By the Minute


It was a simple three-story one-room walk-up with a small interior bathroom. Terry Sutherland had lived there for nearly a decade.

He was comfortable with his batting-stuffed bed, an oversized wingback chair, a few old books, and an antique clock. He did not have a kitchen in his room.

Terry’s life was simple. His clothes hung in a narrow closet built into the wall along the narrow hall to the “water closet,” which consisted of a small sink and toilet.

He kept his life uncluttered out of necessity, as his obsessive-compulsive disorder could get out of hand. And he no longer had access to the medication he once used to control his condition.

As of late, however, the old mechanical clock was giving him fits. Five times since mid-June, it had fallen behind by a minute and no longer synched up with his pocket watch.

He recalibrated the two to match, only to wake up and find it had slipped back by that minute.

“What in the hell?” Terry said after getting up.

Once again, the clock was a minute off. After resetting it, Terry showered, dressed, ate the biscuit he purchased the day before, before leaving for the factory.

There he was considered an enterprising, clever, and hard-working man. Recently, Terry had earned a small raise after showing his inventiveness in repairing a faulty light switch in his boss’ private office.

Down the three flights of stairs, he walked to the front door. The knob rattled noisily in his hand as he twisted it and opened the door.

Beyond the threshold, it was still 1921, and still, he found himself trapped in the time loop. He had hated his life before, but other than the problem of the wind-up clock, his new life was perfect.

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