45 comments

East Asian Funny Horror

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Soyeon would try one more time.

She stepped into the library, stretching her arms behind her, ready for another attempt. She’d get it this time for sure. Without a doubt. Everything down to the second had been memorized, and she wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

Soyeon checked the notes on her phone, then approached the table where Ji-soo studied. He didn’t know her…yet. She knew him many times over. He read through a textbook on ‘고급 생화학 - Advanced Biochemistry’, copying and highlighting notes, lounging in the silence. 

Soyeon tapped her fingers on the chair beside him.

“Is this seat taken?”

No, but I’d prefer to study alone.

“No,” Ji-soo said, looking up from his textbook, “but I’d prefer to study alone.”

A couple seconds of silence did the trick. She’d tried a dozen other ways to work the scenario: asking him about his major, complimenting his jacket, passing a note—all resulted in being waved off. 

“I’m sorry,” she said. She began a countdown in her head. “It’s just I used to study with my friend,” 15,14,13. “but she’s in Canada now. I feel uncomfortable being alone here.” 9,8,7. “I promise I won’t be a bother.”

Ji-soo nodded, gesturing to the seat.

4,3,2. A girl in a pink blouse tripped behind him, her water bottle opening mid-fall. The bottle hit the ground and spilt; the girl bit her lip on impact. She got to her feet and wiped blood from her mouth before running off.

Soyeon exhaled. The countdown had been off.

“I’ve gotten that right every other time.”

“What?” Ji-soo asked. “What are you talking-”

“I was supposed to catch her and impress you. It gets your attention.” She rolled up her sweater sleeve, revealing a silver watch with a crystal blue finish, golden hands ticking. Sleek and professional. A steal for the price she bought it for.

“Hold on, I’ll see you in five minutes.”

She hit a side button—the air distorted around her—and she appeared outside the library, five minutes in the past. One more attempt. She would get his number. 

Soyeon browsed her phone, waiting, then stepped into the library. She tapped the seat. Spoke the same line, ‘but she’s in Australia now. I feel…’ and counted down, tapping a finger against her leg for accuracy.

3,2,1.

She stood up and reached a hand at a forty-five-degree angle. The water bottle landed in her palm. Soyeon threw it into the air, grabbed the pink blouse girl and set her straight, then once again caught the water bottle, handing it to her. Soyeon smiled and patted the girl’s shoulders, sending her off.

“That was…” Ji-soo started, “how did you do that?”

I’ve practised it twelve times.

“Oh, you know, I saw her about to trip and I had to do something. Anyways, what are you studying?”

“Bio Chem. Makes me wish I took a different major.” He looked at her arm. “I’ve never seen a watch like yours. Where’d you find it?”

Soyeon exhaled. She’d left her sleeve rolled up—not part of the plan. “Yard sale,” she said. “Some old guy was telling me it’s a one of a kind from Sweden. He priced it so cheap I could’ve found it at the dollar store. Know what it does?”

Ji-soo shook his head.

“It lets me go back five minutes. Which is frustrating, since then I have to wait for the girl to walk by, and I’m getting bored with scrolling through my phone. If it was one minute-”

“Are you alright?”

“Ah, just…I’ll be right back.”

Soyeon hit the watch. Smoke trailed out from the buttons—overuse? She didn’t care. Next attempt would be for sure. Outside the library, five minutes in the past, Soyeon waved her arm up and down to cool off the piece.

Walk in. Tap the chair. A couple seconds of silence.

“I’m sorry,” she said. 15,14,13. “It’s just I’m used to studying with my friend, but she’s in Germany now. I feel-”

“Germany?” Ji-soo said. “My brother transferred there. Which university is your friend going to?”

She clicked the side button. Smoke puffed out, the watch burning her arm. She undid the strap, a fine leather, and blew on the case to cool it down. Students passed by and gave her puzzled looks.

Another try. Walk in. Wait at the table. 

“Can I help you with something?” Ji-soo asked.

“That’s the first time you’ve asked that. Oh, I didn’t tap the damn chair.”

Reset. Catch the girl. Continue.

“Anyways,” she said, “what are you studying?”

“Bio Chem. Makes me wish I took a different major. And you?”

“Aerospace Engineering.” Soyeon reached into her bag for her books. “Orbital mechanics and all that. It’s hard, but I have a lot of time to study.”

