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The stars took over the sky. It had been days since she had eaten. She was perspiring heavily, and he worried about her labored breathing. Please do not leave me, he thought. He could not bear a world without Alli.

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He realized how much he relied on her from morning until night. She was his only conversation. His only smile. She prepared their meager food and always offered it to him first, even though he insisted she eat before he did. They leaned on each other at sunsets. Holding her as they slept felt like his last connection to humanity. He had his time measures and he had her.

That was his life. For as long as he could remember, it had been that way, Dor and Alli, even as children. He wiped it away.

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He stayed up all night. He prayed in a way he had never prayed before. In the past, his faith was in measures and numbers. But now he begged the most high gods—the ones that ruled over the sun and moon—to stop everything, to keep the world dark, to let his water clock overflow. If this would happen, then Dor would have time to find the Asu who could cure his beloved.

The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday - Wikipedia

He swayed back and forth. But when he allowed his eyelids the slightest lift, he saw what he dreaded, the first change of colors on the horizon. He saw the bowl was nearly to the notch of day. He saw that his measures were accurate, and he hated that they were accurate and he cursed his knowledge and the gods who had let him down.

I will stop everything. He rubbed her shoulders. He nudged her chin. Dor felt an angry surge inside him, a primal howl that began in his feet and shot up through his lungs. He rose, slowly, as if in a trance.

I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye

And he began to run. He ran through the morning and he ran through the midday sun. He ran with his lungs burning, until, at last, he saw it. It stood so tall; its peak was hidden by clouds.

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  • Dor raced toward it, obsessed with one last hope. He had watched time and charted time and measured time and analyzed time, and he was determined now to reach the only place where time could be changed. The heavens. He would climb the tower and do what the gods had not. He would make time stop. No one dared set foot on them.

    Some men even lowered their eyes as they passed. Thus, when Dor reached the base, several guards looked up, but none suspected what he would try. Slaves watched, confused. Who was this man? Did he belong? One yelled to the other. Several dropped their tools and bricks. Quickly the slaves began ascending, too, convinced the race for the heavens had begun.

    The guards followed. People near the base joined in. You could hear a rising roar, the collective yowl of violent men, ready to take what was not theirs. What happened next is a matter of debate. But the man who would become Father Time could testify to something else, because his fate was sealed on that very same day. As the people climbed, the structure began to rumble.

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    The brick grew molten red. A thundering sound was heard —and then the bottom of the tower melted away.

    I—A Noiseless Flash

    The top burst into flame. The middle hung in the air, defying anything man had ever seen. Those who sought to reach the heavens were hurled off, like snow shaken from a tree branch. Through it all, Dor climbed, until he was the only figure still clinging to the stairs. He climbed past dizziness, past pain, past his legs aching and his chest constricting. He pulled up on each step, as bodies swirled all around him. He saw glimpses of arms, elbows, feet, hair. Thousands of men were cast from the tower that day, their tongues twisted into a multitude of languages.

    Only one man was allowed to ascend through the mist, one man lifted as if pulled from beneath his arms, landing on the floor of someplace deep and dark, a place no one knew existed and no one would ever find. An ocean wave begins to break and a boy rises on his surfboard. He presses his toes. He steers into the curl. The wave freezes. So does he. This will happen soon. A hairstylist pulls back a clump of hair and slides her scissors underneath.

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    • She squeezes. A small crunching sound. The hair breaks free and falls towards the floor. It stops in midair. He is lean. He moves to an exhibit of antique clocks. He opens a glass case.

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      He thinks he sees the strange man remove all the clocks, study them, take them apart, then put them back together, an act that would take weeks. There was no light, yet he could somehow see. There were rocky lumps beneath his feet and jagged peaks pointing down from above. He rubbed his hands over his elbows and knees.

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      Was he alive? How did he get here? He had been in such pain climbing the tower, but now that pain was gone. He was not breathing hard. In fact, as he touched his chest, he was barely breathing at all.