300-word story: Have you ever wished you could press the pause button on life?
The first test of the Temporal Disconnection Engine was a momentous occasion, with live coverage of the event broadcast around the world. In layman's terms, the small device allowed the wearer to pause the passage of time and resume it at their leisure. Fitted with a camera to capture his individual perspective, a failsafe mechanism was also connected to the test subject's heartbeat. This way, in the unlikely event of his death whilst in operation, the engine would automatically shut down and normal time would return.
What the scientists hadn't taken into account was the continued motion of the wearer in relation to his suddenly static environment. When you consider the speed of the Earth's rotation, its orbit around the Sun, the Sun's movement around our galaxy and its own journey through the universe, the combined velocity is around 530 miles per second. When an object instantaneously escapes the grasp of time, it carries on moving at its original rate, like an unsecured passenger flying through the windscreen of a crashing car. As the world watched, the man flicked the switch and vanished from view. Simultaneously, an enormous red splatter appeared on the wall behind where he had been standing.
The second test was no better. Despite the engineers compensating for the disparity in motion, the woman who took on the job immediately dropped to the floor and clawed at her throat due to the time-frozen air no longer flowing. She suffocated before managing to find the off switch, as the light surrounding her was also stationary, making it impossible to see.
The third test subject will wear breathing apparatus and be fitted with flashlights, which should make it a foolproof endeavour. The only snag is that, for some bizarre reason, they simply can't seem to find a willing volunteer.
Copyright © 2021 Rich Sutherland
Image: Erwan Hesry