At 7:53 tonight, you die. 

        Those words have been echoing through my head all day. It’s 6:53 P.M. and my mind still can’t make sense of what’s happening. All I see is death; black robes, scythes, and hoodies with grim reapers and skull designs, funeral cars, people dressed in all black, images of cemeteries on the news topped off with dark and grey skies lit with flashes of lightning. The voices in my head tell me to run, leave town, catch a flight, go to a new city and start a new life. But I can’t do that now. Not after what happened last time. . . at 7:53 P.M.

My name is Jason McKenzie, and I have the power to control time.

My life story isn’t complicated so it’ll be quick to explain. I was born on July 5, 1953, to a mother that worked as a receptionist at a law firm and a father that was a world class doctor. Neither had powers. When I was three, everything froze at approximately 7:53 every night when the skies were dark and lightning flashed. Every time I looked out the window I saw a tall and slender reaper standing there menacingly with thick black smoke oozing and flowing toward the ground, infecting all it touched. I looked with great wonder and even greater fear as it raised a bony finger and pointed at me. A chill drilled down my spine and my hands, toes, and testicles curled and shrank. It disappeared when lightning flashed and the clock struck 7:54 P.M. and everything went back to normal; my parents were unaware anything had happened. I discovered my powers when I was thirteen; every day I woke up at 7:52 A.M., just thirty-eight minutes before I had to go to school, and at 7:53 time froze. In the mornings, I could literally move time itself from one place to another as if it were a physical object. At night, I could fast forward and rewind. Throughout my teenage and adult years, I discovered I can do a lot with time: move it from one place to another, fast-forward and rewind, transform it into spheres of energy and make it do my bidding just to name a few. I called this power Time Mastery.

Over the years I’ve controlled time and used it to my advantage. One time, I used Time Mastery to move from my bedroom in Brooklyn, New York to the Amazon forest, somewhere in the tropics, and found the fountain of youth–a waterfall surrounded with low hanging trees and various kinds of rare flowers I didn’t know existed–and took the elixir.

I haven’t aged since.

Up to this point, I’ve been having a good time. Staying out all night, having sex with gorgeous women, riding motorbikes off rooftops, smoking pot and psychedelics; you name it, I did it. Then one time, when I was in a bar called Brooklyn Moon, at 7:53 P.M., things went too far. I was trying to impress this girl with long and flowy brown hair, light brown eyes and a coke bottle body with how I could move time in four dimensions and everything was going well. She told me a town called Pinkly Waters had a fire two weeks before and she wanted to see it so I said why not and moved us to that time. The fire was fairly large but nothing major in the grand scheme of things; three houses and a saloon burned but the town survived. The time there was 7:52 P.M. but I wasn’t aware of it. When I tried to move us back to our spot in Brooklyn the time hit 7:53 and I accidentally brought the fire back with us (don’t ask how because that one’s still a mystery to me). Half the club burned to the ground. Everybody got out and no one was hurt, thank goodness, and that’s when it all started. My life on the lam.

At 7:53 tonight, you die.

I’m in my studio apartment as it approaches seven o’clock the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I’ve been running for twenty-five years and the feeling of impending death is closer than it’s ever been. I look behind me and see nothing. Suddenly, I hear a deep, muffled whooshing sound and a chill drills down my spine. Sweat sprints down my forehead and chest as visions of hoodies, robes, skulls, and scythes run through my mind’s eye and the clock’s constant tick-tock is the only sound I hear.

Suddenly, a loud, long creaking sound fills the apartment and my heart nearly bursts through my chest and runs for the exit. The sound comes from all over. The ceiling and chandelier. The hardwood floors. The beige walls. The cutout glass windows. Even the leather couch I’m sitting on. I feel a looming presence hovering over me and I jump out the couch and run to the window.

I look around the apartment and nothing’s there. The only thought in my head is what the hell’s going on here? My hands start trembling and tingling, which means I haven’t used Time Mastery in a while. I try to think of a place in my mind. Anywhere but here. I think of the forest where I found the fountain of youth and I use my power to take me there.

When I try to transform time nothing happens. It sits still. I try again and again but nothing happens. I’m still here.

        At 7:53 tonight, you die. 

        The time is 7:30 P.M. What?! How?! I think as I look around frantically for a way out. Something flashes to my right and then my left. I try to follow it with my eyes but it’s too fast. I spot something flash through my periphery as it gets closer. I go to move to a different spot but I can’t. I’m stuck. I try to rip and tear myself from the spot to no avail. Something is holding me here, an invisible force that’s beyond my meager comprehension. Suddenly, I feel an intense weight and pressure like the force of gravity has been cranked up 100x’s. My back tenses and my legs give under this mysterious weight and I fall to my knees. I look at the clock again and it says 7:50. I look out the window and the sun is setting faster than usual as if time is being sped up.

At 7:53 tonight, you die. 

Those words and the approaching time hit me with the magnitude of a 10.0 earthquake. The cold hands of death grip, clutch and squeeze my soul as I watch the clock go from 7:50 to 7:51.

At 7:53 tonight, you die. 

The clock on the wall jumps from 7:51 to 7:52. One minute.

At 7:53 tonight, you die.

My eyes don’t leave that clock for a second. They don’t even blink. My mind is racing a million miles a minute trying to think of a way out. Trying to think of something that can either stop or delay the inevitable. My hands and toes grow cold, my legs become jelly, my stomach gets a nauseated feeling as my intestines squirm and shiver inside me, and my heart beats like a savage, caged prisoner. My freezes on me as everything else has at 7:53, A.M. and P.M., for the past fifty-seven years. I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, standing outside of myself and watching as I tremble and quake with primal fear. Everything becomes surreal and flowy and takes on a shade of black. A long, scaly and lifeless hand reaches for the back of my neck and the air around me grows frigid like I’ve been thrown into the middle of Antarctica in summer clothes. The hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, my back muscles shrink, the to run is unbearable but the invisible force holds me to the spot on my knees. That lifeless hand gets within an inch of my neck as the clock strikes–

         7:53. . . time’s up.

Tell me what you think in the comments! I read and reply to all of them and welcome feedback for improving my stories, poetry, and insights. Thanks for reading!

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