The Inspector was an animated man, but he had dead eyes. They roved, but would not communicate. I came to trust him mostly because nothing bad happened to me. Others hadn’t said the same. They’d darkly claimed their own relatives fates had been sealed by this wiry fellow who’d seemed to be in charge of everything but wasn’t. What else could I say, that was then, and that was for them. Opportunity made a partisan out of me.
   He’d said they must gain skills. He meant the townsfolk. I was supposed to be teaching those skills. As an officer of the Office, I was to promote good social order. We all knew that was barely at all what was required. Add to that it didn’t really matter that I worked out early nothing I did made much difference, and you have a recipe for a pleasant enough existence. No one checked up on my efforts. No one caught me out. And then people started, what was the word he used? Mutating.
   And the Trials began.
   She thinks I don’t know we’ve been through all this before. She even thinks she’s the one “stopping time”. Technically I suppose she could be, because she’s right, I wouldn’t know if she did – I’d be as stopped as everyone else.
   That, pretty much more than anything else, is what tells me whatever happens here, it’s not time stopping. I mean, it’d be looping more than anything, but it’s not doing that either.
   It probably isn’t even time that’s looping.

Freedom to Live

   We have some time. I have some questions. We keep walking.
  “So you can stop time?” I say.
   She throws up her hands. “No!” she says. “No one can.”
  “Well what the hell then?”
  “Yes, the hell.”
   I bound the gash in my forearm. I’d like to keep my mind off that fact. “Come on, hell? Hell? Seriously?” She doesn’t answer. We trudge on. The grey landscape could be hell. “Was that you?” I say. “Just now. Was that you, stopping time? Talk to me! I can see your ass moving, I can see this damn mist, and this is a whole lot of weeds and shit to be walking through, tell me some damn thing!”
  “Would you know?”she says. Turns her head.
  “Would I know what?”
  “If I did.”
   She stops suddenly. I wind up a little too close before I realise. “If you did what?” She puts her elbow to my chest and shoves me back a step. “If I stopped time,” she says. “And hush now sweetie. There’s people up ahead.”
  “`Hush’ now?” I whisper.