Brian rushed about town, constantly gazing down at his wrist to check the time on his watch. Always adamant about being on time for everything, he timed every move with precision.
“Five minutes to reach Plaza Tower,” he said aloud to himself. As he reached the pedestrian bridge leading to the building’s entrance, Brian saw that it was extremely crowded. There was no time to go around, so he did his best to push his way through.
At the middle of the bridge, Brian dodged a cyclist coming toward him, and was bumped by a jogger coming up from behind. Brian stumbled and found himself toppling face-first over the railing. As he stared down at the sidewalk below, he felt a pair of strong hands grab his feet. He let off a sigh of relief that only lasted a moment, then he felt his shoes slip away from his feet.
The seconds that it took to reach the ground below, seemed to last forever in Brian’s mind. He landed first on his left arm, followed by his shoulder, and luckily, his body flipped before his head could make contact. His lower torso landed with a thump against the hard concrete, and he laid on the ground in pain for several minutes.
As he stared back up at the bridge, he saw the man who tried to save him. Brian’s shoes were still grasped in his hands. Others stared down as well, but nobody tried to assist him or ask if he was okay, which he thought was a little strange.
Slowly, he gathered the strength to stand, and shook off the dust that now covered his business suit. He gazed down at his watch and saw that the face was shattered. It was no longer working. He called up to the man holding his shoes and asked him to throw them down, but the man just stared blindly toward Brian. Tired of waiting for the man to respond, Brian climbed back up the hill to retrieve his shoes.
As he reached the top, however, he stopped dead in his tracks. Everyone on the bridge, as well as those on the walkway beside him, were completely motionless. First, he thought it was all part of an elaborate prank, but soon realized that everyone around him was somehow paralyzed.
He grabbed his shoes from the man, still staring over the edge of the bridge, slipped them onto his feet, and ran as quickly as possible to the Plaza Tower where a particularly important client was probably losing his patience waiting for Brian to arrive.
At the entrance to the building a man was holding the door open, so Brian thanked him and continued inside. He ran across the lobby toward the meeting room, double-checked his appearance, and walked inside. The man sat at a table ten feet away with his back to Brian, so walking as quickly as possible, Brian passed the man and had a seat across from him at the table.
The client stared down at his coffee mug even after Brian said hello and offered his apologies for being late. He would not even acknowledge Brian’s presence, so Brian looked around the room. That is when he noticed that, like outside, everyone was motionless. He started to panic, wondering what was happening.
He then began to realize that not even a sound could be heard except for his own voice. No music, no laughter, not even a whisper. An eerie feeling soon began to envelope his mind as he looked down at his broken watch. He started to believe that somehow, his watch was the reason everyone was now in a form of stasis.
Determined to put his theory to the test, Brian looked around for things he could experiment with. He spotted an attractive woman standing by the bar, so he approached her silently, reached out, and pinched her right buttocks. She didn’t even flinch.
Then he reached behind the bar and helped himself to a bottle of Crown Royal Whiskey, but the bartender seemed unaware. He took a swig from the bottle, then leaned over and kissed the woman on the lips.
Excited about the possibilities of this newfound gift, Brian left the building and searched for new things he could try that he never had time to do before. His first stop was the amusement park. He would be able to skip ahead of everyone in the lineup at all the rides, but when he sat down in the seat of the roller coaster, he remembered that everyone was frozen, so nobody could operate the controls.
Instead, Brian went to the concession stand and helped himself to a foot long hot dog and a Coca-Cola. Once his stomach was satisfied, he left the amusement park and went to the gym that he had a membership for, but never had time to use.
A burly man sat on the edge of a bench. A set of dumbbells was gripped in his hand while the veins on his bulging biceps popped through his skin as if there were no more room inside. Brian walked up to him and slapped him across the face. The bodybuilder showed no reaction whatsoever.
A young girl sat on a bench doing butterfly exercises, or at least she was before time stood still. Brian gently removed her from the equipment and sat her on the floor in front of him, posing her body as if she were admiring him. He then stripped off his suit jacket and tie, rolled up his sleeves, and began to workout. The young girl’s eyes stared into his as he flexed his average-sized physique for his admirer. In less than ten minutes, he had enough exercise. His muscles began to burn with pain, so he gave the girl a kiss on the forehead and left the gym.
Next stop was the ice cream parlor. He needed to treat himself after such an intense workout. Brian walked behind the counter, grabbed the biggest bowl they had, and started scooping out samples of each flavor. He then poured hot fudge over the top, sprinkled on some peanuts, and sat down to enjoy his frosty treat. He took several bites before the brain freeze kicked in. He dropped the spoon and grabbed his head in agony. That was enough torture. He went in search of his next conquest.
Over the next two hours, Brian scoured the city trying find ways of entertaining himself, but without the social interaction, there was little to keep him amused. Having free reign of anything and everything was turning out to be boring to him, so he just kept walking and thinking.
After a while, he found himself back at the pedestrian bridge where it had all begun or stopped, depending on how you look at it. As he neared the center of the bridge where his would-be savior still stood, he peeked over the edge but jumped back when he spotted what was below.
Hesitantly, Brian edged his way toward the railing once again, but this time he held his gaze at the ground below. Lying on the sidewalk was his lifeless body. A pool of blood formed around his head. Brian realized at that point that time had not stopped for everyone else, it had stopped for him.
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Hi Greg- great story- loved the ending! I didn't see it coming until just when you wanted me to. Adding a few details would have made it a bit smoother -for example- how did he end up at the bar? (re-read and realized that there must have been a bar in the hotel lobby adjacent to the meeting room) well done :)
Thank you for the positive response. I agree that adding more details would improve the structure of the story. That is what happens when I try to proofread while half asleep. 😀
Good premise; great story; carefully worked. Few rough spots but not rough enough to derail the tale. It works.
Thank you so much. I agree, there are always a few rough spots I could improve on.
Great story. Loved it. Had to read it to the end to see why everyone was frozen. Great job.
Honestly, I wasn't completely sure of the ending until I reached it. 🙃
I am glad I kept you on your toes. 😀
The bar scene and the part where you specifically say " right " is an A-plus in my book. Nice story
Thank you very much, Miles. I appreciate the compliment.
Great twist ending! I love it when you can't see it coming, but it makes perfect sense. Nice job!
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. 😀