” Sally asked her gathered coworkers. She did not know everyone on the staff, but she assumed all 20 were there. She eyed the mob of office workers dressed in sneakers and running clothes, each carrying a variety of sharp weapons. After a moment of murmurs Paul Sanchez, someone she did recognize, raised his hand.

GODDAMNIT!” Fred ran out of the room without waiting for Paul to name his target, the group’s laughter followed him.

“Five minutes, Fred!” Sally yelled as the door slammed. Then, she looked at Paul to confirm his choice. “The usual, Paulie?” He nodded. Killing Fred became enjoyable again when he was able to enlist the whole office. He did not even bother to keep track of time anymore, but he guessed it had been about 50 years since he met Dana Sharp. He reminisced about that day while Sally watched the clock.

Paul caused a month-long time loop, though he did not know it was him. One day, decades after it began, the loop was different. He met a woman that not only broke him out of the time loop but showed him how to control it. The damage had been done, and his Earth would always be looped, but he learned how to exert some control over the length of the loop. His latest experiment, at Dana’s suggestion, was to let everyone in on the loop. She advised him to keep it short until people got used to it and add more days as time went on. While he couldn’t break them out of the loop, he hoped to eventually make the loop long enough that it didn’t matter. Sally cleared her throat.

“Paul, take the day off. You’ve been winning too much lately. Everyone else,…  GO!” The workers bolted towards different exits so that none became crowded. Sally sat down on her desk and smiled at Paul.

“Why is it always Fred?” she asked, then gave a shrug. “I don’t like the guy either, but EVERY time?” Paul smiled.

“I’m petty,” he laughed. “I don’t even hate him anymore, but I used to. That’s good enough.”

“It’s stupid, but the game is the only reason I come to work anymore,” Sally sighed. “Time loops really suck after a while, everything gets boring if you do it enough times,” Sally waved a dismissive hand out the window. “Even murder.”

“Yeah, but at least the world is in on it this time. You can’t imagine what it’s like alone,” Paul said. He looked down at the floor and hoped she wouldn’t see the sadness collecting in the corner of his eyes.

“I know, but what’s going to happen if it never breaks?” Sally asked. Paul shrugged. He never really had feelings for Sally when they worked together, but the loop seemed to make everyone more relaxed and he began to see a different side of her as time went on. He decided to take her to a different Earth the next time he reported in. He heard cheering and loud footsteps coming up the stairs.

The office door burst open. The first thing Paul saw was Fred’s head on a pike. Eric, one of the interns, vigorously shook the pike up and down as he led a parade of employees back to Sally.

“Congratulations, Eric,” Sally said. She stood and winked at the crowd. “The rest of you better start sucking up to him. I guess that’s it for today, see you all today,” she laughed and turned to leave. Paul stood up and followed her out.

“What’s your plan for the rest of the day?” He asked as he joined her in the elevator. The doors closed, and Sally shrugged.

“I don’t know. I didn’t plan on getting out of work early. You?” The doors closed and the elevator began to descend.

“I’m going somewhere, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me?”

“Sure, I’m game for something new. Where we going?” Paul reached for her hand with his left hand while his right hand reached into his pocket.

“Somewhere time isn’t looped.” He said. He pulled out a black card and dropped it on the floor of the elevator. The faux marble linoleum disappeared beneath them leaving only a pitch black void darker than anything Sally had ever seen. They sank into the darkness slowly instead of the free fall Sally expected from going into a hole.

Sally opened her eyes, though she wasn’t sure if she had them closed. One second she saw only darkness, and the next she saw what looked like a futuristic bachelor pad. Something resembled a bed rested against one corner of the wall, and a large screen on another wall was obviously a TV. Piles of clothes dotted the room, most on the floor, some on the bed and other chairs. What she could see of the floor looked like solid glass with water flowing under it. Everything had some decorative lighting on it.

“Where are we?” Sally asked. “And how did we get here so fast?” Paul sighed.

“This is my room. Sorry about the mess, I didn’t expect company today,” Paul explained. He grabbed her hand and led her out of the room through an automatic door that slid open as they approached, then closed behind them. The hall was almost all white, with bright lights scattered at regular intervals.

“Where are we?” Paul asked to let her know he was going to answer her question. “This is an alternate Earth where time isn’t looped. How we got her so fast was the card,” Paul stopped. “THE CARD!” he released Sally’s hand, put his hands up in front of him. “Wait here a sec,” dashed back to his room. After a moment he came out again and flashed her the black card before he put it in his pocket. “If I forget that, I’m stuck. Anyway, the card opens a portal back to this Earth. I come back every now and then to report in and get a break from the loop.” Paul led her through the halls, turning this way and that at random intersections. After Paul finished his explanation Sally stopped in place and pulled her hand out of his.

“You mean you can get out of the loop any time you want? Why do you keep going back?” Paul shrugged and gave her a lopsided grin.

“Fred.”

“FRED!?” Sally shouted with a combination of outrage and surprise.

“Yeah. Like I said. I’m petty.”  

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.