The End of Time

Max Dreyfus, Contributor

Just barely hidden behind a tree, I watched myself get into the car. This made no sense. I was crouching here, in my front yard, and yet I was also climbing into my blue Volvo to go to work. It felt like I had stepped into a bad science fiction novel. How was this possible? The only thing I could think to do was to tail myself throughout my day. Maybe then I could find some answers, and let my double go to work for me as a bonus.


Commandeering my electric scooter from the garage, I drove off down my usual route. I wove between cars and lanes, soon matching pace with my car up ahead. I made sure to stay back and keep out of sight of myself, although it probably wasn’t necessary, since the me driving the car seemed to be focusing intently on the road. Soon enough, my double pulled off the side of the highway and drove down the side road that led to the AMC Film Center, the place where I spent my day working and where I was about to spy on myself.


My double parked the car and walked in. I stashed my scooter behind a tree and slipped through the door on the heels of myself just before it closed. It automatically locked behind me as my double walked obliviously down the hallway and turned a corner, disappearing from view. For better or worse, I was locked in with myself.


I followed my double down the hall, taking care to keep out of sight. Several times I had to backtrack and hide around corners, and once I was sure my double heard the squeak of my shoes on the linoleum floor. Thankfully, I managed to tail myself all the way to my office without getting caught. 


My coworkers didn’t get up often, and when they did, I was able to hide behind a cubicle or zip under a desk as soon as I heard them coming. My double sat calmly at my desk, working on proofreading the latest script sent in by the guys in Screenwriting. Several hours passed. Nothing was out of order, except for when I tripped on my way to get some coffee and felt a strange twinge of deja vu as my double craned his neck towards the sound. It passed after a moment, and I thought nothing of it.


Things began to get more strange after that. I didn’t realize it at first, but eventually, I noticed nobody was leaving for lunch. It was almost 3. Surely some people would be getting out their leftovers, leaving the building to visit a cafe? But all my coworkers, and my double, kept mindlessly working.


It was then that I began to notice more discrepancies. My coworkers’ figures were jumping, shuddering and blipping in and out as they typed, like the display a television with a bad signal. Objects were surrounded by fuzzy, pulsing afterimages that flickered out when I looked directly at them. The woman in the cubicle next to my double kept dropping the same mug of coffee every few minutes, and when she picked it up, the liquid reversed its course and poured itself back into the cup. As I walked between desks with increasing worry, I realized that nobody could see or even hear me. It was like I was a ghost. The skin on my arms felt chalky, and every once in a while I’d register a chill in a spot that air shouldn’t have been able to reach, like a piece of my body had vanished for a moment.


Eventually, the building began to break down. It was as simple as that. Entire rows of cubicles, and their occupants, crumbled into slush or dissolved into powder. Paint peeled and flaked away, vanishing as soon as it left the walls. Floor tiles shattered on their own, revealing a yawning emptiness beneath. The walls bent and folded themselves like paper. I heard a whispering in my ears that faded as soon as I tried to focus on it.


The only person unaffected seemed to be my double. His desk had broken into perfect cubes, his computer fallen apart into a pile of dust and blown away, but he stood at the spot where his cubicle should have been, serene and still.


I painstakingly made my way across the room, jumping between crumbling sections of floor, and confronted my double. “You’re doing this, aren’t you? I know you are.”


His face was without emotion. “Am I? Or are you?”


I poked him in the chest, feeling a sting in mine and a rush of deja vu. That should have felt significant, but in the moment I didn’t care about it, my mind consumed with anger and fear. “Fix this. Fix it now!”


He pushed me backwards. I stumbled over a pile of slush that had once been a coworker and fell over the edge of a gaping hole in the floor, barely managing to snag the lip of the crater with one hand. My double loomed over me. “I can’t fix something that’s meant to happen. Time is like a wheel, you see. It just loops back on itself when it ends. You’ll understand soon enough.”


I scrabbled for purchase helplessly on the smooth tiles, my single handhold slipping as my double raised his foot. The void yawned below me. “The end is the beginning, and the beginning is the end. And we were always meant to end it. Now go back. This is how it should be.”


His shoe came down on my hand. My fingers slipped free of the edge, and I fell.



It was a beautiful morning. I got into my blue Volvo to go to work, ignoring the feeling that someone was watching me. Today was going to be a big day, I just knew it.