Loop-the-loop

Author: David C. Nutt

“I’m begging you, don’t flip the quantum motor drive switch.”
“Oh, I’ve flipped it hundreds of thousands of times, not flipped it just as many. The result is the same- I wind up back here, locked in, and we eventually have variants of this conversation. Once, I went almost 19 hours without flipping it and then I fell asleep and, and well, right back here.”
“So, you’re telling me you are stuck in a time loop?”
“Yup. Told you that for about the millionth time, literally. And before you say it, yes, I’m the only one who has continuity, and no I haven’t figured out why yet.”
“You know that sounds insane.”
“Uh-huh. I was insane for a few thousand go rounds of this, but I got better.”
“So, if you’re better then you’ll not flip the switch and come with me?”
“Ummmmm… don’t think so. See, each time I do that, as soon as we round the corner, security puts the beat down on me and I wake up here again, but with a headache and bruises.”
“How can that be if you are in a loop? Don’t you just reset?”
“Exactly what I thought! I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice that I wasn’t totally re-setting each time. Then, one time after I committed suicide for the hundredth time, when I came back I noticed I had scars where I didn’t have any before. So I can actually change something in the loop.”
“So then, assuming for a second this is some kind of temporal loop, and you can change things, then there is a way to break the cycle.”
“Bingo! By the way, this is the fastest you’ve gotten to this point so far. Kudos, my man.”
“Thanks… I think. So then are you using the time you have to figure a way out?”
“Absolutely. Of course, in all the sci-fi I’ve read or watched, some physics genius figures out a solution after about a dozen times around. They polarize the temporal widget doo-hickey and wham! Get back to normal. Problem is, I am not a physics genius. I’m a machinist mate, second class. It’s taken me a while but I’m great at physics now; a whole bunch of other stuff too. Philosophy, biology, history, chemistry, electronics, all the stuff I ignored so I could get out of my crappy home town and see the universe with the merchant marine.”
“Well, if you surrender, I guarantee we’ll give you all you can read in the brig.”
“Mighty white of you, but I don’t think so. I have a plan. Actually, it’s been operational for almost three years now…my time line of course. In fact, I think I even have a way to break the loop. But I‘ve got to brush up a little more on my legal skills before I take action. After all, once the loop ends I have to go before the Captain’s Mast and I have to put on a good defense.”
“Really?”
“No, I lied. Figured out all that years ago. I’ll walk from this and be a considered a hero.”
“But you’re gonna flip the switch anyway?”
“Oh, absolutely, so you can go now and try to figure out a way to get me out of here. Spoiler alert: none of them work.”
“What If I just stay here?”
“Then you can watch me finish reading the last chapter of Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi.”
“Don’t you want out of the loop?”
“Of course, but you know what I’ve finally figured out?
“What?”
“I’ve got plenty of time.”

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