‘A Split-Second in Time’ A short story by Author Adam Gainer

Hey guys, it’s been a while. I must apologize for the absence, there is no real excuse. No, I haven’t quit writing (I don’t think any man or God could ever stop me from doing that) I have just been busy, both with writing and life both during the holidays and afterward. It happens, and will likely happen in the future.The goal is to make it happen as infrequent as possible, and to keep putting as much good work for you, the reader, to enjoy.

Which brings me to what we are really here for; the story. Here is something I wrote that I would love some feedback on…In fact, I would love the feedback so much, that I will leave it up to you to decide, whether or not, this story will be continued. I feel there may be a place for it – I certainly feel that Jacob Garrett (the character) deserves the chance, but I shall let it be up to you. Be sure to let me know in the comments below, and be sure to share the story, give that like button a click, and as always, enjoy!

A Split Second in Time

It happened on the morning of Jacob Garrett’s twentieth birthday.

He’d made the choice to make the trek across the city to his parents place the night before, waking up to breakfast and quiet conversation with his parents. Jacob was waiting to ask an important question before going on with his birthday.

“Big plans today kid?” Glenn Garrett said, taking his eyes off the latest Farm and Auction newsletter.

Jacob’s Father had retired from farming two years before, but hadn’t retired his habits. He kept checking the grain prices, reading articles on new equipment, and cursing whenever the weather was poor for crops.

He also hadn’t stopped calling Jacob ‘kid’, though Jacob had been considered – at least in the Governments eyes, if not in his parents – as an adult for two years that day.

“Nah’, I’ll eat breakfast here, then after I grab a shower I might head over to Jennifer’s for a little bit. She has a present for me.” Jacob replied, as he winked at his old man.

His Dad shook his head. Then he winked back. It was his way of saying ‘Too much information for me, but I know what you mean, son.’

“Little too much info for me.” His Mother piped in from the other side of the table, giving both men a dirty look, as if she understood the silent conversation going on between the two boys. Jacob supposed she could. She had been living with them both long enough.

“You were saying that you two had something planned for me?” Jacob asked, trying not to show his excitement. Which was hard; it had been the sole reason he decided to spend the night there.

His parents couldn’t afford much, but a week before his Mother had said ‘We’re planning something for you and it’s better than cheese, so keep your Sunday Free’.

That meant there was a huge surprise in Jacob’s future. Melanie Garrett didn’t like to exaggerate and she had a love for cheese that was almost sick.

“And it’ll be soon dear, so don’t run off to Jennifer’s quite yet.” His Mother told him.

She was sipping a coffee as she looked up from her issue of House and Home. She was staring at Jacob with a warm smile. A plate of sliced marble cheese sat in front of her, half-munched down.

“Two minutes passed eleven o’clock.”

“What?” Jacob asked, confused.

It was 10:45 A.M.

“That’s the minute you were born. I can remember the nurses saying it. Right before they put you in my arms for the first time.” She touched his hand.

Jacob blushed and took it away, still young enough to be embarrassed by his Mother’s affection. “Sheesh, Mom. Don’t gotta’ get sentimental on me. I’m twenty, not five.”

“That’s also the time for your surprise. So if you’re going to shower, do it now. I know how long you take.” She teased.

“I don’t!”

“Son, if you took any longer in the shower, we’d have to install a bigger water heater just to keep up with you.” His Dad poked his head up again, just long enough to make a smart-ass remark.

“Alright, I’m going! I’ll be out before eleven!” Jacob got up from the table and left to go get a change of clothes to shower.

“Better make every second count! No jerking it!” His Father added.

Jacob could hear his laughter through the house.

Funny. He thought, as he closed the bathroom door.

It was 10:51 A.M.

~~~

Ten minutes later, Jacob shut off the water and opened the shower door. As his foot went to touch the floor, something stabbed it.

“YOW!”

Jacob hopped back into the shower on his good foot, almost slipping as he landed on the wet shower floor. He looked for what had stabbed him.

The mirror, which had been hanging on the wall above the sink, had fallen onto the counter and was now scattered in tiny shards on the bathroom floor.

Jacob lifted up his foot and pulled out three little glass pieces. Blood started seeping out, but it didn’t gush. That was good. He could go on.

Of course I can. I’m the birthday boy. He grinned.

He grabbed the towel he’d hung on one of the walls of shower, and tossed it onto the broken glass in front of him. He stepped out onto it then stepped over to the toilet. Then he reached over and grabbed his clothes from the towel rack.

I wonder how that happened.

He was more surprised that he didn’t hear it, but he supposed that the water could have drowned out the sound, and the walls of the shower were made of ceramic. That combination might have made the shower sound proof.

“Better tell Mom and Dad about it.” He said, feeling a little ashamed. It was bad luck to break a mirror, after all.

He wrapped up his foot with some gauze from the first aid kit underneath the sink, and got dressed.

Jacob exited the bathroom, realizing there was more than a broken mirror to worry about.

~~~~

It was a catastrophe.

