Long Story Short – Xin Zhou Within Time Vortex (Continued)

Author: Siddharth Naidu
Photography Partner: Prashita Ramteke


Xin Zhou’s expertise in Science and curiosity in Time Travel led him to traverse unknown territories!

Tampering with time, however, is a dangerous path!
In this treacherous game of multiple lives, Ayane awaits his rescue.
Will Xin be able to succeed? Will he accomplish his mission, without getting lost?

27 Minutes Clocking Down:

Xin Zhou stood still on the wooden floor of the house, dewy dust sprinkled all over his coat. He turned to see Ayane wobbling and taking a step towards him; then she crashed onto the floor with a thud. A steel machete in her hand, the button of a black jacket in her grip and blood oozing out of a deep wound on her stomach. But before he let his emotions get the better of him, he saw something written on the whiteboard fleeting behind her. A cryptic message which said “Check Logs in the Whistle”.

He immediately understood, took a hypothesised guess as to what was happening all around him.

He lay Ayane on the floor and walked out of the room to an adjacent private lab he constructed for his time synthesis. He slid through the door and saw the ContraR recorder, which could record whatever he said through a collar mic.

What made it special was that everything it recorded was eventually transferred to an SF Drive on a real-time basis. He clicked the blue playback button and filtered it by time – latest. It was Log 29. Then he went back and heard each and every log understanding and reconfirming his calculation. He selected all the logs and deleted them. None of them had the eventuality which he hoped for. The convolution would only get him to traverse the loop an infinite number of times. From what he knew and analysed, there were seven loops, which were going about simultaneously. Thus, these would only expand, if fed with information which had no results.

Half an hour later he activated the centrifuge orbs and extended the range. He returned and carried Ayane into the vortex. The electron field grabbed Ayane, and the last thing he remembered was a self-collapsing portal sucking Ayane into it. He then walked in the rain and took the bus shelter. He pulled up his jacket, and his ear pods as well from within his jeans pocket. The University bus stood a few hundred feet away. Xin Zhou sprinted towards it and boarded the bus. The log told him that he could meet his predecessor within the bus. To avoid the loop, he took a seat in the front, covered his face with the hood and plugged in his ear pods.

If he saw him or vice versa, the curiosity of possibilities would definitely drive them out of their minds.  

After a few moments, Xin Zhou saw a remarkably similar looking man board the bus, with his hood tightly wound around his head. Some time later, the man got off the bus at Saitama connector and walked swiftly across the street. Xin Zhou attributed his own existence on this incident. X7 getting off at the wrong instance.

“Log 29, X7, I am following the Yakuza. They seem to have adhered to the plan. The Black sedan is moving towards Kita-Omiya, as driven by Zinko. I am following them in a cab.”

X7 asked the cab driver to take a sharp U-turn at the Omiya bridge. As the car turned, X7 left him money worth three times his fare on his seat and got out. He crossed the road as he saw Zinko, Raiden and Tommy enter the building. On the seventh floor, Ayane and Xin Zhou were probably witnessing the first instance of stable time vortex. And the plan was simple – to lure them in.

19 Minutes Clocking Down:

Xin Zhou waited for the bus to pass the Urawa flyover. He listened to Ayane speak about the Biomechanics of Metallic substances.

‘If once, of course, the coulomb barrier is achieved for any inert material, every organism, will display a characteristic shift which is unnatural and unexpected. This can be seen in deep ocean fishes, during June solstice… And… Xin, are you receiving?’ 

Xin Zhou waited for the record track to end and repeated again.

Her voice was the only constant in an overlapping plateau of inconsistencies.

He got off the bus and walked determinedly, to a place where he knew he could unravel the loop. X7 trailed them like a shadow. Raiden kicked the door open leading to the staircase. Zinko and Tommy followed him beyond the door. For some reason, they chose the stairs instead of the elevator. X7 had no other choice but to take the elevator and go to the seventh floor. As soon as he reached his destination, he heard a low whirring sound. The Gravity orbs were activated. He quickly shuffled into an unused, almost invisible storage room at the far end of the corridor. He waited for the right time. The way to end the loop was to get the three Yakuza gang, men to enter the vortex. Killing them would, however, include them in a loop which would become four times the present loop structure. The present loop structure was already seven times seven. A faint sound of approaching footsteps made him stand up. He was prepared.

