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ĎTil Hell Freezes Over

1/07/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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a short story by: GF Willmetts. I never meant for it to happen. Come to think of it, I didnít know I could do it. Then how many find that kind of inner strength? I was in the middle of the road with a lorry bearing down on me and I froze.

a short story by: GF Willmetts

I never meant for it to happen. Come to think of it, I didnít know I could do it. Then how many find that kind of inner strength? I was in the middle of the road with a lorry bearing down on me and I froze. Donít ask what I was doing there. Long story. Next thing I knew I was on the verge and the rest of the world had frozen instead. Literally.

One minute it had been a hot summer day. The next, the coldest winter possible. And I still didnít know how I ended up on the verge instead of under the wheels of the lorry.

The traffic had stopped. Even the car windows were iced up. The grass was frosted, too. No noisy traffic. No birds chirping. No music. Not even that thumping ones some delight in and drives the rest of us crazy. No snow. Everything looked like itíd been dumping in an icebox and come out frozen solid.



I did wonder about time travel. Maybe Iíve been pulled into a warp into December. But that only happens in Science Fiction, doesnít it? Wandering down the frozen traffic, I found a car whose door I could open and had a crisp newspaper on the seat that I managed to rub the frost off. 11 August 2012. Same date. Is that date significant? So much for time travel.

Something had to have happened and I was still puzzling over how I ended up on the verge, let alone the only person walking. I couldnít have moved that fast and forgotten about it. Anyway, how could this sudden winter happen all of a sudden at the same time in a split second?

I checked the inside of the car where I pulled the newspaper. That was icy as well. Itís driver frozen mid-breath. Not even a chance to gasp as the cold killed her. The car was still in gear as far as I could see. The engine instantly frozen as well.

Then again, it wasnít really a winter. With winter, you would have snow but everything was just frozen. The sky was still blue and if my watch was right, it was still mid-morning.

So why wasnít I like the rest? Come to that, why wasnít I cold? It almost felt like Iíd absorbed all the heat about me but for what purpose? Being on the verge? Maybe time travel was a bit too fanciful but could this have been teleportation? Had I absorbed all the heat about me to provide the energy to instantly travel a couple yards to safety? That seems an awfully big price to pay for the ability to teleport.

I walked on. Everywhere was the same. You would have thought the sun would be warming everything up again but that wasnít going to be nice. Frozen people reawakening only happens at the movies. There would be a lot of corpses instead. All here in their car coffins. That would chill anyoneís heart.

There was no time to grieve for the dead. I needed to know if there was anyone else alive and how far Iíd absorbed all this heat from? Who could I contact? I found another car I could open and checked their mobile phone. Frozen solid. What about my own? Being warm, it would still work. I dialled several long distance numbers but got no reply. Even the weather app didnít come on. Nor any of the other apps I tried at random. What was the good of a phone when it wouldnít work? Maybe it did work but the rest of the world was out of range or had died. The energy sucked away for a small distance teleport.

Could I be wrong? Maybe they werenít dead. Could they be alive? I mean, they were all flash frozen. If the sun thaws them slowly, they might revive. Yeah, right, and pigs might fly if they werenít frozen. Entropy states that for a steady state, all heat has to return to its source eventually. It says nothing about reviving the frozen.

What if this was an effect of my teleporting once? Maybe doing it again would return things back the way they were. How? There wasnít anyone around to run me over like the first time. I would need something working to do that.

What could still be moving? Trains? No. They would have skid to a stop long before I could find any or be derailed. What about airplanes? Would they still be flying? How high up could they be to have missed being absorbed by my teleporting? Would the higher altitude planes have problems as they came lower? Well, not unless I was still absorbing heat. How could I find out?

It was a chance better than none and better a chance in a million than no chance at all? Where to go? Military or civilian. See if I could see any aircraft were in the air I guess. If there were any survivors up there, they would have to land eventually and only airports would be suitable. I doubt if any field or motorway would be long or empty enough to try. Unless I was really lucky or unlucky as I needed to be, an airport had to be the better option for finding a plane in a holding pattern ready to drop out of the sky. Would the end of one aircraft and me resurrect the human race, if not the world purely by releasing the energy and skipping this moment in time? I canít have been the first person to teleport so maybe my predecessors came up with the same solution? Maybe for each one of us, one airplane had to crash. Maybe time really would jump back. Maybe this was the twilight zone after all.

