Exercising the craft—January 12, 2015

By Ekta R. Garg

Write about a New Year’s party that causes time to stop


Aaron sat in front of the control panel, waiting. Counting. New York City always lit up like thousands of stars in the galaxy on New Year’s Eve. He’d stood there in Times Square himself, watching the lights flash, feeling the press of the people around him, feeling the feather touches of confetti against his face as the paper rained from the sky after the clock struck midnight.

But tonight he just watched the Square on his screen.

No one had ever believed he could do it. They called him names, taunted him. Told him he was a loser, that he’d never become anything in life. When he tried to tell the kids about his ideas, they called him all sorts of things. “Weird psycho scientist” was one of the kinder names they gave him.

When he went to college things got better. His peers left him alone. They even asked him for help with their homework, asked him to tutor them. But they never included him in social outings. They gave him a radius of respect and made sure to stay out of it.

Finally, though. Finally, Aaron had found a way to earn respect and become part of a group. If only the kids from school could see him now.

The console beeped and gave him another time stamp. It read 30 seconds to midnight.

His parents had died right after he turned 10. The state had decided he should live with his aunt and uncle. They treated him well but never really showed him any overt affection or encouragement. They didn’t need to; they had their own children to worry about, to guide, to love.

Aaron did his best to live within the circumstances as normally as he could. But no one seemed to understand him. Just like in school. No one seemed to really get his ideas.

Now they would.

Ten seconds to midnight. The crowd started counting, all those faces gleaming with expectation, smiling, looking forward to a new year. A new start. New beginnings.

But they couldn’t have those new beginnings if it didn’t strike midnight, now, could they?

When the clock read 11:59 p.m., Aaron jabbed a button on the console with authority. The ball in New York stopped right before it touched the bottom, and all of the clocks in the Square froze. Gasps filled the city, and he could hear reporters on various television stations express the shock everyone felt. Some surmised a malfunction might have occurred with the ball drop, but then why did all the clocks stop? If the ball couldn’t reach the ground, why hadn’t time itself moved forward?

A wicked laugh spilled from Aaron’s lips. He’d done it. He’d defied the laws of physics and all other sciences. He’d defied the laws of space.

He’d defied those who had ever doubted him.

The TV reports got more intense. People had begun tweeting and posting on social media that their watches and clocks had stopped. What did it all mean?

He crossed his arms in satisfaction. Let them wonder. Let them hope it was a solar flare or some other mystic phenomenon. He knew the real answer. Time. Would. Not. Move.

A hiss behind him indicated that the door to the space pod had opened. Aaron continued watching the Earth, but his ears became alert.

“You have proven your worth to our society,” the mechanical voice stated. “You are one of us.”

Aaron turned to face the head of the alien society. Yes, he’d finally found his place. And no one could take it from him ever again.

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