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Fantasy Fiction Science Fiction

- “What in the world have I encountered?”, asked the student after taking a wrong turn at the halls of the university library and seeing a mark on the upper left corner of a small wall. This was the first time John was seeing the strange symbol there, so he decided to touch it, just to see what would happen. He was surprised with the result of his interaction with it, and his curiosity: the wall was actually a door, which opened almost without making a sound. John looked around him, and there was no one else to be found. So, he decided to give in to his curiosity, and entered the room that was before him. The door closed by itself once he was inside.

The student felt afraid of the situation. Why had the door closed automatically? Was there a way out? Was he even allowed in there? The situation began to worry him. He took a deep breath, and counted from one to ten. Maybe he should have counted toward a higher upper limit, however, because once he reached the last number, he was still worried. He decided to probe the room anyway, in an attempt to understand his surroundings and find a way out.

The walls of the room were all painted black with white stars. The ceiling and the floor, too. There were some furniture around him: a wooden table, with some objects over it; a closet, also made of wood; and a sofa, on which more or less four people could sit. There was also a clock over one of the walls. It was frozen, however: John saw the exact time he entered the room shown on the clock, and so far its hands hadn’t moved. He was sore afraid. Had time stopped since he was inside the room? Or was the clock simply broken, having stopped at the exact same time he entered the place, perhaps some other day in the past? John decided not to worry so much about that, and noticed something that seemed like a little puzzle over the table. It consisted of a board with some letter-shaped pieces over it. There were also four slots separated from the pieces, and each slot could fit a single piece, in terms of width and height. The student suddenly thought to himself: “Maybe I should try to form a word or a sentence using the pieces. Maybe, and just maybe, the person or persons who created this room made it a puzzle, and this task is the first one in a series of chores that must be completed in order to open the door again”. And was John right. He first tried filling some random words on the puzzle, but to no avail. He then remembered the stopped clock over the wall, and tried the word “time”: behold, the door of the closet opened by itself, and John immediately ran towards it, to see what was inside.

John saw another puzzle, which was similar to the one he had just solved. However, there were just two slots for letter-shaped pieces. He decided to try the word “is”, because, once again remembering the clock, he thought to himself: “Time must be frozen! Or, more succintly, time is frozen”. But John didn’t think that simply because the hands of the clock were stopped. He had been feeling very uneasy since he had entered the room. His answer to the puzzle was right: the student started to hear rapid sounds coming from the clock. He looked at it, and noticed the hands of the clock moving very fast. The student started to feel ill, doubting his own eyes. Suddenly, the clock stopped moving. John decided to sit upon the sofa, to rest his body from the frantic feelings he was having. As soon as John decided to get up, the door of the room opened by itself. He ran, with the sole purpose of geting out of that horrible situation. Once he was out, the door closed again. Some people stood by, looking at him horrified. It was hard to tell who was more scared: John or the others. One of them said: “What is your name, child?”. He then answered: “My name is John. Can you tell me what year is it?”, hoping they would say 2023. The person responded: “It is the year 3255, John. You have been stuck in a time loop, though I wonder for long”. John said that it was 2023 when he had entered the room. The man was surprised, and said: “You were in a place where time stops, and the only way to make it move again and eventually get out is to solve its puzzles. I’m afraid that once you were inside, you had only two choices: solve the puzzles and get out, or die in there. There is, however, a way for you to go back to 2023. We have another room in this place, where you can solve another set of puzzles and go back to the past. However, the year it will be when you get out will depend on how long it takes for you to solve the puzzles in the room”. John soon realized it was too risky to try and go back. What if he ended up in 1900? Or 1000? He decided to stick around in the future, living and learning with the people of that time. John certainly missed the past, but he embraced the future and the consequences of the choice that had made just recently, at least from his point of view.

John’s experience was a very scary one, but eventually he learned about the origins of that room in a book he found in another library. In that text, John read about ancient beings that like to play pranks on people. They didn’t have a name, nor were their origins explained in the book. But in the text he read about rooms just like the one he had been inside, created to punish people who give in to their every curiosity . The whole subject was treated as a myth, but John knew that wasn’t the case.

Curiosity can be good, until it isn’t.

November 04, 2023 23:01

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4 comments

Hannah Lynn
14:15 Nov 16, 2023

What a choice- to stay in the future or try to get back to exactly 2023. Fun story to see what curiosity can get ourselves into!

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18:11 Nov 16, 2023

Thanks!!

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Tom Skye
21:06 Nov 11, 2023

Fun story with a sharp message at the end. I hope the future wasn't apocalyptic :) Nice work. Thanks for sharing

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22:55 Nov 11, 2023

Thank you!!

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