Pictures had dropped off walls, their frames spreading out more broken glass where they lay. Cupboard doors were opened. The plates and bowls that were in them were now spread amongst the kitchen counter and floor. Some were broken, but some managed to stay intact.

His parents’ T.V lay on the living room floor in a mangled heap. The DVD rack beside it had tipped, exploding plastic cases on top.

There was only one explanation that Jacob could think of.

Musta’ been an earthquake.

However, earthquakes never really happened in Saskatchewan, and besides that, there was another thing that bothered Jacob.

His parents were nowhere to be seen.

He searched the entire house, but they weren’t around. Each room looked like the last; all looking as if a mini hurricane had blown through them. The more he looked, the more Jacob was sure of an earthquake.

If there was an earthquake, wouldn’t they have warned me?

If there was an earthquake, wouldn’t I have heard it?

It seemed the entire shower cubicle in his parent’s house was unaffected by this strange phenomenon. He hadn’t heard a single bang or knock, and his parents were gone. Then Jacob noticed something that sent a chill up his spine.

The whole world was covered in a slight haze of grey, as if someone had adjusted the hue on the T.V screen of reality.

He walked outside and noticed the hot July weather felt unseasonably cold. Everything was covered in the same grey haze. It even seemed to darken the sun’s light. It was high in the sky but for the very first time, Jacob could look straight at it. There was no glare.

There was almost nothing. No sounds. No smells. There was only a cold and empty world that had, just moments ago, been full of life.

“What happened while I was in the shower?” Jacob knew he’d said it, but couldn’t hear the words come out.

Instead, what he heard was laughter. It was coming from somewhere that Jacob couldn’t see.

“Where are you?” He screamed, but his lungs were suffocated by the effort he was forcing out of them.

Still there was no sound coming from him.

But there was more laughter coming from somewhere else.

Jacob looked for the source, but the world offered him only emptiness. No people, just buildings.

Houses and businesses that filled the busy suburb of Middle-view stood tall; unchanged besides the grey haze that seemed to be suffocating the entire city of Saskatoon.

Where is everyone?

He walked out of his parent’s yard and began down the sidewalk.

All of the driveways were desolate. Parking lots of Pete’s Pizza and Wacky Foodies, which were usually packed on a Sunday morning, were completely void of any kind of life. Not even a single pigeon on the roof, where normally there would have been a flock; waiting for someone to toss a pizza crust their way.

He reached the alleyway and stopped.

The entire alley was shrouded in darkness, unlike anything he’d ever seen. The alley itself looked like an alien inside of an already strange world.

“Come this way. I’ll show you.”

The voice was coming from the darkness. Jacob felt like he was being pushed toward it.

The further inside the black he was, the more he began to hear his breaths. His sight was lost in the abyss.

“Hello?” He called and then slammed face first into what felt like a brick wall.

“Make a right.” The voice spoke.

It was close by.

Jacob took the advice, turned right, then gasped.

“Where am I?” Jacob could hear himself speak again.

In front of him, the alley had turned into small dark room. It had a television, a clock, and two soft chairs.

In one sat a dark, round figure, that Jacob couldn’t see clearly. The television was on, but Jacob couldn’t tell what was on the screen.

The clock had stopped. Jacob read the time. It was 11:01. The red hand that counted the seconds was stuck at the six.

“You’re here, my boy. Sit.”

Jacob did what he was asked, and walked up to one of the chairs. That’s when he started to see what was playing on the television screen.

“What the f-…That’s me!”

Jacob had to use the chair for support. The whole world suddenly got very dizzy, as if he had just gotten tossed off the world’s craziest merry-go-round.

“Sit.” The voice commanded.

Jacob staggered then slumped down into the empty chair. He put his hand on his head and closed his eyes.

“Look.”

“What is this place?”

Jacob refused to open his eyes, he didn’t want to look.

He didn’t want to see the body. The body couldn’t possibly be there. All he wanted was to go back home. He didn’t even care that it was his birthday anymore.

A tear rolled down Jacob’s cheek.

“LOOK!”

Jacob opened his eyes, but instead of looking at the screen, he looked over at who was in the other chair.

It wasn’t a man, but a speaking, breathing shell.

In the chair was a body that had been dead for what looked like close to a half of a century. Its eyes were missing, and most of its skin decayed. Intestines hung out of its stomach and maggots ate eagerly what was left of the grey rotting flesh.

“Where am I?”

Jacob wanted to vomit but couldn’t; he stared transfixed, looking into a human-sized train-wreck that sat before him.

“You’re in the moment of eleven o’ one, my friend. The moment, you were born.”

The corpse grinned. A worm crawled out from underneath his decayed gums.

“The moment you died.”

It pointed at the screen but Jacob refused to look; he refused to acknowledge the image. Instead he attacked with a barrage of questions.

“How are you here? What is going on? How did this happen?”

Jacob tossed his arms up and down, beating the arms of the chair.

