Jesse Jarnow

looper in the dark, no. 12

(Short fiction, shorter increments.)

Looper in the Dark: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10, no. 11, no. 12

The broken machine’s canister was deployed, Looper noticed. He followed the source of the sound. Kneeling, he saw a canvas belt that had stopped. A loose spring had sprung, and caught in its motion. A heavy rubber stopped caused the spring to vibrate against the cogs with a precise, metallic rattle. Looper glanced at an adjacent machine. There, the canvas belt moved slowly.

Looper pushed the rubber stopper back into place, freeing the gears. The belt began to turn again. Within seconds, the whole room evened into silent harmony. Stepping back, Looper noticed a pattern on the floor that reminded him of the tile fountain in the plaza near the factory. He left the flashlight in the secretary’s window and walked home. The snow fell through the buildings’ massive spotlights, which shot upwards and illuminated the top floors.

At home, he sat still. Soon, he found himself drifting in the perfect quiet he had long known. There, the apartment was all at once. It could bend in the dark, yes, but only in ways Looper knew: his wife drinking tea in the corner, the warmth he knew would await him when he returned from his cousins’. It could be any of these, at any time, and Looper listened. Around the city, the offness had lifted, Looper knew. It was gone. [END]