Stop Time

All of the cars were stopped. Four lanes of highway, nothing but brake lights. Calvin thought it good he was in a flat stretch of road. Too much vantage, he assumed, would lead to desperation. Here, he was able to imagine that the jam was only a few cars, not miles of them. Apart from the few directly around him, nothing else needed to exist.

After a few songs played on the radio, he shut it off. Too many wrong choices in a row. After that, time entered an eternal space. Only the uniform sound of the air conditioning, occasionally broken up by horns from aggravated drivers outside, made him sure that time hadn’t stopped completely. Surely, he figured, there could be no sound when there was no time. How would the sound waves travel? Maybe, he thought, if you walked near a stagnant sound wave, trapped in stopped time, you would hear some strange, monotonous buzzing.

If that were true, then perhaps the buzzing from the air conditioner was one of those stagnant waves. Perhaps he wasn’t in a traffic jam at all, but a jam in time. If that were true, would he be able to breathe? Didn’t it take time for messages from the senses to make it to the brain? Would that be possible in a place where time had stopped? Was it even possible to think? There were several ways to potentially test this theory, but he was afraid to try them. What if they proved that time really had stopped? Or was it worse if they proved that he had just been sitting in the car so long that he lost track of whether or not time was running? Then, he cars all lurched forward and inch, and another horn blared off in the distance, breaking the spell. To prevent further crises, he turned the radio back on.