Frozen, conclusion


Even after the Shadow, and the millions of dollars, and the freedom and power, and fucking the First Lady, he still unfroze time. He found himself comforted by the habits of his life. He didn’t even quit his job. Everything he did when the world was frozen was like some sort of dream, and he enjoyed keeping the secret. He enjoyed lording over the normal people. He enjoyed sitting in bars and going out and knowing that he could stop them all in their tracks.

Of course, no amount of money or material wealth solved his problem. Not even his impossible, fantastical power changed things. He realized early on that he should have made a very different wish. He should have asked the well to bring her back. To give him a do over.

He went back to the well. He froze time and biked his way along the interstates, enjoying the same perfect spring afternoon for four days each way, with a few days of frozen solitude drinking in his old college town.

He threw another dollar coin into the well, returned home and unfroze the world, but she didn’t come back.

Once, he called her. If his magic power could do nothing, then he’d just man up and rebuild that bridge himself. He just got her voicemail, and he didn’t bother leaving a message. Gone is gone. Lost is lost. It wasn’t manning up…it was weakness.

Every time he froze the world, he’d take a moment to look around for the shadow. For awhile, it humbled him. He still stole everything he wanted, from beer to diamonds, because he felt the world owed it to him. He’d worked hard all his life for pennies while the rich got richer. His thefts were all tax write offs, anyway. How much damage could one man do, even if he emptied a jewelry store? Diamonds were stupid anyway. Artificially priced, meaningless rocks that were just as good when man-made in a lab. Really. And if he was doing damage… Well, if he shut down Mervis, then he’d pat himself on the back.

But he stopped molesting women. He felt that’s when the Shadow was watching. After all, that’s when he first saw the Shadow. And he knew it was wrong. Hell, he knew it was just plain evil. He just couldn’t help himself.

But that didn’t last long. A girl caught his eye while he was filling a luggage rack full of booze at the Union Station liquor store. She was a tall, lanky brunette with the smallest strip of pale leg showing from between her killer fuck-me boots and longish dress. She wore a little beret and had the sort of foxy face that always sucked him in. She had been frozen in mid stride, rushing to catch a train.

He pulled the cork out of a bottle of Balvenie and took a long pull. He stood in front of the wrap-around plate glass of the liquor store, looking over the stacks of wine bottles, and just stared at her for a long time.

It took some time to build up enough courage to creep out and come up behind her. He looked around for the Shadow, saw nothing, and then placed a hand on her narrow, boyish ass. Still no Shadow, so he hiked up her skirt and got on his knees, massaging her ass through her black panties. Her flesh had an almost marble-like quality. Within minutes, he had her undressed. She was exquisite, and he ran his hands over every curve. He unzipped his jeans and took his penis out and glanced around guiltily. No Shadow. So he masturbated onto her leg, then dressed her again. He went back to his cart and pushed his stolen booze to his hiding place – an abandoned house along Second Street that he had broken into while time was frozen. Then he returned, liberated a piece of pizza from Sbarro, and sat down in a plastic molded chair about ten feet from his beautiful brunette. He whispered, “Motherfucker,” and tensed as the world came to life. It was always an unsettling experience. She took two more running steps, then shock spread on her face and she stopped, pressing her nice skirt against his semen on her leg. She tried to discretely reach under the skirt and, when she brought out her hand, the shock of recognition was hysterical. He giggled as she let out a chocked squeak and ran to the nearby bathrooms.

And no Shadow. Fuck the Shadow. He went back to business as usual May 5th lasted for three years as he biked around Canada.

A day before his birthday, on May 9th, he went to his ex’s house. The large mansion just across the border into DC that she shared with five other people. Group housing for the well-heeled.

He sat in her bedroom, watching her frozen in mid-step with a toothbrush in her mouth and a bottle of conditioner under one arm.

He crawled into her bed and cried, falling asleep and waking up hours later. For a week he talked to her, went through her things, hugged her. But it was pointless. He daydreamed about her suddenly coming to life and returning his embraces, soothing his tears and holding his head to her breast. She didn’t even feel as warm to the touch while frozen.

He left her house and unfroze time as he walked home, Connecticut Avenue roaring to life as he trudged along the sidewalk. He’d never see her again. He made that silent promise to himself, keeping his head down and moving as if in a dream. He crossed East West Highway without looking, a car bearing down on him. The driver slammed on the horn and the brakes, her eyes wide and terrified, and he froze time with just inches to spare, rolling into the gutter and then crawling onto the grassy verge, breathing heavily and blinking the last of the tears out of his eyes. That would have been it. A fitting ending. The man who could freeze time taken out by a speeder, unable to win back his love, failing at everything.

This time, he waited until he got home before he unfroze time. Then, the next morning, he set off for work, still feeling gunshy. He froze the morning commute and took his time, enjoying the solace as he walked along the Metrorail tracks past crowded trains and angry commuters. He looked up into the faces of his fellows, wondering how they planned to spend the beautiful spring day – his birthday. Locked in a sunless office deep within a building? Pushing papers, answering phones, continuing the endless horror of America’s service industry? Failing to further their lives, their dreams, and their hopes?

That’s what he was going to be doing. After a leisurely three hours exploring old buildings between the Rhode Island Avenue stop and Union Station, he leapt down onto Second Street and hiked through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, then turned down Mass Avenue towards First Street. He headed into his building, taking the stairs two at a time up to the sixth floor landing where, feeling invigorated, he unfroze time, scanned his keycard, and stepped into the hallway, weaving through the warren of cubicles to his own sunless office, the start of his own wasted day.

The decision to freeze the world and leave it frozen wasn’t premeditated. He didn’t even intend to leave it frozen for so long. It was just one of those things. One day bled into another, and one year became another. It only took a month or so to truly feel comfortable with the silence, and, of course, there was plenty to do once he decided to go the distance. He spent almost a year reading classified files just in the Oval Office. Things like that were addictive, and what good were people anyway? She was gone. Everyone else was just a customer. He didn’t have many friends, and there was no harm coming to them anyway. After awhile, he even forgot what his friends looked like. What’s it matter? All that really mattered was that he live his own life the way he wanted to, even if he was only happy when he froze time.

The day had been stretching out for far too long when the bad call came in. He answered the phone, switched screens to the database, and asked how he could help the next idiotic customer. And there she was again. The wicked, grouchy Barbara Cain. She was short a few books in a large shipment and she started out with anger. Hell, she was screaming “Answer the phone!” over and over again when he answered the call.

She missed his name, since she was in mid chant, but that didn’t matter. She didn’t care. As soon as she got a live voice, she hurtled into a rant about incompetence and failure, attacking him as if he were the person who fucked up at the warehouse. The solution was easy – he’d simply send out a reshipment. Hell, he’d do it overnight UPS to make her happy.

But she was a woman who fled from happiness, and he’d had some sort of similar run-in with her every year since he had started the job in 2001.

He froze her just as she was calling him a “useless hump,” and then threw down his headset. He flung his backpack over one shoulder and walked out of the office, following the train tunnels downtown towards National Airport. From there, with a liberated bicycle, he picked the first destination listed and rode off to explore America. A man with all the time in the world and no responsibilities. He wouldn’t go back to the office even when the world was released from his spell. He had all the money he needed, and could get more anytime. He was free from want. Finally, at long last, he was at peace with himself.

Though, always, he kept an eye out for the Shadow.

The world froze at 2:44pm on May 10th, 2010. Where were you? What were you doing?