Jared shook his head as he flipped through the notebook. "Um, I'm not really sure what any of this means: misplaced seconds, elongated gait, switching of dominant hands, blah, blah, and blah."
Brent furrowed his brow in frustration. "I told you it's a list of modified behavior I've observed in people, animals, physical quantities, etcetera. Flip past the list, and there are more detailed summaries of each anomaly. I've compiled..."
Jared cut him short, "Yeah, yeah, you said all that, but this doesn't mean anything to me. Why show this to me anyway?"
"Ok, fine," Brent slipped off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "I know this is biting into the time allotted for helping you pass Friday's algebra test, but this is important. You're the only person besides myself, and one other person who doesn't seem to exhibit any of these changes in behavior. I'm also willing to bet that you are just as capable as me and my friend of observing these anomalies as well. Something is happening to our very reality. You and I are on the outside of it for some reason."
Jared waved Brent off and read through some of the summaries for a few minutes. Finally having enough he tossed the notebook on the table and stood up to stretch his legs. "This is sci-fi geek territory. It almost sounds like some kind of pod people scenario. Is that what you're trying to say with your summaries and graphs?" He snickered, "Not even ten pages in and you've got two freakin' bar graphs in here."
Brent took off his glasses and went through the process of cleaning the lenses. It was something Jared had seen him do often enough when trying to explain some algebra formula or whatever to him. Jared rolled his eyes when Brent pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and thought to himself, "Who the hell uses hankies these days?"
Brent breathed on the lenses, "Well, I had considered that, but I've since ruled that possibility out." He began to wipe the lenses. "I think what's happening is more of a shifting of the laws that define..." Slipping his glasses back on, he glanced at Jared and realized he had lost him. Jared was rolling his lucky silver dollar along his knuckles and staring at the wall.
Brent sighed, "Ahem, Jared..." he yelled, "Jared!"
Jared shot to attention, nearly dropping his coin. "What? Sheesh, you lost me, man. Can we get back to boring old algebra now? I have to pass this next test or my parents are going to kill me." He looked at Brent and smiled weakly.
Brent stood up and carried his chair to the wall. He stepped up on it and pulled the clock off the wall. He brought it back to the table and laid it down. "Spin your coin on the table, and I'll tell you exactly how long it will continue to spin."
Jared threw his Algebra tutor---who happened to be two years his junior, but in the same grade as him---a carefree smirk. "Ok, whatever, school me, teach." He spun the coin on the table with an agile flick of his thumb and middle finger.
"Ok, Jared, now watch the coin and the clock. When it strikes five o'clock in less than three minutes, the second hand instead of ticking past the twelve will tick backward one second's breadth and then resume to tick forward like it does every other second of every other minute of the hour. In that one backward second the coin will stop spinning. When the second-hand resumes its forward progression the coin will flop flat on its side, motionless."
Jared became entranced by the coin and the clock as their rhythmic motions danced before his eyes. His gaze cycled methodically back and forth between the coin and the clock. The seconds ticked by and the coin continued to spin, not losing or gaining any momentum. It seemed so strange to him as time went on that the coin wasn't slowing at all, and then one more oddity occurred to him.
Brent broke the silence. "Go ahead and tell me what you've just noticed."
Jared continued to keep his eyes on the coin and the clock. "Well, besides the constant momentum, it's staying in the same place. Shouldn't it be moving around on the table?"
Jared was so focused on the coin and the clock that he didn't notice Brent's nod of approval. "Very good, Jared, now silence your mind of all thought, and split your eyes' attention on the two momentums. Focus one on the ticking of the second hand, and the other on the spinning of the coin."
He did just that. The second hand ticked along in its perfect forward progression, never skipping a beat. The coin continued to twirl in its perfect state of motion. The corresponding centrality between the two mesmerized him. The ticking of the spinning circle with its infinite number of symmetries and the spinning of the ticking second hand with its limitless momentum were all that mattered to him.
Suddenly, Jared was traveling at the speed of thought past black holes, gas giants, red dwarfs. Meteors and comets slowly crawled by as he rocketed further and further beyond the gaze of mankind. He witnessed the birth and death of whole solar systems in the motion of that one spinning, ticking phenomenon of momentum.
A mischievous smirk crept onto Brent's face. He hoped his master would approve of the new initiate. He was confident that now they'd be able to cross the bridge. The knowledge that Jared was nothing more than a key to be used and then discarded weighed on his conscience, but one life was a small price to pay for all that awaited them beyond the threshold.
"Very good, Jared, now you understand why you cannot share anything you've witnessed with anyone else? Telling anyone what you know will shatter everything they understand. They will not thank you for it. Your friends, your family, they are all content to squirm along filtering the filth of their small existences like earthworms. They are simple beasts. Their minds are immovable objects. You are a heavenly body like myself, and my friend."
The clock struck five and the coin stood still.
The rest of the week for Jared was a bit of a blur. He aced his algebra test on Friday. In fact, his report card that quarter was all As except for a B in history. Brent told him the only thing he needed to know about the history of man was that present mistakes were once past mistakes which would inevitably become future mistakes. The only variant being the names and dates.
It made sense to him. Mankind moved not in a straight line, but in a circle; an imperfect path that would eventually no longer support passage. Plenty of things he never thought about before the coin and the clock made perfect sense now.
He'd been spending a lot of time with Brent these days. Sure, Brent still tutored him, but he found that he had quite a bit to teach his scholarly friend as well. A lot of subjects other than algebra were on the curriculum. They needed to bone up for the summer when Brent would introduce him to his friend whom he spoke so highly of. Yep, this year had opened a lot of doors for him, and Brent promised that his friend would usher them through a door of a different kind this summer.
They were heavenly bodies after all, and they were the cosmos and the chaos.
Written by Kolpik