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Read Parts I and II of Time Is Dying here.

Quick Recap: When his homebound flight from Germany is canceled, American linguist Jeremiah Jesus heads straight to the hotel bar in the hope of getting wasted and robbed. (Seriously!) He meets Matt and George, two guys on their way to see the supercollider in Geneva, and they agree to let him tag along in return for food and petrol. Relieved, Jeremiah gets in their car and the next thing he knows, he’s alone on an abandoned ship on Lac Leman. Adrift in the cold winter night, he reflects on the chain of events and the cryptic phrase that landed him in this pickle.

Time is dying…


“He’s been saying that a lot lately,” Matt told me.

“Yeah,” George nodded, “I’m doing this experiment with a lab back in the States. We’ve developed the most accurate atomic clocks yet, tracking subatomic particles. Clocks that won’t lose a second in a hundred billion years.”

“That doesn’t sound like dying.”

“Well, the act of measuring isn’t, but what about the social construct of time? I have a Romanian on my team who thinks English speakers are so funny. How can something that’s not alive die?” George imitated the guy, sounding amused.

“Because it’s alive in people’s minds?”

“Right! Exactly,” George said, smacking the steering wheel with his palm. “So, I have my clock running here, and they have others, three of them, scattered across the world. The damnable thing is, none of them agree with each other.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the old clocks might lose a second in a million years, and if we had one in Kansas City and one in London, they’d agree because watching an atom, there’s just not enough variation. But now,” he paused, tapping the dashboard, “we’re observing subatomic particles. Most of an atom is empty, so gravity gets weird there and it influences time. We’re seeing that tiny gravity field variations, like a mile’s difference from the center of the planet, make time run just a tiny bit differently. We have these clocks that won’t lose time in billions of years, that wouldn’t have lost a single second from the beginning of time, yet none of them agree with each other. Only by these tiny increments, mind you.”

“But what about a place with really different gravity?” Matt turned to face him. “What about other places in the universe?”

“What about the whole rest of the universe?”

“Exactly!” George nodded vigorously now. “It breaks down our idea of time as a continuous dimension. We already know that space folds, but time running differently? That changes our whole understanding of the concept. It kills it! And of course, if we could measure time so precisely in an accelerator, who knows what we’d find?”

“And the social construct?”I probed, eager to grasp all the implications.

“Well, think about it like this,” George began, his hands animating his words. “The idea of the cosmos as an interconnected clockwork is evident in art all the way back to the first representations. Look at cities from the 1500s onward and you can see how clocks are central to towns. We have always thought of the universe as a machine. We assumed it ran like one, and that a natural order could be read from that. But now, we see identical cogs, using the same energy, spinning at different rates in the same machine. It’s utter madness!”

“I can see that,” Matt said thoughtfully. “Sometimes, I work on boats in the Arctic where you have night or day for a month at a time, and it makes you lose your sense of how the days are passing. But we have our clocks and they’re the touchstones we use to measure time. Even the homesteaders in Alaska say it’s weird, and these folks have lived there all their lives.”

“But it wouldn’t have been weird to those who lived there before we had clocks,” I pointed out.

“I guess,” he shrugged. “But that’s progress.”

“So, we’re expanding our view of the universe from thinking there’s a linear path of time from the Big Bang,” George chimed in. “And maybe it isn’t so linear. At least not in the four dimensions we think in. From there, it goes into pure math.”

“Well, from some of the old stuff I’ve translated, I can tell you that many cultures saw time as either circular or as a singularity,” I mused. “They didn’t view it as a linear track moving forwards and backwards.”

“Exactly,” George agreed. “And it seems the pre-modern view might have more truth to it, even at the quark level, than we want to admit.”

I can’t remember much of the conversation after that point. We talked about places we’ve been, girlfriends, and movies. Matt and George recited large stretches of the dialogue from The Holy Grail, and I was yelling along to the part about being oppressed. At some point, the sound of ABBA on the radio and the effect of the strong beer I’d consumed lulled me into a deep slumber.

I dreamed I was in a room lined with the kind of open metal shelves you find in kitchens. I don’t know what was on them, but I could see they were blocking a door at the back. This room seemed to be part of a house, yet bizarrely, the door took me to a side room and then into the vestibule of a church decorated in white and gold. There were no symbols or crosses on the walls, but I noticed that the same geometric patterned cloth had been used both in the rug and the tapered pennants hanging from the ceiling.

Except for my footsteps, it was reverentially silent as I walked down the long, perfectly clean hallway. I noticed a small pattern in the pennants that evolved to become ever more complex the further down the hall I went. When I found a small recess in the shadow to my right, just big enough for a statue, I realized this was the first time I’d seen something on the wall that wasn’t mirrored behind me.

To be continued…


© 2023 – 2024, Liam Armitage

Editor’s Note:

Would you like to unleash your storytelling skills? Leave a comment below or e-mail your idea, story or poem to and, who knows, your words could become the stuff of legend aboard the Resilience. Or maybe we’ll find them a spot in one of our Libertalia Tales collections.


Liam grew up watching Gojira movies, wandering through the woods with feral dogs as his friends, and hunting for cheap science fiction books in second-hand bookstores. Upon becoming old enough to immigrate, Liam’s wanderlust led him down a path of exploring just how much trouble he could get into, without actually breaking any laws, in various legal systems.

Along the way, he played D&D with one of its creators, learned archery from Buddhist monks and, when he won a Warmachine tournament, triggered a set of quantum incidents that started a thousand-generation dynasty that transformed a parallel universe. However, due to the different flow of time, that entire universe suffered its cosmic heat death in three days and Liam never noticed.

After he was threatened with a gun in a bar in Hong Kong and woke the next morning either being legally married to a waitress or owing a life debt to a gangster, it wasn’t clear, he decided it was time to return home. He now lives in his office painting miniatures, writing and updating a spider board with the movements of the twelve secret kings.


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