The lights flickered all around as the electric surge within the vortex became invincible. Within the blinking beams, he saw three men emerge out of the stairway and proceed towards the location they’d found in the X6’s wallet; the second door to their right and linearly adjacent to X7’s hiding point. Surprisingly, none of the gang men pulled out their weapons. Of course, X7 realised, why would they? They killed the man who confronted them, moments ago. But something would trigger them and they would attack Ayane.

Xin Zhou felt the water particles almost piercing his skin. It was a tragedy that they weren’t.

They were merely causing a buoyant friction, which would slowly give away to natural insertion. The drops floated over his skin and for a moment, he felt like he was in a vortex. He wasn’t. This was physically real. The last gulp of air left his lungs and came out as fading bubbles. His head hit the bedrock and the sunshine shimmering through the wavy surface twinkled for the last time.

4 Minutes Clocking Down:

As always, Yakuza were systematic in their approach. Raiden knocked the first door to their right. Zinko and Tommy took a step back and placed their hands on their machetes, carefully. No involuntary movements.

No one answered the door. Zinko then kicked it open. There was no one inside. The second door was what both Yakuza and X7 were aiming for. They knocked at the door. Just then, a short circuit broke a bulb in the corridor. Ayane hadn’t heard them coming. Raiden knocked down the door, this time. They froze in their step as they saw a man suspended in midair, at the central point of an electric ball rattling the whole occupancy. A lady stood before the electric ball, but somehow she remained unaffected. Zinko was the first to recognise the man floating in the air. He was the same one who attacked them multiple times in the last one hour. Zinko took out his machete and pushed Ayane aside. As he lurched ahead, a small cylindrical gas container hit him on the head.

He stood on the spot; his eyes getting blurry and collapsed on the floor.

X7 picked up his machete and swung it towards the remaining two. In a moment of panic, Raiden grabbed Ayane as she plucked at his jacket and got a button into her palm. X7 breathed heavily. Tommy came to the aid of his friend, pointing his weapon at her heart. He looked all around the room for something to help him. Just then, a loud thud plunged everyone into darkness. This was his moment. X7 launched himself aiming for Tommy. His aim, however, went haywire. As the lights flickered on, he saw the two men flee the scene and carry their fellow gang-men out of the door.

A horrible dread sucked the life out of X7. He looked in front of him. He had plunged the machete into Ayane. There was a bewildered look in her eyes, the one of watching her husband living in two parallel timelines. He pulled out the machete and dropped it to the ground. Ayane knelt down and gripped onto the machete, somehow, indicating that everything was her fault or his. X7 stood for a moment, blood burning in his veins, his skin feeling torn apart, and grief becoming a solid frozen particle within his heart. He gravely miscalculated everything.

Time was not linear at all; that, he knew. But he did not know was that time wasn’t circular either. It was a dimension beyond structural framing.

X7 realised that the Vortex would collapse any moment now. His mind raced to find a solution; to break away from the loop. He was trapped. Everything would happen like everything always happened. He couldn’t remain there for an obvious reason. If he was, he wouldn’t exist in the first place, thus destroying any chance of an escape. As the Gravity orbs created chaos and cacophony, X7 paced to the rooftop. And the only way out now was in. To escape a loop, he had to create one by ending his existence. And he did, as he jumped off the building.  

Perpendicular Fest, Kyoto:

Xin Zhou swivelled the stem of his champagne glass. From the corner of his eye, he saw a beautiful fellow scholar, from Osaka, standing at the corner. They were both presenting their time loop hypothesis at the national summit. Her name, as he got to know from the entry file, was Ayane Kotysawa. The after party post the presentation was the perfect time to flirt with their female counterparts. Or, so the male participants hoped. Xin Zhou gulped his drink and picked up two more champagne glasses from the counter.  Nervously, he paced ahead to meet Ayane.

‘Interesting curvature theory’,

Xian said, approaching her. He tried his best to be as cool as possible.

‘You mean the deviance theory. Wait, was that a comment on me?’

Ayane said, picking one of the glasses in his hand and gifting him a suspicious smile.

‘Oh, no, no! That would be too cheeky. But seriously, though, do you think it’s possible’

‘Space-time vortex? Well, hence my presentation. Why, what’s your take?’, she said to him, confidently.


THE END.

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