I want to go home. I want my Mom and Dad…

“I was born on July seventeenth, at eleven o’ one in the morning. So were you… and everyone else trapped here.”

A rotten smell came out of the corpse’s breath and Jacob had to look away to avoid gagging. His eyes turned to the screen.

“Everyone else?”

“Yes…They wander in what’s left of this empty city. Sometimes they come and visit me…Or to look at this fancy television. It shows what happens to our loved ones….” The dead being smacked what was left of its lips, causing a puff of dust to poof out from in front of its face. “It shows what happens…To our descendants.”

“I see….” Jacob replied. Tears were starting to seep like tiny rivers from his eyes.

He couldn’t believe, refused to, but his attention was turning toward the television screen, forcing him to. His Mother was on the television screen, viewing the body on the floor of the bathroom. His Father was in the other room, calling an ambulance.

“How can we see it all?” Jacob asked, unsure if he wanted to know.

“No one knows. I suppose it’s like that phrase, our loved ones watch over us. Only…”

“Only what?”

“I’ve watched my lovers, my family, and all of my friends mourn of me. I’ve watched them die and then have never seen them again…Not like I thought I would.”

The corpse choked and for a brief second in the glimmer of the television light, Jacob thought he saw a tear running out of the corpse’s empty socket. Jacob wondered briefly how the corpse could see without eyes, but he supposed it didn’t have to make sense. Just as it didn’t make sense that just a few seconds ago he was in a shower, and now…He was here. Dead. Stuck in a split-second in time.

“It’s watching them, and not being able to talk to them, to interact with them…Not being able to help them. To watch them die…”

Now Jacob was sure he saw a tear. The corpse choked up again and then finished the sentence.

“When I was alive, the preachers…They all said, ‘In Heaven, we will be able to watch over our loved ones, guide them; protect then.” But son, this is a frozen second in time, and I can’t imagine a worse kind of Hell.”

~~~~

……To Be Continued?

You decide…. Should Jacob Garrett explore the dead city? Does he find a way out? Give me your suggestions, and let me know if you want me to continue writing ‘A Split-Second in Time’ Thanks for reading!

Author Adam Gainer

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15 thoughts on “‘A Split-Second in Time’ A short story by Author Adam Gainer

  1. Love the idea. I was thinking along the same lines as Kathyree. While the other trapped people accept their fate, Jacob doesn’t & fights it. Maybe while he searches in the dead world for an escape – he could be kept alive on a life support machine in hospital in the real world? As long as he maintains his belief he’ll find a way out, his “real” body will cling to life. People will do their best to make him lose his spirit and give up the fight so they can have his soul forever? He’ll be able to watch his family & friends visit him in hospital & that gives him strength?
    PS – You know me – spotted a couple of typos! DM your e-mail address if you like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a very interesting idea….But what is there to move on to? These are questions that will be explored in the next few parts. Thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for reading. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

  2. I agree with EM Kaplan. Please continue with your story; I am interested in how it plays out. It does have the potential of a full length novel, or a series. Your character, Jacob is likable and your writing reads easily, as it is supposed to, like talking naturally. It flows well and raises a lot of questions for the reader. I, too was surprised (good thing), beginning with ordinary people, ordinary day into an out of this world setting. I did wonder if the mother knew what was about to happen. That what happened, while he was in the shower was the big surprise.
    You said you would like a few suggestions…”What if” the darkness is alive and taking over the city? Anything it touches, becomes a part of it. “What if” the people in the city function at some level ,as if, they were still alive, and hold clues for him to follow. And perhaps, there are evil beings that Jacob has to overcome to bring the world back to some sort of normalcy considering, he might have special powers he has to discover during the time he is in the alternate universe. Maybe, that would be his purpose in life. Sorry if I overstepped, but I think you really have the basis for a really great trilogy or something. Great start!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whew! Love the suggestions, and love that you’re into it! I’ve had a few of these ‘What if’ questions myself. Don’t worry about overstepping boundaries, I asked for suggestions to involved the reader, which is exactly what I’m doing. I’m glad you were able to get into it. Keep an eye out for part two.

      Like

  3. I like the juxtaposition of the normal, everyday feel of the opening scene with what happens later. Do you have a feel for how the rest of this story will turn out? It has the potential for being a full-length novel, like a tour through Dante’s levels of hell.

    This opening portion of the story leaves me with these questions (which you don’t have to answer):
    — Will he ever get back to “normal”?
    — Why is the mirror the trigger?
    — What is he going to find out and will it change him?
    — What happens to Jennifer? 😉

    He’s a good, likable character that will work well in a strange world.
    Nice job.
    Do you have questions you want to ask a reader?
    –Emily

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that you enjoyed this opening portion so much, as I enjoyed writing it quite a lot. I have a lot of the same questions myself, but the question I have for the reader is simple:

      What would you like Jacob to do the most?

      It could be anything, simply anything. I’d like to hear everyone’s comments and suggestions, and by next week I’ll write the next segment based on those suggestions, and, of course, a little of my own idea.

      Like

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