Apparently time has stopped. Or at least slowed to a crawl. Iím not exactly sure when it happened; I just woke up one day and noticed that the drips from my bathroom faucet were hovering in mid-air. Outside, the trees were bent in a heavy wind that I couldnít feel. Their leaves rested in empty space, folded and curled but motionless. I plucked one like an apple and put it in my pocket.

Despite this astonishing temporal phenomenon, my life hasnít changed much. I still go to work every day. Traffic is about as slow as it ever was. Although the computers at my office now run like Tandy 386s, thereís still a near-endless supply of paperwork so my job isnít really affected by the freeze. I assume time will eventually start up again, and when it does, the company is going to be floored by my productivity this quarter.

Perhaps I shouldnít admit this, but my daily routine has actually become more interesting since everything stopped. There are a lot of sights to see, even just on the way to work. On the corner of 50th and Roosevelt there is a fairly serious accident in progress, a head-on collision between a small sedan and a pickup, and judging by the almost-visible motion of the vehicles as they squeeze into each other, they must be going fast. I reach in the window of the sedan flying up off its rear wheels and buckle the driverís seatbelt for him. In the parking lot of my work thereís a guy whoís been falling off his bike for almost a week. I put a pillow on the area where Iím guessing he will land. Iím a pretty nice person.

The physics of things are a little strange now, but Iím getting used to it. Since time is frozen nothing moves on its own, at least not at a natural rate, but I can still forcibly move things however I want. Itís as if the whole world has been encased in Jell-O. If I throw a ball, it will stick in the air exactly where I release it. Outside my own personal proximity, there is no noticeable gravity or inertia. A while ago, for no reason really, I hoisted several waterfront joggers into the air and left them there, arranged in an artful mid-air star pattern. They will slowly drift back to the ground and my composition will dissolve and disappear, like an ice sculpture.

Iíve been doing this sort of thing a lot lately. Yesterday I went to a bar and stacked all the billiard balls into an impossible pyramid. I poured a beer into the air and kneaded it into a pirate ship. I kissed a woman I could never even talk to in the normal world, and wrote ďYouíre BeautifulĒ in the air with her cigarette smoke.

Itís a shame no one can see my work because some of it, like my jogger sculpture, is rather inspired. Certainly more inspired than anything else Iíve done with my time in the last few years. I remember dreaming of being an artist back in college. I even took some pottery classes. Then I blinked a few times and something transformed me into a forty-eight-year-old claims adjuster who lives alone and eats a lot of frozen pizza. Itís tempting to see this time-stop as a miraculous second chance conjured up for me by Jesus and some fairies, but letís be realistic; how much can I really change in a few frozen seconds? My new art career will end in a beer-soaked bar top and a pile of bruised and confused joggers wondering what the hell just happened, and if any bystanders happen to notice that half-second of shape and symmetry, they will probably just rub their eyes and keep walking.

Iím getting silly now. Art career? I think the playful whimsy of this diorama world is starting to get to me. Perhaps I should take a vacation. God knows Iíve already done about a monthís work in what will probably turn out to have been twenty seconds. And I have to admit, even with my godlike ability to be everywhere at once and ignore the laws of physics, itís getting a little boring around here. When the slowdown first happened I had fun with it and did all the usual stuff youíd think to do in this situation. Slapped my boss, stole some Hot Pockets, did some things to the receptionist that sheíll never find out about. But enough is enough. Things get old fast when theyíre this slow.

Where should I go? Anywhere requiring flight is impossible; Iíll have to stay in the US, but that still leaves plenty of options. Iíve thought about going down to DC and taking a tour of the White House or maybe the Pentagon. It would be fun to walk past security guards, snatch keys and access cards from pockets, see how deep I could get, what secrets I could uncover before hitting something impassable. Maybe make a sculpture out of the Cabinet. But Iíve never been that interested in politics.

It would be nice to go to some tropical place. Iíve never seen a palm tree or eaten a pineapple that didnít spend most of its life in a shipping crate. The weather around here is always overcast and cold, and I am stuck in a particularly gloomy day. It may even be raining, since every once in a while I walk into a few droplets suspended in the air like little diamonds. I suppose if I really wanted to travel, I could walk onto a flight taxiing onto the runway and just wait, but it would probably take a month just to get airborne, then a year or two to get to Hawaii, and since my metabolism still functions at normal speed, Iíd have to pack a yearís worth of food. When the toilet tanks filled up I could piss out the window. Maybe have a picnic on the wing while the wind blows my hair ever so gently. But Iím pretty sure Iíd be insane by the time we landed.

So what do I do? I avoid it because it makes me uncomfortable, but sometimes Iím forced to consider the slowdownís deeper implications. Such as, why me? Why am I the only ticking clock in a world thatís come unsprung? Is this all just for my own amusement, or do I have some kind of responsibility? Thereís a young girl near my apartment who had just started to trip when I first walked out into the frozen world. I forgot about her for a few weeks, and today I noticed that she has completed her fall. Her forehead is resting against the concrete, the skin has begun to split, and her skull has caved into the curb, indenting inwards about an inch. Is she going to die? Was I supposed to catch her? Is it my job now to stop bullets and reel in bridge-jumpers, extinguish house-fires and take keys from drunks, flush bags of meth and put condoms on cocks? If time never does restart, am I supposed to spend the rest of my life roaming the country and fixing all its problems, protecting the powerless and directing the powerful, tying bulliesí shoelaces together and exposing corrupt officials?

The idea is absurd. Staggering in its bleakness. I could work tirelessly for the next fifty years and earn only a few fortunate minutes for the rest of the world. But then I have to ask myselfÖwhat better do I have do?

 

 

 

   

 

 

   

 

 

 

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