Soyeon carried on with the conversation, referring to her phone for notes, listening to pages flipping and the tapping of laptops. Everything according to plan. This had to be it. Ji-soo laughed at her joke, and she went in for the finale.

“It’s nice studying with you. Could I get your number by chance?”

“Uh.” Ji-soo hesitated. “I’m sorry, I think you misread this.”

“Okay. Whatever. You’re impossible. One more try.”

Soyeon hit the watch, flinching as it heated up. Smoke billowed out.

“One more try what?” Ji-soo said. “Hey, is your watch burning?”

“It’s not supposed-”

The air distorted around her. Her ears popped. Her vision flashed white, then black, then into a dreamlike image of her sitting at the table. Soyeon watched a past version of herself talk from attempts ago—where she failed the countdown timing.

“I was supposed to catch her and impress you. It gets your attention.” She rolled up her sleeve. “Hold on, I’ll see you in five minutes.” She hit the watch, then collapsed forward. Her head hit the table with a thunk. Blood trickled out of her nose, eyes, and ears. Ji-soo recoiled.

The dream switched to another.

“Ah, just…I’ll be right back,” she said. The watch clicked. Smoke trailed out. Soyeon watched herself fall off the chair, hit the ground, and convulse. The dream switched. “Germany? My brother transferred there. Which university is your friend going to?” She pressed the button, then fell onto the table, eyes rolling back into her head.

Five minutes in the past, outside the library, Soyeon broke into shivers. She stumbled to the table and rested her hands on the chair. Ji-soo looked up.

“I’m not dead, am I?” she asked. “You didn’t see me die?”

“Do I know you?”

“Oh, god.” Soyeon hit the button. The visions repeated, faster, dozens this time. In her dorm, studying, pressing the watch for five more minutes. Blood leaked from her mouth and onto her notes. Getting more sleep—dying in her bed. Rewinding to make it to class in time. A dead body in the hallways.

Five minutes in the past, Soyeon rushed outside, unlocked her bike, and took off. Wind battered her hair. She shivered, trembling, struggling to keep steady. She collided with a pedestrian. They tripped onto the road—a car drove their way.

Soyeon hit the watch.

A hundred visions of her death followed.

Five minutes in the past, Soyeon pedalled to the neighbourhood where she bought the piece. The barrage of visions looped in her mind. She collapsed from her bike and stumbled onto a lawn, the old man reading a newspaper on his porch.

“You!” she called. She fell to her knees. “You have to help me. The watch-”

“Back already?” The man folded his newspaper. “How many times have you pressed it?”

“I…” she took it off, holding it out. “Hundreds. I’ve time travelled hundreds of times now.”

“It’s not time travel. That would be impossible.” He reached out to take the watch. “All you’ve been doing is creating a copy of yourself in a parallel world. Your body in the current one dies each time. I tried to explain this to you at the yard sale, but you took off.”

He grabbed a pocketknife from his jeans and flicked the blade, then popped open the back of the watch. Letters read ‘återställ’ above a pinhole.

She squinted her eyes. “I can’t read Swedish.”

“Restore.” He dropped the knife and picked up a pen, then tapped the pinhole. A series of clicking noises followed. “Good as new,” the man said. “Next time you use it, the visions and the memories of use will fade. Shoo before you do it. I don’t want your body on my lawn.” 

He returned to his sudoku puzzle, and Soyeon stumbled to the street. She raised the watch in front of her—one more death to forget it all. The hands ticked, taunting her. Who could live knowing they’ve killed themselves a hundred times over? But to continue the cycle, stuck in a loop of repeated deaths, only finding mercy in resetting the process…

Had she done it before?

Soyeon closed her eyes, then pressed her thumb against the button.

December 01, 2021 04:40

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

45 comments

Skyler Woods
11:03 Dec 08, 2021

Hi Alex, l loved your story. Would you mind if I narrate it on my channel? The video upload would be next week and I'd send you the link.

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:05 Dec 08, 2021

That sounds great! I'd be honoured to have my story on your channel, as long as credit is given.

