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Read Parts I to III of Time Is Dying here.

Quick Recap: When his flight home is cancelled, American linguist Jeremiah Jesus meets two guys heading to see the supercollider in Geneva. Desperate to leave Germany, he agrees to pay for food and petrol if they let him tag along. One of the guys, George, is involved in an experiment with highly accurate atomic clocks. He explains how their discrepancies challenge the traditional linear concept of time, and the trio discuss science and culture before Jeremiah falls asleep, dreaming of a surreal walk through a silent, geometric church. When he wakes up, he’s all alone on an abandoned ship on Lac Léman, pondering a cryptic phrase he heard the night before.

Time is dying…


I woke up as the vehicle stopped in front of an Italian chain called Vapiano’s. The radio was playing English pop music: “So I bare my skin / And I count my sins / And I close my eyes / And I take it in.” We gassed again quickly, and I ate a very greasy sausage pizza with surprisingly good sausage. In a few hours, dawn would be here, and we were almost to the border. Matt had fallen asleep, and George was still driving like a machine. We talked about work a little.

“They’ve got data for two new kinds of baryons,” he said.

“Are those like quarks?”

“Built out of b-quarks, or at least that’s a major part of it, but they end up being more massive than protons.”

“They find new stuff all the time don’t they?”

“Even in a super collider, repeated findings like this are rare. There’s a paper under review and everything. Usually, it’s a lot more ephemeral than this.”

“Did you get to be on the paper?”

“No, but I did some work with the team. Exciting stuff.”

A small series of clicks came from my wrist and I looked at it. 

“What’s that?” George asked.

“My watch. I’ve got an alarm set so I don’t forget something in the afternoon.”


“Yeah, a nice old Swiss watch, pretty fancy for its day with different time zones and alarms. Hand wound.”

“My phone will do all that and more.”

“Maybe, but I like it.” I wound the spring a little to keep it up to date. “What time do you have?”

“Whatever Deutsche Telekom’s time servers say it is…. um, 5:28.”

I set my watch and saw the phone from where I was sitting flip over to 5:29 just as I set mine to 5:28. Close enough. Just before the border, we stopped at a Starbucks, which left me drinking overpriced coffee out of a plastic travel mug. You know the world is falling apart when you get the same damn coffee wherever you go.

At the border, a cute blonde with a perky nose asked me what I was doing entering Switzerland. I told her I hated Germany, not Germans—just the country, but loved Switzerland, and when I got an offer to check out CERN, I jumped at it. She continued going through the form. 

What do I do? I translate, sometimes in person, sometimes old texts. Not here for work though? No, just a day or so. She stamped my passport and I was cleared. 
Then we were driving again, and George said we were getting close. It was night time and we had spent the daylight driving. My internal clock had completely given up any sense of awareness of where we were.

Matt was on a phone calling his girlfriend. “Hey baby … heading to see CERN … I’ll crash at George’s … yeah, picked up a buddy to help keep us awake as we drove from Germany … yep, another Yank … no go ahead … it’s fine, I have back up plans … love you.”

We had just gone under an underpass when a big blue vehicle sped up across the lane and came at us. I saw only a hint of Matt’s expression as I turned to look, and he was soon inches from it, separated only by his car window. 

The car veered hard right, pushing us towards a concrete wall. Matt went sideways in his seat and everything slowed down for me as the adrenaline hit my system. Inertia did its job, and I felt pain flare in my shoulder as the car around me moved differently than I did. I bruised myself against the window and tried to grab onto the door handle to give myself an anchor.

George tried to regain control, but the SUV stayed on us, its mass pushing us towards the wall. We were almost out from under the underpass though. The wall would end, and there was a field past us. It looked like we would end up in the field instead of smeared on concrete.

That’s when I felt it. A small something sliding beneath us. Friction was altered a tiny, tiny bit, and the vehicle slid sideways faster. The concrete was coming, and at our new angle, we would hit it nearly head-on.

The change in the physical world was slight, just enough to change friction by a fraction of a percent, but multiplied by all the force involved, it was enough. 

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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