Since The Great Clock Wars, Time Has Been Optional.

It is the year 2199. Since the great Clock Wars of the mid 21st century time has become optional. Obviously, as an inescapable construct it still exists, as a great philosopher once said, “time may change me, but I can’t change time”. People still get old and die, food still goes off, episodes of Hollyoaks still feel like they’ve been on forever, even though you’re just a few minutes in. Or at least you would be, if minutes were still widely used, but they’re not. Neither are seconds, hours, weeks or months, they’ve all been junked in favour of just doing what you bloody well feel like. Sounds good, doesn’t it? To your feeble historical ears it probably sounds liberating, like the oppressive shackles of organisation have been cast aside. But hold your horses, I haven’t finished yet.

On day one of your time free existence you would be overwhelmed by the possibilities, and on day one there were actually some possibilities to investigate. Sadly, a few days pass and everyone realises they’re not obliged to abide by the rules set in place to make life liveable. You decide not to go to work and go to the pub instead, the thought of sitting there all day, supping glass after glass of refreshing, mind numbing alcohol, plastering a retarded grin across your stupid, stupid face. You’d drive only the road is littered with stationary cars, nobody feels the need to park sensibly anymore because the Traffic Wardens don’t bother turning up to work now, and when they do issue a ticket the date and time by which you have to pay the fine are utterly irrelevant. So you walk. After several hours spent looking for a pub that’s bothered to open, you eventually find one. None of your favourite beverages are available as the deliveries have been sporadic at best and, frankly, it’s not a very pleasant environment to be in. Nothing has been cleaned for a long time and the staff are less than presentable, zombified by irregular sleep patterns and a shoddy dietary routine. You settle on an Ouzo and pineapple juice, partly because it’s all that’s left and partly because at this point you’ll drink anything, but on trying to pay you realise that instead of taking the money for your bills in regular, manageable amounts, the bank has paid every thing for the whole year. In advance. You are now several thousand pounds in debt, but at least all of the utilities are taken care off.

A nice hot bath, some beans on toast and some television. That’ll make it all ok. Oh, what’s that, no hot water? That’s right, they never fixed the pipes. Or the road after they dug it up, for that matter. Or the electricity. Bollocks. No beans, no toast. NO TELEVISION! Oh Christ! Maybe you should just go to work, work wasn’t that bad after all and it would be nice to see some people. Thing is, it’s dark now and the streetlights aren’t working. Haven’t been for days, they used to work on a time switch but since the dismantling of time it’s just a switch, and no one’s flicked it. Can’t drive, tried that earlier, so you wait, for what might once have been referred to as hours, for the bus to turn up. It doesn’t. You go to check your watch but it isn’t there, instead you adjust your government issued sweatband, decorated with a single, mocking question mark.

This is getting ridiculous. There must be something in your awkward little life that doesn’t rely on time. Friends. Of course! You’ve arranged to meet John and Peter on Thursday at six. Ah. Well, you’re pretty sure that’s tomorrow, or whatever the next day lit bit is called now. Human interaction, that will break up this constant disappointment.

You stand at the designated meeting point while day turns to night and back to day. You watch the masses fumble around, blinking emptily, confused and irritated. Peter and John never turn up. Gosh, that’s annoying, isn’t it. It’s as if time, and using time to plan future events, is an incredibly useful tool, binding the segments of our existence together, into one enjoyable, recognisable whole. How foolish you’ve been. If only you’d used it while you could. If only you’d arrived when you said you would, not an hour and a half later after you’d eaten and washed and watched the end of whatever. Perhaps all those whining bastards were onto something, perhaps you’ve been an inconsiderate shit, stranger things have happened. Maybe – just maybe – you’ve had it all wrong all along, and when someone says 10 ‘o’ clock, they’ve said it because up to then they’re doing something and after 11 they’re doing something too. Hey, maybe they could even have found something to do at 10 if they hadn’t naively assumed they’d be seeing you. Yeah, that’s right: You.

So, when the Anti-Timers come, asking you to take up arms that don’t have watches on, tell them to jog on. You’ve thought about it and actually it does matter. Also you’re not convinced about the silver jumpsuit uniform. Then hopefully we can avoid the war. So many timepieces were lost, innocent every one, that needn’t have been. Men fought over several years, and then, after years stopped, for a bit longer. And for what. Me, I’ll just wander around in this time, because it has one. And because I can’t get home. It’s difficult to set the variables on the No Time Machine when I don’t know what they are. Besides, we’re going for a pint after work aren’t we.

Don’t be late.

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