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Our first place story for the Natural Disasters theme of August is Eóin Daedrik – congratulations!

The Stopping – By Eóin Daedrik

The Stopping is probably one of the easiest disasters in human history to pinpoint to the exact second when it occurred. At Craigmalloch, my current place of residence that teaters on the edge of Loch Doon, it was 3:16 pm GMT on Wednesday the 4th of June 2031. In fact, I can be even more accurate than that if you desire – It was 3:15pm and 23seconds on Wednesday the 4th of June 2031. The reason such accuracy can be obtained for the Stopping comes from the very nature of the disaster that befell us. See, at exactly 3:15pm on Wednesday the 4th of June, time decided it had had enough, and simply stopped. We however carried on, some of us perhaps thinking it was strange that our clocks had stopped working, but most likely simply shrugging it off and putting it down to faulty batteries or perhaps a dodgy internet connection. 

It was quite nice at first, I remember thinking, walking my usual route home from work. So often have I sat inside behind my desk, and watched, pressed between four walls of glass, as the sun kissed the trees and birds lapped up the summer breeze. By the time I usually left I sometimes got a few hours of sunshine to enjoy, but often the champagne air had died down and the fizz of midday had passed. This was around 7pm I think, though it’s hard to pinpoint the exact time as my watch and mobile both had stopped working. A few hours later, having spent the evening in my garden with a bad book and a good beer, I finally took note that the sun still hovered overhead and flicked the tv on. This was where I first learnt of the interesting predicament we find ourselves in now.

The news reporter said that the cause of the Stopping was rather simple. Time was frozen as an unexpected result of the earth suddenly deciding to stop spinning on its axis, coming to a rather abrupt halt. She continued saying that while what caused the cause was still a mystery, at least what the cause was causing could be partly explained by exceptionally clever people. They explained, in surprising clarity for a group of people who had only been studying this phenomenon for what would have normally been a single afternoon, that at 1:16pm the Earth started to slow down, until it reached a complete standstill at the aforementioned time of exactly 3:16pm and 23 seconds. While previously this was theorised to catapult the entire population deep into the cold clutches of space, apparently there was something keeping us rooted to the no longer spinning green and blue marble beneath our feet. What they couldn’t work out however was why all the clocks had stopped, but they were more concerned with the rising sea levels and temperature – apparently a potential side effect of the sun never setting.

It is at this point I realise I need to find another word to describe the passing of time when time does not pass. What I would normally describe as a few days passing has very little meaning, so perhaps giving you an itinerary of things done will provide a better idea of the distance between watching the news that wednesday at 3:16pm and the next notable event, which also happened by all intensive purposes at 3:16pm that very same wednesday. 

Turned the TV off.

Phoned my mum, who seemed more concerned with me not getting sunburnt than the potential destruction of life as we know it.

Made a cup of tea.

Slept – which was surprisingly easy despite the eternal daylight outside.

Woke to a phone call from my boss telling me not to bother coming in today.

Started to run a bath.

Up to that point nothing drastic had happened. We always thought about global life threatening disasters in a specific way, but nothing had changed. My phone still got a good signal, the water and electricity still ran through my home, and as far as I could tell there had been no commotion in town, no riots or lootings or anything of the sort. Although time refused to tick, nothing else did. The birds continued to flap their wings, the people continued to purchase oat milk, hazelnut latte’s in the local Costa, and, much to my annoyance, my last surviving peace Lily demanded sustenance – which in all the commotion I regrettably did not provide it with. During the service I held for her passing, which took the form of a rather unceremonious tipping into my back garden compost bin, there occurred the first notable disaster (second if you count my lily). I was just about to turn and head back inside when there was an unprecedented cackle of crunches beneath my feet, and then everything, including myself, was flung 10 and a half ft in a westerly direction. Windows shattered, doors were flung open, and the entire contents of my vegetable patch was dumped on top of me. Through the dirt and under ripened turnips I could feel the ground below me rumble, and I could have sworn I felt it move once more.

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The news described the Stopping, and I suppose consequently the Starting, as a freak natural disaster that the as aforementioned clever people were still trying to uncover. A few days later, now much easier to record the passing of time, they started referring to it as an earthquake. It was only a few days after that that their broadcasting returned to normal, talking about Bogo the local pug who had learnt to surf, seemingly forgetting the whole event had happened at all.

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