“This has simply gone too far!” were the words that echoed menacingly through Bradley”s room, which was engulfed in an endless stream of paperwork. University life was not agreeing with Bradley the way he had anticipated – his life, it seemed, had become little more than completing one paper after another. It wasn”t that he was unhappy with what he was studying, but he simply couldn”t enjoy it the way he had enjoyed high school. Oh, how he wishes he could go back . ..
After having yet another exhausting day of classes, Bradley found himself needing to relax. He appeared completely beaten as he lay his head in his hands, contemplating the incredible amount of work he had to do over the next several days. Abruptly, he rose and began walking to the kitchen.
In his own, almost mechanical way, he opened the refrigerator, removed a drink, carried it to the counter, opened it, removed the tab, placed the tab in a recycling bag, took one small drink and returned to his waiting seat in the bedroom. These rituals and set patterns were something that had always given Bradley a structure in his life, they had always maintained themselves as an unwavering constant. But most importantly, they were carried out slowly, and in the current times of speed and fast results, it was very reassuring to be able to take time to go through the routines which had been a part of Bradley”s life for at least fifteen years, now.
Bradley savoured his drink, choosing to drink it very slowly, as if in an attempt to slow down time. Bradley tried again to put words to the page, typing away furiously certainly the ability to type over ninety words per minute helps when you have to write as much as he does, but his mind, usually clear when on task, was becoming muddled with concern for his many other on-going projects. His concentration slowly deteriorated and even his fingers, which normally seemed to have minds of their own, slowed to a dead stop.
Bradley looked at the monitor and perused what he had just finished writing. Dissatisfied, he leapt out of his chair, and began, quite uncharacteristically, into a completely spontaneous monologue:
“Why is it that I can”t seem to get ahead any more? I mean, in high school, it was all I could do to keep from being totally bored, and now -”
Bradley stared at the almost perpetual list of numbers printed on the scattered pages of data strewn throughout his room. “Now I can”t get caught up without getting buried in work the very same day! This is insane.”
With that, Bradley headed for the bathroom. He leaned hopelessly against the counter, and drew some cold water for his face. He reached into the medicine cabinet, withdrew a pill from his medicine bottle, and swallowed it. After a few seconds, he was calm. He then washed his face in the refreshing, spring-like water, and returned to his bedroom. With his head down and eyes closed by this time, he could map out the entire apartment without looking he mumbled, “I wish sometimes that I could just slow everything down.”
Bradley strolled through the open door to his room and noticed that his legs were a little heavy. I must be getting tired, he thought. Bradley went to retake his seat in front of the computer, and after quickly rereading what he had already set down, he began typing again. Only this time, he noticed that the keys were distinctly more difficult to press.
Not only that, but his fingers, which had once been light as feathers, felt somewhat weighed down. Convinced that he was growing increasingly tired and sluggish, he decided to get some sleep.
Bradley didn”t bother to prepare in the usual manner for bed, but instead crawled into his comfortable, soft bed, removed his glasses and reached over to his night table. He removed his watch, and placed it next to him. “I”d better check the time and set an alarm, I don”t want to knock myself out for ten or twelve hours. I have too much to -” Bradley stopped in his tracks. He had never seen anything like this before in his life, and he wanted to make sure that it wasn”t an illusion.
Somehow, his watch had slowed down. He wasn”t sure how, but it had.
The seconds, which had always moved along at a fairly brisk pace, were being counted very slowly now. He proceeded to set the watch in”stopwatch” mode for further investigation. This time, the tenths-of-a- second digits flashed by in an extremely readable fashion, while the hundredths-of-a-second digits were not very difficult to distinguish. As the time of day approached 2.00 pm, Bradley was not prepared for his watch”s hourly chime, and when he heard it, he was astonished. Rather than hearing a playful “beep”, he heard a rather languid, deep buzzing sound, as though someone had taken a record and played it at a slower speed . ..
Was that it? Bradley asked himself. Has everything actually slowed down, as per my request? He rose out of bed as quickly as he could and noticed that as he began to understand the situation, he felt progressively less heavy. It appears as though the effects that a time slow-down would have on the rest of the world were escaping Bradley, himself.
Bradley quickly ran outside and watched the normally swift traffic move along at perhaps half the normal velocity. The sounds of the motors humming was deeper and more menacing than usual, but it was not something that was completely impossible to adjust to. Bradley also watched as a couple, walking hand-in-hand on the sidewalk across the way, were strolling at an unbearably slow pace. Finally, Bradley turned to watch a leaf fall from a tree in the distance. Never before had he seen anything like this: the leaf was taking *forever* to make its descent to the ground below!
“This is incredible!” Bradley shouted to no-one in particular. He ran back into his apartment, seated himself in his room and began to type away at his keyboard.
It took a while to get used to the new weight of the keys, but if it meant having the chance to complete his assignments on time without worry, he would make the necessary adjustments. As Bradley fiercely hypothesized, analyzed and evaluated his data, the monitor filled with intelligent thought and logical progression as he continued on to complete what would become a masterpiece of statistical analysis. Fully satisfied with his work, Bradley returned to the bathroom, took a deep breath, and grabbed his pill bottle from the medicine cabinet. After taking his medication, he walked into the kitchen and planned to prepare dinner.
As a means of testing out the new speed or lack thereof of things, Bradley planned to create a huge meal, preparing several foods at the same time. Bradley knew that he alone had control over the passage of time, so he had nothing to worry about.
Being an avid viewer of one, particular cooking show, Bradley dusted off his wok, amassed a small collection of cooking necessities and set out to work. He would make a small chicken dish, while at the same time preparing vegetables, baking bread, slicing fresh fruits, whipping up cream and baking a pie for desert. Slower cooking times were something Bradley saw as a drawback, but to his advantage, he could survey the progress of each individual project much more studiously, which was to his liking.
While he continued to prepare his feast, Bradley became increasingly absorbed in his work, feeling like a true international chef whose mastery of the kitchen was eclipsed by none. By the time he knew what was happening, it had been two hours since he had begun and, naturally, for his body, it seemed like much more time than that. Just as Bradley went to remove the bread from the oven, the impossible happened: at the same time, the wok and the pie caught afire. Bradley scrambled around mindlessly, searching for an extinguisher. When he could not locate one, he yelled, “I need time! I wish things would just stop for a moment!”
Just as those words escaped from his mouth, Bradley realized that in all the commotion, he had forgotten to take his heart medicine. He felt a sharp pain at his chest and fell to the floor. Unable to summon help, he was powerless to stop his weak heart from failing, and himself from dying.
Even if Bradley”s fall had made a sound, there was no-one around to hear it, for the echo had been trapped between instants, and the next instant, as per his request, would never arrive.