Reply

Skyler Woods
12:08 Dec 08, 2021

Great! You will definitely get credit! It'll be up next week and I'll send you the link.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Skyler Woods
22:13 Dec 09, 2021

Hey Alex, I just wanted to let you know that your story will premiere next Monday at 5:30pm. I'll be sure to send you the link.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Skyler Woods
09:24 Dec 14, 2021

Hello Alex, if you see this comment, please let me know what you think. I uploaded your story and the link to the video is below. https://youtu.be/RqZTe1kE75I

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:36 Dec 15, 2021

Of course! I just replied to your email. Great work - I really like it 😁

Reply

Skyler Woods
13:13 Dec 15, 2021

So happy to know that.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Laura Jarosz
17:39 Dec 09, 2021

Alex, this was SO COOL.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Cathryn V
23:05 Dec 08, 2021

Hi Alex, I read through the comments and can't say anything that hasn't been said already. You're very clever in your ideas for sure! So well executed. Thanks for this.

Reply

Show 0 replies
22:04 Dec 08, 2021

Alex, this piece was so unique and unexpected! What an original story. I love anything Sci Fi or horror so this was right up my alley. Your pacing and dialogue were perfect and I found myself reading furiously to find out what happened next. I loved the descriptive phrase “the air distorted around her” when she pushed the button on the watch. Repeated deaths in parallel universes! I was expecting time travel but this twist was even more awesome! Looking forward to reading more of your work.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:30 Dec 08, 2021

This is such a kind comment, Heather. Thank you for the kind words, and for taking the time to read over my story. I like this story a lot. I was planning to write for a while, and the prompt finally matched with my idea. Your kind words are inspiring. Thanks again :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sienna Mody
18:12 Dec 08, 2021

I enjoyed your story a lot. It was very creative.

Reply

Alex Sultan
22:28 Dec 08, 2021

Thanks, Sienna. I appreciate you taking the time to comment - I'm glad you enjoyed the story :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Faith Ogedegbe
20:53 Dec 07, 2021

Nice story,Alex

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:12 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you, Faith 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Fatima Jawaid
00:58 Dec 07, 2021

Hey, this was a great read! It was a complex idea that was paced well. As a fan of all things time travel - I really appreciated the idea of each time Soyeon pressed the watch, she created a copy of herself in a parallel world. That's a concept I think would be fun to play around with more.

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:13 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you! I like this idea a lot, and I'm glad I could convey it effectively. Time travel is one of those ideas I like to write about every now and then. Thanks for reading this one - your kinds words are appreciated.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

This is super cool. And extremely well-written. Really nice job. I love time-travel stories. Would love for you to check out my newest story and leave some feedback. Thanks!

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:13 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you, Antonio. I'm glad you liked it. I'm very busy this week, but I'll try to take a look at your story and leave my notes before the deadline.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Deidra Lovegren
16:52 Dec 05, 2021

Oh I hope you are turning this into a longer work - great characters, great pacing, great plot, so much more to explore in this realm. I'd love to read more of the worldbuilding here. Off topic -- any chance you'd like to discuss your writing journey on a podcast for up and coming writers? Check out https://www.readlotswritelots.com/wp/ (authors in ep. 16, 15, or 11 remind me of your work). lovegren.deidra@gmail.com

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:11 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you, Deidra. I'd be honoured to be a guest on your podcast - I'll definitely send an email when I get the chance 😁

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Danie Nikole
15:41 Dec 05, 2021

Wow! This was good. So trippy and creative.

Reply

Alex Sultan
12:20 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment, Danielle. Your kind words are appreciated :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Keya Jadav
16:21 Dec 03, 2021

Woah, I wasn't expecting that. Kinda reminds me of your story '[redacted]'. Though, I could tell the narrative voice has grown stronger. I adore your style of switching through the scenes and the unloosening grip it makes on the readers. Truly, this can turn out to be your second win, no doubt. It's a very good plot executed in the best way it could be. Reading your bio, this is for you- 당신은 매우 재능이 있습니다 (special thanks to Mr. translator.)

Reply

Alex Sultan
01:13 Dec 04, 2021

Thanks, Keya. Talent recognizes talent, right? This story is pretty similar to [redacted] - I do like writing these time travel stories a lot. They're always fun to plot out. I'll probably write another at some point if the right prompt comes along. 정말 고마워요. 나 친절한 말씀은 항상 감사합니다.

