The Man Who Broke Time

All it takes for one man to "punch a hole in the fabric of reality" is houseful of broken cuckoo clocks and one particular mathematical formula.

I live at the center of broken things. 

I live in the middle of a junkyard in a house full of broken clocks. There are many cuckoo clocks and all of them cuckoo at the wrong time. They sound more like a flock of birds than timepieces. 

I love that none of the clocks tell the right time because I have absolutely no desire to know what time it is. Time is a prison that kills your life. All you’re really counting are the hours, minutes, and seconds till your death. And the time of my death I definitely don’t want to know. Everybody says they’d love to know when they die, but if you know that you just waste all your time trying to avoid the unavoidable. 

This is why I feel that knowing what time it is just leads to madness. Which is why I take special care to randomly reset the times on my clocks and always wind them at different times. If I had it my way, my broken clocks wouldn’t even tell the right time once a day.

My obsession with destroying time is the reason I live in a house full of broken clocks. I feel like I’m a mad scientist and my experiments with my broken clocks might somehow destroy the chronological order of things. Imagine a world without schedules or appointments, where we all lived in an ecstasy of spontaneous random activity. Some would call it madness but I’m trying to get my madness to infect all of time.

One day I was finally successful. 

I had stopped resetting my clocks randomly and had instead started setting them at times that, while wrong, were in sequence with each other based on some mathematical variables I’d read about recently in an article on quantum physics. 

My goal was to find the ultimate random event, a measurement of time so obscure it would punch a hole in the fabric of reality and cause time to actually flow in a different direction. Einstein’s theory of relativity states that even the act of observing and measuring something can have an effect on the object being observed and measured. What if the effect could actually change the object? 

My experiments were like pulling a single stone out of the bottom of a dam that would let loose a great flood. For weeks I had been resetting all the clocks based on variables extrapolated from the square root of phi, but I was getting nowhere. 

Then, just as a joke, I started resetting the clocks based on variables of the number 666.

On the thirteenth night it happened. Even though every clock in the house was set at a different time, all the cuckoos sang at once. Time stopped. All the events of our lives took place simultaneously in one overwhelming now. The single moment drowned out all other moments and for one shining second we were all one. 

When time restarted, it was going in a different direction. It actually had no direction at all. Instead of occurring in a chronological sequence, all events occurred randomly. It was like you could die the day after your second birthday and then celebrate your fiftieth birthday the day after. Time had become utterly absurd. 

But absolutely no one noticed. Not a single person. That’s because when you are in the time stream it is the only timeline you can perceive and therefore it makes perfect sense to you no matter how senseless it is. Everyone on Earth was living their life in a completely random and sporadic way, but it all seemed completely normal. 

I was the only one who wasn’t viewed as normal. Because even in this new reality of radically altered time, time that had been redirected by my own efforts, I was the man who had moved the universe, but was still just viewed as a crazy old man who lived in the middle of a junkyard tinkering with old broken clocks.

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Jon Longhi

Jon Longhi

Jon Longhi is the author of four books: Bricks And Anchors, The Rise And Fall Of Third Leg, Flashbacks And Premonitions, and Wake Up And Smell The Beer. His work has been published in many anthologies including San Francisco Noir and Maintenant 14. He has written many articles for, and other websites. Over the past three decades he has done hundreds of public readings and even toured with Lollapalooza doing spoken word. His work has received favorable reviews in the London Guardian and other publications.

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