Would an airplane find me or me it? How would I find a plane when I was miles from anywhere? Would my predecessors have left a message for such a situation and for some hapless pilot, assuming they were alive up there, to crash into anyone moving on the ground?

I walked on. There was a turn-off for an airport around here somewhere. Imagine, someone capable of teleporting but could only go anywhere by walking.

Spoke too soon. All I was doing was thinking of the airport and here I was in their departure lounge. Pretty much the same as the motorway. Everything with the heat taken out of it. Looking at the wall clock, the same time as when it first happened so I hadnít frozen anything for this second jump. I didnít even feel myself teleporting. One second I was there. Now Iím here. I was also getting cold. Looks like I must have absorbed only enough energy for two jaunts.

No good going to the control room to see if there was any planes overhead. Iíd just have to go outside and look and listen. Pushing my way through the sliding doors was a problem but I made it out onto the runway. Was there any aircraft out there? Maybe theyíd all crashed if Iíd absorbed all the heat out there? Maybe not. There was still some clouds. Surely if Iíd absorbed the heat from them, theyíd have crashed as ice or snowed even? Then again, maybe they didnít have enough heat. Even so, it gave me some hope that something might be flying out there.

I walked out onto one of the empty runways. If I was a pilot, I would have to come down before I ran out of fuel or risk crashing and risk coming down here with no ground support. Whoever was flying would have to care less who was on the runway. At least, thatís what I hoped. The chances of me being in the right place at the right time if a plane crashed was odds against. Even the odds now were still against me. It wasnít even suicide. I would just teleport again, wouldnít I?

At least now I was feeling the cold so maybe for my fatal sin, I would join mankind and the rest of the Earth in its frozen hell. It would be slow from hypothermia so although I might sleep in the final stages of a deserved fate, at least I would join the rest of the human race.

Hey, itís warm. Maybe Iíd dreamed it all. I opened my eyes and looked around. Nope! This wasnít my bedroom and I was still dressed as before and still outside. The world was warm. Correction. Hot. Dusting myself down as I got up, looking around it was obvious that this wasnít the runway. Where did I get the energy from to teleport again? Maybe Iíd been taken by aliens and this was a different world.

The vegetation still looked terrestrial. Ferns and like. So much for that idea. Almost like Iíd stepped back in time. But where had my survival mechanism taken me? Obviously somewhere far hotter. The sun felt hotter when I held my hand out to it but I wasnít feeling particularly hot. Maybe I was storing heat energy again. This time, the mechanism took me to a different heat source. But where? Had I left any part of the world unscathed the first or even second time let alone this third time. Maybe this time I had actually time travelled?

If I had slipped back in time then it would have to be somewhere that could have another ice age before I moved on again. The closest was the Pleistocene era that was about twelve thousand years ago. If all the ice ages were based on moving back in time every time I was cold then something here would cause it to happen again. And it would have to happen again. Earth had a lot of ice ages. Was I the cause of all of them? At least, the world survived them all but the first one. Was I really creating history by moving back in time? I might have frozen the Earth in the future but would it recover again and a new species replace Man? There would be no way of telling without jumping forward and as I couldnít control which way I went, I hoped I never lived to see it. I mean, if I did, then undoubtedly freeze them as well.

What could possibly happen here to cause me to teleport again? What little I remembered of this era from school was mostly about mammoths, hairy rhinos and primitive man. This had to be there before the hairy moment. Was I going to be attacked by something? If I teleported I would create the ice age but creatures lived through the ice age. What made me stop absorbing all the heat energy here?

The ground shook. Really shook. An earthquake? Why would an ability bring me somewhere where I could still be facing danger or a source of energy? Well, the only thing that could be around now was either a meteorite crashing down on my head or something like a volcano.

I must have absorbed enough heat cos I was suddenly on the rim of a volcano. Looking down, the plasma throbbed. I didnít think it would erupt any time soon. If I stayed here too long I could cause an absolute ice age where nothing would survive again. If I was weak enough, maybe I would simply die by jumping in? If I had the power, I would go somewhere else but at least save most of this world in a simpler ice age. The ice ages would run out eventually. As would the air. That must have happened or I wouldnít have known about it. Cause and effect can happen only one way after all. In my case, it was just going back in time.

I leaped. And...

(c) GF Willmetts 2011
all rights reserved
ask before borrowing

NB. 11 August 2012 is the date equivalent in the Mayan calendar for the end of the world. So why am I releasing this story a year early? Not that I think the world will end next year but no harm edging my bets and this is, in part, a time travel story. Whose says I have to start on time?

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