Reply

Keya Jadav
03:53 Dec 04, 2021

천만에요 You're probably good at every genre 😁 but I'd love to read some more time travel stories from you. Looking forward to your next masterpiece!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Keya Jadav
11:42 Dec 06, 2021

Hey Alex! I hope you are doing great. I have posted a new story recently and I would love to have your feedback on that. It's a dark mystery. I kinda doubt the way it has turned out. Your views might help! Thanks :)

Reply

Alex Sultan
11:54 Dec 08, 2021

For sure! I'm excited to read it over and leave my notes.

Reply

Keya Jadav
13:51 Dec 08, 2021

Thank you!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 2 replies
Show 1 reply
Tommie Michele
04:44 Dec 03, 2021

Oh, wow, Alex--you've got something incredible here. You executed the paradox idea perfectly, and your theme is so interesting, and so challenging. Your last paragraph and the last couple lines are amazing. I'm sorry I don't have time to give crit this week--I don't have anything big-picture for you, since your pacing and general story and execution are perfect (at least to me). Nothing in particular stuck out to me as egregious in the grammar or structure as I read it, so I don't have anything for you this week :(. This definitely ranks a...

Reply

Alex Sultan
00:52 Dec 04, 2021

Thanks, friend. I'm glad you liked this one. I saw a youtube video on this paradox ages ago and wanted to recreate it since. This prompt sort of lined up with the idea. No worries about the feedback on it - I don't see too many changes I'd make myself. I'm looking forward to seeing what you write next. I think I have a good idea for these new prompts - I hope you do too. I might try a different genre this week. I appreciate the kind words on this story, it's nice to hear it is a favourite. All the best :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Swan Anderson
14:29 Dec 02, 2021

Great story! The changes made my head spin and I couldn't stop reading. Your stories have such rich variety, mood, and style. I look forward to reading more of them!

Reply

Alex Sultan
23:42 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. I'd like to think I put a unique spin on the stories I write.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mariah Cheng
14:12 Dec 02, 2021

Wow Alex, another winner :D Loved the looping, well worded and organized.

Reply

Alex Sultan
23:43 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you, Mariah. I'd wanted to write a story like this for ages now - I'm glad the prompt worked for it. Thanks again for reading :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Suma Jayachandar
04:23 Dec 02, 2021

Alex, What a cracker of a story you got there! Loved reading it!

Reply

Alex Sultan
23:44 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you, Suma. I'm really happy with the humour in this piece. I laughed while writing it and I'm glad you found it funny.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Francis Daisy
01:26 Dec 02, 2021

You are amazing to be able to write a story that has parallel universes inside it! Soyeon's life and how she keeps going back to tweak minor details until she gets what she feels is the perfect meeting is a fabulous piece of writing. She definitely employed the philosophy of "try, try again!"

Reply

Alex Sultan
23:51 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you! I like this paradox a lot, and I'm glad I could convey it effectively in this story. I appreciate the kind words :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Annalisa D.
00:20 Dec 02, 2021

This was a cool concept and fun to read. I enjoyed seeing all of Soyeon's attempts at that conversation. I think its relatable in a way because people would probably love to have multiple chances to go back and rework conversations or moments that don't go so well. It's easy to imagine someone in that situation would act that way.

Reply

Alex Sultan
23:48 Dec 02, 2021

Thank you, friend. Planning out and writing Soyeon's attempts was my favourite part of the story. I really like the concept too(I've been waiting to write this) and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rachel Smith
16:44 Dec 01, 2021

Hey Alex! I absolutely loved it. It wasn't confusing for me, but this is the sort of thing I enjoy reading. Great execution. I was pulled in right from the start and kept engaged the whole time. Sorry, can't think of a thing critique wise. Excellent read.

Reply

Alex Sultan
17:46 Dec 01, 2021

Thank you! I appreciate the kind words. I've wanted to write something like this for a while, and have been waiting for the right prompt to draft an idea on it. Thanks again for reading

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Alex Sultan
04:42 Dec 01, 2021

This one was really fun to write. I am worried about the clarity, however - paradox stories are always the worst for it. All feedback would be appreciated 😁 나는 이것을 한국어로 쓰고 싶었고 언젠가 그것을 할 거어요. 읽어줘서 고맙습니다!

Reply

Show 0 replies